We have talked a lot on this blog about the history of Birmingham’s manufacturing & invention, and manufacturing in the West Midlands at large. It’s what the area is known for historically. We’ve often been described as the “engine room” of the UK, for both positive (our manufacturing prowess) and negative (the whole “Black Country” pollution thing) reasons.
But what do we still do?
Obviously, the steady decline of manufacturing since the days of the industrial revolution has meant a sharp move away from heavy industrial work in the region, but surely it can’t be all gone, can it?
Well, here are some of the items that we still produce in 2015.
This is where Birmingham is still truly a powerhouse. While big ticket items like cars and machinery have been shipped overseas, the region is still a major manufacturer of smaller components. Some you’ll be aware of, other you won’t.
Take Kingpin Manufacturing, for example. The Halesowen based company produce accessories for cable glands, which are the big cable connectors you’ll see in industrial wiring. These accessories are used to provide an earth connection, as well as improve the security of the gland.
If the West Midlands is synonymous with industrial manufacturing, we’re perhaps best known for our motoring contributions. The birthplace of Rover may have seen that name fall off the face of the Earth, but other British brands still call the region home.
Jaguar Land Rover are the biggest, of course. The Jaguar factory in Castle Bromwich, and the Land Rover factory in Solihull, are some of the largest in the country.
But we don’t just produce cars. Another iconic British brand, JCB, is still headquartered in Staffordshire. So popular is the brand of diggers, earth movers and other heavy duty vehicles, the name “JCB” has become the generic name for a lot of these vehicles, whether they are made by the company or not!
Toy Steam Engines
Did you know that one of the UK’s last remaining toy steam engine manufacturers is located here in Smethwick? The Mamod company has been located here for 60 years, turning out mobile and stationary toy steam engines as well as steam locomotives. It has survived in a declining industry like few others have.
Here is a video of 2 of their of their models. You can see the full range on www.mamod.co.uk
An even less likely story, the biggest and most respected name in the whistle industry also finds its home here. Acme Whistles, based in Birmingham, can perhaps be best summed up by two facts - they have been going long enough to have supplied the whistles used on the Titanic, and are so widespread that pretty much every sporting organisation in the world, including FIFA, uses them.
These companies, and many more, more than prove that Midlands region and Birmingham in particular is still a manufacturing powerhouse to be reckoned with!