Science Museum, Birmingham

The now defunct Birmingham Science Museum, or Museum of Science and Industry, previously the Elkington Silver Electroplating Works, is a building on Newhall Street in Birmingham, England.

Standing opposite the Birmingham Assay Office the original 19th century Silver Electroplating factory of George Elkington, built in 1838, once occupied a much longer and grandiose building on Newhall Street which was largely demolished in the mid 1960s. The works had many workshops and warehouses along and over the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and the now filled-in Whitmore's Arm (or Miss Colmore's Arm) canal, which ran through the site. In the early 1850s there was a steam-powered electric generator with 64 permanent magnets arranged in a circle and a rotating wrought iron armature. The electroplating process involved solutions of cyanide of silver and potassium cyanide.

It became the science museum of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in 1951 until its closure in 1997. Many exhibits were then moved to Thinktank which later opened as an entrance-fee-based exhibition in Millennium Point in Eastside. The building is currently vacant.

It carries two blue plaques on its wall, one to George Elkington, and another to his employee Alexander Parkes who is credited with inventing the first plastic.

Future development

Birmingham City Council put up the site, which runs along Newhall Street and Charlotte Street, and adjoins the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal, for long lease and redevelopment. The development was awarded to St Bernard's Property in 2002.

Planning permission was granted in 2006 for the Jewellery Box - a mixed use leisure, commercial and residential development with 234 apartments.

The grade II listed ornate terracotta Queens Arms pub adjoins the site. The site is within the Jewellery Quarter Conservation Area.

Birmingham is now the only industrial city within the United Kingdom not to have an industrial museum.


  • The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter - An Architectural Survey of the Manufactories, John Cattell, Sheila Ely, Barry Jones, English Heritage, 2002, ISBN 1-873592-48-5
  • Birmingham City Council on the former Science Museum
  • BCC Redevelopment Brief 2002, PDF 983Kb


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