Supporting a Sustainable Future


Small Museum with Big History gets a Cash Boost.

Birmingham’s unique Pen Museum has received a grant of £7,000 from The Garfield Weston Foundation for one year, to help keep up with running and operational costs. The Grant will support the day to day running of the museum and ensuring that visitors and schools get the best possible experience.

The Pen Museum in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, preserves the important history of the Pen Industry during the 19th century when Birmingham produced around three quarters of the world’s pen nibs and exported globally. This mass production of high-quality steel pen nibs during the Victorian era was a major industry in the city with around 129 companies employing in the region of 8,000 workers. The Museum tells the story of the lives of the mostly female workforce and their harsh lives. Around 80% of the workforce were women producing up to 28,000 nibs per day and proved more economic than expensive machines.

The Pen Museum is independent as a Registered Charity and, almost entirely operated by volunteers, it does not receive any funding from the local authority. The museum relies on self-generated funds from visitors to the Museum, donations, and external grants from charitable bodies.

Established in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded grant-maker that gives money to support a wide variety of charities across the UK.

Acting Chair of the Pen Museum, Helen Shute said.

“We are delighted to receive this generous grant from the Garfield Weston Foundation which will help us to continue our important work in preserving and communicating the history and global impact of Birmingham’s Pen industry which produced around 80% of the world’s pen nibs in the 19th century. The Museum is an important part of the city’s history of achievements that we aim to play our part in preserving for future generations.

“The support from Garfield Weston will also be a morale boost for the museums’ team of dedicated volunteers and it’s Manager, who are enthusiastic about the Pen Museum and its aims to keep the history alive and relevant for visitors of all ages.”

The Pen Museum (The Birmingham Pen Trade Heritage Association) is an Arts Council England accredited Museum, opened in 2001, by a small group of enthusiasts to preserve the history of the steel pen trade and display personal pen collections of as well as donated and loaned collections of decorative desk and writing related writing items as well as typewriters and authentic workshop tools.

The museum from modest beginnings has become a firm heritage offer for Birmingham attracting local, national, and international visitors.

The Museum aims to be entertaining, learning, and inspirational as well as offering a wide variety of firsthand activities, demonstrations, and successful calligraphy classes for visitors to develop an appreciation of the benefits of handwriting with pen and ink.

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