Worcestershire Archive Service holds a substantial collection of records from the Bromsgrove Guild - a collective of talented craftsmen who came from all over the world.
Walter Gilbert, a talented artist in design and decorative works, worked as the art master at Rugby Technical School. In 1898 he became headmaster of Bromsgrove School of Art and later that same year the Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Art was formed. He hoped to develop a commercial enterprise whereby craftsmen skilled in metal casting, woodwork, stained glass and embroidery could find well-paid work.
During the following years the Guild gained an international reputation for fine craftsmanship and received commissions for plasterwork, metalwork, stained glass and woodwork. But it would be the casting of metalwork for architectural fittings that would became the Guild's speciality, leading up to the Guild's most famous commission in 1905 - the gates of Buckingham Palace. The Guild went on to receive a Royal Warrant in 1908.
Over the next few decades the reputation of the Guild continued to grow until the onset of the Second World War. After the war the Guild was still receiving commissions, but the austerity of that period took its toll and it was finally closed in 1966.
The work of the Guild is everywhere, you may walk past something every day and not realise it, such as the metal railings outside the Shire Hall in Worcester.
This collection, which is currently uncatalogued, is now being listed box by box, so that we can see what it includes and can then decide how best to catalogue the collection. The collection consists of over 300 hundred boxes of architect's blueprints, tracings and scale drawings, which in most cases relate to architectural fittings and monuments. Hidden amongst the papers there are also many hand drawn and coloured designs. These stunning drawings are works of art in their own right and show the talent that was working for the guild at that time.
Throughout the course of the project to list and catalogue the records of the Bromsgrove Guild we will be bringing you snippets of our findings and show you the sort of gems that are hidden within this fascinating collection.
By Angie Downton
For more information on the Bromsgrove Guild, see: