Alfred Bird was born in Gloucestershire England on the 16th of July in 1811. He attended King Edwards School in Birmingham.  He was a food manufacturer and established pharmacist that invented many food products. His first chemist shop was situated beneath the old Market Hall in Bull Street, Birmingham. This is where he sold and manufactured his produce.

Photo of Alfred Bird (Birmingham Live)

Alfred’s wife was allergic to eggs and yeast but she loved custard. This motivated Alfred to formulate custard that was egg-free, just for her. After conducting many experiments, he found that cornflour powder would thicken the mixture of milk when heated to make a custard like texture. His new invention was accidentally fed to dinner guests at a party and it was well received and so he wanted to share his invention with the world in 1837.

He invented baking powder in 1843 so that he could make yeast free bread for his wife. After this he created a formula for jelly powder, and egg substitute which are still remembered and used today. Soon afterwards he founded ‘Alfred Bird and Sons Ltd’, which would go on to become the famous Bird’s Custard company and brand which is widely known.

Alfred Bird died on the 15th of December 1878 in Kings Norton, Worcestershire and he is buried at Key Hill cemetery in Birmingham with his wife Elizabeth Lavinia.

Birmingham Daily Post, 16th December 1878:

“Death of Mr. Alfred Bird.-—We have to announce, with much regret, the death of old and well-known townsman, Mr. Alfred Bird, of Worcester Street. He had been ill for some time, of congestion of the lungs, and the disease gradually enfeebling him, expired yesterday morning, unconsciously, while asleep. Mr. Bird will be remembered as ingenious inventor and scientific man; and as one who was always ready to place his knowledge and his services the disposal of those who needed them for a good cause.”

Alfred Bird died a wealthy man, as indicated by his will:

Alfed Bird’s estate was valued around £9000 (source)

After he died, his only son, Alfred Frederick Bird, continued the work he had started. It was Alfred Frederick Bird who built ‘The Custard Factory’ in Birmingham in 1906, where eggless custard was mass produced. The factory remained in operation for the following decades and supplied the British Armed Forces in World War I.

Further Information

Alfred Bird: Egg-free custard inventor and chemist by Birmingham Live

Alfred Bird and Sons by Grace’s Guide to Industrial History

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project


On 25th November 2021, Olivia Swinscoe @oliviagracephoto ran a photography workshop for Year 10 pupils from City Academy @corecity_acad. The group were each given a disposable camera with 27 shots, to capture themes of life and death such as 'movement and stillness', 'light and shadow' and 'public cemetery, private grief' while exploring Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries.
This video contains just a selection of the best photos taken by Year 10.

Explore the Gothic side of the Jewellery Quarter with Tour Guide Ian Braisby before warming up at the Shakespeare Inn & rounding off the afternoon with a candlelit tour of @coffin_works museum.
A unique experience on Sun 5th Dec from 2pm-6pm. Tickets £20:

Is it too early to talk about Christmas?
We hope not because we're getting really excited about 'Christmas Classics at the Catacombs' with @voiceofthetown choir on 2nd December at 4.30pm
Free event - Christmas songs, project thank yous & festive raffle!

Explore the Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries & discover the stories which link the area to the world, through the history of the British Empire.

Carrying on the work begun during the #2Visions2Legacies project, we have a new tour exploring Colonial Connections in the Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries. Join us for FREE on the 27th or 28th November:

This project is possible because of funding from: