Hipkins family tomb in Warstone Lane Cemetery (Section D, Grave 1001) photo by Jack Wall

This chest tomb is a family burial plot with five names. W E Hipkins is not buried there, he was lost at sea when the SS Titanic sank on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and his body was not recovered.

Aged 55 he was a widower with no children. Hipkins was the Managing Director of W and T Avery Ltd, makers of scales and weighing equipment at the Soho Foundry.  He was travelling on a First Class ticket to visit a new Avery’s factory in Milwaukee.

William Edward Hipkins is one of the names on the top of the chest tomb. Photo by Jack Wall
In affectionate remembrance of William Edward HIPKINS born January 1st 1857 lost in the S. S. Titanic April 15th 1912. “The Sea Shall Give Up Its Dead.” (transcription from jqrt.org). Photo by Jack Wall.

William Edward Hipkins grew up in Birmingham in a family business making metal parts and fittings. His father George Frederick Hipkins started the business with his wife Rebecca. She ran the company of G. F. Hipkins herself after both George and his brother died in 1863.

Rebecca saw to it that William and his sister Bertha got a good education with tours to Europe and America, At the age of 21 William became Assistant Manager of the newly renamed GF Hipkins and Son. He established new ways of working to make both manufacture and trading more efficient including the introduction of American machine tools.

His modern managerial style fitted right in with Joseph Chamberlain and his circle. William was appointed Managing Director at John & Edwin Wright, wire rope makers in 1890. He revitalised the company with his accounting and sales acumen.

W and T Avery was a family-run business. By 1894 the last of the Avery family was ready to retire, the company went public and WE Hipkins joined the Board. In 1896 he took over as Managing Director and set to work, consolidating small workshops across the city into a single enterprise based at the Soho Foundry. The Foundry came with the purchase of the James Watt company that had started there in 1795. Hipkins made Avery’s into an efficient profitable business with the same management, accounting and modern manufacturing techniques he had employed before.

Trade tariffs between Great Britain and the USA made it difficult for Avery’s to sell their products in America. Hipkins saw a way round this by establishing a factory in Milwaukee to make Avery scales in the USA and won a large order from the US Government. It was an order of such importance that Hipkins felt he had to be there to represent his company and booked his ocean journey.  

S S Titanic

Further Information

Life In The Balance – The Life and Work of William Edward Hipkins by Andrew P. B. Lound (Birmingham Libraries)

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project


We are very excited about 'Diamonds in the Rough' a unique tour with storytelling & live performance, exploring queer history in the JQ Cemeteries for LGBT History Month.
Join Sheldon K Goodman and
Sacha Coward from @thecemeteryclub
on 12th-14th February:

#lgbthistory #valentinesday #birmingham #jewelleryquarter #jewelleryquarterbirmingham #cemetery #tour #birminghamheritage

Released to celebrate the Winter Solstice 2021, this video explores some of the nocturnal animals which make the Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries their home. They might be hard to spot, but we can often see the traces they leave behind.

Emily Doyle @oldbort is a multidisciplinary visual artist who moved to the Jewellery Quarter as a student in 2015 and never left. Her practice focuses on the biological, looking for comfort in the physicality that connects us all during changing times. Throughout lockdown, Warstone Lane and Key Hill Cemeteries have been a source of inspiration and respite for Emily and the sites have shaped her creative output through 2020 and 2021, Like many, she has found the JQ Cemeteries to be a place of grounding and reflection.

Sustainability is at the forefront of Emily's work. The textile sculptures in this film were all made using reclaimed textiles, including some sourced through Scrapstore Birmingham.

This film commission was funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Birmingham City Council and Jewellery Quarter Development Trust

#cemetery #cemeterywildlife #fox #crochet #jewelleryquarterbirmingham

The star of the final @oldbort cemeyery seasons film of the year, which drops on 21st December has taken up residence right next to the @jqbid Christmas window at the Big Peg!
You can see this fox in his den anytime during the window trail. We can't wait for his on camera debut!
#crochet #creative #jewelleryquarter #birmingham #christmaswindow #jqchristmas #cemeterywildlife

This project is possible because of funding from: