An Account of the Celebrated Manufactory at Birmingham known as Soho

A history of Matthew Boulton’s Soho Manufactory, on Handsworth Heath in Birmingham…the first “factory” in the world and not far from Boulton’s home Soho House in Handsworth where meetings of Boulton’s Lunar Society were held.

Notes from 19th Century Birmingham


Soho Manufactory

Soho is the name of a hill in the county of Stafford, about two miles from Birmingham; which, a very few years ago, was a barren heath, on the bleak summit of which stood a naked hut, the habitation of a warrener.

In 1803, several regional English newspapers published a short, though detailed,  history of the Soho Manufactory which had been built to accommodate the expanding buckle making business of Birmingham entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and his partner John Fothergill. The manufactory was built on leased land measuring some 13 acres, and was not quite as abandoned as the newspaper quote suggested. There was a mill on the land – and of course water was vital for steam – along with a house which had been built around a decade earlier and would become home to Mr and Mrs Boulton, as well as the regular meeting place for the likes of…

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