Tell me about what you do?
We started the Birmingham Pen Trade Heritage Association in 1996 as we felt there ought to be a museum to educate people on the history of the pen trade. At one point, Birmingham made up to 75% of the pen nibs in the world which were then exported globally.
As a result, we opened the museum in 2001 in order to educate people on Birmingham’s Steel pen trade and today we have over 5,000 objects which display its fascinating history.
What is your proudest achievement?
The aim of our organisation is to spread the word and educate people on the history of the steel pen. Our proudest achievement is the fact that a large number of people come to visit our museum from all over the world. As well as this, we were recently on TV on the Antiques Road Trip which shows the large amount of interest we have received. We are becoming worldwide now and this is definitely the best achievement we could have ever wanted to achieve.
Tell me about any experiences you have had with SCVO?
We have not had any experience with SCVO before.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt from working with people in Sandwell?
It is surprising how a large number of the local people had no idea Birmingham had anything to do with the pen trade. You find this in a lot of places that the local people aren’t clued up with what their ancestors did. We think it is therefore up to us to bring this out in the open and make people aware of the role Birmingham played in this industry.
What are your plans for the future? Any challenges you face?
In terms of the future, we just want to stay in existence. As we are a charitable trust we don’t charge people to enter the museum and therefore rely on donations. So the biggest challenge to us is an issue of funding. The cost of electricity and rent is very expensive even with a sponsorship from our landlord.
In addition to this, because we are a small company it is very hard for us to advertise. Even for a small advert it is still expensive for an organisation like us.
How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO could certainly help us by advertising on their website and elsewhere to make it known that there is a pen museum in Birmingham. At the moment we don’t charge for people to visit but as our costs are due to rise we may have to start asking for a small charge. However, we don’t want to have to do that. So funding is another area in which SCVO can possibly help us as it will allow us to meet these demands and remain in existence.
One last area would be through volunteers, we could certainly do with some for the long-term. Most of our volunteers tend to be short-term which means they are only here for a small period of time.
For more information please contact 0121 236 9834 or visit http://www.penroom.co.uk