betts metals historyThe Betts family business was established in 1760 at the start of the industrial revolution by Alexander Betts and has gone from strength to strength.

Now into its fourth century of trading Betts is proud to be into its 9th generation of family management.

For the majority of the family’s history refining and smelting precious metals has been the core of the business, using modern and technically advanced processes to achieve quality.

The Stephen Betts Group is the umbrella company name for all of the Betts’s assets and companies.

Betts Envirometal offer metal recovery services as well as hazardous waste management, this includes electrical waste unsuitable for general disposal.

The company’s factory located in Kidderminster contains the latest in recovery equipment, which makes possible the smelting and refining of lower grade wastes containing precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

We recover precious metals from all types of waste; particularly those generated by the jewellery, ceramic, photographic, industrial and dental professions, although our experience also covers many other industries. We also recover metals from hospital waste such as x-ray films.

Betts Metal Sales provide jewellery essentials to the trade such as wire, sheet and findings, all of which are available in a wide range of alloys. The trade counter is located at 49-63 Spencer Street and staff are happy to help cater for your every jewellery need. Sovereign coins, Half Sovereigns and Kruggerands are also available via the trade counter.

The establishment grew further last year with the acquisition of Sutton Tools, another family business specialising in Jewellery making tools, established in 1884 they have been supplying jewellers with essentials ever since. The trade counter is located on Vittoria Street, you can’t miss it!

We also recently acquired Unity Wedding bands, wedding ring manufacturing experts helping to further our wealth of experience and finished product range.

Head over to to see our wide range of services.


Alexander-betts edward betts john betts
Alexander Betts
(Founder 1760)
Edward Betts
(1752 - 1817)
John Betts
(17xx - 18xx)


1760 saw the dawn of the industrial revolution in England and the ascension of King George III to the throne.  Alexander Betts came from Battle in Sussex to the village of Birmingham to set up a smelting and refining business to recover gold and silver ores and recover precious metals from wastes being produced in Birmingham’s newly established Jewellery Quarter.  The business was known as Betts and Sons.

Alexander Betts died in 1781 and his son Edward carried on the business until his death in 1817.  His grave can be found in St Paul’s churchyard in the Jewellery Quarter where he is buried with other Betts ancestors.  His sons John and William continued the family business which expanded and prospered for the next century as Birmingham grew to be known as the “workshop to the world”.   John led the business until the late 1840’s and died in 1864 at the age of ninety.  He was an energetic man and was one of the first sixteen elected aldermen of the first council of the city of Birmingham on its incorporation as a city in 1838.  During his tenure the company became known as John Betts & Sons Ltd.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected president of America in 1860, the company reached 100 years of profitable business, and in the late 19th century the company continued to expand at its works in Charlotte Street, Birmingham and 131 Long Acre in London. In 1874 Alfred and his brother John Betts bought the adjacent land to Charlotte Street on the corner with Newhall Street for £2050 (approximately £2.5m in today’s terms) in order to expand the works.  Unfortunately, due to a corrupt lawyer the brothers were left without the land or the money.  Subsequently the Birmingham Assay Office was built on the site.

The first part of the 20th century saw hard times for the business until after the First World War, but the factory was prevented from closing due to its contribution to the war effort.  During this time silver ceased briefly to be quoted as having any value.

After the end of the First World War a longer period of stability ensued for the business, and by the time President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, the business had been trading for over 200 years.  In addition to recovering wastes from the jewellery trade the company dealt with wastes from potteries, mirror manufacturers, platers and other industries.  The biggest development at this time was the recovery of silver from the photographic trade, with the company carrying out all the refining work for Kodak for many years until the 1970’s.

The direct line of descendents has sometimes hung by a thread and this is particularly true during the Second World War.  John Francis Betts was a captain when he was shot and reported missing in action, presumed dead, after being surrounded and cut off by Germans whilst fighting to defend the retreat from Dunkirk (for which he receive a M.C.).  He was eventually discovered in a hospital in Belgium where he recovered from a bullet wound which went straight through his mouth.  An inch higher and the Betts line would have died out.

John Francis Betts had two sons and the company continued under Stephen and now two of his sons, Daniel and Charles, who are the ninth consecutive generation of the Betts family to manage a business which has now been in existence for over quarter of a millennium.

william bettshyra holden bettsjohn bettsartur bettsFrancis BettsStephen BettsDan BettsCharles Betts

For more information, you can download our 250th Anniversary booklet.

betts metals history