The Shakespeare William Shakespeare was born twenty miles from Birmingham in Stratford-upon-Avon. Despite developing his career in London, Shakespeare's family remained in Stratford and he made frequent retreats to his home town. The Shakespeare stands close to the centre of Birmingham's famous Jewellery Quarter where in 1773 Parliament granted the Hallmarking Act and the Birmingham Assay Office was created. The success of the Assay Office was due to it's pioneering use of steam-powered presses for hallmarking. Today it is the largest in the world and is responsible for hallmarking over 12 million items a year.