Revisit the Jewellery Quarter’s 19th Century past

By on 09/09/2010 in News

Newman Brothers Coffin Works, one of the outstanding survivals of Birmingham's historic Jewellery Quarter that produced fittings for the coffins of royalty, will be throwing its gates open to the public on Saturday 11th September in celebration of its new ownership.

Last year it looked as if this extraordinary late C19 Grade II* factory, complete with all its contents and equipment, might be lost when the regional development agency had to withdraw funding  after cuts by central government but thanks to funding of £150,000 from Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Conservation Trust has been able to acquire the building. and with the help of funding from English Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund and the City Council it hopes to carry out a £1.2m restoration.

This work will bring the building back into use and is the first phase of a much longer project to open the building as a museum.

Cllr Timothy Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Transportation and Regeneration, said:
“The Jewellery Quarter and buildings within provide a unique insight into not just the history of Birmingham, but also the manufacturing heritage of the country at large. By preserving key buildings such as the Coffin Works, we can provide a catalyst for both tourism and creating the next generation of businesses which will drive the quarter forward for the next 100 years.”

The Coffin Works project forms a key aspect of the City Council’s wider plans to regenerate the Jewellery Quarter as set out by the Big City Plan. Other key elements of this include the creation of the £1.5m Golden Square.

Once the repairs are complete Birmingham Conservation Trust will be moving into the building and is looking for other creative organisations and individuals who are looking for flexible work space close the city centre to share the space with.

The Trust is keen to involve local people in all parts of the development of this project from training opportunities during the construction phase and participation in conservation activities on the wonderful contents, to arranging programme of exciting events, mixing artistic performances with candlelit fundraising suppers and everything in between

Elizabeth Perkins, Trust Director says “ We want to make the Coffin Works a place that people associate with interesting, querky activities and a very special history”

Although much of the contents has been removed to safe storage, visitors will be able to, handle pieces of stock,  flip through back catalogues and learn about some of the stories of the former workers, as well as find out about the rich and famous whose coffins had these fittings graced.

The Coffin Works will be open between 10am and 4pm on Saturday 11th September. The event is free but members of the public are requested to contact the Council to book their visit – in order to help manage numbers at given times of day. To book or to find out more contact Elizabeth perkins on 0121 303 2664.

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