The Coffin Works
Restoration of the Newman Brothers Coffin Fittings Works in Fleet Street starts in April 2013. This Grade II listed factory will be open to the public in the summer of 2014. There will also be eight units to let.
Built in 1894, the company made some of the world’s finest coffin furniture, including fittings for the coffins of Churchill, Chamberlain and Diana, Princess of Wales. Production stopped at the factory in 1998. Thanks to the unique atmosphere of the interiors, the building reached the finals of the BCC programme ‘Restoration’ featuring Griff Rhys Jones back in 2003.
What has been happening
Although Birmingham Conservation Trust has been developing a scheme and rescue package for the building since 1999, in the last two years they have secured the funding for the capital works thanks to funding from English Heritage, Birmingham City Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and other charitable trusts. Building work should start on site in April 2013 and doors will be open to the public in summer 2014.
What is coming up
Finally, after 10 years, the restoration project is getting underway! But, it’s not just about restoring the building. Thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant, there will be a lively programme of activity working with schools, community groups, volunteers and the public. A recent grant from AIM BIFFA means the original machinery will be refurbished and a series of films and digital interactives will be developed ready in time for the opening.
For those who cannot wait until then there will be an opportunity to part in a rare factory tour before the end of March 2013. The profits from ticket sales will go towards the restoration work. During the conservation works there will also be a series of ‘hard hat’ tours of the site. Watch out for details on www.birminghamconservationtrust.org/events.
The long-term future
Birmingham Conservation Trust has set up a volunteering programme and there are lots of ways you can show your support for the project through giving your time. Find out more at http://www.birminghamconservationtrust.org/volunteering-with-bct/.