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£1.5m to restore coffin works in Birmingham

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£1.5m to restore coffin works in Birmingham

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Published by webmaster for 24dash.com in Local Government

The coffin works are to receive a £1.5m boost

Regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands is supporting a £1.5m investment towards a £3.4m scheme to preserve the Newman Brothers coffin works in Birmingham's world famous Jewellery Quarter.

The three storey Grade II listed building in Fleet Street dates from 1892 and once employed one hundred people making metal coffin fittings and shrouds, or ‘furniture’ for coffins.

It closed in 1999 due to a change in fashion towards cremations rather than burials and cheaper overseas manufacturing and, at that time was one of only three remaining coffin furniture manufacturers in England.

Advantage West Midlands bought and preserved the site in 2002 on behalf of Birmingham Conservation Trust and, in 2003, the site featured on the BBC’s ‘Restoration’ programme.

They have been working with the Birmingham Conservation Trust to develop a scheme for the works and create a unique new visitor attraction to complement existing local attractions such as St Paul's Church and the award winning Museum of the Jewellery Quarter.

The first stage of the development will be to catalogue and conserve the many unique artefacts that were left intact when the building closed.

Five commercial units will then also be created to the rear of the works to help local jewellery companies stay in the area and grow in a historical and creative environment.

Funding from Advantage West Midlands will enable the Trust to seek the remainder of the funding from other sources.

Mick Laverty, Deputy Chief Executive at Advantage West Midlands said, “This is an exciting project that helps us celebrate the history of the Jewellery Quarter and help secure its future as working urban village."

“It has been clear for some time that smaller local businesses have found it difficult to find suitable premises in the area, so if we are serious in keeping this unique and fascinating part of Birmingham alive, projects such as this will be invaluable in retaining existing skills and creating a sustainable future.”

Elizabeth Perkins of Birmingham Conservation Trust said, “Newman Brothers Coffin Works is an amazing place that has really captured the imagination of all sorts of people, so this is great news for the project."

“There is a huge amount of work to do but Birmingham Conservation Trust is really looking forward to using its experience to bring this contaminated and disused factory back into life."  

“Visitors will have the chance to experience first hand the unique atmosphere of this Victorian factory, whilst the new units at the back will be great places for small businesses to start-up and grow.”

Dr Chris Upton, Senior Lecturer in History at Newman College of Higher Education in Birmingham said, “I’m delighted and so relieved that the future of Newman Brothers has now been secured."

“The factory is an amazing time capsule of Birmingham metal working and shows how the local manufacturers could turn their skills to anything, even coffin furniture. The museum will be a great and very unusual addition to the list of visitor attractions in the area.”

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