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Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory

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Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory

Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory
The Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory viewed from Fleet Street.
General information
Type Factory
Location 13–15 Fleet Street, Birmingham, England
Coordinates

52°28′55″N 1°54′27″W / 52.48194°N 1.90750°W / 52.48194; -1.90750Coordinates: 52°28′55″N 1°54′27″W / 52.48194°N 1.90750°W / 52.48194; -1.90750

Construction started 1892
Completed 1894
Technical details
Floor count 3
Design and construction
Architect Richard Harley
Awards and prizes Grade II* listed

The Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory is a disused factory building located Fleet Street in the Jewellery Quarter conservation area, Birmingham, England. The building, which is Grade II* listed, was constructed between 1892 and 1894 to a design by Richard Harley for the firm. The Newman Brothers manufactured coffin furniture at the factory and remained there until 1999.[1]

History

The Newman Brothers, brass founders and metal coffin fittings manufacturers, moved into the works in 1894. The company was set up by Alfred Newman and his three sons: Horace, George and John.[2] During its time at the factory, the company produced some of the finest coffin furniture in the world that was used in the funerals for Sir Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain and Diana, Princess of Wales.[3] The owners and managers would have entered the building through the front entrance of the building whilst the poorer workforce would enter via the gated cart entrance. In the 1960s, the original single-storey range was demolished and replaced with a two storey brick building containing managerial, electroplating, warehousing and barrelling facilities.[4] At its peak, the firm employed 100 people.[3] In the 1950s, the company was exporting products internationally to West Africa, India, Sri Lanka, South Africa, the Caribbean, Canada and Malta.[2]

When the firm closed the factory in 1999, it was one of only three remaining coffin furniture manufacturers in England.[5] In 2000, the building received Grade II* listed status from English Heritage.[6][7] In March 2001, the Birmingham Conservation Trust carried out a feasibility study on the building and became worried about the threat of redevelopment and possible loss of the building. As a result, they appealed to Advantage West Midlands who purchased the building in 2002 and agreed to fund the Trust in their scheme to bring the building back into use.[4]

In 2003, the factory was one of the candidates on the first series of Restoration in late 2003.[2][8] It did not receive enough votes to reach the final.

In 2007, plans were announced by the Trust and a planning application was submitted on 20 June 2008 for the refurbishment of the factory building to create a visitor's centre and office space. If approved, the museum would be the only funereal museum in the United Kingdom.[4]

Future

The plans to bring the building back into use were submitted for planning permission on 20 June 2008 and include retaining the shroud room, the stamp room and the offices for the visitor's centre whilst there will be commercial units to provide an income that will be used for the maintenance and upkeep of the building. The income from the commercial elements will only be used once the conversion work has been completed. The building will have a total area of 1,048 square metres (11,281 sq ft). As part of the plan, the 1960s extension will be demolished and a new building housing educational facilities will be constructed. A badly deteriorated 19th century range will also be demolished.[4]

The original building will not be altered, although it will be repaired where necessary and the existing slate roof will be stripped and replaced with Welsh slates. The plastic rainwater guttering will be replaced with cast iron whilst the modern company sign on the front will be removed and replaced with Victorian-style signage.[4] The plans were designed by Purcell Miller Tritton, although the original commissioned architects were Niall Phillips of Bristol[5] who merged with Purcell Miller Tritton.[9] The scheme will cost £3.4 million,[10] of which £1.5 million will come from Advantage West Midlands.[11]

The restoration scheme was approved by Birmingham City Council on 16 October 2008.[12]

In June 2011 Birmingham based TinBox theatre company collaboratively devised and performed a production entitled 'Stop The Clocks' which led audience members on a journey through the space told through the story of the life of a fictitious woman called Mary Fincher. The performance was very well received and will hopefully be taking place again in September 2011.

References

External links

  • Birmingham Conservation Trust: Newman Bros.

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