The restoration of the Newman Brothers’ manufactory into a museum and local heritage site in the centre of the Jewellery Quarter undeniably embodies the rich, industrial History that built Birmingham. The Victorian building, that was once an integral piece of the skyline, now lies hidden away between towering, modern architecture. However, this does not obscure the stories and traditions of the building that go back to the 19th century, when the factory first opened for business, and the role it played in British history.
Since I have always had a profound interest in Heritage and the preservation of historical sites, it only made sense to volunteer at the Coffin Works. This was to both expand my knowledge of Birmingham’s rich industrial history, and to help keep this amazing piece of history alive and running for others to experience. This blog post will cover my experience as a volunteer at the Coffin Works while also, hopefully, encouraging others to do the same.
At this point in time, I have currently been trained and worked two full shifts, both as a Room Enabler and on Front of House. First of all, it would be an understatement to say that I was just welcomed by the Coffin Works’ Team. In my two shifts, I have been made to feel as part of a real community by the staff behind the running of the museum. This made the transition into my working roles as seamless and stress-free as possible. After my initial training, each member demonstrated how I should operate each post, be it taking bookings on the till or how I should effectively facilitate visitors as a Room Enabler. In addition, the Museum Manager, Sarah Hayes, agreed to have an informal meeting with me regarding the countless options and career paths available, should I choose to work in this sector.
I believe that there are countless benefits to volunteering at museums and sights of historical interest, and the Coffin Works is no exception. While being able to learn about how this factory contributed to British history, I have also had the opportunity to see parts of the museum not currently on show to visitors. Moreover, I also had the opportunity to see the operations behind the scenes and the countless hours put into the running of the museum, which needs to be appreciated.
In summary, volunteering at the Coffin Works has undoubtedly been an invaluable experience that I stress people not to overlook. It is truly an honour being able to be part of a team that ensure the legacy of Birmingham’s industrial history is kept alive for future generations to experience.