Will’s Volunteer Story

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 […]

Joe Welch’s Volunteer Story

IN the foreground joe welch stands behind a wooden stand. three volunteers are standing in the background

I began as a volunteer at the Coffin Works in April 2019 after volunteering at the Pen Museum (another amazing museum) for the previous two years whilst studying for my History Degree at Newman University. As a volunteer I have come face-to-face with the public by leading guided tours where I have used my skills […]

Birmingham or Brummagem?

A Poem by Stephen Whyte Throughout the centuries Birmingham has been written many a way Since it was a settlement on the River Rea… Originating times of the Anglo-Saxon, It was a neighbour to Estone… Aston. Brem?… Beorma… ingas… ham clan Sounds confusing to woman and man! Leader Beorma, ingas… descendants, ham… home May sound […]

Our Christmas Traditions

Close up of christmas tree with decorations

As we all eagerly await the Christmas season and some much needed family time after a completely strange and unprecedented year have you ever thought about where our Christmas traditions come from? Who started hanging baubles on trees? Who sent the first Christmas card? Why we bring in trees, ivy and holly into our houses […]

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary women

Sarah Hayes smiling, standing in Coffin Works courtyard.

Sarah Hayes’ inspirational leadership paves the way for the return of the much-loved Coffin Works. by Mary McHenry “It was like being part of a big family, all looking out for each other, helping each other and having a laugh”. This is how many Newman Brothers’ workers described life at work in Fleet Street under the […]

1901 – A Canal Bursts on Lionel Street

black and white newspaper image. two men stare down at a barge sitting in ruins

There’s a canal at the bottom of Newhall Street in Birmingham. Did you know there was once a canal at the TOP of the hill as well? In the early hours of 28th September 1901 the wall of the canal collapsed into excavations at Jones & Co., iron founders in Lionel Street Water flooded out […]

Dead Fashionable

Three people stand around a table pointing at illustrations

Fashion designers have always looked to the past for inspiration. Dior’s ‘revolutionary’ New Look was inspired by the corseted waists and full skirts of the Victorian era whilst Chanel’s spring and summer 2019 collection was heavily influenced by the 1980s. The fashions of the 1980s were themselves inspired by the silhouettes of the 1940s.   Newman […]

Tuesday May 8th, 1945: Birmingham, VE Day

A crowd stands in front of the Council House for VE Day Celebrations, May 1945. There are world flags on display.

It was a rainy morning and the bunting and flags were looking a little bedraggled already: children dressed in red, white and blue were determined that the weather wouldn’t dampen their spirits or the planned celebrations. Aston Parish Church had hourly services and some 4,000 people attended services at St Philip’s cathedral. Then the sun […]

Kerry Tinkler’s Lockdown Story

Kerry standing behind the reception desk, wearing a green overall

During the lockdown I have still been going into work, as I work in animal welfare. My role as a receptionist changed due to being closed to the public and the team being stripped down to only 5 people at the centre during one shift. Instead I was working with the cat care assistants cleaning […]

“An Ode to Birmingham” by Steve Whyte

There is a place in the heart of this land a city with history; perhaps not thought grand..? Birmingham’s its name – but a long time ago The name was Beorma – a village which grew… It’s called the Second City, but some wouldn’t agree To most of us Brummies, it’s the First City y’see! […]

Re-Creating a Classic Coffin Handle Finish (or trying to)!

My dad died earlier this month. In the last weeks of his life he knew he was dying and this gave us (myself and my brother and sisters) an opportunity to speak with him about his funeral arrangements. What I haven’t said is that myself and my brother and sisters are all funeral directors, my […]

Home of Metal Shroud

the reels of purple sewing thread in a box

  I volunteer for both The Coffin Works and Home of Metal. In my spare time I like to sew. The Shroud Room is my favourite with all the vintage sewing machines, the music playing in the background, and I know it was a room with a great atmosphere and a lot of laughter (in […]