The Coffin Works' story

The Coffin Works opened as a museum in 2014 in the historic Newman Brothers’ Coffin Furniture Manufactory, originally built in 1894. Discover its rich history below.

Explore a unique piece of history

Newman Brothers was established in 1882 by Alfred Newman and his brother Edwin. Originally brass founders, they predominantly made cabinet furniture until 1894, when the company moved to the present site on Fleet Street and began to specialise in the production of coffin furniture. Newman Brothers continued to specialise in this area until, due to competition from abroad and failure to modernise, they were forced out of business and ceased trading in 1998.

Our awards

The Coffin Works has won 12 significant awards, with at least one more won every year so far! This includes The prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and most recently ‘Small Visitor Attraction of the Year’ in the 2022 West Midlands Tourism Awards.

Sarah Hayes

Museum Manager

As a social historian, my interests in the past revolve around ordinary people, their actions, motivations and connections to the bigger issues of the day. I'm passionate about the changing landscape of Birmingham identified through the use of historical documents.

Luke Unsworth

Photographer / Filmmaker

As a photographer and filmmaker I work extensively in the museum and art gallery sector creating films and photographing artwork and artefacts. As a visual creative I am passionate about documentary photography.

Paul Tranter

Design & Development

I am passionate about good design and love creating websites that are fun to explore and deliver engaging content. With a background in illustration and animation I love getting stuck into creative projects.

Anne-Marie Hayes


As a historical geographer, I am interested in people, places and the landscape, especially how buildings evolve and the landscape changes around them. Probably not much of a surprise then that I love looking at maps!

Suzanne Carter

Educational Resources

As a community engagement professional working in the heritage sector I enjoy watching people get excited and inspired by their local heritage, and to creatively bring stories of the past to life for schools and community groups.

Rachel Kinning

Educational Resources

As a primary school teacher with a passion for history, I love to use Birmingham's industrial and social heritage to teach subjects across the curriculum. It's been a joy to explore the Coffin Works collection further after first discovering it in 2012.