Gateway Object: Joyce Green

Joyce Green, grey hair wearing a necklace and dark clothing sits at a desk in the office looking through a Newman Brothers' catalogue
black and white image of a young joyce green in a party dress

Joyce Green, The final owner of Newman Brothers

When Joyce Green, who had worked at the factory for 50 years and was the final proprietor of Newman Brothers, realised what a special place it was she was determined to preserve it as a museum. Heritage organisations agreed, and although it took 15 years, in 2014 Birmingham Conservation Trust was proud to re-open the factory as a heritage attraction. Unfortunately, Joyce did not live to see that day.

Joyce began working at Newman Brothers at the age of 18 as the office secretary. She became the managing director in the 1970s, and the factory’s last owner.

Newman Brothers’ factory has survived due to the combined efforts of the final proprietor Joyce Green, the many organisations and individuals who understood the need to preserve the factory.

In 1998-99 English Heritage was undertaking a major survey of the manufactories of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and they ‘discovered’ the Newman Brothers’ building just as the factory was in the process of winding down. English Heritage recognised its importance immediately, and had it listed at Grade II* in 2000, which protects it from demolition.

Although listing meant that the commercial value of the site dropped drastically, Joyce Green and the handful of staff that had stayed with her through to the end were fully behind the move to save the factory for posterity.

Although listing meant that the commercial value of the site dropped drastically, Joyce Green and the handful of staff that had remained supported the move to save the factory for posterity.

Getting the building listed to prevent demolition was one thing, but finding the funds for repair and restoration was quite another matter. Now the search was on to find a new use for the former factory that would give it a long-term future. Click here to read more about the restoration of Newman Brothers.

The Last Managing Director
In 1976 the two most important directors of Newman Brothers, John Kellett and Charles Floyd, died in quick succession. Joyce Green, who was by now Company Secretary, described the shock that learning of Floyd’s death created

 “I had to come in on Monday, and my first job was to go into our drinks cabinet and have a little brandy with a bit of hot water to calm me down and tell everyone that Mr Floyd had died.”

Joyce Green seized the opportunity to become the managing director of Newman Brothers. She and her old colleagues, travelling salesmen Cyril Salt and Dai Davies, bought up of the majority of the company shares. Not everybody at the factory was pleased however. Watch the video below and listen to Joyce telling the story.


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