Many aspects of Birmingham’s industrial history are now illustrated in the city’s Jewellery Quarter. One of the most recent additions is the Coffin Works in Fleet Street, a three-storey factory designed by Roger Hurley and completed in 1892. Two years later it was taken over by Alfred and Edwin Newman who had established the Newman Brothers company in another part of Birmingham in 1882. They manufactured coffin furniture, principally by making brass castings and by electro-plating forgings. The business was successful and products were exported to many countries. Funerals for which the company provided fittings for coffins included those of Joseph Chamberlain (1936-1914), Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965).
The company ceased trading in 1998-99, but the last owner, Joyce Green, hoped to see it preserved and sold it in 2003 to Advantage West Midlands. After some vicissitudes, it passed in 2010 to the Birmingham Conservation Trust, which has restored it as a visitor attraction, with some space let as studios. Visitors can see all the processes carried on at the works, and can observe the distinction made between white collar staff and owners, who could enter by the main door, and the men and women on the workshop floor who had to go through the gated cart entrance.