Historical Birmingham coffin works to be transformed with support from GBSLEP
A 19th century Grade II* listed building in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is set to be transformed into a base for thriving businesses after securing the funding necessary to start work.
The £2 million project to revamp Newman Brothers Coffin Fitting Works in Fleet Street will receive over £200,000 after successfully applying to the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) for support from the Growing Places Fund.
The Growing Places fund is designed to get stalled infrastructure projects moving again, unlocking developments and enabling the delivery of new jobs, commercial space and homes.
The Newman Brothers project is being delivered by Birmingham Conservation Trust, which took over ownership of the building in 2010. Since then, it has put together a funding package including Birmingham City Council, English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Opened in 1894, the works was once the best in the world and made fittings for the coffins of Winston Churchill, Joseph Chamberlain and the Queen Mother.
Many of these handles, breast-plates, crucifixes and shrouds, were left behind when the business shut in 1999.
Now, after almost 15 years in disuse, the future of the works will be thriving SMEs.
Commercial units will be created in the three-storey building that will also be the new home for Birmingham Conservation Trust and a heritage attraction which will build on the Jewellery Quarter’s existing tourism links.
As a result of the final piece of funding from the GBSLEP, work can now start on the project and will be complete next year.
Paul Heaven, GBSLEP Board Director and Chair of the Growing Places Fund Committee, said: “The Newman Brothers building is a historical gem and I’m delighted the deal could be struck for the Growing Places Fund to bring it back into use.
“It’s also great that the determination shown by the partners involved in the Newman Brothers project, against some significant set backs down the years, is now being rewarded.
“This is a scheme that is ready to go and can, in a relatively short period of time, be delivering jobs and growth opportunities and I would like developers who have similar schemes that might benefit from Growing Places funding to come forward.”
Cllr Bob Beauchamp, Chairman of the Birmingham Conservation Trust, said: “The Growing Places grant has unlocked more than £2 million of investment in the Jewellery Quarter.
“Birmingham Conservation Trust has been involved with the Coffin Works since 2001, trying to rescue this amazing old building and find a sustainable new use for it.
“There have been many ups and downs along the way and at the end of last year we were still short of the last bit of capital funding we needed to get the project underway.
“The Coffin Works will not only be an exciting and unusual heritage attraction, strengthening the Quarter’s heritage and tourism ‘offer’, but a quirky ‘character’ location offering low-cost workspaces for creative and start-up businesses.”
Keith Stanley, Operations Director of the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT), said: “The redevelopment of the Coffin Works will provide a fantastic working environment for new businesses as they can be inspired by the heritage and stunning architecture around them.
“The courtyard in the centre of the scheme will become a great public realm area where employees and visitors can relax and reflect on their surroundings.”
See the GBSLEP Flickr page for photos from the Newman Brothers Coffins Works.