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History & heritage
6 hours ago - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

Newman Brothers Coffin Works

Did you know that when Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory closed down for good in 1998, they left all the tools and equipment as it was. The building now called the Coffin Works was opened as a museum in 2014 after a period of restoration work under taken by the Birmingham Conservation Trust. In the years since it opened, I've yet to pay a visit to go inside. Fleet Street in JQ.

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Newman Brothers Coffin Works





Did you know that when Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory closed down for good in 1998, they left all the tools and equipment as it was. The building now called the Coffin Works was opened as a museum in 2014 after a period of restoration work under taken by the Birmingham Conservation Trust. In the years since it opened, I've yet to pay a visit to go inside. Fleet Street in JQ.


The Coffin Works

Located on Fleet Street in the Jewellery Quarter is this hiden gem. The Coffin Works is at 13-15 Fleet Street. Between Summer Row (at Parade) and Hotel ibis Styles (which is between Fleet Street and Lionel Street). Also near the head office of Mitchells & Butlers.

The Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory is a part of the Jewellery Quarter conservation area. Founded by the brothers Alfred and Edwin Newman. They moved to this site in 1894 (the building was built from 1892 to 1894 and designed by Roger Harley in 1892). Their company began life as a brass foundry company, before they changed to making coffin furniture (the handles, nameplates etc, all which would get buried with the deceased in the coffin underground).

Edwin ceased to be involved in the company during 1895, leaving his brother Alfred as the sole trader of the business until his death in 1933. He was succeeded by his two sons George and Horace. They ran the company until George Newman passed away in 1944, and his brother Horace Newman passed away in 1952. After that there was a variety of owners of the company. Although their sister Nina continued to hold shares until 1980.

The business passed to the Doggart and Whittington families. The last owner was Joyce Green, who acquired the company following the death of the companies two managing directors in 1976. Green first joined the company as a secretary in 1949. She moved up through the ranks until she bought the company in 1989, and was the sole trader until the business closed for good in 1998.

 

Restoration

During the 1990s, Joyce Green fought for the building to be restored. The factory received a Grade II* listed status in the year 2000 by English Heritage. In 2001 the Birmingham Conservation Trust carried out a study on the building about the threat of redevelopment and the loss of the building. The factory was one of three candidates in the first series of the BBC's Restoration programme in 2003, although it didn't receive enough votes to reach the final.

But it got enough interest for restoration in the future. In 2006 / 2007 the Birmingham Conservation Trust got a grant of £1.5 million. The credit crunch in 2009 caused a minor setback when Advantage West Midlands collapsed. But Birmingham City Council was able to buy the building from AWM in 2010. Restoration finally took place during 2013 to 2014. The museum opened in October 2014. Joyce Green was involved in the project throughout until her death in 2009.

 

Fleet Street, 2014

In June 2014, I was walking up Fleet Street, when I took my first photo of the building. Viet Moon was a restaurant at 5-11 Fleet Street. While the Coffin Works next door was coming to it's conclusion in terms of it's restoration.

 

By September 2014, the Coffin Works restoration project was complete. Heading down some steps between Lionel Street and Fleet Street in the Jewellery Quarter, saw these painted signs on the wall to the left "to the Coffin Works Visit Newman Bros.".

The side of the Coffin Works with at least three chimneys.

There was another painted sign further down the steps closer to Fleet Street.

Now a first proper look at Newman Brothers aka The Coffin Works. It would open as a museum in the following month.

A zoom in to the painted Newman Brothers sign looking as good as new!

This view below from the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal. This view towards Fleet Street from near the Cable-Stay Footbridge and Farmers Bridge Lock No 6. Behind me was the Newhall Square development.

 

Fleet Street, 2018

By April 2018, I saw this plaque on the Coffin Works. From The Birmingham Civic Society, who presented the Renaiisance Award to the Birmingham Conservation Trust for the Newman Brothers Coffin Works in 2014.

A full look at the building with the plaque. In all the years since it opened as a museum, I never once thought of buying tickets in advance to pop in and take photos.

 

Fleet Street, 2020

This was on the evening in December 2020, when I was walking towards Jewellery Quarter Station, to see the Christmas lights at St Paul's Square and The Golden Square, as well as surrounding streets. After passing the Library of Birmingham, via Parade, got onto Fleet Street, and saw the Newman Brothers sign lit up after dark! Bit hard to see in this photo.

 

Maybe once museums can open again, I may think of buying a ticket on their website and pay them a visit. But this will be when I can travel on buses and trains again. After lockdown restrictions get eased again (hopefully for good this time).

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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80 passion points
Construction & regeneration
22 Feb 2021 - Daniel Sturley
News & Updates

The refurbishment of the former Municipal Bank (now The Exchange) - February 2021

For much of the past year, Three Centenary Way (the former Municipal Bank) has been hidden behind protective coverings. With these now largely removed, we have been given the first glimpse of this immaculate building since it has been cleaned.  Now in University of Birmingham hands, we can see that considerable progress has been made.

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The refurbishment of the former Municipal Bank (now The Exchange) - February 2021





For much of the past year, Three Centenary Way (the former Municipal Bank) has been hidden behind protective coverings. With these now largely removed, we have been given the first glimpse of this immaculate building since it has been cleaned.  Now in University of Birmingham hands, we can see that considerable progress has been made.


The following gallery takes a look at how things have progressed over the past 12 months.

 

March 2020

 

April 2020

 

September 2020

 

December 2020

 

February 2021

 

Photography courtesy Daniel Sturley (Birmingham We Are and It's Your Build communities)

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80 passion points
History & heritage
22 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

A visit to Dudmaston Estate during October 2020

The last National Trust property visit of 2020 was to Dudmaston Estate in October 2020. It's in Shropshire. A 17th Century country house (not open apart from a gallery inside). Near the village of Quatt. As before booked the tickets online for a slot. The grounds you could walk about and explore. Tea Room was open, but you had to have your tea or coffee at picnic tables outside.

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A visit to Dudmaston Estate during October 2020





The last National Trust property visit of 2020 was to Dudmaston Estate in October 2020. It's in Shropshire. A 17th Century country house (not open apart from a gallery inside). Near the village of Quatt. As before booked the tickets online for a slot. The grounds you could walk about and explore. Tea Room was open, but you had to have your tea or coffee at picnic tables outside.


Dudmaston

The National Trust property of Dudmaston is located near the village of Quatt in Shropshire. The country house dates to the 17th century. There is former farm buildings, some of which have been converted into a tea room and second hand book shop. There was a gallery you could visit (sanitise your hands before going in), but no photography allowed inside for copyright reasons (I think the family still live in the house). Tickets and time slot as before booked via the National Trust website (with tickets on EventBrite). If there was a gift shop, I think it was closed.

This visit was on the 18th October 2020 (so was about half a month before the second lockdown began).

 

Outbuildings at Dudmaston

The Outbuildings from the lawn. Near here was picnic tables. A queue for the toilets, sanitise your hands, wer your mask if you go in.

 

A courtyard near the Outbuildings. All the rooms here were closed. There was a one way system in place, so if you wanted, you could enter the gardens from this gate on the right.

 

The Outbuildings from the garden. Due to the one way system in place, if you went out of the garden, then back in, you had to head this way to get out.

 

This gate to the courtyard looked nice, but it was no entry this way (you could only walk through them from the other direction).

 

Private garden seen over the fence from the Kitchen Garden. Far end of the Outbuildings.


 

Dudmaston Hall

Round the back of Dudmaston Hall. A tent with National Trust volunteer, to register you before going into the exhibition / gallery. Sanitise your hands again, mask on. No photos allowed inside (tempting as it was).

 

The back of Dudmaston Hall. It is a Grade II* listed building. A Queen Anne mansion. Built of red brick with stone dressings. Was also a 19th Century office and stable wing built in the Elizabethan style. Couldn't cross the rope on the left.

 

Heading down the hill, a look at Dudmaston Hall, an impresive looking house.

 

There was this Red Ivy going down the house. A bit like those poppy art installations around Remembrance time. Some old steps with urns.

 

Another view of the house with the Red Ivy in the middle.

 

The Red Ivy looked wonderful from any angle in the parkland.

 

You could have a walk around the Dingle Walk. Eventually you would end up at the back of the Big Pool, with this wonderful picturesque view of Dudmaston Hall.

 

Parkland and gardens

A look down to the Big Pool at Dudmaston Estate.

 

Sculpture in the garden, part of a trail. Spaceframe sculpted by Anthony Twentyman during 1985.

 

Seated bench area for relaxing and looking at the views of the picturesque parkland.

 

Greylag geese flying and landing in the Big Pool.

 

The Kitchen Garden. Pumpkins in the greenhouse before Halloween.

 

Fingerpost on the Dingle Walk. Head right to the Garden, or left to the Dingle Walk.

 

Kept spotting this brick boathouse near the Big Pool, although didn't see any boats in the lake.

 

The South Lodge seen from the car as we left Dudmaston Estate. Now a private house. A Grade II listed building dating to the early 19th Century. Made of coursed sandstone rubble, with a tiled roof. The gate on exiting the estate was an automatic electric gate.

 

Hope to visit more National Trust properties in 2021, after the 3rd lockdown ends, if we are allowed to travel far again. Especially in the Spring or Summer months.

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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70 passion points
History & heritage
19 Feb 2021 - FreeTimePays
Inspiration

Birmingham (City centre) trail - Historic architecture

Enjoy with our complements this trail (walk, run or cycle) of some of the city's great historic architectural gems. We've even ensured a great start or finish at one of the city's oldest public houses, The Old Contemptibles. Duration of the trail if walking: 2-3 hours.   

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Birmingham (City centre) trail - Historic architecture





Enjoy with our complements this trail (walk, run or cycle) of some of the city's great historic architectural gems. We've even ensured a great start or finish at one of the city's oldest public houses, The Old Contemptibles. Duration of the trail if walking: 2-3 hours.   


Start your trail HERE  (VIEW ON MAP)

 

Old Contemptibles Pub

No better place to start than the Old Contemptibles Pub, built in the late 18th Century which took its changed name from the brave men that fought in World War Two.  More HERE about The Old Contemptibles.

Old Contemptibles Pub.  Photography by Daniel Sturley.

BACK TO MAP. It is a 10 minute walk to your next classic build.

 

Victoria Law Courts.

A Grade I listed red brick and terracotta building designed by Aston Webb & Ingress Bell in 1886.  More HERE about The Victoria Law Courts.

Victoria Law Courts. Photography by Elliott Brown. 

 

etc etc etc

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30 passion points
History & heritage
01 Feb 2021 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham

Did you know that there is an art gallery at the University of Birmingham? This is the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Founded in 1932, it's first director was called Thomas Bodkin, who was responsible for purchasing the Equestrian Statue of King George I from the City of Dublin, Ireland in 1937. The gallery is close to Edgbaston Park Road in an Art Deco building completed in 1939.

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The Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham





Did you know that there is an art gallery at the University of Birmingham? This is the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Founded in 1932, it's first director was called Thomas Bodkin, who was responsible for purchasing the Equestrian Statue of King George I from the City of Dublin, Ireland in 1937. The gallery is close to Edgbaston Park Road in an Art Deco building completed in 1939.


The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

If you go to the University of Birmingham's main campus in Edgbaston, and head up Edgbaston Park Road from the Bristol Road, you might see the Barber Institute of Fine Arts on the left. It is opposite King Edward's School and King Edward VI High School for Girls. Also near by is the University of Birmingham Guild of Students (BUGS).

 

Some history of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts

The building was built from 1935 to 1939, it was designed by the architect Robert Atkinson. It is now a Grade II listed building. It is an art gallery and concert hall, and is an Art Deco building. It was opened by Queen Mary (the Queen Consort and later widow of King George V of the United Kingdom). It was set up by Martha Constance Hattie Barber, in memory of her late husband Henry Barber. Who was a wealthy property developer in Birmingham's suburbs. He became a baron in 1924. He died three years later. Lady Barber decided to make a permanent contribution to the city in his memory. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts was founded in 1932. The founding director was Thomas Bodkin.

 

I've only been inside once back in 2008, but at the time wasn't allowed to take photos inside the gallery, and I've never been back. But I did get photos of the exterior of the gallery in the snow of December 2009.

First view of the Art Deco building with the Statue of George I in the snow.

There was a light dusting of snow on the grass around the statue.

At the time cars were allowed to park outside of the Barber Institute.

It's lucky that this building was completed before the start of World War 2.

The building curves around, with unique Art Deco detailing of the 1930s.

Steps leads to a rear entrance at the back.

To shields on the building. A Latin motto "Esto Quod Esse Videris". This means in English "Suppose that you are".

Including the crest of the University of Birmingham.

Snow on the steps to the main entrance, but at the time this could also have been grit salt.

The main entrance steps and doorway. Above the doors it says "UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM BARBER INSTITUTE OF FINE ARTS AD MCMXXXV". This stone would have been laid in 1935, the year that construction of the gallery began (it would be completed by 1939).

 

In my subsequent walks around the Edgbaston Campus at the University of Birmingham, I rarely take new photos of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, but took this pair during one walk in November 2018, heading off the campus via the East Gate.

There was a sculpture on the wall of a harp. A sign that they also cover music here.

 

 

Equestrian Statue of King George I of Great Britain

George I of Great Britain was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1714 until his death in 1727. He had come from Hanover in what is now part of Germany, with the title Elector of Hanover. It is unlikely that he would have ever travelled up to the Town of Birmingham at the time.

The statue was bought by the first director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Thomas Bodkin in 1937. It was originally commissioned by the City of Dublin in 1717, and was unveiled in the City in 1722. It was sculpted by the Dutch sculptor John van Nost the Elder. When in the early part of the 20th Century when Ireland was becoming Independent of the UK, and on it's way to form a Republic, the statue could have been destroyed by the Republicans, but thankfully Mr Bodkin bought it and took it to Birmingham. Today it stands just outside of the gallery on the lawn between University Road East, Ring Road North and Edgbaston Park Road.

 

One of the main reasons for coming to the University of Birmingham on a snowy day in December 2009 was to see the Equestrian Statue of George I.

It is quite impressive, probably the only statue of Birmingham with a King on a horse.

It is similar to a later statue of George IV that I previously saw in Trafalfar Square, London.

There is raser sharp spikes all the way around the plinth, to prevent someone climbing up onto the statue.

It isn't worth trying unless you want to harm yourself.

George I is looking towards King Edward's School, which moved here in 1936. All of this land was part of the Calthorpe Estates.

The equestrian statue was in silhouette on this side.

Back then, I tended to get loads of photos of statues and buildings, when I was new to Birmingham photography.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown. Can be found on Twitter: ellrbrown

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