New Futures for Birmingham`s Historic Buildings

All in a day’s work: confessions of a BCT Development Officer Part II

Posted December 8th, 2012 by Suzanne Carter with No Comments

Every week is busy and varied working for BCT. This week I have been mainly preparing for the next series of Candle-light tours, which included trimming a Christmas tree at Coffin Fitting Works a la Victorian style. I was also papped by the Birmingham Mail emptying buckets of rain water in the Courtyard and mopping one of the floors – ah the glamour of working with ‘buildings at risk’!

It has been over a week since I posted All in a day’s work: confessions of a BCT Development Officer Part I where I wrote about the first of two exciting days at the end of November; and here is Part II.


Friday 30th November

10:00am Met with Sheree Tucker the Education Liaison Officer at English Heritage and one of BCT’s new volunteers Rachel and we spent the best part of the day in the Jewellery Quarter.  First stop Newman Brothers!

Rachel is a primary school teacher and complete history nut!  Rachel has offered to work with us to develop a joint offer to take into schools from three of the Jewellery Quarter’s finest heritage attractions; Newman Brothers Coffin Fitting Works, J.W. Evans and The Penroom Museum. We hope to work together to reach out to schools, rather than compete for their attention.

11.30am: Second stop J.W. Evans! This silversmiths in Albion Street owned by English Heritage is really something.  Similar in many respects to Coffin Fitting Works this building, is an amazing time capsule of a family-run business where nothing was ever thrown away! Great conservation story and a real step back in time. Well worth a visit on a pre-arranged tour. I was working at EH when Evans was rescued, so I had been there once before, but never with a camera – here is just a flavour of what it’s like inside…












I have to confess I came away with a new-found fascination in floors! I was surprised that the stone tiled floor I assumed I was walking on was in fact wooden, and that they had used the opaque glass floor tiles you see on pavements on an internal floor to let in light on a staircase. Thank you Corey for pointing out these interesting little details!









12:30pm: a spot of lunch at the historic Rose and Crown pub, where we had a bit of a brain storm about the themes that would link the sites together, tie in with the National Curriculum and be different to other heritage education programme in the city. We started thinking about working in Victorian times, especially with a focus on children. The National Trust’s Back to Backs concentrate on life in the back to backs, including the Victorian home; perhaps we can put together a complementary programme about life and work in the Victorian era?


Now we take Rachel to our final stop of the day..

1:30pm: The Penroom Museum to meet our friends Nigel and Brian and the other volunteers and to develop our thinking further. Like usual a wonderful warm welcome from the team and Sheree and I had a lesson in Braile from Keith while Linda showed Rachel around.














2.45pm: Heads full with knowledge and ideas we sent Rachel away to cogitate and ruminate (is that a Lloyd Grossman phrase?!) and can’t wait to talk further and start developing our joint education offer in the New Year.

3pm: I return to Newman Brothers to meet another new volunteer; Sandra, an architect from Mexico who is hoping to get involved in our restoration project while studying for an MA. Sandra is keen to start blogging for us – the perspective of a newcomer to Birmingham on our city’s architecture and heritage is going to be interesting.

So, two days of visits to amazing places, meeting interesting and committed volunteers and a lot of time at Newman Brothers. It’s all in a day’s work (and i’m certainly not complaining!)

Coming up… an afternoon at Newman Brothers with media students from Joseph Chamberlain College and… gearing up for the Christmasy candle-lit tours; new tours guides in preparation.


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