Appropriately enough, the very last pre-conservation visitors to the Coffin Works, on the afternoon of Wednesday 24 July, were members of the Conservation Course Directors Forum.
The forum comprises the course directors from all the leading institutions, mainly universities, offering courses in building conservation throughout the UK and Ireland. They gathered for a meeting at the regional offices of English Heritage in Birmingham and then, for post-meeting stimulation, descended on the Coffin Works. They were probably the most challenging group that I have given a tour to. So many questions! In the photo I am explaining to the Forum our plans for the building, and how the Birmingham Conservation Trust will give the Coffin Works a sustainable future through combining a heritage attraction with commercial units for let.
The members of the Forum are pictured standing in front of the 1960s wing of the Coffin Works, a building devoid of architectural merit but nevertheless, by dint of being part of the factory as a whole, Grade II* listed. It is an ordinary building made extraordinary by its part in the story of Newman Brothers.
The next morning we signed the contract that will hand over the Coffin Works to our contractors for the next 41 weeks. But that is another story….