New Futures for Birmingham`s Historic Buildings

The Newman Brothers Coffin Works Factory at its 5th month of refurbishment

Posted December 17th, 2013 by Birmingham Conservation Trust with 1 Comment

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Photographs 1 & 2 – Part of a broader sequence of images showing the restoration of each room taking place over time.

Photograph 3 – Windows being restored internally.

Photographs credit: Jane Baker

A lot has changed since I was last on site.  The Newman Brothers Coffin Works project is now in its 5th month of restoration and is picking up pace, with a workforce averaging 27 men, working six days a week.

Under the guidance of the site manager, Andy King, the builders have replaced the old bitumen covered roofs with newly insulated, damp-proofed and slate-tiled roofs. All the chimneys have been cleared and new stacks have been built replacing the old ones, which were built to a very low standard. A new roof guttering system has also been installed, allowing the factory to be fully water tight and safe.

To reduce the risk of damp problems affecting the building fabric, a new radiator heating system has been installed throughout the building. The Plant room (former Barrelling Shop) has also tackled this potential problem with a plastic membrane called ISO-P20. This is a waterproof membrane which covers the walls and runs under the existing floor. It is built with circular ridges to allow water that gets in from above, to run off down the back and under the slab and finally into the drainage system.

With potential issues avoided, plumbing and electric first fits are also being installed and are very close to completion. The team is now ready to finish insulating and plaster boarding the walls.

Whilst on site, the builders were carrying out repointing works on all the front facades and the courtyard elevations. Walking to the West side of the building, the contractors had already repointed the majority of the elevation and were in the middle of removing the scaffolding.

In the courtyard I could also see a number of workers rebuilding a window pier to match the original ones –the previous owners who carried out maintenance work on the factory, rebuilt the damaged piers with straight-edged bricks, whilst the original bricks were finished with a curved cut edge. So far over 2500 bricks have been used, all from a local reclamation yard.

With the window piers rebuilt, the decorators then worked on the finishing touches, including the window frames and facias. There is however an urgent need for all the external work to be completed by mid-January, as once temperatures reach below 5 degrees, the repointing work will have to be put on hold.

It is predicted that by the end of January all the scaffolding will be dismantled. This will enable the workers to start digging a trench across the courtyard to feed in gas and electricity to the factory. At this point the new paving will be placed down and the workers will be able to continue with the internal works.

With the preparation work nearly complete, the New Year should be an exciting time for the regeneration of the Newman Brothers Coffin Works.

One Response to “The Newman Brothers Coffin Works Factory at its 5th month of refurbishment”

  1. Brian Simpson December 17, 2013

    Fantastic to hear about how this important part of the Jewellery Quarter’s herritage is being saved. Look forward to visiting next year when the restoration work is complete.


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