New Futures for Birmingham`s Historic Buildings

A fond farewell to our University of Birmingham work placements

Posted March 29th, 2015 by Suzanne Carter with No Comments
Sam and Julian

Julian (left) and Sam (right)

This week we said goodbye to our lovely work placements Sam and Julian who completed 120 hours each volunteering with us at the Coffin Works. As is customary, we asked them to write a blog about their experiences…

You can also hear them reading it HERE!

From Joyce Green to Tom Jones: A year at Newman Bros.

On October 28th Newman Brothers opened its doors for the first time and as the tours were being shown round, two students from Birmingham University tagged along to learn about the factory’s rich history. Over the next 7 months the attraction developed from a quiet and dusty building into a top 5 tourist destination in the whole of Birmingham, while the students developed into knowledgeable and lively workers with a much greater understanding of the history of this famous area.





Julian’s Experience

When I first saw that I would be working at ‘Coffin Works’, I didn’t know what to expect. When I arrived I was amazed to find an old coffin fittings factory that was nearing the end of its beautiful restoration. I have had an amazing experience here, from the very beginnings when I was learning about the history of the building while room enabling, to the end when I was fascinated by the drop stamps as they created small decorated metal plates. We have had many jobs here, both informal and formal as we joined in with this group of staff and volunteers to create a segment of industrial Birmingham. One of my most memorable experiences is doing the inventory of the building, looking at the pieces of the past that the workers left behind. Sitting in the warehouse hearing the repeated orders for Joyce, never replied to. Back then visitors were infrequent, but here on my last day it’s been bustling and busy from the moment we walked through the door, stark contrast to the days when my most pressing job was to sit in the warehouse and think about anything from football to what I was having for dinner.

Julian in the birm mail picture

Julian captured by the Birmingham Mail on our opening day
















Sam’s Experience

Upon learning of my placement at Coffin Works I visited a week before the opening day, what I saw was a huge amount of potential, and a band of loyal staff applying the final touches to the attraction. I sat down with Sarah Hayes and Suzanne Carter and discussed what I wanted to get out of the placement including gaining some experience in marketing. During the placement I was able to do a range of activities from leaflet drops to creating a marketing plan. These experiences have been invaluable in developing the skills necessary for a career in marketing; that included talking to every single hotel, restaurant and cafe in the centre of Birmingham and convincing them to distribute the leaflets to their guests. The last 7 months have not only been an educational experience but an entertaining one as well, spending hours working in the shroud room has ingrained Tom Jones’s ‘It’s Not Unusual’ into my mind forever and spending the time between tours getting to know the many volunteers who work here. Ultimately it has been a wonderful experience watching this heritage sight grow from strength to strength and it has been my absolute pleasure to be a part of it.

sam and sam

Sam making masks with children on opening day



All the team at the Coffin Works and BCT would like to say a huge thank you to you both for your hard work and good company. Wishing you all the best with your studies and come back to see us!

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