The Coffin Works, Birmingham

Wowie I haven’t wrote in a while, but then again, I haven’t really been able to go any where in a while. You can guess what my new years resolution is!

For my sister’s birthday, we took the train to Birmingham to visit the Coffin Works and explore the area… Because what else do you do to celebrate the day you were born, other than spend the day learning about death?When buying your tickets, you have to punch in using the same machine they would of used back when the factory was up and running.The tours run every hour and last around 45 minutes. The lady who showed us around was called Heather and she was a fantastic. To begin the tour, she showed us the courtyard and talked about how it had changed over the years. Back in the early days the factory would of had stables, a manure pit, coal pit and an acid pit… Yes an acid pit, oh and child labour. Not sure it would of passed health and safety regulations today…

This was Birmingham’s last coffin furniture factory which operated for over 100 years until 1998. Nothing really changed from the it’s hey day so the factory is in the same state as what it would of been in back then. The company started off as a brass foundry company in 1882 by brothers Alfred and Edwin Newman and became a coffin furniture factory in 1892.The piercing room was probably my favourite part. This is where the moulds are created, the hot metal pressed and created into a piece for the coffin. The machines still work today and we even got a demonstration from Heather who made a small RIP plate.We then moved upstairs to see the finished products and learn more about the runnings of the factory, and some of the employees. In the office still hangs the coat and cardigan of Joyce Green who worked her way up as a secretary and then acquired the company as its last owner in 1998.We then moved upstairs again to a rather rickety workshop where they made the gowns and the insides of the coffin. One employee actually made her wedding dress from off cuts of material that she had pinched from the factory.With the tour over, we headed back into the town centre for some shopping, stopping in the St Paul’s Cathedral on our way. To be honest, the cathedral looks a bit grey and gloomy on the outside but inside its really warm and welcoming. If you manage to get in without getting stuck in the automatic doors like we did, whoops.We finished off our day with some shopping and sushi and a very busy train ride back home.

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