The Coffin Works Archive is an ever evolving project that
brings together the diverse Newman Brothers’ Collection,
which until now have been unconnected.


Gateway Objects

Using Gateway Objects the larger collection
can finally begin ‘communicating’ with each other.


Exploring the online archive thematically will help you navigate the collection if you wish to focus on a specific area in depth.


This project wouldn’t have been possible without the Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund, run by the Museums Association. A grant of £56,600 was awarded in August 2015 and has allowed us to build this resource and ensure it continues to grow.


Growing Archive

Keep coming back to see our archive grow, as we add more objects, stories and features.


Our current online collection is a great place to learn about Newman Brothers and The Coffin Works.


Using our themes (links below) you can navigate your way through our collection with related objects and stories.


The Coffin Works Archive is fully searchable – use this symbol in the navigation at any time to search for objects and stories.

Learn more about our wonderful collection through our Themes…


This theme deals with significant historical milestones in the trade, and the key historical figures associated with the company.

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Learn how changing attitudes towards death and mourning had an impact on the coffin furniture fashions of the day.

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Industry & Manufacturing

Learn why Birmingham was at the heart of the coffin furniture trade, and how Newman Brothers embraced the highs and survived the lows of the industry.

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Learn about the roles at the factory and how the high Victorian child mortality rate played a key part in the social obsession with the funeral.

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The Victorians

Newman Brothers was a Victorian company with a reputation for quality, selling to the country’s most elite funeral furnishers, including the royal undertakers.

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Find out about the key characters who made a difference, and discover how pay, pension rights, and tea breaks had an impact on the workforce.

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By far the most comprehensive archive of objects and stories related to death and the funeral industry on the web!

Sarah Hayes, Collections Manager

It was really fun getting to know the team during the project. They were all helpful in answering my questions and made me feel completely at ease. The design ended up being twice as good as I could have ever envisioned! Don't wait any longer to call up the team, you're only hurting yourself by postponing!

Paul Tranter, Graphic Designer

It's been amazing to watch this archive grow, and we couldn't have done it without the hard work of Sarah Hayes, and the funding from Esmee Fairbarn

Simon Beatux, Birmingham Conservation Trust

We’ve clocked its age at last!

| Blogs | No Comments

Our clocking-in machine or ‘time recorder’ has been central to welcoming visitors since the Coffin Works opened in 2014. Visitors take their admissions tickets and ‘clock in’ for a tour,…

Volunteers work on a shroud

Dead Fashionable

| Blogs, Volunteering | No Comments

Fashion designers have always looked to the past for inspiration. Dior’s ‘revolutionary’ New Look was inspired by the corseted waists and full skirts of the Victorian era whilst Chanel’s spring…

Little Stairways With Surprises at the Top: a Visit to Fleet Street, August 1953

| At The Coffin Works, Blogs | No Comments
A Drab Thoroughfare with a Glamorous Name   An image of Fleet Street, 1953, showing a perspective that looks as though it includes Newman Brothers. ©Birmingham Daily Gazette Street of Opportunity ...

Re-Creating a Classic Coffin Handle Finish (or trying to)!

| Uncategorised | No Comments

My dad died earlier this month. In the last weeks of his life he knew he was dying and this gave us (myself and my brother and sisters) an opportunity…