Advantage West Midlands has withdrawn funding from a project to transform the Newman Brothers Coffin Fittings Factory in Fleet Street into an innovative museum and office space. It means that this Grade II building on the ‘At Risk’ register is likely to remain empty and unused; and it is unclear what will happen to the historically significant contents.
Advantage West Midlands purchased the building in 2003 specifically to find a productive new use for it whilst saving it and its historically important contents. Unless Advantage West Midlands is able to come up with an effective alternative, that means an end to the work.
Production at the factory stopped in 1998, but the company made some of the world’s finest coffin furniture, including fittings for the coffins of Churchill, Chamberlain and Diana, Princess of Wales. Thanks to the unique atmosphere of the interiors, the building reached the finals of the BCC programme ‘Restoration’ featuring Griff Rhys Jones.
A rescue package is being discussed with assistance from English Heritage but it is unlikely to proceed without some AWM support.