Help us bring our barrels back to life!
As part of our reopening, we have ambitious plans to return more of the authentic sounds and sights of manufacturing to Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, and we need your help!
The sound of our barrels, used to polish coffin handles, would once have resonated throughout the Newman Brothers' courtyard. We want to motorise them and bring them back to life, to provide visitors with an even more immersive experience of what it would have been like to walk into the factory 100 years ago. As we change our model in the wake of Covid-19, it is vital that we provide the very best for our visitors, to keep them coming back, and this is key to our plans. We even have some exciting and exclusive rewards to thank our kind supporters. Please read on and help if you can!
In response to Covid-19 we are having to change our visitor experience from guided tour to self-guided tour and we want the museum to be as interactive as possible for visitors. This is why we want to get our barrels moving! We recently received funding to help us create a mobile museum tour for self-guided visits, but the grant doesn’t pay for any mechanical work. With your help, we could buy a motor to get one of our barrels working again, as well as fund the installation and associated wayfinding and interpretation. That’s why we’re looking to make £4,500 to pay for this work.
You’ve helped us before and that’s why we’re calling on your help again. This time, we’ve come up with even more enticing rewards that we hope will whet your appetite. As appreciation of your help, we want you to have something meaningful and memorable from us.
But before we get to the rewards, what did the barrels do?
Not just any barrels
Here’s what your funding! Hidden in the Newman Brothers’ cellar sits the original Barrelling Shop. The barrels were crucial to Newman Brothers’ success as a casting company as they were used to smooth out and clean the brass work that the company became famous for. Since at least the 1920s, the barrels, otherwise known as electric tumblers were used to smoothen the surfaces of the coffin fittings. They were noisy and relentless, as they continuously spun for a number of hours in the ‘rotating drums’.
This is where, for instance George V, George VI and Queen Mary’s coffin furniture would have been polished. The handle below *insert image* was the handle of choice amongst the royal undertakers and was the exact style to have adorned the coffins of many kings, queens and prime ministers, including Churchill. And they were all polished in these exact barrels!
Since 2014, the heart of our rescue campaign has been preserving and restoring the original machinery, dating from 1894. Originally the barrels were powered by a belt run by a gas engine, and later an electric motor. We need a modern motor to be fitted, to allow the barrels to run, and allow visitors the see and hear how the process worked. It will return life to the oldest remnants of the industrial buildings to the [south] of our historic courtyard.
Not just any rewards!
We’ve teamed up with Birmingham Brewing Company to produce an exclusive beverage and it's named after the place you’re supporting: Fleet Works Pale takes its inspiration from an alternative name for Newman Brothers. The Victorian manufactory was also known as the ‘Fleet Works’ and our Fleet Works Pale is a limited edition of the famous ‘Pale Brummie’ produced by Birmingham Brewing Co. We’re raising a can or two to all those former Newman Brothers’ workers and we’d love you to do the same.
Beer, bags and badges!
If you fancy something non-alcoholic, then we have two more goodies for you! We’ve used the Newman Brothers’ manufactory as inspiration for our badges and canvas bags, which have been made in its name, and exclusively for this Crowdfunding campaign!
Want to get your hands on all three rewards? We are offering a bundle, so you can sponsor us and get a mixture of all three.
Please ensure you 'select a reward' before you donate, otherwise no reward option will be registered.