I have the very great privilege of working at a unique museum in Birmingham, which I have written a little about here and here, but now that the museum has been open for 3 years, it seems like time for something of an update!
The factory is presented as a perfect time capsule, with everything left in place, just as if the workers were out to lunch and will be back at any minute. It shows how the firm operated and earned a reputation for producing some of the finest coffin furniture in the world, including that used for the funerals of Winston Churchill, Joseph Chamberlain and Princess Diana.
During tours we operate some of the machinery which was used for producing stamped metal goods – the drop stamps and fly presses. We also have handling collections which allow visitors their hands on the items produced in the factory, including coffin handles, breastplates and shrouds. We recreate the atmosphere of the 1960s heyday, with music and tour guide uniforms.
Despite the subject matter, it’s not a morbid experience, because the focus of the tour is very much about the people who ‘made a living out of dying’ – stories about everything from travelling salesmen during the troubles in Ireland, a strike about tea breaks, and a very unusual wedding dress…
My job at the museum is Operations and Volunteer Assistant – which basically means my job is to look after the building and keep everyone in it happy! I have the best team in the world and they make every day a new adventure. Here’s a video that we recorded earlier this year for Volunteer Week which shows exactly why I love my job!