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Every year one job signals the beginning of Christmas for us here at JFW Ltd.  Yesterday was the day we undertook the 17 year tradition of assembling the Nativity Crib in Coventry City centre.

Manufactured way back in 2004 we have been erecting the Nativity Crib every year during the last week of November and Dismantling just before New Year ever since.  We get the call at the beginning of November to arrange the logistics, which involves liaising with the church and the council, we also have to arrange for a flat bed truck to transport the 8ft square roof!  We have used Tallis Hire in Burbage for around 10 years now, before this we used a self employed transport guy, (Tony’s Transport) he used to love doing it for us as he enjoyed the jokes and banter that came with the job!


it is a team effort every year, mainly because the roof is one whole piece, built using marine ply, Oak batterns, fascias and soffits and Cedar shingles. Depending on how wet December is determines just how heavy the roof is going to be, one year saw expansion of a round 10 mm on each shingle!!!  The second reason is for bacon butties and cappuccinos on site!  There isn’t anything much better than gathering around in the cold with a lovely bacon batch (should Paula or Josh be reading, I’m talking about a COB) with your work mates, laughing and joking.  Every year this job allows us to put aside the stresses and pressures of the other jobs we have going on for a couple of hours so we can get together as a team and as mates to carry on this long company tradition.


We get together again during our Christmas shut down to dismantle the crib, giving us a chance to discuss our Christmas’ and plans for New Year.  Also for more coffee and bacon rolls….. Can you blame us, its usually freezing and a couple of the years we’ve had to brush the snow off of the roof…..  It also allows for extra help from friends, family members, work experience team members and retired team members.  If you’re reading this, you’ll know who you are!  It appears no-one can resist the tradition, or is it the bacon batch?


Over the years the Nativity has been in a total of 4 locations

  1. Smithford Way by West Orchards and the Library
  2. Upper Precinct next to the two escalators which have now been removed
  3. Broadgate opposite Primark
  4. Broadgate opposite Top Shop

We have liaised with 3 Fathers, used 8 different cafe’s/ coffee shops for bacon baps and coffee. (Currently Greggs), used 6 different company vehicles, Used 4 different hire vehicles, re-stained it twice, replaced 9 pieces of glass, used countless tubes of silicone, purchased 2 sweeping brushes because we forgot to bring one, made 2 modifications because of the location, locked a team member inside more times than I can remember and surprisingly the same garage door at the church (the thing has been falling apart since 2004…….)

The Nativity on Upper Precinct.
The Nativity on Broadgate, Opposite Primark.


In 2008 were asked by Solihull Town Council to replicate the Nativity for their town centre, Danny, Leon and I built this and installed it for them, They planned to build it and dismantle it themselves so John drew up some instructions for them to follow and we left them to it.  It is still used to this day.

Solihull Nativity.


This job really proves that everything we produce at JFW Ltd stands the test of time, if something we built nearly 20 years ago is still as good and strong now as it was back then, you can rest assured that we deliver a quality long lasting product time and time again.  Things have only gotten better with the improved materials, methods and systems we have available to us.  Not to mention the ever growing years of combined experience….. 152 years I think we currently have under our belt…..  Not too bad I don’t think…..

It is now officially the build up to Christmas for us.  Yes it will be different, maybe even difficult but we will make the most of it as best we can, we have some pressing jobs to complete but we will attack them with our usual motivation and vigor and as the day gets closer we’ll be spreading the cheer and good tidings around our workshop.

I hope your run up to Christmas is smooth and prosperous.


Tags: JFW Process, Religious Furniture
Lessons from Tony Hsieh