We are all a little sad to see the chapels seemingly in one of the worst states since the formation of FBEC. The Friends are continually trying to find a solution to halt this deterioration but we are very much in the hands of the owners, Birmingham City Council. Until a sustainable future use for them is found that is acceptable to BCC, and to grant providers, I am afraid we are going nowhere!
We can all see the huge amount of shrubbery both out of control around the chapels and also on the tower. This makes us so sad as, despite years of effort, we have still got nowhere!
The Friends will continue their efforts in all other areas of the cemetery but our main aim remains to try and bring about a solution to halt the continued deterioration of these marvelous Victorian Terracotta Chapels.
Can we add that none of this reflects on the Ground Staff and administration for the cemetery who, like us, are equally sad and unable to resolve this issue but continue to maintain the rest of the cemetery as well as resources allow.
There has recently been some social media comment highlighting some areas of the cemetery that appear to be unmown. This has been reported to Bereavements Services but when FBEC committee members went to look they were also concerned….. but, it was a far from a simple issue.
You will see from the photo above that the growth is not in fact grass (you can see the narrow path has been mown) but it is actually weed growth on individual graves.
Our understanding is that these areas are are normally treated with weed inhibitor but this year it has been ineffective- possibly because of the rain deluge that followed spraying and then this long hot spell? Not sure what they can do at this stage, as spraying now may kill whats grown, but not remove it ! When they offer a solution we will let you know.
Meanwhile, rest assured that the rest of the cemetery is spick and span…..as you can see below.
APPEAL FOR HELP- Perhaps now is a good opportunity to make an appeal for help within the cemetery. The Friends have many members nationally with an interest in Brandwood End but only about 10 people that help us physically on site, and we are all time limited ! We have a raft of projects we would like to undertake- from clearing Ivy from grave areas, removing Holly self setters, clearing brambles, maintaining the Civilian Garden (For which we are responsible) to- researching graves, placing Poppy Crosses, washing section markers, litter picking,……the list goes on ! What we lack is ‘man power’ (or women power!) –We are all getting older and WE NEED HELP. Please message us via this site or e mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Please think about joining the Friends to help maintain this fantastic green space. Yes, BCC has ultimate responsibility but lack of funding means that they have very limited resources. The Friends can often access grants not available to them to undertake work to improve the environment. Many of the improvements we try to make only take ‘people’ to make them happen.
Just a note to remind everyone that the Hawthorn hedge surrounding the Civilian Garden of Remembrance always looks a little unkempt at this time of year, as under the ‘Protection of Wildlife Regulations’ we are not allowed to cut this mature hedge whilst there are nesting birds. It will be cut back as soon as is allowed.
Those of you that were involved in the planting, along with pupils from St Albans Catholic Primary School, will remember that this was part of a Heritage Lottery Environmental Project to increase wildlife habitat as well as hedging this area. The hedge has been a victim of its own success as it has become really well established and supports lots of wildlife…..BUT it will be cut well back, as soon as is possible !
It is with great sadness that we report the sudden death of Barbara Johnson who was known to many of us for her work with BARRA(www.birminghamairraids.co.uk).
Barbara died on May 30th and our thoughts are with her family and close friends.
Our local BCC Tree Officer has been considering the plight of the exceptionally large Poplar Trees that lie directly behind some of the houses at the lower end of Sunderton Road. He has made the decision that these trees, although still beautiful, are nearing the end of their life and will unfortunately have to be removed for safety reasons. This removal will be happening soon- as health and safety issues take priority- but it is his intention to replace the trees with smaller more suitable species within the next year or so.
This work will compliment the tree husbandry being carried out in the cemetery to remove lower branches and dead limbs. It will also give an opportunity to plant new young trees to take over from the existing stock, some of which were planted over 100 years ago.
Those of us that live locally are only too aware of the damage caused when the recent heavy deluge overwhelmed the drains in the area. Severn Trent have given, and continue to give, advice on how to protect your property from these unusual occurrences when existing drains are unable to cope.
Bereavement Services are also trying to reduce run off from the cemetery, which lies on higher ground than some of the surrounding houses.
As a temporary measure they created a sandbag ‘wall’ along the most affected zone and to make a more permanent deterrent they have decided to build a ‘bund’ which will be planted with wild flowers.
Fortunately these occurrences are rare but they still cause a fair amount of damage and upset to those affected.
The sun shone on 5 members of 96th Birmingham Scouts who joined FBEC members to collect 11 bags of litter around the cemetery on Sunday 3rd June.
Our new Chairman, Julia, kept herself busy by washing the section markers along the main drive and assisting a number of members of the public in finding family graves !
Our thanks to people who kindly donate to FBEC when they see us at work in the cemetery. Your support is greatly appreciated.