Author: Jane Edwards

Can anyone assist in bird call recognition?

We were walking in the cemetery today. It was very quiet and then an unbelievable whooping sound. Came back and researched it, as it was very distinct and unusual. It sounded owl like and the completely matching sound was…….Eurasian Scops Owl !! Surely this can’t be true. Anyone on here with more knowledge who can suggest another solution? I noticed a few other people stopped dead by the sound. Very distinctive.

I understand that these Owls do occasionally end up in the UK and have been spotted as far north as Northumberland, but usually  by accident or as a result of stormy weather.   They prefer warmer areas.

Can anyone suggest a more logical solution? The call was a loud, fairly deep whooping and did match this Owl call.


A Stonemason’s story

We have reproduced below a short piece by Carola Klein, a member of the Friends committee since inception.

‘One day in the Cemetery I came upon a figure crouched intently at one of the World War I memorial screens. Mike Witham was engraving the letters of a newly identified name onto a remaining space on the wall. We chatted, and I arranged to return over the next few days to take photographs. I took these as he worked, but do not think I distracted him as he was so focussed on the inscription.

Mike has been with the Commonwealth Memorial War Graves Commission for 37 years, his official role is Chargehand Stonemason and his work takes him from Penzance to the Orkneys, and sometimes Scandinavia, or even further.

Mike’s skill Is in carving Italic letters, using a tungsten tipped chisel and a mallet called a ‘steel lettering dummy’. He told me that the type of stone used for memorials varies according to the geology of the location, limestone, sandstone or granite. The Brandwood End screens and Cross of Sacrifice are made from a type of sandstone’.



Resurfacing on main drive complete.

Some of the worst areas of the main drive have been resurfaced in the last week. There are undoubtedly  lots of hot spots still in need of repair but time and finance struggle to coordinate! Well done to Bereavement staff for getting this done at one of their busiest times, and whilst they didn’t actually lay the tarmac- they did have to organise access and areas. Not a simple job !!


Latest addition to the Screen Wall.

Early in December a member of our committee was lucky enough to be in the cemetery when a new name was added to the screen wall, adjacent to the Cross of Sacrifice on the main drive.

The work was undertaken by Chargehand Stonemason –  Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Mike Witham.

Mike has undertaken work for the CWWGC all over the world in various cemeteries and on December 1st he found himself in Brandwood End.

The names of those who lost their lives during the Wars, and are buried in the communal grassed areas either side of the main drive, are remembered on the  screen walls. They were either without family or family were unable to afford to finance a grave at that time, but they are individually named on the two screen walls that lie either side of the main drive adjacent to the Cross of Sacrifice.

Our understanding is that family recently followed up his records and approached the CWWGC to have his name added. The Friends would love to talk to the family, so if one of them is reading this or if you know who they are, could you put us in touch? Please e mail us on

The work undertaken by Mike and other  CWWGC Stonemasons must be admired as its longevity enables families  to see a lasting record of their relatives and a recognition of their sacrifice.

How many varieties can you spot? Send us your photos.

Our thanks to our committee member, Carola Klein, for her observations and photographs of Fungi in the cemetery. We notice that this year the huge ‘Fairy Rings’ we saw last year have not reappeared.

We know that many of our web site followers take their cameras along when they visit Brandwood End. We are always interested to see your results if you think you have an interesting shot, whether that is an unusual headstone, wildlife or flora and fauna. Can you e mail them to us at

CWWGC remember those lost in the longest air raid.

Since its opening in 1899 Brandwood End Cemetery has been a place of burial and remembrance for over 350 souls lost as a result of enemy action. Many are remembered under the ‘Commonwealth War Graves’ umbrella but many lie in family graves. During the Blitz hundreds of civilians lost their lives in the City and Brandwood End is the resting place of many of those. Our Civilian Garden of Remembrance is a peaceful place dedicated especially to those civilians. We have reproduced below a ‘post’ that the CWWGC featured on their site as a record of the event.
On the 11th December, 1940, the residents of Birmingham appeared from their air raid shelters after suffering the longest raid of the Blitz.
For 13 hours the city was pounded by hundreds of German bombers, with over 150 civilians killed. They are commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour located near St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey in London.
Can we also refer you to the web site of Birmingham Air Raid Association.

Cemetery opening times over Christmas and New Year 2020/21

These are the current times advised today. Please do check the BCC site nearer the time to confirm.

Christmas and New Year opening 2020/21-Cemetery grounds will be open to visitors as follows :


Christmas Eve Thursday 24th December – 8.30am – 4.00pm

Christmas Day Friday  25th December – 10am – 4pm

Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th December – 10am – 4pm

Monday 28th December 10am – 4pm

New Year’s Day Friday 1st January – 10am to 4.00pm


‘Litter picked’- despite the rain!

There was no one more surprised that Julia, (our Chairman), and myself when 11 people turned up to our litter pick in the pouring rain! Our thanks to them for braving the cold and the rain and collecting lots of bags of rubbish. We are pleased to say that most of the litter was wind blown flower paper and not  rubbish discarded by the public.

Can we remind visitors to remove flower paper when placing flower tributes on graves and secure artificial flowers in pots, to avoid them being blown around the area by the wind.

Thank you again to those that came to this, the last Litter Pick of 2020. This year will forever rank as a strange one!  Our next litter pick will be Saturday the 6th March 2021.