Category: Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery

The family history of Charles Downes, the first burial.

As promised, here is Charles Downes’ family background –

1871 Census

(Charles’ Grandfather) William Downes, now aged 30,was born in 1841 in Dilwyn, Herefordshire. Dilwyn is a village in Herefordshire, England located about 18 km from the city of Hereford and 9 km from its nearest town, Leominster.

By the time of the census in 1871, William is a carpenter living on Balsall Heath Road employing a man and also a servant, Jane Brazier aged 21 (b 1850).  His wife is Sarah (nee James) is aged 33.   He has two sons Walter William (Charles’ father) is aged 2 and Albert

1881 Census

William is now aged 40 and is a builder.   His wife Sarah is 44.  Their son Walter William is 12 and a scholar and Albert is 10 and a scholar.  The family are living at b/o 152 Balsall Heath Road, Kings Norton, Worcestershire.   Mary A. Lancaster (a niece aged 15) is a visitor.

1891 Census

Charles’ father, Walter William, is now aged 22 (born 1869) and a carpenter living at 188a Balsall Heath Road.   He marries Ada Louisa McKenzie (Mother born 1971) aged 20 (from 172 Moseley Road) at St. Thomas in the Moors Church of England Parish Church in Cox Street West, Balsall Heath on 1st March 1891.  Both their fathers are listed as deceased.

(In 1897 when Charles is 3, his father Walter William Downes aged 28 is admitted to the Birmingham No. 5 Branch of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners Union).

William and Ada’s children .

1892   William John

1894   Frederick Walter

1894   Charles        

1897   Albert

1898   Harry

1899   Louie Ada

1901   Frank


1899   Charles Dies 11 April at 47 Runcorn Road, Balsall Heath (Diphtheria x four days) – buried 15th April

———————————————————————————————–1901 Census

The family are living at 284 Balsall Heath Road, Kings Norton, Warwickshire. Walter William is 32 and is a carpenter/joiner – his wife Ada is 30.

1908   Their second daughter Lucy is born.

 1911 Census

The family are living at 105 Clifton Road, Balsall Heath.   Walter William is 43 and is a Carpenter and Joiner working at a Builders and Contractors.   Ada is 40.

Their children –

William John is 19 and a clerk, Frederick Walter is 17 and employed in shop fitting Albert is 14 and is a gas works laboratory assistant, Harry is 13 and a school boy, Louie Ada is 10 and at school and Lucy is 3 years old.

Walter William’s mother Sarah is 75 and a widow living with them.

1937-Walter William dies aged 68.

(Our thanks to all those that assisted us in producing this time line and we hope it helps to bring the ‘Downes’ family and Charles to greater attention)




Can we remind all visitors to the Cemetery to exercise care when moving any distance from their vehicle, as thieves are always looking for an opportunity to steal from unlocked vehicles. 

We are aware that the Police attended an attempted theft in the cemetery last weekend.  Brandwood End Cemetery is a relatively safe space, but do take care as thieves will always be on the look out for unattended vehicles and bags. PLEASE RING THE POLICE DIRECT.

It would be helpful if you could also advise Bereavement Service staff on 0121 303  5583 if you are ever a victim, as they are often not notified so can take no additional measurers- when applicable.

Special Anniversary for Brandwood End

This weekend was a special one for Brandwood End Cemetery as the Friends remember 2 events that happened 120 years ago.

Brandwood End Cemetery was officially opened (there is a plaque on the wall of the West Chapel ) on Thursday 13th April 1899 by Mr. George Tallis, the Chairman of the Kings Norton Parish Council Local Cemetery Committee.

The photograph above shows the boulder (Provided by the Friends following a generous donation) marking one of the communal grave areas where the very first burial site is marked.

If you look to the right as you pass the Cross of Sacrifice, very close to the Redwood Avenue, you will find a simple wooden stake. (Section C1 c/e)

The Friends, with help from Bereavement Service staff, have identified the grave of :-

Charles Downes – 5 years old – first burial in Brandwood End. The cause of death was ‘Diphtheria after 4 days’

His father, Walter William Downes was a Carpenter (journeyman) who was present at his little son’s death at 47 Runcorn Road, Balsall Heath on Tuesday 11th April 1899.   Charles was buried four days later on Saturday 15th April, and became the first burial in Brandwood End.

We have, today, laid a small tribute with a few words, but hope to bring you more of the Downes Family history via a link in the next few days.


The minister who conducted the burial service was Revd Charles William Barnard, Vicar of St. Nicolas’ Kings Norton (1893-1909) in whose parish the Cemetery lay.


Major tree work continues in the cemetery.

Tree contractors, Idverde, have crown lifted many conifers (removed lower branches) and other species, as well as removing Ivy from the lower 6 feet of trunks along the Sunderton road boundary.

Regular visitors to the cemetery will have noticed a huge increase in tree work in the last year. This has followed a survey to determine the safety of many of the older and diseased trees, to prevent damage to graves, property and people in the future. Brandwood End was opened in 1899 and many of the trees were planted then or, in the case of some of the oaks, before that date. Oaks often live for several hundred years but many other species have a much shorter life expectancy and that is the case with many of our 1700 plus trees!


We have seen major crown lifting on both sides of our Wellingtonia avenue, large trees removed on the Broad Lane boundary, Poplars removed along the Sunderton Road boundary, Woodland reduced on the pool end of Sunderton road and various trees crown lifted or removed across the cemetery.

On the plus side, great care has been taken to consider wildlife with trees left untouched that are being used by Woodpeckers, ivy growth removed in some areas and left in others for nesting, standing tree stumps left to improve biodiversity and logs piled for Hedgehog use.

A tree replacement programme has been started and a number of new trees have already been planted by local pupils. The Friends hope that this can continue, provided funding can be found.

Sad farewell to Aaron, following his re-deployment

It is with great sadness today that we say goodbye to the Site Foreman at Brandwood End, who has been redeployed to Quinton Cemetery.

Aaron has been a great support to the Friends in all their activities over the last 13 years and enabled us to carry out many projects that have enhanced and improved the Cemetery as well as infusing Bereavement Services reduced budget!. He will be sadly missed, but we welcome Tony who has travelled the other way….from Quinton, and trust that we will enjoy an equally mutually beneficial relationship in practical matters.

Great work at yesterdays Litter Pick.

Eight supporters joined together to take part in a very productive litter pick in the cemetery yesterday.  The ‘March’ litter pick always produces lots of wind blown litter and that proved to be the case this year with 20 bags being collected!

Maybe it is the exceptional weather but everyone was amazed at the beautiful display of blossom at what seemed like an early time of the year.


Our thanks to those that turned out to help and we look forward to hopefully seeing you all again in June.


Litter Pick tomorrow…….


This is the final reminder that we will be holding our usual LITTER PICK tomorrow and everyone is welcome. This event is part of the annual event organised by Keep Britain Tidy, but we are holding it on our usual first weekend in March.

Saturday 2nd March 10am-11.30am. All welcome. Stout footwear and gloves advised. Litter pickers and bags provided. Meet at the Lodge on the main drive.

(We may not be quite as festive as we were in December !!)