Category: Memorials and headstones

More information on testing of headstones .

Took my daily exercise in the cemetery today and thought I would take a few photos of the extent of graves failing a stress test. These stones are in danger of toppling under minor pressure, so have been marked with blue tape and staked, to allow time for next of kin to have them correctly fixed by a Stonemason, and to warn the public to keep clear of them. In the older sections there are quite a few large stones needing action.


Memorial/Headstone testing.

Safety tests have been undertaken on monuments in B8 and B10. Some headstones tested are deemed unsafe so Bereavements may be trying to contact grave owners. DO THEY HAVE YOUR CORRECT ADDRESS? Please try and visit to check your relatives grave if it is in those areas and make sure Bereavement Services at Kings Norton are aware if you have moved. These are quite old burial sections so some grave sites may have no living relatives. Graves that have been deemed in need of action have been ‘blue’ taped and attached to posts. Ultimately these headstones will be laid flat to avoid damage to them and unsuspecting passers- by unless grave owners rectify the situation.  If you think your details are out of date you can e mail your present address to : 

Remember to include the grave number off your deeds!

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’.



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.

Lovely tributes on Remembrance Sunday

We were so sad to have to cancel our normal Remembrance Day Service but were heartened to see so many people throughout the day stopping to pay their respects at the Cross of Sacrifice.







Members of our committee laid wreaths at the Cross and also at the WW1 Memorial. Their wreaths were joined by those of the West Midlands Police Force, The Catholic Womens League and a tribute from the local community. There are still other wreaths to be laid later today but we think that , between us all, we have shown that the community as a whole pulled together to make Remembrance Sunday an ‘event’ despite these strange times. Thank you all.

We also welcomed Ian Binnie to the cemetery today who was visiting to lay a wreath on behalf of the Gallipoli Association and the Yeomanry Museum based in Warwick.  It was destined for the grave of  Private Horace George Turner – Service No. 2244 who lost his life in Souvla  Bay.