When I arrived back from holiday this afternoon I could hear the strange sound of ‘nail guns’ coming from the cemetery , so I dashed straight round in the hope that the roof trusses (that were delivered a couple of weeks ago) may be in position….and they were!
The Roofers are working hard installing the timber frame and then hopefully it will be boarded, felted and a outer surface applied.
Can we stress that this is a temporary roof and in place to protect the structure of the building, not to renovate it.
Never the less, this is a day that the Friends have been working towards for over 10 years as it represents a step in the right direction, to prevent the dereliction of this building reaching a state that would make it uneconomic to renovate.
We still have a number of major stumbling blocks before we can agree that the initial aims of our group, to see the chapels renovated and in use, are realised. One of these is a viable solution as to how this building, if renovated, can earn its keep in the future. The chapels, as they were, are no longer required for use alongside funerals but restrictions on access make their use for many suggestions not acceptable.
Birmingham City Council and the Friends will continue to try and find a solution to these issues as we are all in agreement that the loss of such a beautiful building would be a crime.
The Friends have tried several times to get the Victorian Chapels in Brandwood End included in the Victorian Society ‘At Risk’ register and it appears we have at last been successful. As yet we have received no official notification (not sure that we will !) but an article will appear in tomorrows Birmingham Post saying that we have been added, along with a large factory in the Black Country. You can follow the article below, and whilst there are some funding inaccuracies in the reporting, we are really pleased that The Post has decided to highlight this.
At this time we are not sure if this listing will add weight to our constant requests to Birmingham City Council to move forward, alongside the Friends, and apply for grant funding to bring this building back into acceptable condition. This will also involve work to find a sustainable future use- thus ensuring this beautiful buildings future.
The Victorian Society web site also carries this news-
We are now seeing a small amount of work starting to move fences in and then make masonry safe. Planning permission is still pending for a temporary roof on half of the building to protect the walls from the weather etc. With Bereavement Services we hope to raise funds for some ‘interpretation’ so members of the public can follow what is happening in this area. This is not a renovation project at this time, just an effort to prevent further deterioration, pending ideas for asuccessful bid to give this building a sustainable future.
Follow this link to our photo album and thanks to our photographer!
Scaffolding? What is happening at the chapels? Well the ‘Friends’ have no more idea than you do! Watch this space and we will try and find out………
We have been informed by Bereavement Services Department that the safety testing of Memorials is due to be restarted and will focus on Sections 35,36,37 and 38
Notification signs have been erected in all the above areas. They have asked us to remind Grave Owners/next of kin, that they should advise the office in Kings Norton Cemetery, by written letter (As signatures will be checked with original deeds) if they have changed address.
Unfortunately many people omit to update addresses when they move, so advising them of any safety work required to their relative’s grave is impossible. This often results in upset as when they do visit the grave they find that safety issues have resulted in the ‘staking’ or ‘laying down’ of the Headstone.
PLEASE CONTACT KINGS NORTON CEMETERY IF YOU HAVE CHANGED ADDRESS and are responsible for a grave in Brandwood End, especially in the Sections mentioned above.
Every year Friends of Brandwood End Committee turn out to try and keep the Ivy under control that takes over some of the most historic monuments in the cemetery.
Following advice from the Conservation Officer and also the Wildlife Trust, who are working closely with us on our Hedgehog Project, we try and restrict our activities to the month of February when the impact on insects and birds is at its lowest. Whilst removing the Ivy we did find one or two frogs and toads enjoying the sunshine in the damp undergrowth but we made sure they remained undisturbed (Apart from their photo call!)
I think you will agree that the improvement is quite striking and has exposed some of our most interesting and beautiful monuments.
FBEC have been lucky enough to receive a donation from one of our members that has enabled us to revitalise the Civilian Garden of Remembrance in the Cemetery. Our main concern was that the beds had become over full and hard to maintain and that the quality of the soil needed improvement. The work was beyond our members abilities but we were able to engage ‘Rudge and Wood’ who are based at Winterbourne Botanical Gardens to undertake this project with some of their students.
It started like this…….and is nearly complete, so it looks like this…
It should be complete by the end of the week and we hope to hold an official unveiling in the near future so watch this space. Our thanks to Darren and his team and you can see more photographs of them at work on our facebook page.
It was lovely to meet some of the newly formed ‘Friends of Lye and Wollescote Cemetery’ as they paid a visit to Brandwood End. They were amazed at the size and the beauty of the tree lined avenues and monuments. FBEC have been in contact with West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust as they were seeking our advice on how we had formed our ‘Friends’ group.
Dudley Council transferred Lye and Wollescote Chapels to West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust, who made an Heritage Lottery application for the site to be renovated and it is now to be used as the Registry Office for the area with a resident Registrar. The Friends themselves were not involved in the funding bid or the restoration as work was more or less completed prior to their formation. We wish them luck with their group.
If you would like to see what has been achieved at their site you can follow this link .
‘Heritage Stone Access’ began work this week to clear shrubbery and re-fix loose and fallen masonry on the chapels, in an effort to slow deterioration pending funding being available to undertake renovation work.
As we all know, money is tight in Birmingham City Council and therefore renovation of the chapels remains some way off. (The majority of grant applications would demand match funding as a minimum from the site/building owners- BCC)
Bereavements Department are keen, along with the Friends, to try and keep the Chapels from deteriorating further during this lean period so have engaged a reputable company, with a good history of work on heritage buildings, to carry out various works. This includes making the building ‘pigeon proof’. (Large amounts of pigeon poo have already been professionally removed!) Shrubbery has also been sprayed with weed killers and partially removed.
Those eagled eyed visitors to the cemetery will have noticed that since the pigeons have been denied access to the buildings they have taken to roosting on the tower and creating quite a mess! Whilst on site the contractors will also be re-fixing masonry that has fallen (as seen across). We all watch with interest.
Can we issue a gentle reminder to all our members that the annual membership of FBEC is now due. It remains unchanged at £6 (£3 unwaged). All members should have received their renewal reminders with the AGM notification and this year there is an option to pay by annual standing order. Please contact us on our e mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
FBEC depend on our membership fees to produce our 2 newsletters each year, postage costs and to print the information we display in our Cemetery notice boards, so we do hope we can count on your continued support.
Anyone who may be considering becoming a supporter of FBEC, please refer to the information on this web site.