We have been reporting on the stages of work being undertaken to place a new ‘temporary’ roof on the fire damaged side of our chapels in Brandwood End. We finally get to see the actual roof covering, and it looks pretty good. This has been a ‘proper’ job and we have watched all the preparation, the wooden struts and beams, the boarding over, the weatherproofing and now the top layer.
Can we emphasize again that this is ‘a temporary roof to slow future deterioration and reduce Health and safety issues’…..not the start of a renovation. Following a routine building safety check , we understand that it was suggested to stabalise the chapel, a temporary roof should be installed thus reducing weather action and also tying in the gable ends of the building. Whatever the reason, the Friends think it is a great step forward as the main building will no longer look totally abandoned.
All we need now is to get the shrubbery growing out of the building removed, the windows re-boarded and the shrubbery (you see above) kept at this low level- as it is now overgrown and as high as the windows. Nice neat fence…..and some interpretation to show we are hoping for a day when funds will be available to refurbish this beautiful building. The photograph below shows how it looks now ! (The one above taken in 2012) Not good eh??? You can see why the Victorian Society have added it to their ‘At Risk’ register.
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.
Guess what we spotted …..these roof trusses, leaning on the gable ends of the chapel. It was agreed some time ago, following a safety inspection, that a temporary roof needed to be fitted to the roofless chapel.
There has been a long delay as the design of the temporary roof had to be agreed with planning because the building and cemetery are Grade 2 listed.
At this time we have no idea what the ‘temporary’ roof will look like but our main concern is that it is in place before the adverse weather really sets in. Maybe one step forward?
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………
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 .
All members are invited to the Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery which is to be held on Thursday 14th April at 10.30am till 11.30am in the Conference Room at St Dunstans Church, Kingsfield Rd, Birmingham B14 7JN. As you enter from the main gate in Kingsfield Road the Conference Room is on the right. Copies of the Annual Report and the Audited Accounts will be presented and circulated to the members present. Following the meeting these will be posted on our website fbec.org.uk.
Under the rules, existing members of the Executive Committee will be offering themselves for re-election but we welcome enquiries from prospective new members. All nominees must be members of FBEC and nomination forms can be obtained from the Chairman and must be completed and submitted by 31st March 2016.
Any questions to be tabled at the AGM should be submitted in advance to the Chairman by telephone /email by 31st March 2016.-07811 393259 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Committee sincerely hopes that you will be able to join us for tea and cake and to learn of our successes to date and plans for the future. We work on your behalf and depend on your support.
A belated 2016 welcome to all our followers, from the Committee of The Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery.
Who knows what 2016 will hold for the cemetery and all those that visit? The good news is that we appear to have escaped relatively unscathed from the high winds that have battered the area and other than the usual cascades of water from our blocked Victorian drains…….life (as far as we know) has been smooth. The Friends will be meeting with Bereavement Service staff in the next few weeks to discuss a number of issues, not least of all improving fencing around the chapels and our up and coming Lottery Bid with Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust to investigate the Hedgehog population in Brandwood End.
Please keep watching our page and spreading the word.
‘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.