The Friends had hoped to meet the Cabinet Member responsible for Cemeteries today for an official look around the Chapels again for the second time, but it was postponed till later this year.
Accompanied by the staff, who have worked very hard to clean up and organise the damaged contents, we had a better view this time as we had lighting! Through this screen mourners would have been able to see the coffin in the ‘coffin chamber’, delivered here by the Funeral Directors. In more recent times the coffin sat on rails within the main chapel, amongst the mourners (the rails are still visible).
You can see the many photographs we took via this link.
It is now possible to see the actual extent of damage is no where near as severe as originally thought. Both roofs are now sound.
It was very heartening to hear the interest the staff have and their hopes to keep making small improvements that may, one day soon, allow the public supervised access.
What would the Friends like to see as the next step…..
Perspex on the window apertures instead of boards ! Watch this space. Thanks again to Dawn and her team, especially Alan for his persistent cleaning, sweeping and stacking of items that were scattered around after the original fire.
The chapels are being included in a visit by the Cabinet Member to Brandwood End next week.
Councillor Sharon Thompson has responsibility of Cemeteries and Crematoria in her portfolio and seems to be making a point of visiting all of the sites.
The Friends are looking forward to getting a second chance to have a look inside the Chapel buildings following a make safe and roofing project. We know its a mess inside, but at least now it is a dry, waterproof, pigeon proof mess!! Hopefully the Cabinet Member will be joining us and we are interested in her thoughts.
The eagle eyed amongst you, who read our article headed ‘Chapel news gets better and better’ will have spotted that everyone was standing in front of a new display board!
We were overjoyed when we were asked to provide content for a new ‘Interpretation Board’, to be installed in front of the chapel buildings. This has given everyone involved the opportunity to pass information about the chapels and their future to the public in general- especially those who do not use the internet and therefore are unable to view this web site or our facebook page.
The Friends were delighted to be invited, by Bereavement Service staff, to join them on a rare opportunity to actually get inside the chapels !
They were joined by City Council officials, eager to view the newly fitted temporary roof and inspect the work already done. Everyone agreed that the visit had been well worth while and it stirred enthusiasm all round, that these magnificent buildings should not be allowed to deteriorate further. This is the present stance of BCC . Those present included- Alison Fumagalli (BCC Registrar / South) Bev Nash (BCC Registrar North) Andy King (BCC Principal Building Surveyor Building Consultancy Acivico) Coral Howard FBEC Vice Chair, Kerry Tinkler FBEC Committee Member, Steve Hollingworth (BCC Assistant Director/Regulation and Enforcement) and Dawn Harding (BCC Bereavement Officer responsible for Brandwood End and Kings Norton Cemeteries)
Great to see contractors working again on the chapels today. They are making sure the window boards are secure and ‘pigeon’ proof, and then giving them a new coat of paint!
Great to see the scaffolding being removed after the installation of the new temporary chapel roof.
Lets hope we can manage to get the area within the fencing tidied up a bit now…….hedges boxed back, grass cut….and yet again, shrubbery removed from the brickwork! We live in hope!
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-