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 .
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.
The Friends are in discussions with Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust to be the linchpin of a community Hedgehog survey in Brandwood. The project would hopefully involve the training of local residents to recognise Hedgehog activity, improve habitat, encourage ‘Hedgehog friendly gardens’ and generally raise the profile and understanding of wildlife within the cemetery and beyond.
The Hedgehog used to be a common sight in many peoples gardens and within Brandwood End Cemetery……but when did you last see one? With help, we hope to discover if they are still thriving in this area and if not, why not- and what could residents do to encourage a growth in the numbers of this endangered species.
Following a meeting with Bereavement Services Managers we understand that efforts are being made to find funds to remove the damaging shrubbery that seems to reappear on the brickwork of the Chapels. This is always a costly operation as it requires special equipment but it is hoped that it will, yet again, improve the appearance of the building and prevent further damage whilst we wait till restoration funding becomes more readily available.
The concept of a bespoke fence to surround the chapel area, rather than the existing ‘builders fence’, is being investigated as a measure to improve the overall appearance of this area when entering the cemetery.
Bereavement Services site staff are now cutting the grass surrounding the Chapel buildings and clearing weeds on pathways.
They are also involved in removing Ivy from graves, a project FBEC hope to continue to be involved in.
We are sure regular visitors to the Cemetery will have heard and seen the tree work that has been going on. A number of mature trees have had to be removed as they were either damaged or diseased and represented a risk to the public.
It is so sad to see such majestic trees felled but many of them are at least as old as the Cemetery- so 120 years and some were part of the original hedgerows in the farmers fields. Nothing lasts for ever and fungi are often a sign of a trees demise.
The Friends are keen to help with the maintenance of tree stock numbers and species in Brandwood End but any introduction of trees into the cemetery needs to be carefully planned with Bereavement Services and the local Tree Officer to maintain its original design.
Christmas is almost upon us and the committee of Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery would like to wish all our supporters ‘Seasons Greetings’. Although we seem to have made no progress with the Chapels in 2014, due to the financial constraints being experienced by Birmingham City Council, we have never the less been busy on other projects in the cemetery. Can we thank Bereavement Services staff for their co operation, our project sponsors and all of the volunteers who have worked alongside us. Thank you all again and we look forward, hopefully, to more progress in 2015.
2013 has been a year when Friends of Brandwood End have had to take a step back and think again about the way they want to move forward in 2014. We were all very disappointed when Birmingham City Council had to withdraw their financial support for a lottery bid relating to the twin terracotta mortuary chapels at the centre of the cemetery. Along with many local organisations we saw the time when Birmingham would be in a position to support any bid we proposed move further and further away. We are now working with Bereavements Department to investigate alternative fund raising options but in the meantime we will continue with our other achievable projects within the cemetery, whilst keeping the chapels at the front of our campaign.