It was lovely to meet some of the members of the Blossomfield U3A (Natural History, I think?) group in the Cemetery this morning. Such a shame that the sun only began to shine as we were leaving! Our thanks to their Organiser, Barbara, for giving the Friends a chance to explain some of the history of this magnificent green open space- its buildings, its trees and its connection with the people of Birmingham.
We every much hope that they will return and also spread the word to others who may have family buried here, or who just enjoy the peace and tranquillity that Brandwood End imparts to everyone who visits.
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………
When we all got up to heavy rain this morning we wondered if the visit of the RHS Heart of England in Bloom judges to Brandwood End might be a wash out, but by lunch time the sun was shining and Brandwood End was looking at its best.
Volunteers work within Brandwood End all year round doing all sorts of activities. Their work ranges from litter picks, gardening, historical research, environmental projects, to carrying out surveys, attending meetings and making grant applications. You probably don’t see us, but we hope you see the effect we have in the cemetery.
The Friends of Brandwood End work with Bereavement Services staff and horticultural contractors to try and improve the ‘visitor’ experience in the cemetery. You may be visiting the grave of a loved one, or walking through as a short cut, carrying out grave research or just enjoying the peace and quiet. Whatever your reason, we hope it creates a pleasant interlude in your day.
Today we found a local family enjoying their snacks in the Civilian Garden of Remembrance. We are so glad to see people relaxing in this beautiful, peaceful area.
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.
As mentioned in the article below, the clearance of ‘self set’ trees growing on, or close to graves has now started. If you are familiar with the cemetery you can see, from the photographs below, what a difference it will make. Many graves that have been hidden for years have been exposed and the view across the section has now been opened up. This work will also mean that the tree lined avenues will now appear more defined.
If you look carefully in the photograph you will see the size of some of the felled trees that have obscured (piled to the right) both graves and views. None of the felled trees were part of the original planting.
This open view across the cemetery hasn’t been seen for many years.
Hopefully this will also mean that family members may be able to trace graves they thought were lost forever, and consider their restoration.