Tag: Birmingham

By the time you read this….

I will be Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. Yes, it is true, I am starting a new job on Wednesday. The last week in Staffordshire was kind of crazy and I had to make a decision in a hurry as to what I was going to do. The die however is cast and I am sitting in a loft thinking about what I have done.
I did have an interesting time in Staffordshire though, I saw many things, and many places, and visited many graves, There were four gems of cemeteries, (Ryecroft, Belgave, Key Hill and Warstone Lane) that I visited, and of course I also visited the cities of Birmingham.  and Lichfield
I do not know how long I will be where I am now, but hopefully I will be able to settle down and make something of my new situation. I expect there will be cemeteries to visit, and Worcester, Cheltenham and Gloucester are not too far away, and Bristol is also within range, Maybe you will soon be reading about my travels there soon.
So, do not despair, as they say in the classics… “I be bak!”
Updated: 03/05/2016 — 19:48

Finding The Fallen: Sutton Coldfield.

On my recent trip to Birmingham, one of the stations that I passed was Sutton Coldfield, also known as “The Royal Town Of Sutton Coldfield”. The only reason I decided to head out that way was because according to my list, there were 46+3 graves buried in the old cemetery in the town. That is reason enough for me, and I packed my goodies and headed out in that direction. 
It did not seem to be too big a place, although my Google Earth  Map did show a substantial park, as well as the usual conglomeration of buildings, churches and houses. My goal was not too far away although I did mess up by taking the wrong turning. (I seem to be doing that a lot lately), and it was probably because I detoured at the Holy Trinity Church first. 
There is an interesting plaque in the park below the church that was of interest, and it sums up a bit about the town. 
Bishop Vesey is buried in this church and he has a lot to do with the revival of the town after the War of the Roses. Sadly the church was not open so I could not go look at the effigy inside the church. The graveyard has been levelled, and the headstones are now stacked along the periphery wall. The area around the church is much higher than the floor level of the church which could be as a result of the amount of burials within the original churchyard.
The cemetery I was going to was really and overflow for the churchyard, and it in turn had an extension once it was full.  
Following my detour I eventually found the cemetery, and started at the extension as there were only 3 graves there to find. The extension is also full, and I wonder where burials are now happening? I walked the rows, looking for the first burials, but it was quite a large area. 
Fortunately my graves were in an area close to the road and I almost fell over them while I was looking. Unfortunately they are not a healthy colour, and are really in dire need of cleaning. 
Then I headed to the old cemetery, with its lodge and chapel. I did have grave numbers for the graves, but these did not tally with how the sections were marked on the map.
I was just going to have to find what I could and try reconcile those known graves with graves that I was missing. 46 does not sound like a lot, but the reality is that once the recognisable graves have been found  the private memorials are what is left over. Their legibility is often poor, and in some cases the headstones are overgrown with moss, or even toppled.
As cemeteries go it was not too bad, a nice mix of old and newish headstones, although some parts were looking slightly sparse. The easily found graves went quickly but I was soon sitting with 8 graves that were hiding from me, and I had to eliminate each one separately. By roughly midday I had only two to go and the discovery of grave numbers on the occasional grave did mean I could walk a section and count, and then try another section and count. Surprisingly both graves were right under my nose! The private memorial toll was quite high too, I found 8 PM’s amongst the graves, and that was surprising.   Rent paid, it was time to head off home. 
I headed in the direction of the station, but veering slightly off course towards where a sign had pointed out the Town Hall was. If there was a war memorial it would probably be close to the Town Hall. 
My supposition was correct, and the War Memorial was opposite the Town Hall on a small island. It was a very pretty memorial too, very reminiscent of some that I had seen in London.
The Town Hall was also quite nice, with an impressive clock tower. Although the actual building seems to be in danger of becoming more yuppie pads.
I was close to the station so decided to get myself over there and homeward bound. The station is not really a huge one,  but it does have a very nice tunnel, and I waited for the light at the end of the tunnel!
When it did arrive it turned out to be the local to Birmingham, and not one of the many diesels that I had heard at the cemetery.
It appears that at some point close by the railway splits, with the diesels and their container trains heading in one direction, with the locals in the other.
The station was also the site of a rail disaster on 23 January 1955, but I am not sure where it happened in relation to the station as it was on that day. A plaque was unveiled at the station to commemorate the event.
Sutton Coldfield Rail Disaster Mmemorial_- 2016-01-25

Sutton Coldfield Rail Disaster Memorial_- 2016-01-25

(Image by © Optimist on the run, 2016 /, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46600852)
Master and Miss Harrison are both buried in the churchyard of  St Peter and St Paul, Weobley, Herefordshire.  
I had accomplished what I had set out to do, and was suitably satisfied, peckish and tired. There was not too much to see in the town though, and I doubt if I will head out there again, but it was an interesting interlude and a glimpse into yet another interesting town. 
© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 30/04/2016, updated 24/11/2016 
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 15:48

Bundling off to Birmingham

This fine morning, sick of looking at the screen, I grabbed my goodies and on a whim headed off to Birmingham. There was one cemetery that I had my beady eye on as I had read about it, so it was probably my primary motivation for a day trip. But anything and everything in between was fair game. Hold onto your hat, we are at New Street Station!
The station is a mess, they seem to be doing something to it, but I have no idea what that may be. It does involve scaffolding though, and high-vis vest clad workers. But the station really has nothing interesting or exciting about it. The sooner I left it the better. 
My route would take me up to the Town Hall area, to the Hall of Memory, and then up towards my destination further on. It was probably 9.30 by the time I got there, so the city was quiet at the moment. In fact I was glad that it was quiet because I could then photograph the really magnificent Council House Building in Victoria Square
It is really a magnificent structure, and has to he seen to be believed. Even Queen Victoria looks impressed, although what she would think of this lady in the fountain I will not ask.
The large square colonnaded building below is the Town Hall, and this is the back of it. Naturally I did not realise that at the time.
The ornamental spire just to the left is a monument erected “in gratitude for public service given to this town by Joseph Chamberlain“. I was not impressed by that news because “…..he was the chief advocate and supervisor of the Anglo Boer War (1899–1902)”. 
Moving on, I headed towards the Hall of Memory, which only opened at 10H00. I was 15 minutes too early and would have to come back to it. 
The odd latticework on the building to the right of the image above is that of the Birmingham Library, with Baskerville House to the right of it in the second  image below.
It was now time to head on my way and I turned around here, walked past King Edward VII and turned left.
Only to discover that they were building a road in the middle of a street!  These were the sort of roadworks that never finish, that keep going until roadworks are acknowledged as the status quo for that particular road, and people become resigned to never getting anywhere and stop using it altogether. Fortunately, I was not in a vehicle and I continued on my merry way until I hit the road that I had to go up.
The mapbook that I had done my navigation from was a tad old, in fact it seemed to originate from the 1990’s and things seemed to have changed considerably since then (although the roadworks may have been ongoing since then)
I had to head up to a roundabout ahead and split off onto Newhall Hill, and then Frederick Street. But somewhere between when my map was created and today something had changed and I ended up taking the wrong road, which was not that big a disaster as it turns out because I still ended up where I had to be albeit slightly too far to the left!
The pretty building below really looked like a church to me, but it turns out that it is the Spring Hill Library. 
I turned right at this point and my destination was a 0.5 km further on. The cemetery is known as Warstone Lane Cemetery, and the reason that I was here was because I had read something about the catacombs that existed in the cemetery. It was also quite an old one, so the odds were there would be a lot of great headstones and statues.  There are 51 First World War burials and 13 Second World War burials in the cemetery. A screen wall with a Cross of Sacrifice is situated near the old lodge and it commemorates by name those whose graves are not marked by headstones.
The cemetery is in a poor condition, it is not fenced, there is a lot of litter and there has been a lot of vandalism in it judging by how many toppled headstones I saw. The catacombs had been cut into the side of a sand pit and were on two layers. A large chapel had above the catacombs, but it had been demolished a long time ago. The catacombs had been bricked close too, as they did have somewhat of a bad reputation. It was a pity though because this could become a very popular place.
It is also worthy of a blog post of its own,  and  I will also be returning back here as there is a VC grave that I am looking for. A bit further down the road is a similar cemetery called Key Hill which I visited in mid April and it did not disappoint.
My cemetery visit completed,  it was time to head off towards my next destination which was a large square of green on my map. The area where I was now was called “the Jewellery Quarter“, and I really did not have too much interest in it, although a very nice clock did catch my eye. Oddly enough it commemorates the visit by Joseph Chamberlain to South Africa. Presumably to see the havoc that the Boer War caused.
The green space on my map was occupied by St Paul’s Church, and it was a pretty one, dating back to 1779. Oddly enough it was more like the churches that I saw in Dudley than those I saw in Basingstoke, Salisbury and Southampton.
The church interior was very beautiful, but it was not as overly decorated as some that I had seen before. I did like the family pews though, it was the first time that I had seen them. There is a large graveyard and there is a crypt under the church although the organ now blocks the entrance to the crypt.
From St Pauls I headed towards the station area, passing one of the canals that run through the city. 
Next time I am out this way I am going to investigate these canals a bit more, and find where the narrow boats are hiding. 
The canal also heads under this railway archway which leads to Snow Hill Station,  which is now a terminus for the light rail that runs from Birmingham to Wolverhampton.
birminghama 010
St Chad has a cathedral here too, and I went to see whether it was open during my second visit to the city, but unfortunately it was not.  I did however get a pic through the door.
 Passing back under the railway arches a bit further one, I found an area that seemed to have a lot of the original tilework in place, as well as an interesting bit of history.
I also spotted  another piece of railway history still existing outside the station. Snow Hill was once the main station of the Great Western Railway in Birmingham, and this entrance in Livery Street still exists, although closed off.
My quest for New Street Station continued, and I saw a lot of really old and pretty buildings, surprisingly  most were in a good condition.
birmingham 389
The oldie above is the Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital, founded in 1823.  So far Birmingham had impressed me. It was clean, a bit confusing layoutwise, but there were those handy maps on a lot of the major intersections which really helped with my navigation. I was not using the phone because the Google Maps app is becoming increasingly more difficult to use with my small screen. Unfortunately a modern monolith detracts from the old magnificence around, but if it has an upper deck viewing area it would be really worthwhile visiting.
My next destination was Birmingham Cathedral, and to be honest I did not even think of it before, but my time was still adequate and I could easily spare a few minutes to look around.
.It is not as grand as Salisbury or Lichfield, but is a pretty building in its own right. 
The church was known as St Phillip when it was consecrated in 1715,  although at the time Birmingham was really a small provincial town as opposed to the second most populous city in the UK that it has become, and the church has become a cathedral as a result.  The cathedral does have a really big graveyard, although most of the headstones are long gone or ploughed under. It would be interesting to know just how many people are buried around this building, and, how many are buried beneath it.  I was now ready to return to the Hall of Memory, and I covered that in my allatsea blog. My time was drawing to a close here and I really needed to think about home. 
I had been very impressed by what little I had seen of the city, although I suspect in the height of the industrial age it was much dirtier and grimy, although possibly less crowded because it seems as if in the 3 hours that I had been on my travels everybody had come outside to enjoy the spring day. 
See you later Birmingham. 
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Updated: 23/07/2019 — 18:57
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