New Futures for Birmingham`s Historic Buildings

Key Hill Cemetery granted £4000.00 to restore toppled graves.

Posted March 25th, 2011 by Birmingham Conservation Trust with No Comments
Key Hill Cemetery by Nicobinus on flickr

Key Hill Cemetery by Nicobinus on flickr - click image for original

We’ve received this from the Friends of Key Hill Cemetery:

A cash windfall will help reverse the devastation caused to an historic
Birmingham landmark by “health and safety madness”.
The Friends of Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries have received a cheque
for £4,000 from Service Birmingham, the company which provides the IT for
Birmingham City Council.
The Friends are painstakingly restoring this significant Birmingham
landmark which was nearly destroyed by the local authority ‘toppling
policy’. Council safety officers ordered  hundreds of headstones to be pushed over
in 2004 to avoid litigation in case masonry fell on someone.

Then the cemetery became a blackspot for rubbish dumping and graffiti. The Friends have now cleaned up the area and are helping families find the
graves of their ancestors. Their aim is to restore a  green space in the
heart of the Jewellery Quarter to be enjoyed by residents and workers in
the area.

The cheque was presented to the trustees by Mrs Maddy Westrop who
successfully applied for funding from her staff benefit fund. “This historic treasure was nearly lost because of health and safety madness,” says Mrs Westrop.  “I was so glad to do something to rebuild Birmingham heritage that was almost lost.”

The money will be used to restore some of the larger and more important
tombs.

The Friends have just restored their hundredth grave.  Each one has to be
fixed by a skilled mason.

The Friends  run guided tours to raise money while they clear and restore
the Key Hill and Warstone Cemeteries.  They also help families locate
relatives’ graves.

A spokesman for the Friends, Brian Southwell,  said: “This is a fantastic
bonus in this time of increasing cut backs, allowing some of the larger
Victorian monuments to be restored to their former glory, as well as
guaranteeing the successful continuation of the restoration programme
for the near future.”

The cemeteries contain the remains of every sort of Birmingham resident.
One grave contains the remains of an aborigine who came to England in
Victorian times and died in the cold climate. Key Hill’s most significant
occupant is Joseph Chamberlain; also there you will find Alfred Bird (of
Birds Custard), John Baskerville the printer, Harry Gem, creator of modern
Lawn tennis, and a Birmingham jeweller who won the Victoria Cross, Private
James Cooper VC.

For enquiries about guided tours, schools outings, family graves and
genealogy services, as well as donations, please contact Brian Southwell,
Secretary, Friends of Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries, 23 Quincey
Drive, Erdington, Birmingham B24 9LX. Email post@fkwc.org. Tel 0121 382
1634 or 07905054210

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