Friday Photo: Mitchells and Butlers War Memorial
Mitchells & Butlers War Memorial, Cape Hill
It is Remembrance Sunday this weekend. Many war memorials were built in the 1920s to mark the huge loss of life in the Great War. The pale grey limestone obelisk was a familiar pattern for these civic monuments which echo the Cenotaph in Whitehall. They can be found in many places, large and small. The loss of life was so immense that it’s unusual to find a community that did not lose someone.
This memorial was built not for a village or town or council. It belongs to the Mitchells & Butlers brewery at Cape Hill, Smethwick. A tall granite panel recorded the names of employees who left to go to war between 1914 and 1918 and did not return. Additional panels were later added below this panel for another generation of fallen workers from the Second World War.
The Cape Hill brewery closed in 2002 and demolition work began in 2005. The site is now a large housing estate and only two brewery structures survive: the fire station and the war memorial. Originally the war memorial stood in a small garden at the front of the brewery, visible from the street and overlooked by the directors’ offices. It was removed and re-built in its new location, next to the fire station and at the heart of the new housing.
Keith Bracey November 9, 2019
My grandfather Arthur Lewis Joseph Augustus Merriman served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in the Great War as a sniper and survived the war as he transferred to the Royal Scots a Roman Catholic Regiment in 1916 when they were sent to put down the Easter Rising Irish Rebellion and thereby escaped the carnage of the Somme in July 1916. Grandad was 41 when the Second World War broke out in September 1939 and was deemed too old to serve in the British Army. Arthur wanted to serve his country in some capacity so joined the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) and was based at the Cape Hill Brewery Fire Station as he lived with his Merriman family in the back to back housing of Dugdale Street off Dudley Road, Winson Green a two minute walk from the Cape Hill Brewery. Grandad used to drink in the Park Tavern on the corner of Dugdale Street and Dudley Road and a pub locally known as “The Engine” which was actually named “The Locomotive” opposite the Grove Cinema where our family the Braceys went in the 1960’s and early 70’s to watch films like “Carry on Henry” “Zulu” and “The Ipcress File” which starred Sir Michael Caine.