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.