Quinton Burial Ground Re-opening

Bernard Taylor's Address

May I thank you all for being here this morning. I am very pleased that Councillor Len Clark could be here representing the Ward. All three councillors were invited but Jane James and Richard Bashford had other commitments, at such notice, and send their respective apologies. I also welcome Ken Brown, Quinton’s Ward Support officer. Without the support of the councillors and funding provided by Birmingham City Council via Quinton Meadows Capital Receipt and NRF Community Chest, what you see today would not have been possible. Quinton Local History Society thanks them for their support.

I would like to welcome the head of Quinton Church School and pupils, Spig’s presence is appropriate given the close proximity to the Burial Ground, also the relationship the school has developed with the society over the years, not forgetting to mention the school caretaker whose help over the last few years has been very much appreciated. Finally, I say a warm welcome to everyone else here this morning, especially the members from History Society.

Today is a very special day for me; it is the realisation of an idea, you could say a dream, to see this Old Burial Ground given a “Garden of Remembrance and Memorial Wall”. The project began about 4 years ago when a lady rang BBC Radio WM – The Ed Doolon Show. She complained about the disgraceful state of Quinton Cemetery. I decided that our corner should be defended, so I rang the show. It appeared that the cemetery in question wasn’t the one in Halesowen Road but the small area of land that is “Quinton Old Burial Ground”. I talked with Revd John Barnett, the then Rector of the Parish, and I am delighted that John has accepted my invitation today. We discussed what was then and had been for many a year, a very contentious issue. Who owned the land? Indeed who was responsible for it’s maintenance?

Believe me that issue is still in debate, well 50% of it is anyway and I would be willing after the ceremony to explain to anyone-WHY! I decided that this area was a significant part of Quinton’s history and one, which should be investigated by the QLHS.

After all when the headstones reveal names such as Danks, Hooson, Middleton, Cutler and Mucklow. Can one really deny that the very fabric of Quinton’s history exists in these grounds?

After a few rejections to bids I finally obtained the first major funding from Quinton’s Meadows Capital Receipt. The sum in question was £5000, which allowed hire contractors to tidy and clear both sides of the land, the consecrated area to the left of the central pathway and the unconsecrated to the right. To resurrect the pathway from the gates; also the central pathway and to improve security in certain areas. A major concern were the gates where you came in this morning; they needed to be replaced and locked for security.

The task was completed but I wasn’t happy with the outcome, as you entered the grounds it still gave the appearance of being forgotten and unwanted. I gave it considerable thought as to how the site could be improved. The area is so peaceful. Why not have a small area with benches and flower tubs for Quinton folk to sit and pay their respects.

The wall behind me had been here for 80 years or more; it was still in excellent condition. However, it couldn’t be seen because it was hidden behind a bank of soil and rubbish. Photographs have been taken at each stage; they are on show for all to see.

Why couldn’t Quinton have a Memorial Wall, Quintonians could lease plaques there with tributes to their deceased family members. The plans were drawn up, the costings made and the bids placed before the Ward Advisory Board. I am pleased to say that the bids were accepted and the work began.

What you see today is the fruits of 4 years of hard work and determination. Believe me the dream doesn’t end here; the area now has to be regularly maintained. The plan is to use the funds from the lease of plaques, hopefully this will happen. If you are interested in leasing a plaque for the wall, dedicated to a loved one, please ask me later.

I could thank many people who have helped in various ways. Some are here this morning but some are not, all I will say is you know who you are - thank you!

This morning you are here to witness the official opening of the grounds and then to take part in a brief Remembrance Service dedicated to all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, in order that we may all live in peace.

I would now like to call on the Rector of Christ the Quinton, the Reverend Christopher Turner, to conduct the blessing of the Garden of Remembrance and the Memorial Wall -Thank you!


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