Saturday, September 13, 2008

KEY HILL OPEN DAY 13th Sep 2008.

I turned up at Key Hill just after lunch-time armed with my trusty camera and wearing water-proofs after studying aviation weather charts, this being because when I usually get within 5 miles of Key Hill with my camera, it pours down. In fact today turned out to be fine and sunny.
Because I was rather late arriving I probably missed most of the activities. However I had an opportunity to wander idly amongst the headstones and circumnavigate ponds in the middle of the paths. Throughout the day a horse-drawn bus took visitors around the area. A funeral carriage was there courtesy of the Midlands Co-Op Funeral Services. There were guided tours of the cemetery. In the marquee were many stalls including one from the British Air Raids Association.
I did not take too many photographs this time* as there are plenty to see on my blog at and
The point of the open days is to increase public awareness of the importance of this historical site, many of Birmingham's most notable citizens are interred here, and to raise funds towards the restoration of the grounds, gates and memorials.
A group of dedicated people called the Friends of Key Hill Cemetery work very hard to organize these events and to help restore the cemetery.
For more information please visit

* Funeral Director Phil O'Dell has subsequently provided me with photographs taken earlier on during the day, which he has very kindly allowed me to use. For more information on Phil's range of (non-photographic) services click here.
I started off here... Key Hill Drive, to look at the old houses, mainly boarded up, and the apparently old lamp standards.
The Key Hill entrance. Once great iron gates stood between these pillars.
Assistance for the Lord Mayor, Councillor Randall Brew, as he opens the festivities, watched by Dick Empson (Chair of the Friends of Key Hill Cemetery) and Pauline Roberts.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
The Lord Mayor presents a bouquet of flowers to Mellissa Hackett of Earlswood Carriages, on behalf of the Friends of key Hill.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
l-r Bill Lowery and Paddy McCann (Funeral Service Assistants) and Ron Percy (Funeral Director)

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
Gemma Mansell.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
Paddy McCann and Gemma Mansell.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
The Chance Expressions stall.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
The Birmingham Air Raids Remembrance Association stall with Barbara Johnson on the left.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
Ron Percy sweeps past the hearses.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
Pauline Roberts conducts one of many graveyard tours.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
A lurking monk... this one being Funeral Service Assistant Stuart Taylor.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
Stuart Taylor and Gemma Mansell.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)

The horse-drawn bus in Icknield Street. The bus belongs to David Parsons (pictured driving) of Victorian Carriages Ltd and is one of an amazing collection of carriages he owns.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
... and awaiting passengers outside the cemetery gates.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
Passengers inside the horse-drawn bus.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
Doctor Agamemnon When.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
Group photograph with the horse-drawn hearse:-
Driver Mellissa Hackett, groom ???
l-r Bill Lowery, Stuart Taylor, Ron Percy, Paddy McCann, Gemma Mansell, children.

(Photo courtesy of Phil O'Dell)
Signs give advice to visitors.
Some of the damaged headstones.
One of the more remarkable edifices, the Jenkins memorial.
One of many signs explaining the problems of path drainage in the cemetery.
Mark Shephard and Wendy Partridge at the Tomb-bola.

More of the damaged headstones with the catacombs in the rear.
The main marquee.
See the Beautiful Deadly Children's web-site at
Olivia chills out by the catacombs. Check her web-site at
Olivia again.
... and I ended up here - The Jewellers Arms - for a pint.
A close-up of the splendid emblem (who needs a road-side pub-sign anyway?).