Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023

The cemeteries of the Jewellery Quarter offer a fascinating glimpse into Birmingham’s past.  There are two sites, Key Hill and Warstone Lane, with both cemeteries containing the burials of notable Birmingham people.  The Friends of Key Hill cemetery and Warstone Lane cemetery work to maintain and protect these important historical landmarks. An @igersbirminghamuk Instameet was held in conjunction with @JQ_BID (Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District). We aimed to start at Key Hill and then move to Warstone cemetery. As it transpired, we spent so much time in Key Hill that we agreed we must return for a Warstone Lane Cemetery tour later in the year. This blog is about our visit to Key Hill Cemetery.

Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
A collage of photographs taken on my iPhone

Key Hill is part of the Jewellery Quarter and I have visited the area before. The sister cementery Warstone is more popular due to it being nearer to the heart of the Jewellery Quarter. Key Hill is often overlooked yet it has so much to offer in history and stories of people buried in the cemetery. As organiser of the meeting, I had arranged for people to meet at the Key Hill entrance near to the ring road, forgetting there is another entrance at Key Hill Road.  Then a few people got mixed up with the 2 cemeteries.  Luckily, we all found each other and the Instameet got started.  Josie from the JQ_BID was our host and proved to be a knowledgeable guide.  Her enthusiastic storytelling brought the past histories of the area to the present.  We were very fortunate as Josie agreed to open the Catacombs for viewing.  First she gave some fascinating insights into the background of the cemetery. There was the obligatory group photograph and then we congregated outside the entrance to the catacombs.  The large cast iron doors were unlocked.  

Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
The IgersbirminghamUk participants for the JQ meeting.

This was the first opening of the year and, as Josie explained, catacombs may work well in Mediterranean climates but in Birmingham the inside chamber was cool and damp.  We used our iPhones for illumination and looked around the walls which included inscriptions of the people who were buried there. Picture taking was not straightforward due to the lack of light. The many iPhones helped bring some light to the dark interior. Some of the IgersbirminghamUK photographers did well with the low light levels and I encourage you to review their photographs on Instagram and other social feeds. The links are below.

Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
The opening of the catacombs.
Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
Deep into the catacombs with light at the end of the tunnel.
Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
The entrance door at the catacombs
Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
The view from the catacomb entrance.
Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
The grave of Constance Naden

Following the tour of the catacombs, Josie took us to several notable graves. The first was Constance Naden (1858 – 1889) who was a writer, poet and philosopher. Whilst Constance’s work was well regarded in her lifetime, there has been a resurgence of interest in her writings especially her ability to bring science and literature together. Learning about her life and legacy proved to be enlightening and she achieved so much in a short life succumbing to ovarian cancer at the age of 31.

Other notable graves that we stopped to discuss further stories included John Benjamin Tolkien (1784 – 1840) the grandfather of J.R. Tolkien and Thomas Walker. The grave of Thomas Walker has a brick design and the coat of arms of the City council. He had the idea of using highly durable blue engineering bricks for paving roads which led to better pavements and roads throughout Birmingham. We moved onto the family graves of the Chamberlain family which included Joseph Chamberlain (1836 – 1914). As former Mayor of Birmingham and founder of the University, the city owes a great debt to Joseph Chamberlain but as Dr Matt Cole writes on the University of Birmingham web site “Chamberlain’s legacy is so broad and idiosyncratic that it likely to leave no-one in full agreement with him.”. As a group we discussed his legacy and then one of the IgersbirminghamUK organisers @James_never_jim noticed the adjacent grave of James Austin Gargory who lived in Bull Street. He was an optician but also brought in different engineering items and was also an enthusiastic photographer.

Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
The grave stone of Thomas Walker with the brick design and coat of arms.

Other graves included the Martineau family which linked to our previous Instameet at Martineau Gardens. We also visited the grave of Alfred Bird, the inventor of Custard. An interesting grave was that of Shadi Mohammed who died during the Blitz, In an episode known as the “Sand Bag” deaths, Shadi, his wife and several others died when a wall of sand bags collapsed on them. There were many many more stories to be told.

Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
A view from on top of the cemetery.

The storytelling of Josie was excellent and we lost all track of time until she remembered that she needed to help at the JQ beer festival. The morning was eventful and many photographs were taken. We thanked Josie for hosting the meeting and we all made our separate ways. A few of us ended up in the Rose Taven in the centre of the JQ for a drink and a chat about the photographs we took and those that got away.

Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
A view of the Jewellery Quarter buildings. The Rose Villa was one of the venues for the JQ beer festival and a final stop of the Instameet.

If you want to catch up on photographs taken by the IgersbirminghamUK community then please use these hashtags to search Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more pictures.

#igersbirminghamuk 
#jqbid 
#igbuk_meet_JQBID

Whilst we were visiting, we could see many bluebells getting ready to bloom in the next few weeks.  I aim to return and take some pictures of the flowers when they are in full flower. Hope to see you there!

Key Hill Cemetery, Jewellery Quarter, April 2023
No bluebells as yet but blue grape hyacinths make up the colour.

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St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023

St Paul’s church is situated in the Jewellery quarter and is a picturesque escape from the busy city centre which is only a stone’s throw away.  The square has so much character and is always a delight to visit.  I was dropping off my picture with the RBSA gallery and happened to have half an hour to spare.  I wandered around the perimeter of the square.  Immediately I saw that there were some early displays of daffodils on the east side of the square.  The picture of the daffodils with the church in the background is one that I have tried before.  This time the picture caught the imagination of social media.  The image was featured in England’s Big Picture and Independent Birmingham Instagram and Twitter pages.  

St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The church interior with the central picture of the Conversion of Saint Paul.

As I walked around to the church entrance, I noticed that it was open and so I ventured inside.  I have been inside a few times before but never with my camera.  The sun was streaming in through the windows making a lovely scene of shadows and light.  The pictures of the church, which is a grade I listed building, show the features.  The East window has a enamelled stained glass window depicting the Conversion of Saint Paul.  The organ has a long history including when it was built and a list of organists over the years.  The pews have doors to them and there is a sign indicating that Mathew Boulton had a pew in the Church as the photograph shows.  

St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
Mathew Boulton worshipped at Saint Paul’s Church
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The organ has a long history.

The Millennium window caught my eye. This was sponsored by the Birmingham Assay Office. There was a competition and the winner was Rachel Thomas with her stained glass window ‘The Angel’s Crucible’ based on Job 28.  

St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The Millennium stained glass window is worth a visit in its own right.
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The splendid eagle lecture.
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
Beautiful light inside the church.

There is much much more including the Eagle pulpit, the organ with its history and the balcony surrounding the inside view. There is so much to write about and once you have looked at the photographs then be sure to visit the webpages of the church and more about the history. I will leave you with a few photographs of the outside of the church including the resident pigeons.

St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
This couple is walking past the church towards the Jam House onto the skyscrapers of Snowhill
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
The residents of St Paul’s Church and Square.
St Paul's Church, Birmingham, Spring 2023
A view of the church in-between the trees.

Regency Wharf

My first walk around Birmingham this year was an eventful photographic journey. The pictures were taken with my Fujifilm x100v.  It was a cold and sunny day. My walk was a circular route of my favourite photo spots including Snow Hill Car Park and the Jewellery Quarter. Of course I could not forget about the Birmingham canal navigation and I therefore included Brindley place and Gas Street Basin. 

Underneath the arches of Snow Hill Station
Underneath the arches of Snow Hill Station
Train leaving Snow Hill Station
Train leaving Snow Hill Station – lovely light from the sunrise
St Paul's Church
St Paul’s Church with the spire caught in the sun
Brindley Place
Brindley Place catching the light.
Entering Gas Street Basin
Entering Gas Street Basin from under the Black Sabbath Bridge.

The pictures taken in Gas Street Basin went down well and the picture of the reflections at Regency Wharf was long listed in ShareMondays2022 and shortlisted on the Fotospeed weekly competitions. 

Regency Wharf
Regency Wharf reflections.

There were other opportunities for pictures of reflections and I wanted to take those that are popular on the social media pages. People standing in the doorway of the Tap and Spile is popular. The white wall of Pierre Bistro is another one.

Gas Street Basin reflections
White shoes.
Gas Street Basin reflections
Walking the line.

After a refuelling with coffee at the Exchange, I went into the Birmingham Library.  The sunlight was strong for January and with it being a clear day you could see a long way.  I could see the Barr Beacon and the Clent Hills.  It was time to get back to the car and go home and the final part? A walk back through Centennial square and Chamberlain square finished off the walk nicely.

Terrace at Birmingham Library
A different view from the Terrace at Birmingham Library.
Inside Birmingham Library
Selective Colour on the Escalator in Birmingham Library.
Classic view of the BT Tower Birmingham
Classic view of the BT Tower Birmingham from the Library Secret Garden
Old and new view from Chamberlain Square
Old and new view from Chamberlain Square

My Fujifilm camera was on Aperture priority, ISO on automatic and I just moved between f/4 and f/11 depending on the light and what field of view I wanted.  Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Links
If you want to see more pictures of Birmingham then follow @igersbirminghamUK where I am one of the team that select photographs for our Instagram account.

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If you like my pictures then here is a taster of some of my popular posts about Birmingham

The Exchange meets IgersBirminghamUK
Moseley Instameet – IgersBirminghamUK
Digbeth, Digbeth – so good they had to name it twice


Craft Beer Birmingham

Craft beer breweries are increasing in number and Birmingham has around 15 of them.  Of those 15, I have visited the Two Towers, DigBrew and Birmingham Brewery over the years.  Time to discover some new ones and a Saturday craft beer walk was planned to start at the Burning Soul.  This brewery sits on the edge of the Jewellery quarter in an industrial estate just off Constitution Hill.  The colourful signs of the Burning Soul emblem greet you on their garage door. 

Burning Soul Craft Brewery
The front of the Burning Soul Craft Brewery.

You then enter a brightly lit room where Chris, the master brewer greets you.  Chris runs the place by himself and serves up some tasty beers.  Beers on offer include Ice Cream Pale and the house favourite Pineapple Chilli.  Both are very nice on the palate and provide a mixture of tastes.  The ice cream variety lives up to its name whilst the chilli is noticeable against the fruity flavour.  The mixture of fruit and chilli works and makes for a great beer.  Chris is an amenable host and showed us around. 

Going behind the scenes, Chris explains the brewing process and how he comes up with the ideas for the beers.  We return to the bar for drinks and notice that the place fills up very quickly. Soon we are on our way to the next port of call the Rock and Roll brewery on Hall Street, near to the centre of the Jewellery Quarter .  Whilst the brewing is done downstairs, the first floor is the lounge area with the bar.  The walls are adorned with Rock and Roll memorabilia and whilst there were no bands playing during our visit, there is a small stage for performances.  Both Rock and Roll and Burning Soul have worked together on several beer projects.  I purchased a couple of their cans to bring home with me. 

After an enjoyable stay our next tasting session was at the Halton Turner Brewery in Digbeth.  This is a recent addition to the Digbeth scene, and it is based under the arches on Trent Street.  Whilst the Burning Soul and Rock and Roll breweries were in warm premises, the brick arches surrounding Halton Turner are a touch on the cold side.  Drinking beer in this brewery does require the wearing of warm clothing.  This is not to distract from the beers which like the other two are well worth tasting.  In summary all the establishments have wonderful character, the beers range in taste and style.  There is something on offer for everyone.  An enjoyable time and a wonderful stroll down the independent side of Birmingham.

All Pictures taken on my iPhone13 and I lived to tell the story after drinking all the beer!

Links to the Breweries
Burning Soul
Rock and Roll Brewery
Halton Brewery


Amongst the trees JQ

I love the area around St Paul’s Church and in Autumn it starts to look colourful with the leaves on the ground.  It was one of my stops on my way to walk.  The sky was also very colourful with the sunrise and rain clouds making pretty patterns. 

Livery Street and it is only “A matter of opinion”

I took a picture down Livery street which is a very long street/road.  There is a Brummie saying that you look like you have “a face as long as Livery street”.  There are some good sign posting on the buildings in the area.  A matter of opinion has been up for a while and is shown on Livery Street. 

Compared to what
Compared tp what….

I noticed at one of the corners of St Paul’s Square that there was more signposting with the words “Compared to what…”  They add a fun element to the streets of Birmingham. 

St Paul’s Church in the Jewellery Quarter

A picture of St Paul’s Church was well received on social media.  It is a a very photogenic church.  Taking a picture of both the spire of St Paul’s and the BT Tower is another photo opportunity. The area is very pretty and it was after discussion on social media that I realised that there are more hidden squares around the Jewellery Quarter. It is a place to return to time and time again.

St Paul's Church and BT Tower
St Paul’s Church and BT Tower

The Jewellery quarter is one of my inspirational places for photography. Affectionately known as the JQ, it contains so much history wrapped in its character. Old and new blend together with interesting details including churches, shops, doors, alleyways and jewellery shops. Arguably the centre piece is St Paul’s square with the beautiful Church in the centre. The spire is taller than the building making it difficult to frame for the photograph. However, there are a few areas where you can frame it correctly using the surrounding trees. I wandered around the square and then down Bennett’s Hill on a quiet Sunday morning. The only company were cyclists and joggers. A few people were sitting on the benches taking in the early sunshine. These are a few pictures taken around the square and down the hill.

There are a few places that are active on social media including the Soda Bread Cafe and up and coming photographer Rebecca who posts lovely photographs of the JQ skyline. It is sad to see the Jam House as I have many happy memories of nights out there. It will be a while before it opens again. The square holds many happy memories for me. It was here that one of my photographs first got featured as a BBC Midlands picture of the day. The Jam House, Andersons and St Paul’s House all have special family and work memories. So a quiet Sunday in June was spent not only taking photographs but reliving memories of a favourite Birmingham spot. Don’t let me have it all for myself why not visit it yourself but remember to take your camera with you.