Working together to make Birmingham a better place for everyone

Our Blue Plaque map is now live!

Our centenary celebrations continue into 2019, with the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to Mary Cottrell, a visit to The Old Rep and now a Blue Plaque finder map on the website. Browse the map to see all our Blue Plaques and History Plates around the city, and learn a little about each recipient.

Thanks to Jamie Justham for all the plaque photos, and a huge thank you to Penny Colbourne, our Blue Plaque Co-ordinator, for all her hard work populating the map. In addition to adding new plaques as we install them, Penny will gradually be adding more information about the recipients, such as where they are buried. She also plans to make it an even more comprehensive record of the city’s rich history by including plaques erected by other organisations, such as English Heritage, the City Council, the University of Birmingham and the Birmingham Conservation Trust.

View Blue Plaque Map

Blue Plaque to Mary Cottrell to be unveiled

Join us at the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to Mary Cottrell on Friday 22 February, 2 – 3.30pm. Mary Cottrell was the first woman elected to the Boards of the Ten Acres and Stirchley Co-operative Society in 1909 and to the Wholesale Co-operative Society in 1922. She was the first woman Labour and Co-operative Party councillor elected to Birmingham City Council in 1917, and was a member of the Civic Society’s founding committee. The unveiling will take place at Stirchley Baths and the plaque will later be erected at 1389-1391 Pershore Road, the site of the former TASCOS bakery. Email Penny to attend.

William Haywood & Solglitter

As part of trustee Stephen Hartland’s research on the Society’s first Honorary Secretary, William Haywood, for his centenary lecture, Stephen tried to find out more about Haywood’s personal life which was a mystery, although much is known of his professional life and the various projects he was involved in. His Last Will & Testament, signed a month before his 79th birthday, revealed, amonst other fascinating facts, that he left his bronze ‘Solglitter’ sculpture by Carl Milles to the Lord Mayor, Alderman and Citizens of Birmingham for display in the Art Gallery.

Full story.

BTfL unveil Society’s Centenary Arboretum plaque

At the end of November members gathered at the Lickey Hills to finish planting the arboretum marking the Society’s centenary and to unveil a commemorative plaque. Once again the morning started with less than clement weather, but just as everyone went out to plant, the rain stopped and the sun even briefly appeared for the unveiling of the plaque. Birmingham Trees for Life and the Lickey Rangers have planted a wide variety of interesting new trees to create the arboretum, which can be found down the slope from the Visitor Centre.

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On This Stage

It was a full house this month for ‘On This Stage’ at The Old Rep. The celebratory collaboration, between The REP, The Old Rep, and Birmingham Ormiston Academy, explored behind the scenes of The Old Rep. Volunteers from The REP and aspiring young actors from BOA brought to life scenes from its history, the people who created it and the stars that began their careers there. The Old Rep opened in 1913, as a permanent home for director Barry Jackson’s amateur theatre group and was Britain’s first purpose-built repertory theatre.

View gallery

Lord Mayor plants first trees in BTfL 3 year project

In December, the Lord Mayor and her Consort worked alongside students from Archway Academy to plant 10 new trees in Kingstone Hill Park in Bordesley. This planting is the first of several in a 3 year project Birmingham Trees for Life is undertaking as part of their work with HS2 and Groundwork. The project has received a grant from HS2’s Community Environment Fund, created to add benefit to communities along the route that are demonstrably disrupted by the construction of Phase One of HS2.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice celebrates 40 years of care

This year, corporate member, Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice celebrates 40 years of hospice care across Birmingham and Sandwell. Founded by Monica Pearce, a former NHS matron, who would later become known as the pioneer of hospice care in the city. She was driven to “enable anyone with a life-limiting illness to live their life to the full” – a mission that the Hospice’s staff and volunteers still stand by today. To mark its 40th anniversary, you are invited to an Anniversary Gala Dinner on Friday 1 March at Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

Book here

Get Sarehole Mill milling again!

2019 marks 50 years since Sarehole Mill became a museum. Sadly, last year the mill suffered badly because of flooding, meaning they are not currently a working water mill. Birmingham Museums have launched their first ever crowdfunder to raise £6,500 to bring the mill back to life. Future plans include baking fresh bread on site but they need to get the waterwheel working again. This will allow them to produce their own flour, pursue their bakery dreams and reclaim the title of one of the last remaining working watermills in the region!  

Full story

Burne-Jones Study Day

The Victorian Society is running a day school on Saturday 6 April at the Birmingham and Midland Institute – ‘Edward Burne-Jones and his work’. The study day aims to raise awareness of Divine Beauty, Birmingham Cathedral’s fundraising appeal to restore and celebrate their magnificent stained glass windows. All profits from the day school will be donated to the appeal and there will be a guided tour of the cathedral windows afterwards.

Book here


Congratulations to Judy Dyke and Dr Malcolm Dick who have been recognised in the 2019 New Year Honours. Judy receives an MBE for services to charity particularly Edward’s Trust and to the community in Birmingham. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the Society, especially during our centenary year. Malcolm, who is a long serving member of our Heritage Committee, receives an OBE for services to History in the West Midlands.


Welcome to new personal members Kathryn Prosser, Caroline Hutton and Carola Klein and returning members Jonathan Lord and Joe Jordan. Welcome also to new corporate member YMCA Birmingham . We look forward to seeing you all at our events throughout the year.

The Birmingham Civic Society

9 Margaret Street
Birmingham B3 3BS

07780 976928
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Birmingham Civic Society · 9 Margaret Street · Birmingham, West Midlands B3 3BS · United Kingdom