Working together to make Birmingham a better place for everyone

Our 2018 AGM

Our AGM this month saw Gavin Orton, after a successful three years in office, hand over to our new Chair, Amelia Ladbrook. In her handover speech, where she paid tribute to the huge contribution that Gavin has made to the Society and outlined her plans for future years, Amelia said:

“It’s an absolute honour and privilege to be the new Chair of Birmingham Civic Society, and part of an emerging group of younger civic society chairs across England. I’m delighted to be taking the reins after such a successful centenary year, as we look forward to the next 100 years and beyond.

“But we’re not going to be resting on our laurels. We will continue to push and innovate, talking to audiences who don’t know us, reminding those who do what we’re all about, and spreading the word that if you have pride in your city, and want to contribute to making it a better place for everyone, then we are the platform to work with.”

Read Amelia’s speech in full

Read our 2017-2018 Annual Review 

Annual Leaders’ Breakfast

At this month’s Leaders’ Breakfast, Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, reflected that whilst the Society has rightly been looking back over the last 100 years it is now only right to be looking forward. Birmingham is getting its confidence back with a high level of investment and interest in the city. We must build on this and use opportunites like HS2 and the Commonwealth Games, to invest in our younger generation, creating real skills and real jobs, and to bring communities together with an inclusive regeneration of areas like Perry Barr and Aston. The next 10-15 years will be crucial for Birmingham to demonstrate to the world what a great city it is. We have a lot to shout about. 

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Birmingham: City of Culture - but for how long?

We are very concerned that Birmingham City Council is currently looking to make further cuts to the level of grant support it provides to major arts and cultural organisations as well as community arts provision in our city. The proposed cuts will reduce BCC's total arts budget by one-third - from £3m down to £2m. This comes on top of major funding reductions they have already had to absorb in recent years. Arts and cultural organisations across the city are coming together to campaign against these proposed cuts. The Society supports this campaign and we encourage you to do the same. There is a public consultation event being held at the Council House on Wednesday 19 December.

Full story

Meet our new trustees

At our AGM, three new trustees were elected. Amelia said: “It is great news for the Society that Stephanie Bloxham, Matthew Vaughan and Isobel Wilson-Cleary have been elected. They will really strengthen our existing board and I look forward to working alongside them all.” Stephanie is Health Business Unit Co-ordinator for BVSC and is deputy chair of our Citizenship Committee. Matt is a conservation architect and leads Donald Insall Associates in Birmingham. He is a member of our Planning Committee and takes over as chair. Isobel is a communications professional specialising in the area of social change and has been instrumental in the development of Beatfreeks projects and events. 

L-R Matthew, Isobel, Stephanie

More than a Blue Plaque

At our AGM we premiered an excellent new short film produced to mark our centenary. IDM Media were commissioned to create ‘More Than a Plaque’, which traces how a Blue Plaque is created, from selecting a recipient to installing the plaque, and features members of our Heritage Committee and poet Casey Bailey. Watch also the performance of ‘Blue Plaque’ a poem written and performed by Casey, specially commissioned as part of ‘The City Beautiful’ centenary project. Coming soon on our website will be an interactive map of plaques around the city, produced by our Blue Plaque co-ordinator, Penny Colbourne, and web designers Creative Tweed.

Blue plaque film

Poem film

BTfL has a fruity start to the 2018-19 tree planting season!

Birmingham Trees for Life had a sunny start to the new tree planting season earlier this month, planting a new community orchard in Sutton Coldfield. Pupils from nearby Little Sutton Primary School came to the park around the Harvest Fields Centre to plant ten fruit trees to create the new orchard. Children from the school had also helped to plant 15 large trees in the park last winter. BTfL also welcomed back staff from Waitrose Four Oaks, who again supported the event with funds from their Community Matters scheme. It’s great to see local businesses supporting tree planting and joining in with the children.

Full story

A Blue Plaque to William Haywood

At the start of the month, we unveiled a Blue Plaque to William Haywood, the Society’s first Secretary from its founding in 1918 until 1947. Haywood was an architect and urban planner and produced many schemes for replanning the city, publishing his ideas in The Development of Birmingham in 1918. His offices at 37 Bennett’s Hill were also the first offices of the Society, and are now the home of The Wellington. The plaque was jointly unveiled at The Wellington by Trustee Stephen Hartland and Angus McMeeking, Director of Black Country Ales. The following week, Stephen gave a talk about William Haywood as part of our centenary programme, The City Beautiful.

Full story & gallery

A Blue Plaque to Bertha Ryland

Our second Blue Plaque unveiling this month was in the Round Room of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to suffragette Bertha Ryland. As protests escalated across the country, on 9 June 1914 Bertha Ryland entered the museum and attacked a painting as part of the militant campaign for women’s rights. After a presentation by researcher and author Dr Nicola Gauld, and a moving dramatic performance by actress Francesca Millican-Slater, the plaque was jointly unveiled by Dr Gauld and Brigid Jones, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council. The unveiling formed part of a weekend of thought-provoking events and performances as part of the programme for Women Power Protest exhibition. 

Full story & gallery

November centenary events round up

In addition to unveiling two new Blue Plaques this month, The City Beautiful project has been looking back at the early days of the Society. Dr Sian Roberts gave a brilliant survey of some of the women connected with the Society. Trustee Stephen Hartland illustrated the fascinating life and influence of William Haywood, the first Secretary, and the day after we unveiled a Blue Plaque to Bertha Ryland, Dr Nicola Gauld gave a sold out lecture on the Suffragette Movement in Birmingham. The City Beautiful in Archives was a special event held, with thanks to archivist Fiona Tait and Archives staff, to allow a sneak peek of the Society's archives. 


Vintage Trains brings THE POLAR EXPRESS to Birmingham

Vintage Trains is proud to host THE POLAR EXPRESS in Birmingham for Christmas 2018. Prepare to experience the magic and charm of the 2004 motion picture, theatrically re-created on a steam train so that the whole family can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of this classic children’s tale. Commencing on Thursday 29 November, THE POLAR EXPRESS will depart from the festively decorated Moor Street station for the North Pole with four trains per day on Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays and five trains on Sundays until Sunday 23 December. Tickets are selling out fast, so don’t delay!

Book here

Civic Voice launches fundraising campaign to respond to Government’s Building Beautiful Commission

This month, the Government launched a new commission called the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission to tackle the challenge of poor-quality design and build of homes and places, across the country and help ensure as we build for the future, we do so with popular consent. The Commission will gather evidence from both the public and private sector to develop practical policy solutions to ensure the design and style of new developments help to grow a sense of community and place, not undermine it. Civic Voice wants to undertake an independent review representing the voice of communities to go alongside the Government’s review.

Full story

Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission

Centenary activities in December
Victorian christmas card making
A free drop in craft activity for accompanied children ages 5 – 12, at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
James Watt
A talk at Birmingham and Midland Institute by historian Chris Rice on James Watt, Birmingham and how, between them, they shaped the world
Full listings

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

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