New look for historic cemetery

By on 08/07/2009 in News, Video News

Costumed guides from the 'Birmingham Ghost Tour' joined Cllr Neville Summerfield at the entrance to the Jewellery Quarter’s 19th Century Key Hill Cemetery to unveil the nearly refurbished Grade II listed entrance and gates to the site.

Birmingham City Council recently completed a £120,000 project to restore the Grade II listed entrance of Key Hill Cemetery to its original 18th Century grandeur.

Situated in the Jewellery Quarter the cemetery first opened for burials in 1836, and is the resting place for many important 19th century Birmingham figures, including Joseph Chamberlain, George Dawson and Alfred Bird.

A popular haunt not just for tourists but also those taking part in ghost walks of the city, the site is on English Heritage's Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Interest in England.

Restoration works, funded in partnership between English Heritage and the Council's Big City Plan, were required due to the poor state of repair of the stone piers, caused by severe sandstone erosion and impact that theft and vandalism has had on the grand iron gates.

Councillor Neville Summerfield, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said, “Key Hill Cemetery is a true historic and cultural gem at the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, and I am sure restoring these gates to their original magnificence will only enhance its appeal.

“Creating and supporting unique spaces that reflect the history and architecture of our great city is a key strand of the Big City Plan, and its aim to promote the prosperity of all areas of Birmingham.”
Key Hill cemetery is to be included in the Birmingham Ghost Walks, which were launched earlier this year.  The walks aim to provide an entertaining and informative look at the darker side of Birmingham and some of the key figures who have lived and died in the city.  They begin outside the Council House, said to be haunted by Joseph Chamberlain, and organisers are delighted that they will now be able to finish in the place his body is buried, bringing the story full circle.

Meanwhile, the cemetery has plenty of stories of its own and is the site of numerous reported haunting and paranormal activity, including shadowy figures and ghostly lantern lights.  Overall, it provides a perfect atmospheric location to end the tours as darkness falls.  At the same time, the Ghost Walks are a great way to spread the word about Key Hill and its historic importance.

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