Restoration project flowers

Image showing stitched poppies in different colours together with a poppy timeline: red 1921, white 1933, black 2010, purple 2016.

Poppies in the Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries

The Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project is a two-year programme of restoration works in Key Hill and Warstone Lane cemeteries, funded in partnership with National Lottery Heritage FundBirmingham City Council and Jewellery Quarter Development Trust.

Alongside the restoration there is a programme of events and activities to encourage more people to engage with, visit and learn about the cemeteries in the Jewellery Quarter (JQ), both their history and value as green spaces.

During lockdown, the cemeteries have been a lifeline for the local community as places to take daily walks, but restrictions mean that many people cannot visit and so many events have changed to accommodate this.

One recent example is the JQ Poppy Project which was run in partnership with Woolly Mammoth Stitchworks and funded by the Birmingham Municipal Charity.

In order to commemorate not only those who died in WWI and WWII who are remembered on gravestones and war memorials in the JQ, but also those of all nations killed in all conflict, we have been stitching hundreds of tapestry poppies to make a community artwork, which will be displayed at Remembrance events throughout the project and for many years to come.

The poppy stitching kits were sent to participants by post and nearly all of them have now found their way home! The kits included a postcard explaining the meanings of the 4 colours of poppy.

Colour phot showing a pile of stitched poppies in white, red, black and purple.

Nearly 150 members of the public have stitched a poppy for us and we are now just waiting for our school groups to return their poppies, as their stitching sessions were delayed due to remote learning, and then artist Tina Francis will put them all together!

We originally intended to debut the artwork in April but this will not be possible now due to COVID restrictions. We plan to have the artwork on display in the cemeteries on June 4 and 5 in Warstone Lane Cemetery (COVID roadmap permitting).

Project staff and volunteers will be on hand throughout both days to chat about the project and hand out self-guided war graves trails for those who wish to explore further.

We are so grateful to everyone who took part in the project, it was amazing to have people from across Birmingham, the Midlands and beyond, come together to stitch and remember those who have been lost – spending collectively over 200 hours on the project!

We know from the feedback comments that the participants really valued the fantastic kits created by Woolly Mammoth and being part of the project.

One stitcher said: “It’s been nice to think that my small contribution will be part of a tribute that is so significant and a cause close to my heart”.

Although our project is now drawing to a close, Woolly Mammoth Stitchworks are involved with other projects all the time, so there are often opportunities to get involved. Check their website for the latest projects.

We hope to see many of our stitchers and other interested people in person in June, but for those who can’t attend, you can find out more about the cemeteries from the comfort of your own home on our website.

Josie Wall, Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project.

This article is part of  a collaboration between Birmingham Archives, Community Libraries, the Library of Birmingham, Library Services at Home, the Mobile Library, and the Prison Library. Our aim is to share Birmingham’s history, archives, and community heritage activities, showcasing our city’s unique and irreplaceable archival collections, keeping you updated about projects and events you can get involved with.

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