Acivico’s Quantity Surveying team have recently played an integral role in the restoration works to Warstone Lane and Keyhill Cemeteries, in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter.
Each site, separated by the Jewellery Quarter Train Station, was overgrown with vegetation and missing fundamental features such as stone blocks, plinths coping stones and railings.
The project, valued at £1.2m and part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, achieved a comprehensive restoration of the cemeteries. The works required the appointment of a specialist heritage contractor to carefully restore the natural stone boundary plinths, curved catacomb walls and install replica ornamental gothic style railings and catacomb guardrails.
The official handover back to the client took place on 17th January 2020.
Annette Brandsma, Senior Quantity Surveyor at Acivico explained; “’I took over the scheme from a QS perspective just before the construction work was about to commence on site, although the Acivico QS team have been involved from inception. My involvement has therefore been post contract, which involves carrying out monthly valuations negotiating variations with the Contractor and keeping the client informed every step of the way. The Contractor has been excellent with outstanding workmanship and the teamwork has been exemplary. It has been one of those rare and interesting projects that you don’t want to end, together with the added satisfaction of being involved in preserving history for future generations”.
Over time the Cemetery has collected its fair share of fame, having hosted an episode of Doctor Who. The Catacomb rendered doorways were painted white to make them look better on screen (The paint has since been removed and the render restored in the recent restoration).
Some notable Birmingham characters are buried at the cemetery, such as John Postgate, who was a Health, Safety and Wellbeing campaigner for Birmingham. Postgate wrote a pamphlet titled “Sanatary Aspects of Birmingham” (1852). His epitaph recorded that, for “twenty-five years of his life, without reward, and under heavy discouragement, he laboured to protect the health and to purify the commerce of this people.”
Another notable person is Private James Cooper, of the 24th Regiment of Foot (now the South Wales Borderes), who was awarded the Victoria Cross. He won this accolade not through bravery in action against an enemy, but for bravery at sea in saving a life in a storm off the Andaman Islands.