Stones erected more than a century ago – to honour the local men who fought in the Boer Wars – are set to form part of a new memorial in Cheswick Place. Solihull Council has confirmed that the plans to create the monument on land adjacent to Tanworth Lane, Cheswick Green, fall within permitted development rights and can proceed.
The engraved stones, comprising of one central column and 12 tablets, recognise the Warwickshire soldiers who had served in the South African campaigns. They were created at some point after 1907 and were made from pillars that once formed part of the Old Law Courts and Public Offices in Moor Street, Birmingham – which were demolished in that year.
Jonathan Bryan, development planner at the applicant, Bloor Homes Western, said: “The stones had been located in a private garden in the village, on the site of what was previously The Victoria Cross Garden.
“They were removed in 2011 and kept in storage after a planning application was submitted for the site with a view to relocating them elsewhere in the village. “Following discussions with Cheswick Green Parish Council, it is proposed to erect the memorial stones on the public open space which is being created at the entrance to our Cheswick Place development off Coppice Walk, so they can be seen and enjoyed by the local community.” The War Memorials Trust, a national charity, had previously been contacted about the proposals last year. While a planning application had been submitted to Solihull Council last month, the local authority has confirmed that the scheme can proceed without the need for planning permission.
The developer has said that it aims to have the stones installed before the end of the year with an official unveiling ceremony due to take place at the site.
A detailed history of the original memorial had previously been produced by resident John Pettinger and was submitted alongside the planning documents. He explained how the stones had long been a point of local interest.
“Those people who have lived in Cheswick Green since the new village was built in the 1970s have been aware of a tall column standing in the garden of 194 Creynolds Lane, on the corner of Cheswick Way.
“A fascinating and mysterious feature: it had once been a part of the Pleasure Grounds that Philip Baker had created on the Mount Estate in the early 1900s. Delving into the history of the site, Mr Pettinger reveals that in July 1906, the Birmingham Gazette reported on a visit by former servicemen to the newly-opened Pleasure Grounds. Seventy-five members of the Birmingham Military Veterans Association had attended the day-out and it is thought that this may have inspired Mr Baker to create the memorial. For many years, the stones were maintained by the Leese family, who lived in the Creynolds Lane bungalow, later built on the site. By coincidence Mrs Leese subsequently moved to South Africa to live near Rorke’s Drift, the site of one of the continent’s most famous battles.
Seven years ago, the late Pete Davies and Cheswick Green Residents Association arranged for local builders Merchant EH Smith to transport the items from their old home and they have been kept in storage until last year. They have since been undergoing restoration by specialist stone masons under the supervision of Cheswick Green parish council in preparation to forming a memorial at the entrance to Cheswick Place off Coppice Walk provided by Bloor Homes.