Perhaps, past-struck, a horse-drawn hearse
has pulled you up the hill to here;
or, in some census, scanner-smeared,
his name, her job, fuzzy and terse;

or nothing as old or grand as grief.
A sandwich to break up the day.
Across the humming Middleway,
a dog’s dim glimpse of green relief.

Between death’s mansions, starched and stout,
lie graves crowded as Hockley courts
with setters’ sons and jewellers’ daughters.
We live in flats. It gets us out.

Absent a church, a birch tree breathes
its blessing on the catacombs.
Without a thought of grace or gloom,
a squirrel skitters through the leaves.

This poem was written in July 2020 when Richard O’Brien was Birmingham Poet Laureate, it was inspired by memories of cemetery visitors and his own experiences living in the Jewellery Quarter. Many of these stories can be found on this website.

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project


We had an amazing day yesterday at the @jqbid #jqfestival collaborating with @jo_gane1 @suslifeuk @dontgointothecellar and of course the @friendskeyhillwarstonelanecem meeting so many amazing people

We couldn't have done it without everyone's help, including loads of support behind the scenes from @bhamcitycouncil @coffin_works @thehivejq and all the amazing #JQHeritageSquad volunteers.

Now we need to sleep for a week but then we'll be buzzing with ideas for 2023!

We are very excited about 'Diamonds in the Rough' a unique tour with storytelling & live performance, exploring queer history in the JQ Cemeteries for LGBT History Month.
Join Sheldon K Goodman and
Sacha Coward from @thecemeteryclub
on 12th-14th February:

#lgbthistory #valentinesday #birmingham #jewelleryquarter #jewelleryquarterbirmingham #cemetery #tour #birminghamheritage

This project is possible because of funding from: