Reprinted from Jewellery Quarter Research Trust newsletter (April 2020) with permission

Shirley Kitely has been using the Jewellery Quarter Research Trust website to reconnect with her family history and the grave of her relative Irene Hassall.

“I worked in an office in Vittoria Street near to the above cemetery in 1955 after leaving school, and during the  Summertime my co-worker and I would sit on a bench eating our lunch while feeding the squirrels as well. I knew that I had relatives buried in [Warstone Lane] as well as Key Hill, but one cousin died in a tragic accident when she was only 9 years old in 1940 when I was only 8 months old so I was too young to know her. Families didn’t ‘talk’ about these things so a lot of history was lost.

However, as an adult my Brother Alan tried to find out where about she was buried and we were pleased to be given the Plot number which was in a very overgrown area. We didn’t know whether she had a gravestone or not but after much searching, with Alan clearing away weeds and shrubs only to uncover a beautiful gravestone for Irene Hassall with the inscription still visible.

Irene would have been in her eighties had she lived. I felt quite emotional to have discovered her grave thanks to my brother. Had we have known about her whereabouts I am sure we would have looked after it over the years. I do remember Irene’s Mother, my Aunt Violet, shedding tears if ever she heard the song ‘Irene, Goodnight Irene’ being sung, but not understanding the full story, only that Aunt Violet was ill in hospital when her daughter was killed in a road accident.”

Memorial to Irene Hassall in Warstone Lane Cemetery. Section I Grave 1825.

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project


Our online talks programme continues on May 6th with an in depth look at Key Hill House - James Watt's 1st Birmingham home, plus the wider history of the house and Key Hill with John Townley and George Demidowicz. Free but booking essential.

Looking forward to the return of the Chamberlain Clock on the 20th-21st March! We've been working with @JQTHproject & 3 co-curators on 2 Visions 2 Legacies project, telling balanced narratives about Warrulan & Chamberlain who are buried in the cemeteries.

Celebrating Harriet Martineau on International Women's Day #IWD2021
Harriet was a writer, sociologist & campaigner for women's rights, workers rights & education. She started writing because few other careers were open to her as a deaf woman.
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It's International Women's Day #IWD2021 and we are celebrating historical women of the JQ with @JQBID and @JQTHproject
Constance Naden was a woman of many talents- scientist, artist and philosopher and is now best remembered for her poetry
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This project is possible because of funding from: