Major Thomas Henry Gem was a man of many talents, he was a lawyer, soldier, writer, playwright and sportsman amongst others. It is however for one sport which Harry Gem will always be associated.

Captain Harry Gem in his Birmingham Rifle Volunteer Corps uniform in 1868 (Wikimedia Commons)

He was born in Birmingham on 21st May 1819. He was educated at King’s College London before returning to Birmingham where he worked from1841 as a solicitor. He then became a magistrates Clerk in 1856.  He married Ellen Marie Wilcox in 1852.

Gem was an extremely active man he became a Major in the 1st Warwickshire Rifle Volunteer Corps and was heavily involved in sports most notably athletics and cricket, he also had a fondness for the game rackets. He would often play at Bath Street rackets club, with his friend Augurio Perera a Spaniard who now lived in Birmingham. The pair though became disillusioned by the game due to the expense of it being played indoors.

The pair however were soon to change the course of sporting history.

Taking the game outdoors and incorporating similarities with rackets they perfected a new game that was first played on Augurio Perera’s front lawn in 1859 this game was to be called lawn rackets and is the forerunner of the game we know today as lawn tennis.

At sometime in the early 1870’s both Harry Gem and Perera moved to Leamington Spa, where with two Doctors, Dr Haynes & Dr Tompkins they formed the Leamington Club, this would  become in 1874 The Leamington Lawn Tennis Club, making this the first Lawn tennis club in the world, this was situated on Avenue Road close to where Perera had now moved.

Major Thomas Henry (Harry) Gem passed away on November 4th, 1881 of the effects of a stroke in Leamington Spa. One obituary from a Birmingham news paper quoted “The genial, kindly – hearted Major”.  Thousands of people lined the funeral route

He was buried at Warstone Lane Cemetery with full military honours in Section P, Plot 1564.

Unburied Treasures Audio Tour – Jacob Wilson (written and performed by Dave Collins)

Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries Project


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

Released to celebrate the Winter Solstice 2021, this video explores some of the nocturnal animals which make the Jewellery Quarter Cemeteries their home. They might be hard to spot, but we can often see the traces they leave behind.

Emily Doyle @oldbort is a multidisciplinary visual artist who moved to the Jewellery Quarter as a student in 2015 and never left. Her practice focuses on the biological, looking for comfort in the physicality that connects us all during changing times. Throughout lockdown, Warstone Lane and Key Hill Cemeteries have been a source of inspiration and respite for Emily and the sites have shaped her creative output through 2020 and 2021, Like many, she has found the JQ Cemeteries to be a place of grounding and reflection.

Sustainability is at the forefront of Emily's work. The textile sculptures in this film were all made using reclaimed textiles, including some sourced through Scrapstore Birmingham.

This film commission was funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, Birmingham City Council and Jewellery Quarter Development Trust

#cemetery #cemeterywildlife #fox #crochet #jewelleryquarterbirmingham

The star of the final @oldbort cemeyery seasons film of the year, which drops on 21st December has taken up residence right next to the @jqbid Christmas window at the Big Peg!
You can see this fox in his den anytime during the window trail. We can't wait for his on camera debut!
#crochet #creative #jewelleryquarter #birmingham #christmaswindow #jqchristmas #cemeterywildlife

This project is possible because of funding from: