In Sutton Coldfield, events for Birmingham Heritage Week began on Friday 8th September 2023.  However, a more important date for our Research Group was Saturday, 9th September, when we had been invited by Holy Trinity Parish Church to show the results of some of our recent research.

It turned out to be one of those beautiful September days and the whole area around the Church and the Trinity Centre was busy with different stalls offering a variety of items.

Even before our local MP, Andrew Mitchell opened the proceedings in the company of the Lord Mayor Councillor Tony Briggs, ‘Bishop Vesey’, ‘Henry VIII’ and the Revd Canon Becky Stephens, new priest-in-charge at Holy Trinity, members of the public were milling around the stalls.

We were able to set up a variety of displays just inside the Church entrance and these were attracting immediate attention. 

The first thing that greeted the visitors was a table covered with second hand local history books for sale, collected by one of our members over the past year.  These had been donated by a number of generous people.  Everyone likes a bargain and items sold like hot cakes!  It was nice to know that the funds collected were destined for the local Foodbank.

Rail enthusiasts (notably ‘Bishop Vesey’ in his full regalia!) were then drawn to the layout of the track at Chester Road Station, built by one of our members.  It was anticipated that this might be added to in due course.

Across the aisle, the collection of local artist George Gilbert’s paintings created much conversation amongst the onlookers, recalling memories of Sutton before the 1970s, around the time planning for the Gracechurch Centre was in progress.  Before then the Parade was a wonderful street of small, individual shops which everyone remembered with fondness.  A couple of Gilbert’s paintings had been lent by Sutton Library from his considerable portfolio, now part of the Town’s archives.  It is to be hoped that one day these will be on public display again. Photos taken by another local man, Frederick Whitlock, and others were also available to browse through.

Information gathered in respect of William Morris Grundy, Sutton’s forgotten photographer from the 1850s, was available to read.  He lived in the property now known as ‘The Town House’ in the High Street and was famous for his stereoscopic photos and contribution to a book called “Sunshine in the Country – A book of rural poetry”, printed in 1861, in which it is widely believed that some of the photos were taken in Sutton Coldfield.

Janet Jordan
September 2023