Wednesday, May 11, saw members boarding a Cresswell coach, at Chadbury Farm Shop car park, to head for Birmingham city centre. Getting a sight of recent city developments along the route was a new experience to many of us and having been dropped off near Victoria Square, we made the short walk to the City of Birmingham Council House. This Grade II listed building was built in 1879 and designed by Yeoville Thomson with its stone having been laid by Joseph Chamberlain in 1874. We were met on its impressive grand staircase, by our guides, the former Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress (2010-11), Alderman Len and Mrs. Gill Gregory. Their initial descriptions within the foyer, of the historical plaques, marble busts and pillars, local ornate metalwork included a lift installed for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1914. Everywhere, the workmanship of local artisans reflected the city’s industrial heritage. The city motto of ”Forward” was inscribed into the semicircular wooden seating of the Council Chamber and woven into the central carpeting of the Banqueting Suite that could seat 400 guests below the minstrels’ gallery. The display cabinets held numerous valuable gifts presented to the city over the years included a silver bowl from the Pope.

We bade farewell to the city sights and proceeded to Winterbourne House for lunch, to be joined by Len & Gill Gregory, to whom we presented a cheque toward their Mayor’s Charities. The afternoon was then spent touring this Arts and Crafts home built for John Nettlefold and his wife, Margaret Chamberlain in 1903. He is noted as a social reformer and JP who was the first Chairman of Birmingham’s Housing Committee in 1901, which extended the city’s slum clearance works to improve public housing for the working classes. His wife’s contribution was through designing the now Grade II listed Edwardian garden, inspired by Gertrude Jekyll, set in 7 acres, which, with the house was bequeathed in 1944 to the University to become their Winterbourne Botanic Garden, a centre for research in horticulture, plant history and conservation. A truly spectacular arrangement of terraces, borders, rock gardens and woodland walks, it is now part of Historic Houses Association.

We shall be visiting Bridgenorth in June and Mapledurham in August, if you would care to join us, please view our programme to make contact on