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Acocks Green War Memorial

Outside Acocks Green Library stands a memorial to those who fell in the two World Wars. Since the last war, the BritishLegion has had a temporary Garden of Remembrance in Acocks Green, and in May 1964 they applied to have a permanent Garden made outside the Library, which they would maintain. They wrote: we desire to have some place where people of all denominations can freely place something to the memory of their lost loved ones.

The Memorial would be in keeping with the dignity of the public library building. Just before Christmas the idea was approved by the Council, and J White and Sons, Memorial Craftsmen of Yardley, were asked to submit a design. They suggested a paved area up to the Cenotaph and lawns either side and behind, with a section of the Library frontage wall coming down to give access. A wall plaque was also made, which reads -

We will remember them.
The garden of remembrance
created by the Acocks Green branch
in memory of fallen comrades
unveiled by Mr. O. F. Gloster (branch president)
on Sunday 8th August 1965
dedicated by Rev. C. H. Iball St. Mary's the Virgin. Church
funds raised by branch and women's section
together with donations from local residents
and tradespeople.

Early in 1966 the British Legion put in a request for rose bushes to be planted in the Garden, but the City Librarian was only prepared to contemplate them being behind the Memorial. He complimented the Legion on keeping the frontage tidy, and actually asked them if they could take on the other side of the frontage as well! As far as I know, the roses were not planted. These details are of interest because of the subsequent history of the frontage. After a while, library users began to cross the grass when leaving the building, which affected the appearance of the area.

By late 1980, other plans were coming to fruition, and the wall on the right-hand frontage was partly removed, and a paved area with shrubs and trees was installed. Councillor Matt Redmond was involved in this work. Shrubs were also put in on the left-hand side around the Memorial. After twenty years, these had grown too large and were past their best. A rose garden has been planted there instead, at the request of the British Legion, with a couple of small trees remaining from the 1980 landscaping. This change took place within the LILA (Local Involvement, Local Action) process.

Every Armistice Day a service is held at 11.00 hours outside the Library. The Garden is intended as a place of reflection and dignity throughout the year. As the local authority, which still owns the land, moves into a new type of relationship with its local communities, it will emerge to what extent the people of Acocks Green wish to see changes in the maintenance and supervision of this site in order to reflect the community's wish to remember its war dead.

Mike Byrne Community Librarian and local historian, Acocks Green

Acocks Green Library