The sudden death of Jim on October 8th has come as a great shock to us all. He has been a member of the Society for nearly 20 years and has made a huge contribution to our understanding of Balsall Heath’s history. He was committed to collecting stories from Balsall Heath people and spent a lot of time interviewing people, writing up the results and presenting them in an illustrated form for the Gazette newsletter.
Over the years he has taken an active role in all our exhibitions, events and stalls, ever keen to promote the Society, and has also worked on some of our publications, especially Tales Out of School, and Stars of Balsall Heath. I am personally indebted to him for his massive support for the Lost Children Project in all its aspects- research, publicity, exhibitions and the play. He has been a key member of the Society and will be badly missed.
Jim was also a member of the Birmingham History Theatre Company . He used often to tell people that he originally got involved as a scenery shifter but somehow got roped in to play significant parts in a host of productions. He was willing to try his hand at anything and dress up appropriately too.
He played a wide range of characters, from an eighteenth century canal entrepreneur to Police Chiefs, a Tollhouse Keeper, a farm labourer, the Stationmaster of Camp Hill Station, a Canadian farmer and Headmaster of Fairbridge Farm School
His most recent roles were as Harry Withers, the Bournville Carilloneur and Mr Butcher, founder of the works on the Moseley Road, now the OPW, Old Print Works. He approached all his roles with great commitment and humour.
I will remember Jim for his unfailing support, his creativity, his kindness and generosity. When I had a bereavement in 2018 he stepped up to take a lead part in producing The Gazette newsletter and has continued this for the last five years, expanding and enriching the content.
After his wife, Rose, died in 2020, Jim accelerated his work for the Society. Most recently he has spent vast amounts of time on preparation work for the re publication of my book, Balsall Heath a History. I am not sure this would have been possible without Jim as a driving force.
He gave us all so much, we should honour him.
Jim’s Funeral will be held on Tuesday, November 7th at Redditch Crematorium at 11 a.m. All Welcome.