I’ve had an interesting enquiry from Laura Watkins, about the cemetery in Barnetts Lane, Brownhills, and it’s a little unusual in nature. I think it’s best if I let her explain in her own words.
My husband and I are looking to buy a house on second avenue, Brownhills.
I came across your very detailed blog as i was trying to research the area of Brownhills and Barnett’s Lane cemetry, as the house we are looking to buy, backs on to this cemetery. I noticed you are very passionate about the history of Brownhills and have lots of information, so I was just wondering if you could help us.
Do have any infomation on the cemetry? as the house is no 12 on the avenue and it is at the very end of the cemetry, where very old graves are, there is a grave stone very close to the garden fence, I just need to be assured that that house is not built on any graves or indeed in the garden! Or failing that do you have any information as to where i can find this out?
Any information you have would be a great help.
Well, Laura, for starters, building on a cemetery has been illegal in this country for a very, very long time, and the procedure for disturbing graves for any reason is legally very complex for obvious reasons. Such grounds – even very, very old ones have a huge amount of legal protection and it’s unlikely you’d find a house built on one, or with bodies interred in the grounds (unless it was a converted church – there are a few locally).
If this is the case, the graves and their position have to be notified by law.
Second Avenue was built by Brownhills Urban District Council in the 1930s, and was in the process of being built, or was very new when the 1938 1:10,560 scale mapping of Brownhills was drafted in 1938 (the fact that the houses there are outlined means the Ordnance Survey knew of them, but they hadn’t yet been surveyed accurately).
Note the lack of a burial ground behind:
There’s an interesting meditation on ‘The Avenues’ – once described as ‘Garden City, Brownhills’ in this post from last year.
Barnetts Lane cemetery – created from land that used to be called Daisy’s Meadow or Field by my generation, was constructed in the early 1950s and opened in 1954.
The history of St. James Parish Church states the following:
 The new Barnetts Lane burial ground was purchased and laid out at about this same time. Although ready, it was not consecrated and could not be used until the new Bishop of Lichfield had arrived in the Diocese. With burial space at a premium some graves in the Great Charles Street Cemetery had to be dug in every available space in the already full graveyard. Visitors will notice that graves were placed wherever room could be found, many in pathways and some not facing in the traditional easterly direction This situation was to last until July 1954.
At last and with great relief to the Parish, Barnetts Lane cemetery was consecrated for burials on the 1st July .
So the cemetery didn’t come into existence for 20 years after the adjacent houses were built.
I hope this puts Laura’s mind at rest, and should your purchase come to fruition, welcome to Brownhills!