A plaque on your houses – the search continues.

The Dunlop ‘Council Chamber’. The monument/artwork is highlighted with the red arrow. Image generously supplied by Robert Heywood.

Last week I ran an interesting enquiry from Shirley Jackson, who posed the question of what became of a sculpture of former Dunlop Chairman, George Beharrel, after Fort Dunlop at Castle Bromwich was redeveloped.

Well, I had lots of suggestions, including the possibility the artwork might have gone to the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust at Gaydon, the Black Country Museum, or to the current Dunlop Motorsport  factory at Beaulieu, Brockenhurst. By far the most interesting suggestion was that the statue was not a statue at all, but a plaque on a shared monument.

A few days ago, Robert Heywood, a longstanding employee of the Dunlop company, wrote to me to share the images I publish in this post and what he thinks the nature of the artwork was, and where it was located.

Robert wrote:

Hello Bob

I have tried to post this to your blog page but couldn’t find a way to include the photos . . .

I don’t recall any statue but do remember the 3-sided monument as described by Paul Boot in the comments to your post.

He said:

‘I seem to recall that when I worked there, it was a plaque attached to a 4′ high stone pedestal. It had a triangular shape, with sides & a plaque on each side. Each plaque was engraved with details and a low relieve engraving of – John Boyd Dunlop, George Beharrell and a memorial to fallen soldiers.’

That monument stood outside of the building which employees of my generation always knew as The Council Chamber and which in the mid 1990’s became the Exhibition Centre.  This building, originally built as an ‘entertainment hall and social club for the employees’ was opened by Lady Beharrell in 1935. It stood not far inside the main gate to Fort Dunlop site and at the opposite end of the 200 acre complex to the Base Stores building which was redeveloped and which is pictured at the head of this article.

The interior of the same building showing a memorial plaque on the interior, too. Image generously supplied by Robert Heywood.

Any statue or memorial would not have been housed in that building as it was primarily used only for storage.

I am attaching three photographs; one posted on the Dunlop Tyres Memories group by Malcolm Evans  and showing a plaque just inside the Council Chamber commemorating its opening,  and two others on which I have marked the 3-Sided Beharrell/ JB Dunlop/War memorial monument which stood outside.

When the major part of Fort Dunlop site was demolished, I remember the war memorial plaque being removed and “taken into safe keeping” as a mark of respect for the employees it commemorated. I think it might have gone to Beaulieu . . ?

The J B Dunlop plaque was, I believe, moved for display by the entrance to the new Goodyear-Dunlop TyreFort building.

I have no idea what happened to the 3rd (Beharrell) plaque . . .

Regards,
Bob Heywood
(Dunlop employee 1965 – 2005)

Thanks to Robert for such an illuminating contribution – that’s certainly food for thought. It’s hard to imagine just how large many local factories were in those days, large enough to have facilities as you describe. It feels like another world.

We’re on the right track, I feel – if you can help Shirley locate the missing artwork, or explain it’s fate, that would be lovely, thank you!

Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail do com. Cheers.

The Dunlop ‘Council Chamber’. The monument/artwork is highlighted with the red arrow. Image generously supplied by Robert Heywood.

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One Response to A plaque on your houses – the search continues.

  1. Sorry if it’s stating the obvious, but the Public Monuments and Sculptures Association (PMSA) have a national recording project, though their site seems to be having problems at the moment bringing up the database. http://www.pmsa.org.uk/ But I’ve found in the past that an email to them can bring a helpful response.

    War Memorials Trust -http://www.warmemorials.org/ – also has a searchable thingy, which brings up two West Mids memorials in response to “Dunlop”, neither the one in question. But they might offer advice?

    A couple of years ago I organised a campaign to get Wolverhampton’s Barbara Hepworth sculpture, filched by RBS, returned to the Mander Centre in the town, and found that it’s impossible to get something listed (like a memorial or sculpture) once it’s been physically removed from the site where it was originally installed. Annoying! And also gives corporate vandals and asset strippers an advantage …

    Good luck with the quest.

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