The Society was started in 1918 with the aim of improving the appearance of the city, acting as an advisory body to the city council on issues of town planning and heritage.
From the beginning, it raised funds to buy land to create or add to parks and gardens in the city, to provide open spaces for recreation for all. The first was Daffodil Park in Northfield. The Society also published beautifully illustrated guides to, for example, the Lickey Hills and Sutton Park.
In 1923 and again in 1934, it helped to save the Birmingham Repertory Theatre from closure, by campaigns to boost audiences, and then by setting up the Barry Jackson Trust to preserve the theatre for the citizens of Birmingham.
During the Second World War, the Society saved the stained glass windows of St Philip’s Cathedral designed by local artist Edward Burne-Jones, by having them removed and safely stored so that they escaped destruction when the cathedral was bombed.Every year now, Next Generation Awards are presented to young citizens in schools who undertake improvements to their local environment. Since 2006 there has been a very active ‘Birmingham Trees for Life’ partnership with the city council to ensure that trees are planted and woodland maintained in Birmingham’s parks and open spaces. Over 70,000 trees have now been planted and in recent years the Friends of Cotteridge Park were helped to buy some rough ground next to the park to plant a community orchard, for local residents to enjoy.
The Society commemorates the heritage of the city by installing Blue Plaques and History Plates to inform people about important events or individuals who have made a difference to life in the city. The next one to be unveiled will be to suffragists and suffragettes in the city and will be at Northfield Library on 14 June 2018.
To celebrate its centenary, the Birmingham Civic Society is running a programme of special events and activities taking place across the city. Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a number of walks, tours, talks and other events have been organised to mark the occasion.
On 10 June there is a ‘Civic Picnic’ from 1pm at Soho House, Handsworth. Bring a picnic and enjoy the festivities there at this free birthday event.
The full programme for ‘The City Beautiful’ centenary year activities can be found here.
The archives of Birmingham Civic Society (ref MS 4751) are held by Birmingham Archives & Collections, Library of Birmingham and the online catalogue can be found here.