At the start of the month, we unveiled a Blue Plaque to William Haywood, the Society’s first Secretary from its founding in 1918 until 1947. Haywood was born in Ladywood and was an architect and urban planner. He produced many schemes for replanning the city, publishing his ideas in The Development of Birmingham in 1918. As a result of his book, Sir Oliver Lodge invited him to take the University Special Lectureship on Town Planning, which he held for 25 years.
One of his most signficant contributions to Birmingham was the citywide decorations for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and centenary of the Charter of Birmingham the following year in 1938. Haywood did the city proud as Executive of the Schemes of Decoration. Professor Thomas Bodkin, the first Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, wrote in 1937 that “the decorations of the municipal buildings and the principal streets of the city were considered to be the best of their kind in England”.
His Buckland and Haywood offices at 37 Bennett’s Hill were also the first offices of the Society, and are now the home of The Wellington. The plaque was jointly unveiled at The Wellington by Trustee Stephen Hartland and Angus McMeeking, Director of Black Country Ales.
The following week Stephen gave a talk about the life and influence of William Haywood, a man dedicated to making Birmingham a better place, at The Gunmakers Arms as part of our centenary programme, The City Beautiful.