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Council bans amateur historians from taking photos of heritage graves

A group of amateur historians in Birmingham have been banned from taking pictures of the city's historic graves unless they apply in writing for permission on a ‘case by case’ basis.

Members of the Jewellery Quarter Research Trust in Birmingham. Credit: BPM Media

Members of the Jewellery Quarter Research Trust in Birmingham had been compiling an online database of the many famous, and not so famous, people buried in the historic Warstone Lane and Key Hill Cemeteries.

The voluntary group’s website, is still under development, and contains database with lists of graves and in some cases biographies, obituaries and photographs or portraits of the deceased.

There is also a Google Street View-style 360-degree photographic tour of the cemeteries.

They say they receives hundreds of visitors on their website each week from around the world, ranging from historians to people researching family histories.

But they have now been banned from taking photos of each gravestone unless they apply in writing for permission on a ‘case by case’ basis.

This is impossible for us to do. It is just unworkable. They obviously either want to control it or they simply do not trust us.

– Trust chairman Doug Wilks
Cemeteries feature on the heritage trails of Jewellery Quarter with regular guided tours, including late-night ghost walks. Credit: BPM Media

Cemeteries feature on the heritage trails of Jewellery Quarter with regular guided tours, including late-night ghost walks.

Permission for this request was declined on the basis that once this information is held by a third party then the council will have no control over how it may be used in future, without a formal agreement in place.

We have not asked for any existing photographs to be removed from the Jewellery Quarter Research Trust’s website. We have offered to work with the trust on a case-by-case basis and have advised them that a formal agreement will be required if they wish to photograph all memorials at both cemeteries.

– Birmingham City Council spokesman