Treasured author remembered in the Jewellery Quarter
The work of a treasured author from the Jewellery Quarter has been remembered as a new public square is opened in her honour.
The new ‘Dayus Square’, at the junction of Carver Street, Legge Street and Albion Street in the Jewellery Quarter, has been named after Kathleen Dayus, who wrote the critically acclaimed ‘The Girl from Hockley’ – a book about the social history of Birmingham and, in particular, the Quarter.
The project, which was developed by Birmingham City Council with support and involvement of the local community – who are spearheaded by the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT) – has seen the square undergo £300,000 worth of public realm, art, pedestrian and traffic improvements, developed in partnership with local residents.
Members from four generations of Kathleen’s family attended the launch event for the square and unveiled a specially designed piece of public art – a bronze sculpture of pages from a book containing passages about the Jewellery Quarter from Dayus’ book. The artwork was revealed by Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Regeneration Councillor Timothy Huxtable and Kathleen’s daughter, Jean Rainey.
Jean said: “The square and sculpture in my mother’s honour is simply wonderful. She lived in Camden Drive and used the George and Dragon pub as a prominent setting throughout her books. Both of these ‘landmarks’ are close to the square, so it’s a very fitting tribute to her life. My mother was very active, even in her late years, and always spoke passionately of the Jewellery Quarter.”
Cllr Timothy Huxtable said: “This project will not only enhance the quality of life and the street scene in the immediate vicinity, but will also further enhance and celebrate the cultural heritage which makes the Jewellery Quarter such a unique and renowned attraction.
“The former George and Dragon pub is currently vacant and in a poor state of repair. However, Birmingham City Council is working with the owner to bring forward proposals to return it to its original use with the addition of new hotel accommodation.”
Members of the Dayus family were also presented with silver bookmarks to commemorate the day, which were stamped with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee hallmark.
David Mahony, chair of the JQDT, said: “Dayus Square is a prime example of how the JQ community has worked with the City Council to regenerate the Quarter while also remembering a much-loved person from the area.
“The JQDT hopes to link all those places Kathleen describes so well in her books into a walk. This square is just the start.”
Born in Hockley, Birmingham, in 1903, Kathleen Dayus is best known for a series of autobiographical novels based on her experiences as a child and as an adult growing up within the close knit, yet impoverished, back-to-back communities within the city.
She was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Birmingham in 1992, at the age of 85, and passed away just a couple of weeks short of her 100th birthday in 2003.