The Birmingham Mail have just reported that the historic John F Kennedy memorial, which originally stood in the middle of St Chad’s Circus traffic roundabout, could be re-erected on the corner of Digbeth High Street and Floodgate Street by next March if a new planning application is successful.
The mosaic memorial of the assassinated American president surrounded by a crowd that includes Martin Luther King, has quite a history. Funded by public donation through the Birmingham Irish Society, it was created by Kenneth Budd in 1968 (here’s an old British Pathe news piece of the mosaic in the making) and was originally located next to the Roman Catholic cathedral of St Chad’s. It was pulled down in 2007 as part of the redevelopment of St Chad’s Circus and, according to this FOI response on What Do They Know?, key sections were stored by the artist’s son Oliver Budd (who is now overseeing the re-erection project):
Certain important sections of the Kennedy Memorial were removed by Oliver Budd (the son of the original artist Kenneth Budd) and are stored at his studio. Oliver Budd has the original drawings and access to the original suppliers of materials and it is proposed to install a remake of the Kennedy Memorial in the Irish Quarter, possibly as part of the Beorma development opposite Selfridges.
The question mark over its future then reared its head in July 2010, when the Birmingham Irish Community Forum hosted a community consultation event to offer people the chance to give feedback on Birmingham City Council’s proposals for possible sites for the old mosaic in the Irish Quarter and suggestions that the mosaic be altered to ‘incorporate members of the community’ (it seems the latter were decided against).
Now it looks like the old JFK memorial mosaic may be rehoused somewhere visible and prominent in Digbeth, on the main High Street just opposite The Irish Centre. Birmingham Mail are holding an online poll asking ‘Should the JFK memorial be reinstated in Birmingham?’ Answer Yes or No here.