Birmingham Civic Society marked its 90th birthday by becoming the first in the country to be awarded a Grant of Arms.
The presentation at Birmingham Council House was made by the Lancaster Herald, Robert Noel, before more than 100 invited guests and was attended by society president and Lord Mayor of Birmingham Coun Chauhdry Rashid.
The occasion marked the founding of the society in 1918 when a group of the “great and the good” gathered at the Council House at its inaugural meeting, under its first president, the Earl of Plymouth.
The society’s stated aims at the time were “to bring public interest to bear upon all proposals put forward by public bodies and private owners for building, upon the laying out of open spaces and parks, and generally upon all matters concerned with the outward amenities of the city and district”.
It also said it would “insist that taste is a thing that matters, and if any offence against taste is challenged at the outset, great good will be done, and converting of mean and unlovely parts of the city will gradually follow”.
For Birmingham Civic Society’s coat of arms, a petition was submitted by the executive council to the Earl Marshal, including a list of key aspects of the work of the society.
This was encapsulated in the words “Birmingham, built environment, heritage, citizenship, future and wisdom”. The badge may now be used on letterheads, other publications and displayed on other materials and goods commissioned by the society. Members will also be entitled to wear the badge.
Dr Freddie Gick, Birmingham Civic Society’s chairman, said the society had retained its traditional role of taking a keen and active interest in the built environment.
“However, our programmes now embrace other aspects of the lives of Birmingham’s citizens,” he said. “I believe it is right for the society to play a part in building the concept of active citizenship among young people and, for instance, to be involved in planting trees in the city and encouraging others to do so.
“Recent constitutional changes, the publication of our new thought-provoking journal and the establishment of a city-centre office are all outward signs of a resurgence of interest in the society – made possible by the generous support of our personal and corporate members.”
He added it was a great honour for the society to have been granted a coat of arms in recognition of the work it has carried out over nine decades.
“The ceremony in which the Letters Patent are handed over formally by the Lancaster Herald is one of great significance for the Society and will rank among the major events of its history,” he said. The Lord Mayor said Birmingham Civic Society had been a “remarkable” force for good in Birmingham.
“The fact that the society has been recognised through the award of a Grant of Arms is a testament to its work and the leadership it has taken in a variety of civic matters and is a credit to the city it serves,” he said.