A £300,000 public square, built to honour a much-loved Birmingham author, has been unveiled in the area that inspired her.
The family of Kathleen Dayus joined Coun Timothy Huxtable, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet member for transport, environment and regeneration, at the official opening of Dayus Square, in the Jewellery Quarter.
Kathleen, who died in 2003 aged 99, used the neighbouring George and Dragon pub as a setting throughout her books and grew up on nearby Camden Drive.
The square features a bronze statue of pages from a book containing passages about the Jewellery Quarter penned by Dayus.
Funded through a Section 106 agreement – cash provided by developers for community improvements – the square also features new pedestrian crossings and footways, cobbled paving and the first trees planted in the Quarter for many years.
Born in Hockley in 1903, Dayus is best known for a series of autobiographical novels based on her childhood experiences. Her collective works were published as a single volume in 2006 called The Girl from Hockley: Growing Up in Working-Class Birmingham.
She won the prestigious J.R. Ackerely Prize for Autobiography in 1982 and was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Birmingham in 1992.
David Mahoney, chairman of the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT), said: “Kathleen’s stories are so redolent and help us to understand what things are, how they were so and why it is important to cherish this unique place.
“I recall her well and we really miss her, although she is still the ‘James Herriot of the Quarter’.
“The JQDT hopes to link all those places she describes so well into a walk. This square is just the start.”