Tributes have been paid to a proud Birmingham man, known as the ‘Summer Lane Kid’, for his passionate campaign to keep the area’s past alive.
Friends and relatives of Brian Harding, 69, said he will be remembered for setting up the Summer Laners Society, aimed at preserving one of the city’s oldest and longest roads.
The father-of-three and grandfather of ten lived with his wife Brenda in Quinton but was born in Summer Lane, which runs from Old Snow Hill to Newtown. He wrote a book of poetry about the place where he grew up.
He spent years campaigning to preserve the old buildings and, in 2007, spearheaded the opening of the Summer Lane Arts Crafts and Heritage Centre.
The centre was forced to close a few months ago when Brian’s health deteriorated; he died last week from emphysema and asbestosis.
Historian Dr Carl Chinn, who officially opened the heritage centre, led tributes.
He said: “Brian was an outstanding poet. He brought to life all characters, particularly those of his beloved Summer Lane. In Brian, the people of Summer Lane had somebody who could bring to the future the lives of the past. His legacy will be his poetry and his work in bringing together pictures and memorabilia. I have known Brian for a long time and have always admired him.”
After leaving Summer Lane School, Brian worked as a telegraph boy before moving on to the post office. He then moved to other companies including Fort Dunlop, before finishing his working life as a service engineer.
Brian will make a final visit to Summer Lane during his funeral procession tomorrow. The cortege will start at Constitution Hill and stop at the Stags Head pub opposite his former shop before continuing to the end of Summer Lane.
The funeral will follow at the Church of St Faith and St Lawrence at Court Oak Road, Harborne with the burial at Quinton cemetery.