Councillor Walker – ‘Blue Brick Walker’

332flytt17a‘A vacancy is caused in the representation of St. Martin’s Ward by the death of Mr Thomas Walker, which occurred on Sunday evening, at his residence, Speedwell House, Pershore Road, after a short illness. Mr Walker was elected for St. Martin’s Ward in November 1833, and has continuously represented it since that date.

Though not a prominent member of the Town Council, or one who frequently spoke in its debates, Mr Walker was a very useful member and his death just now especially to be regretted, as he had given particular attention to the sewage question.

His most important service in connection with the Corporation was one for which he deserves to be held in grateful remembrance. Those persons who can recall the abominable pavements in the minor streets of Birmingham a few years ago composed of round pebbles which rendered locomotion impossible, except at the cost of constant pain – should be reminded that it is to Mr Walker’s exertions that the town owes the excellent and comfortable blue-brick pavement which has of late years replaced the wretched footpaths just mentioned.

This reform is all the more notable, as before he could succeed in effecting it, Mr. Walker had encountered no little ridicule and opposition from many persons (including those “in authority”) who should have known better. Nevertheless, he persevered in what was a most useful public work, and at last, he achieved it, to the great comfort of pedestrians, and to the economy of local expenditure.

In other respects, Mr Walker deserves honourable mention. He was a most ingenious mechanic, and possessed in a high degree, the faculty of invention, which, under other circumstances would probably have ranked him with the eminent men who have made the fame of English engineering. Amongst other inventions which he brought to perfection may be mentioned his Ship’s Log and Sounding Apparatus, long since extensively adopted in the Royal and mercantile marine. His well-known stove was also an invention of no common merit, and many other productions of an ingenious character might also be mentioned.
Personally, Mr Walker was an honourable, kindly, and unostentatious man who will be missed and regretted by many friends.’

Birmingham Daily Post 28 March 1871
‘Thomas Walker died on the 26th March at his residence Speedwell House, Pershore Road aged 67 years member of the Town Council’.

July 11 1914
‘A Strange Monument
Mr Joseph Chamberlain was at one time a very regular visitor to the General Cemetery Key Hill and used to declare that it was the most interesting place in the world to a Birmingham man. He told his secretary when he was there some nine years ago (around 1905) that he knew most of the well known men who lay buried there, but pleaded ignorance of the anti-Papal lecturer although he said he well remembered the notorious riots which followed his addresses. Perhaps the most remarkable memorial in this remarkable place is the gravestone of Mr Thomas Walker who was responsible for the substitution of blue bricks for the cobblestones which originally paved the footpaths of central Birmingham.
At the foot of this tombstone there are carved a number of imitation bricks in perpetuation of the good work which he did for the town during the time he was a member of the Council. His reform earned for him the sobriquet of ‘Blue Brick Walker’, and the blessings of everybody whose tender feet had done penance over the cobble-stones of New Street and High Street’.

Wording on tombstone:

‘In Loving Memory of
who died March 26th 1871
aged 67
For sixteen years a member of The Birmingham
Town Council for St. Martin’s Ward.

Source: Birmingham Post May 1871, Researched by Colin Giles on behalf of Jewellery Quarter Heritage.


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