Newsletter – April 2010

April 9th, 2010 by JCope

The Chairman began the Society’s April meeting by advertising the new book based on the Parish Registers, detailing the outing to the Morgan factory, the May Social and the Severn Valley lunch in August.  Toni Evans would lead the next Sunday ramble.

The evening’s speaker was former chairman, Irene Oliver, presenting ‘Louisa Ryland: a nineteenth century business woman and philanthropist’ and we soon realised how little we knew about this benefactor to Birmingham.

Louisa Anne Ryland was born in 1814.  The family had made its money from the wire-drawing industry and from the sale of land for housing.  Louisa inherited a fortune and began to make generous donations, so that by 1867 she was giving some 40% of her income to charity.  Cannon Hill Park was given to Birmingham in 1873.  Victoria Park, Small Heath, was given in 1879 and she sponsored the Art College.  This was the pattern of her life, but she preferred to give anonymously, being adamant in particular, that Cannon Hill Park should not be called Ryland Park.  She died in 1889, not as well known as she might have been due to her preferred anonymity.  Thank you for a fascinating presentation, Irene.

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