News Reporter Emily Darby explains the significance of three new steel tree sculptures were unveiled outside New Street station

Final Year French and Spanish student. News Reporter for Redbrick and Chair of the Linguist magazine.
Images by Tom Leaman

On Wednesday 21 November, the 44th anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings, three steel trees were unveiled outside the entrance to New Street Station in a memorial for the victims of the 1974 attacks.

A minute’s silence was held for the 21 people who were killed after two bombs exploded in the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs in the city centre 44 years ago.

The new, tree-shaped sculptures each have 7 leaves, and all 21 leaves have the name of one of the victims inscribed on them.

Amongst the 250 people gathered at the unveiling were families of the victims, as well as members of the Birmingham Irish Association, campaign group Justice4the21 and Network Rail, who worked closely to bring the project to life.

As people come through into the city, it’s the first thing they will see

182 more people were injured on the night of the attacks, in pubs just metres away from where the new memorial has been unveiled.

Local artist Andhura Patel, who spent three years designing and creating the sculpture, spoke of the importance on the central location of the memorial site:

‘As people come through into the city, it’s the first thing they will see. It means a lot – it’s a very significant piece of work and I am very honoured to have been involved in it.’

Underneath the structure, a plaque reads: ’This memorial stands as a testament to our grief, in the hope that the 21 will be ever rooted in this place; and as a symbol of peace and unity at the gateway of our city.’

Among those invited to the event was President of the University of Birmingham Irish Society, Charlie Goan, a second-year Political Science and International Relations student.

He told Redbrick about the significance of the unveiling: ‘Wednesday night’s memorial unveiling was a poignant reminder of the darker days of Birmingham.

Wednesday night's memorial unveiling was a poignant reminder of the darker days of Birmingham

It was an honour to attend on behalf of the University’s Irish Society and pay my respects to the 21 victims of the 1974 attack.

The only way we can build bridges going forward is through reconciliation and respect.‘

Chief executive of the Birmingham Irish Association, Maurice Malone, spoke at the service: ‘As a group incorporating the Irish community, the victims’ families, the city, and the university, we wanted to create an inclusive and healing memorial which could reflect both the damage the pub bombings did to our city, and the hope we have for the future.’

The events of the pub bombings are still under investigation. It was widely reported at the time that the IRA was responsible for the bombings, however, the case became known as one of the worst miscarriages of justice in Britain after six men were wrongly imprisoned for 17 years.

A new inquiry will begin in February, 28 years after the convicted suspects, who became known as the Birmingham Six, were released from prison.