John F. Kennedy Memorial in Digbeth

The Kenneth Budd JFK Memorial was originally at St Chad's Circus from 1968 until it was destroyed in 2007. It was recreated by his son Oliver Budd in Digbeth during 2012-13.


Where is the John F. Kennedy Memorial?

The recreation of the John F. Kennedy Memorial is on Floodgate Street and High Street Deritend, Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 5SU

 

In brief

The original mosaic memorial to John Fitzgerald Kennedy (35th President of the United States) by Kenneth Budd, was at St Chad's Circus from 1968, but was destroyed when St Chad's Circus was redeveloped in 2007 (including the removal of the subways). Kenneth's son Oliver Budd and company later recreated it, and remade it in Digbeth close to the Custard Factory during Winter 2012-13.

JFK MemorialJFK Memorial in Digbeth (February 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Original location

John F. Kennedy was elected 35th President of the United States of America in November 1960. He was inaugurated in January 1961. On a visit to Dallas, Texas on the 22nd November 1963, Kennedy was shot dead by Lee Harvey Oswald, while riding around the City in an open top motorcade. The Birmingham Irish community later memorialised Kennedy by a mosaic close to St Chad's Cathedral. It was erected at St Chad's Circus in July 1968. 39 years later with the redevelopment of St Chad's Circus (which included demolishing the subways and raising the road level), the original mosaic was part of the demolition works.

JFK MemorialOriginal John F. Kennedy mosaic at St Chad's Circus (date unknown). Courtesy of the Birmingham Mail

 

New location

The site chosen to build the new JFK Memorial was that of a former public toilets, with blue tiles on the outside. For many years there used to be a billboard at the Floodgate Street corner with High Street Deritend. It is near the Irish Quarter and the Custard Factory.

New site of JFK MemorialFormer public toilets at Floodgate Street near High Street Dertiend (November 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The board where the tiles would be erected was first installed during December 2012. It has words on either side (which we will detail below).

JFK MemorialWork begins to build the new JFK Memorial at Floodgate Street near High Street Dertiend (December 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

On the 10th January 2013, work was well underway recreating Kenneth Budd's design by his son Oliver. But at the Council's request, the face of the former Lord Mayor of Birmingham Mike Nangle (in 2005, he died in 2010) was added to the design.

JFK MemorialThe erection of the JFK Memorial in Digbeth (January 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Five days later on the 15th January 2013, the mosaic was almost complete.

JFK MemorialThe erection of the JFK Memorial in Digbeth (January 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

By the beginning of February 2013, the recreation of the mosaic of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial was complete.

JFK MemorialJFK Memorial in Digbeth (February 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Details of the JFK Memorial

At the bottom left is the face of the city's first Irish Lord Mayor of Birmingham (in 2005) of the late Councillor Mike Nangle (died in 2010). He was not part of the original late 1960s design and you can tell the difference between the old and new design.

JFK MemorialJFK Memorial in Digbeth (January 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Close up of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. The head had been saved from the 2006-7 demolition of St Chad's Circus.

JFK MemorialJFK Memorial in Digbeth (February 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

On the left it says:

In tribute to John F Kennedy President of the United States 1960-3

JFK MemorialWork begins to build the new JFK Memorial at Floodgate Street near High Street Dertiend (December 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

On the right it says:

A man may die nations may rise and fall but an idea lives on

JFK MemorialWork begins to build the new JFK Memorial at Floodgate Street near High Street Dertiend (December 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The completed John F. Kennedy Memorial looks good after dark with the street lights on. Although it is best viewed in daylight.

JFK MemorialJFK Memorial in Digbeth (March 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

This plaque was unveiled near the end of February 2013, which we have transcribed for you below:

The original JFK memorial was commissioned at the request of Alderman Sir Frank Price, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1964-65. An Irish Catholic fundraising group led by Rev. Fr. Maguire, Joe McGlynn and Billy Hestor raised the original £5000 required through the generosity of the Irish Community. It was unveiled by Mr John Molloy the Irish Ambassador to Britain on 8th July 1968. The rededication of the JFK memorial was unveiled by Monsignor P. Browne, Parish Priest of St Anne's and designated representative of Archbishop Longley and Monsignor J. Daniel McHugh, Director of the Regeneration Office of the Archdiocese of Birmingham on 22nd February 2013.

JFK MemorialJFK Memorial in Digbeth (July 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

Current status

The Eastside Metro Extension roadworks began in Digbeth back in July 2021. As of April 2022, the roadworks are still not finished. You can walk past the JFK Memorial on the pavement. Local graffiti vandals keep tagging the memorial. Perhaps this was not a good spot the memorial, as it needs to be out of the way of the taggers and fly posters.

June 2021 was the last time you could see the JFK Memorial without the fences in front of it.

JFK MemorialJFK Memorial in Digbeth (June 2021). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

By April 2022, there is a red rectangular based on the road, still fences around the Eastside Metro extension roadworks. Someone has given the Mike Nagle mosaic a red eye! There is limited walking room past the JFK Memorial.

JFK MemorialJFK Memorial in Digbeth (April 2022). Photography by Elliott Brown

Project dates

04 Apr 2022 - On-going

Passions

History & heritage, Civic pride, Art; Culture & creativity

Contact

Your Place Your Space

Jonathan Bostock

0121 410 5520
jonathan.bostock@ yourplaceyourspace.com