The Harry Gem Project has successfully restored the grave of local lawn tennis pioneer, Harry Gem, located in Warstone Lane Cemetery.
The project has been a work of passion for lawn tennis historian Robert Holland. During his research, Robert managed to establish that the Edgbaston Archery & Lawn Tennis Society is, in fact, the oldest lawn tennis club in the world. His research also brought up the name of Harry Gem and his wife who had been members of the club in the 1860s. Upon reading more about this early pioneer Robert was stirred to set up the Harry Gem Project in 2010 together with other enthusiasts. The aim of the project was to restore Harry Gem’s grave and promote the story of Harry and his friend Augurio Perera. On locating the original ledger stone in 2013 fundraising began for a restored monument in late 2017.
Robert Holland said: “I envisaged that raising the money would be a considerable challenge. However, there was great support and interest in the project from many quarters, including individuals, descendants of the Gem family, charitable trusts, the Friends of Key Hill & Warstone Lane Cemeteries, the City of Birmingham, the LTA, the All England Club and the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation.”
The work was completed on Tuesday 20th November 2018 when the ledger stone, created by Midland Conservation Limited, was finally lowered into position.
“It has taken a while,” said Robert, “but we are delighted with the end result and, by way of a bonus, it is finished in time for the 200th anniversary of Harry’s birth next year.”