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18th December 2020





1963/64 advert for Christmas at the Tower Ballroom


Family Christmas in Marroway Street





Hall of Memory at Christmas 1960

The buildings in the background are in Broad Street


Thanks to Stan for sending the photograph and information in for the website

Thank you for a great site,

My name is Charles Wilkes and attended Osler Street School 1955 to 1960, then onto Portland Road School.

My parents Charlie and Nellie, worked at the bookies in Osler Street, I have three sisters Beryl, Diane and Gill, we were all frequent visitors to the Mount Pleasant Working Men’s Club in Reservoir Road, especially at Christmas, where we would walk back to our house in Coxwell Road in deep snow up to our waists. Good memories ...........


Chris Wilkes

The first Christmas present I can remember was a piece of string that was threaded through several cotton reels. The reels were painted different colours. The present was given to me at a nursery I attended in 1943/4. I seem to remember that it was sited almost opposite St Thomas' church.


Chris Bird

The Christmas picture is of our children Sarah and David Evans in 1987

Father Christmas in Ladywood


Christmas Lunch at Docker's in the 40's


Children's Christmas Party at Dockers in 1955


Christmas Card taken in Ruston Street, Ladywood


Charlie Compton and Family


Christmas was always magical as in the run up you always went to Lewis's to see Uncle Holley & Father Christmas, the wait on the stairs always seemed to be longer as the years went by, but to reach the end was always so disappointing as that was it for another year.


The visit to Hickman's to get your fruit and veg was always something to remember as old man Hickman knew my Granddad well and always found some type of fruit to give to me and me brother.


Tony Rudge


Christmas card sent by Francis Lomas Ltd. who had a printing works in Ledsam Street before moving to Highgate




The Christmas photograph was taken at Lewis's in (about) 1951


Edward Colson




This Christmas card was sent to my Mother (Nellie Drew) from her brother William Thomas, known as Bill Thomas, when he was in Burma in 1944.



Eric Drew





This is Ray Read (my cousin) and myself visiting Father Christmas at

Lewis's in Birmingham City Centre in the early 50's.


Ray lived in Coxwell Road and I lived in Leslie Road.


Keith Norgrove




1961 Lewis' Department Store

Paul Gebhard, aged 6 and Ian Gebhard, aged 1

plus of course, Muffin the Mule






Just been looking at the site again tonight and saw the section on "Christmas in Ladywood". and had to write to you about my memories of Christmas.
I too can remember going to John Lewis's Grotto and yes the tunnels were long, but the displays were brilliant.  I do some where have a picture of me sitting on Father Christmas's lap and I will look it out and send it to you to put on the site.

I also remember going to the Bull Ring and seeing all the fresh turkeys hanging upside down ready for people to buy them. 
I used to love the TV show "Tinga and Tucka"  with "Auntie Jean" Moreton and one year (in the early 60's), I saw 2 stuffed versions of them in the market.  Guess what I had peeping out the top of my pillowcase that year, my own Tinga and Tucka and they were holding a gold "woomerang boomerang"  that Mum had made. 

Does anyone else remember them?
Helen Bird




This photograph was take in 1951, the young lad from Ladywood, wishes to remain anonymous because of the hat!

He thinks it was taken either at Lewis's or the Coop

He remembers using the one side of the card to throw darts at to see if he could hit the figures on it!







I don't know if anyone else saw a TV programme on Saturday night about Christmas Past, which was about how we celebrated Christmas in the 40's, 50's 60's and the presents we received, well it started me thinking about my Christmas's.


When we lived in Morville Street, all the family came together and my Aunt Doll played her accordion, which I still have, but can't play it!


The presents used to be mainly Dinky cars, Annuals, Games and a main present, if you scroll down, you will read about my disappointment of receiving a VILLA kit, but apart from that I had lots of nice presents.


One year Santa bought me a Desk, which was light coloured wood with red legs and the lid lifted up, a wooden pencil case and a "magical" torch amongst other presents.


The torch had three colours, you could change it to, and when it was dark you would change the colours, or when in bed, you would go under the sheets and turn on the red, then green and then the white light - magical!


The annuals used to have your name in and the year; Dinky cars, if only I had kept them.


I also had a camera, I think it was a Kodak 44a and it came with a case, flash and some flash bulbs, you put a flash bulb in and took your photo, then burnt your finger trying to take the bulb out to quickly!


Magical times - Mac





Christmas at Lewis's

I remember waiting in line slowing climbing the stairs at Lewis's to see Uncle Holly and Father Christmas, thought I would never reach the top! Also I can recall sitting in the animal chairs having my haircut and the smell of hair burning as the hairdresser singed the ends.


My treat was going up onto the roof to see the small animals. I believe they had to get rid of them as a monkey bit someone.


Margaret Dickinson





Christmas at Lewis's


Hi, it’s Xmas Eve 2005 as I write this email, and yes I remember going to Lewis's in the 60s.


Every xmas without fail, the grotto seemed long, with many winding tunnels which you had to navigate before you actually got to see Santa, amazingly magical, and I can just remember the old man dressed in all green with a top hat on, I think?


I have this memory of him standing at the entrance of the grotto he was as important as Father Christmas to me as a child and just recently I purchased a couple of original uncle holly badges from an antique fair in Stafford, when I spotted them I got quite ridiculously emotional, silly really, but I guess those childhood days and memories were probably the happiest times of our lives well mine anyway.


I remember queuing on the beautifully polished brass hand railed stairs with my mom full of excitement, and I would always say to her uncle holly's going to be there isn't he, I don't know what nostalgic 49yr old bloke I am, but they don't make grottos like that anymore.


Happy memories and a happy xmas to you all.


John Mainwaring






Christmas at Lewis's


Yes, Father Christmas at Lewis's store (or maybe it was Greys across the road) anyway, I was a little old really, about 10 I think, but I got a model kit of a dragon.  I never did glue it all up together!


What I remember most about Lewis's was the pets corner -  the snake in the glass case, and the nearby children’s hairdressing department with wooden animals for seats; the lifts where all the walls were visible, and of course the air raid shelter in the basement, if I remember correctly.  To be fair it was rather a long time ago and I came to Devon in 1954 so I would get lost up there now.


  Alan Lott





Christmas at Lewis's


I lived in the newsagent shop at the corner of Clement Street and King Edward Road in the late forties and early fifties. Later, after we moved to Kings Norton in 1957, I worked in the Publicity department of Lewis’s department store in Bull Street . I was there from August 1958 to August 1962. During that time I was involved in the arrival of Father Christmas and Uncle Holly at the store.


The procession used to start at what was then Elmdon Airport on the Friday and it over-nighted at the Mitchell’s & Butler Sports and Social Club in Portland Road , Edgbaston.


On Saturday morning it would wind its way to the store. Thousands of parents and children would line the route. One year I played the role of an Ugly Sister, the theme that year being pantomime (In the attached photograph I am on the extreme right).


It was widely acknowledged that the real Father Christmas always came to Lewis’s. The queue to see Father Christmas and Uncle Holly used to follow the stairs from the fourth floor and at times wind its way right round the store! Uncle Holly was played by a retired thespian he was in his eighties but extremely sprightly!


The grotto was superb and imported from a village in Germany ; by the time I was transferred to the Hanley store grotto parcels were 2/6 (Two shillings and sixpence).


No expense was spared - Christmas was truly a magical experience at Lewis’s.








Christmas Wish


When I was about six years old all I wanted for Christmas was what we called then a "Chubby Umbrella". Christmas morning my mother cam to the bedrooms to see us open our pillowcases, but mom could not fin me at all, I was under the bedclothes looking for my "Chubby Umbrella", It was Pink with flowers on it, how such little memories mean so much.






Ladywood to Brixham


My grandparents lived in Monument Road, and Spring Hill before that, having moved from London sometime after WW1.  The family name was Starling, although my father who was the second child and his two brothers were named Lott (which is my surname).  My blood grandfather died or was killed during the 1st World War.


Anyway, to Christmas.  I am sure it was 1946 (I was 9 years old) and my Uncle Tom (Thomas Starling) who built buses and trains for a living after Army service, made me a tin bus.  It was about one foot high and 18 ins. in length  (from memory).   The interesting thing is that the wheels were made from Kiwi or Cherry Blossom boot black tins.   As I was fanatical about buses - actually you will have realized I still am - this was a present to remember.


I suppose it was because we had very few presents that we remember the ones we got.   I also remember a red tin crane from my grandmother, but the date there escapes me.   The bus was kept for a few years; when Uncle Tom had his own son (Ronald) later on I gave the bus to him.  By this time the wheels were well worn and were replaced. I don't know what has happened to it - I could find out I suppose, as my cousin lives in the Great Barr area of your city.  Uncle Tom died in recent years, his widow lives in Great Barr still.  At the time of the present my uncle was living in Monument road with my grandparents and two sisters and three brothers.  A rather full house I remember.   Tom and his new wife, Florence (known always as Florrie) had to make do with the front downstairs room of the house; such was the housing shortage after WW2.   They eventually obtained a home in Rookery Road, Handsworth (actually a new house built on a bomb site.)


With best wishes from Brixham, Torbay - Alan Lott





Uncle Holly


I just saw the picture on your front page of the badge for the Uncle Holly Circle...I used to have one of those every Christmas from the Grotto at Lewis's in fact!!!


And after we came outside into the streets we bought roasted chestnuts from the man at the brazier - he never seemed to have enough warm clothes - Nan said maybe the fire kept him warm enough.


Best Wishes, Penny





The Turkey Died Twice


It was Christmas Eve 1952 and I had to go with my Nan to fetch her turkey (had to go with her I had no choice), so in the heavy rain and sleet off we walked (no car) to the Co - op on Spring Hill Ladywood, were Ernie the butcher had got my Nans turkey and pork ready for her, wrapped up in the white greased paper which she herself had provided, because no way would she have anything wrapped in newspaper, she was quite well known for this ritual and got the name of” the Edgbaston lady “which my Nan always replied “no Lower Edgbaston” meaning Ladywood.


Having purchased what she wanted I had the honour of carrying the said turkey, by now it was beginning to snow and as we were making our way along Spring Hill were the library is on the corner, just a little way into Icknield Street there was a fruit and veg shop with some lovely bronze and yellow chrysanthemums and because my mom was ill I decided I would buy her some to make her feel better, by now my Nan had crossed the busy main road thinking I was behind her with her precious turkey but no I was busy getting these flowers.


My Nan was shouting at me to hurry up and when she told you to do something you never thought twice not too. So I hurried to cross the road and as I did the turkey dropped out of the bottom of the bag because it was soaking wet and the number eight (Inner Circle) bus ran over it, although this happened forty five years ago to this day I can still hear my Nan shouting at me I wont tell you what she called me but if the walls of Bulpitts now the Swan could speak they certainly could (and she cooked the TURKEY).


God Bless Annie Eliza, my Nan.





Oh no - not the VILLA!


One Christmas I really wanted a football kit, shirt, shorts, socks, boots and a ball, in those days it was the old leather one.


Would my dream of a nice new football kit come true?


Christmas morning came, I got up early to see if Santa had been and yes he had. The pillowcase was at the bottom of the bed and there was my football, so there must be a football kit in there - YES my dream had come true.


Then I ripped off the paper and the disappointment came on my face it was a VILLA KIT!!!


I knew I wouldn't wear it, despite the encouraging words from my Mom and Dad, no I won't wear it, I wanted a BLUES KIT!


My Dad took it back after Christmas, he had bought from a sports shop on Spring Hill, I think it belonged to an ex-Villa player and the name Smith comes to mind, but I wouldn't be sure about that.


I eventually got the BLUES kit and I have always been a Blues supporter.







The Tree That Really Lit UP


I was about twelve and my brother was six years old and my mom was at work staying later as they had their Christmas party, all our house was ready for Christmas, decorations up Christmas tree with all the baubles and chocolate novelties on fairy perched on the top also a lantern with a candle in the middle.


This tree stood on top of the sideboard which was my mothers pride possession as it was a wedding present off her father and was always kept polished and had gone through the war without as much as a scratch, when my brother and I wondered what the lantern would look like lit up, so I lit the candle and for a very short time it looked really pretty, then all of a sudden the tree caught fire. I just picked the tree up wholesale and threw it outside, my brother was doing the Irish jig frightened to death, I was more bothered about the sideboard.

Cannot remember what my mom said when she came home, but we must have had another tree as I cannot remember not ever having one, the sideboard was burnt a little but not much glad to say.





My Christmas Doll


I was five years of age on my way to St. Johns Infants School and as we passed “the Candy Store” on the bridge in Monument Road Ladywood sitting in the middle of their window was a lovely big doll, pretty face, dressed in a beautiful dress. I said I hoped Father Christmas would bring me one like that. My own doll was much smaller and I had dropped her and her face had cracked and she looked liked she had the measles. (Our local butcher had got this doll for my mom. Butchers selling dolls? Well it was 1945.


Anyway I went to school and when my mom collected me in the afternoon I hurried with her to see this doll in the window only to find it had gone, how I cried. But come Christmas morning my face must have been a picture, my mom had bought “Diane” for me. We have bought our own daughter many a doll but none will ever match the one I had.