12th December 2011
Archdale's of Ledsam Street
Archdale’s were an engineering company based in Ledsam Street, which was well known for its machine tools sold all over the world. During the redevelopment of the 1960’s they moved to Aldridge.
Colliers of Barker Street
Staff Group photo of Colliers, Barker Street taken in about 1921
My aunt Nellie Butt, 3rd row, 4th right
INCO of Wiggin Street
After leaving school I worked for INCO research labs in Wiggin Street from 1959-1961. My first job was testing powder metal cores in the Physics section. I then went to the thermal testing lab in Soho at the end of Vittoria Street. I had applied to go into the Chemistry lab as I was mainly studying Chemistry at Chance College Smethwick so as there was a waiting list I left INCO to go to Albright and Wilson in Oldbury.
I enjoyed my time at INCO and played for the football team in the Birmingham works league (that was a tough league). The picture is of the INCO team that went to play the Mond factory in Clydach, Wales (I think it was 1961). I cannot remember any of the names but I think I was the youngest, I am third from the right, back row, next to the goalie.
Does anyone have any names for these once young men?
W. Pimm and Son's Ltd., 229 Icknield Port Road - Telephone Edgbaston 5911/3
recently had the pleasure of meeting up with Mac and his wife Pauline.
It turns out that Pauline and I were in the same class at Dudley Road
Junior School. She then
went on to the Lordswood Girls’ School and into the same school year
as my wife to be – I went on to the adjoining boys’ school.
Pauline’s mum also worked at Pimm's the Pets and Gardens Suppliers in
Icknield Port Road – where my dad, also Bill Burton, worked for all
his working life, apart from his national service.
Neither Pauline nor I have ever seen anything about Pimm's on the
web so I said that I would put my memories at least, of the firm on the
web – and where better to put them than on Mac’s wonderful website.
business expanded in Icknield Port Road as well. They eventually
occupied two of the units in the block, taking over 230, which I think
had been a café at some time. Bill and his family (wife Evelyn and
daughter Irene) moved to a detached house in Selwyn Road, off Gillott
Road. The remaining two units were, in my time, occupied by Violet
Dawson’s grocers store and Sammy and Wally Taylor’s “Livewires”
electrical store. Pimms also occupied a large single storey building at
the back of the block, accessed down a passageway alongside Livewires.
The passageway also lead to Railway Terrace, a row of terraced houses. Pimm's
also used two substantial terraced houses opposite, 166 and 167, as
warehouses. Behind these houses was a large concreted yard area used by Pimm's
for vehicle parking and the storage of further supplies in the open and
in a long corrugated iron shed that backed onto the walling of
Summerfield Park and the Harborne Railway. The area was accessed by a
long drive from Summerfield Road, the park entrance.
the 50s/60s Emily Fulford, and her husband Dick lived in 165 Icknield
Port Road. Emily ran the administration side of Pimm's business. Dad
thought that 165 was also used at one time as the stationmaster’s
house for when the Harborne Railway’s Icknield Port Road railway
station was moved to the west side of Icknield Port Road. By the 40s my
dad’s cousins Dick Burton and Eric Burton also worked at Pimm's. Dad
worked then more in the warehouse side of the business and my uncles
more as delivery drivers. Vi Dawson’s grocers eventually closed down
and Pimm's occupied that unit. My dad then persuaded Bill Pimm that 166
was no longer required for storage and the Burton family, Bill, Phoebe
and me, young Bill, moved from a tiny back-to back house in Irving
Street into 166. Uncle Eric and his family eventually did a similar
thing moving into 167 next door. They subsequently moved into the
off-license on the corner of Summerfield Road where Auntie Ella became
the “licensee”. It must have been about this time (early 60s) that
Pauline’s mum Ida Hill joined Pimm's working in the office. There was
also a Margaret and a Joyce working alongside her.
mum, Phoebe, also worked at Pimm's at about this time – she worked in
an upper unit built on the old single storey building at the back of the
Pimm's block. With two other ladies, Judy Lennon and I think, her
sister-in-law, Teresa they did pre-packing of bulk pet and garden
supplies into small plastic bags for the retail side of the business. I
also became a part time employee of Pimm's at this time. For a bit of
extra pocket money I used to engrave the dog and cat identity disks that
Pimm's sold from their retail shops and supplied to other shops. I was
always fascinated by the addresses on the disk order slips, from all
over the Midlands, looking them up in A-Z map books and street guides
– improved my geography no end.
folk I can remember working at Pimm's were Jack Morris, a capable
builder and repair man as well as Pimm's ratcatcher – mice and rats
being a constant problem with the nature of the business – as well as
occasional frighteners for mum and her co-workers! Frank Gossage and his
brother David were sales reps/drivers, as was Freddie Frost. Dougie
Giles was also a driver – I remember his broad London accent – he
was an ex-London cabbie – he lived in the one old house that still
stands next to the Bricklayers’ Arms just along Icknield Port Road.
Geoff Perks looked after the fleet of vehicles from a workshop in one of
the corrugated sheds in the yard at the back of 166. He was a Dunkirk
veteran and always told the tale of how his tough wiry hair allowed
someone to pull him by his hair from the sea into a rescue boat that had
crossed the channel. He taught me a fair bit of my vehicle maintenance
skills, push bikes to start with, then the family car. There was also an
interesting Somali chap called Johnnie working at Pimm's at this time
– he was famous for rustling up his stew-type lunches with a can of
Chum or Pal and a few stewed veg from Hastings the greengrocers on the
corner of Gillott Road.
had various retail shops around the Midlands. I can’t remember where
they all were now. The one in the roofless old Market Hall in the Bull
Ring was perhaps the best known. I think Jim Wise was the manager there
although dad did some time there too. That one eventually moved out from
the Market Hall to a more conventional shop on the opposite side of the
Bull Ring just up from Oswald Baileys – there’s a photograph of it
on the front of Carl Chinn’s Streets of Brum Book 2. My favourite shop
was the Harborne one – where George Bird, known to me as Uncle George,
was the manager. Whenever I went there with dad, sometimes on a school
holiday or Saturday delivery run to the shop, we would always get tea
and biscuits from Uncle George.
had some wonderful vehicles that would nowadays grace any veteran car
rally. I remember a great big Austin flat-bed lorry, a flat-fronted
Austin J-type van, and a pair of Trojan vans – three speed, three
cylinder diesels that when fully- (or over-) loaded had to be reversed
up very steep hills (reverse was a lower gear than first). There were
Ford 8 and Ford 10 vans – dad used to borrow one occasionally for the
weekend. We went on a family weekend away to Blackpool Illuminations
once – camping in the back of the van in a Blackpool car park. He also
used to borrow one for our Sunday fishing trips. Someone crashed into
the back of us one Sunday – we were unscathed -
but dad had to return the van to Pimms on the Monday with the
rear doors tied back on with rope. The original of Mac’s website 226
Icknield Port Road photo actually includes the very same van, standing
outside the Livewires shop. Bill Pimm ran an Austin Sheerline, quite a
posh limousine type car, but it was often pressed into service for
deliveries, back end hanging down on the road and sacks of pet food tied
on the running boards. Frank Pimm always seemed to run a Landrover, to
ferry his daughter’s horsey things around – it was much better
suited to occasional Pimm's deliveries.
sure how Pimm's came to fade away and eventually disappear.
in the Midlands, like H G Turner, grew larger and there was much more
competition from around the Midlands with Home Counties and Northern
firms moving in on the patch. I
recall a chap called Gordon (forgotten his surname) being brought into Pimm's
in some sort of executive capacity to try and improve and grow what had
always been a small family business. Bill Pimm died quite suddenly in
1971. Dad always thought that Frank Pimm preferred to be out and about
rather than taking the lead directing role in the business and Gordon
seemed to run the business from thereon. Pimms eventually moved from
Icknield Port Road when the block of shop units and the block of houses
opposite, including our family home, were required to be demolished to
make way for Icknield Port Road to be widened as part of the city’s
new middle ring road. Much of the property in that part of Icknield Port
Road was demolished. Icknield Port Road was never widened of course,
Monument Road becoming the ring road instead. Last time I visited the
area, only the original kerbstones of that part of Icknield Port Road
remained – and the tree that was once in our garden – now part of an
extended Summerfield Park.
the mid 70s Pimm's moved to Farm Street, Hockley, just below the famous
Hockley flyover. I think the retail side of the business started to
disappear about this time along with the city centre shop. They later
moved to Kendrick Way in West Bromwich – a stone’s throw from the
then new motorway system. The business by then was only wholesale and
seemed to go steadily downhill. Dad eventually negotiated a small
redundancy cum retirement package in 1985 and Pimm's were soon taken
over by some “Northern” pets and gardens wholesalers. The name
William Pimm and Son Limited is still registered, but not trading, and
its address is given to be near to that of a firm called Laurel Pet
Supplies in Bury, which is maybe what became of the Northern wholesalers
that acquired Pimm's.
about as much as I can recall of Pimm's from my 61 year old memory bank.
Please feel free to e-mail Mac with any supplementary information – or
Biddle and Webb of Icknield Square
Biddle and Webb in Icknield Square, Ladywood
I joined B&W in 1990 and knew Mr Biddle or as everyone called him Mr B. We worked together to change the company from that of a sole trader to a limited company in May 1994. When Mr Biddle sadly died in February 1997, I took over as MD.
Mr Biddle was always one to look forward and worked hard every day to make the next sale the best that it could be. This is a good habit to have and one we continue to follow, but the down side is that he seemed not to worry or think about the past and what had happened. He was always very vague with me about the history of B&W.
From what I gleaned from him and his sons, the company was formed in the late 1950s/early 1960s, perhaps taking over another small scale auction, and may well have held auctions in church halls and the similar. The company’s co founder was a Mr Webb (I think Sydney) who I think may well have been the auctioneer side, when Mr Biddle brought the business skills and flare for PR and promotions. Mr Biddle was an entrepreneur and had run a couple of other businesses prior to starting the auction business.
In the 1960s, perhaps 1968ish, Mr Webb decided to leave and go to Australia I believe. Mr Biddle bought him out. I once asked him why he kept the name Biddle & Webb and did not call it Biddles, (which many people in my early years at B&W did call it). Mr Biddle told me he thought Biddle & Webb sounded more prestigious and established than Biddles.
He then ran it through the 1970s and 1980s as
a partnership with his wife Betty. She predeceased him in the early
He then ran it through the 1970s and 1980s as a partnership with his wife Betty. She predeceased him in the early 1990s.
We moved from Enfield Hall next to Five Ways station to Icknield Square in early 1970s, although for a number of years Mr Biddle kept both sites going, with Enfield Hall for pictures and antiques and Icknield Square for general and commercial auctions. Running two sites was he told me expensive and so when the current site had been improved he brought all the auctions to current location just off Ladywood Middleway.
& Webb Limited
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