January 2016 - December 2016
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Memories of Frank Carter
MEMORY LANE: Up from Devon last week to visit mother in law in Great Barr.
Decided to take a look at the old neighbourhood, so caught a bus into town and after finding my way through all the development going on around the old library building, started walking down towards the Sandpits. Passed the road where the old Lyric cinema used to be, I recall the Saturday matinee, it was three pence downstairs and four pence halfpenny upstairs and that was old pence.
Passed the Sandpits, one of the few features relatively unchanged and then came up to the site of the old ice rink at the junction with Goodman Street. We used to live in St. Mark’s Street at the back of the ice rink and I can remember lying in bed and listening to the music blaring out. 'I'll be home' by Pat Boone springs to mind. I walked down Goodman Street where the recreation ground (the Rec) used to be and where I spent many happy hours playing football. I was interested to see that part of the ice rink building, opposite where the entrance to the Rec used to be, is still there.
Turned right into King Edwards Road, passed where the Sunday school of the old St. Marks church used to be and then right again into my old street St Marks Street. Nothing I recognised remains and it is now a dead end with a factory or warehouse at the end. I cut through and crossed over Summer Hill Road where Bulpitt’s used to be and down to Spring Hill Library. This holds many memories for me as I spent hours there as a kid. The old entrance is closed and you have to enter through a Tesco supermarket but amazingly the basic layout of the counters and library shelves is little changed from 60 odd years ago. I had a nostalgic look around and then carried on down Spring Hill.
This is unrecognisable from the thriving shopping area that I used to know. There are lots of new dwellings but seemingly not much in the way of community facilities. I passed the site of the paper shop from where I did a paper round near the junction with Ellen Street and then further up crossed over to Steward Street to take a look at my old primary school. The building was still there but apparently not in use anymore apart from what looked like part of the old playground and building which was a gated development called '15 Steward Street'.
I carried on up Spring Hill to the junction with College Street, this used to be the site of Spring Hill Baptist Church which I attended in my youth and played in the brass band of the Campaigners youth group.
I recall that the pop group the Beachcombers used to practice at the College Arms pub opposite. They were the resident band at the Plaza ballroom, Handsworth where incidentally I saw the Beatles in about 1962. I continued my walk following the route of my old paper round in the fifties, down College street, past Myddleton Street and round Roseberry Street and Camden Street. As expected this had all changed with new housing and a school, the old bus depot and Camden Street school are no more. Surprisingly one little row of houses that was built in about 1954 was still there. I remember when they were built, my boss at the paper shop asked me to knock on the doors to see if they wanted papers delivered. Back along George Street West where there used to be another 'Rec', to Spring Hill where I jumped on a bus that took me back to town.
I then spent some time strolling round and admiring the, to me, new City Centre but that's another story.
29th July 2016
Memories of Alan Clarke
29th March 2015
Memories of Elizabeth McGeevey nee Dean
I lived in Leslie Road until I was 20 then I got married in 1951 we lived with my in laws in Sefton Road while my husband was doing his national service.
My paternal grandparents kept the grocery shop on the corner of Hyde Road and Coxwell Road, my grandfather used to make pop which he sold for ½d. Our address was Edgbaston, but the one side of Reservoir Road was classed as Ladywood but our side was Edgbaston.
I remember the zoo animals were kept in the Reservoir during the war, a black bear escaped and ended up in the shed in our backyard and it smashed my dolls house. My parents were given 2 shillings and sixpence in compensation but my dolls house was never replaced.
I have many happy memories of my childhood, we did not have a bathroom but we did have our own toilet. I will be 85 in March and I would love to hear from anyone who remembers me my maiden name was Dean and I went to the Oratory School.
10th November 2015
Memories of Ron
The building next door to the pub is D. H. GITTINGS (electrical contractors) who I worked for after leaving school until my call up for national service.
I was told that Mr. Gittings was a R.A.F. pilot killed in the Battle of Britain
27th June 2015
Memories of Stan
Remember buying my first single in Spring Hill record shop, Walking Back to Happiness by Helen Shapiro (my first love). It was six shillings and eight pence. Also on spring hill a pair of winkle pickers (shoes) 29 shillings and sixpence about one pound fifty pence.
24th June 2015
Memories of Alan Dugmore
I came from a backhouse in old Ladywood,
Times wer hard and rarely good
But we struggled on for we knew no better,
Steering clear of any bad debitor
We lived in a yard with brewhouse and bog,
Some kept chickens or a mangy old dog
The miskins were brimming, so was the lav
No good complaining it was all that we have
The house was no better cold and damp, lit by a candle or a blackened oil lamp
Gas was our saviour for heat and light,
To cook on a stove or see in the night
Bed bugs and blackbats the scourge of the night
They sucked your blood and itched alright
We longed to leave this dreadful place, to a home in the country with plenty of space
Where the sun always shines and the winds are warm,
Where flowers bloom and hone bees swarm
Where there are fields and woods, a meandering stream
Could this be real or just a dream
In years to come in a new neighbourhood
I'll always remember my life
In a backhouse in old Ladywood
4th April 2015
Memories of Graham Jones
I lived at 1/323 Monument Road with mom Florence (Floss) and dad (Albert) from 1942 until I married and moved away in 1965. I was christened Albert Graham and to all my friends I am known as Graham but back in those days I was called 'Little Albert'. Dad had three brothers (Bill, Alf and Walter) and a sister Elizabeth (Lizzie). They were raised in Great Tindall Street in a Mitchells and Butlers owned house, next to the Off Licence (Outdoor). Behind the house all the M&B Dray Horses were stabled.
My mom, Florence Catherine Sheldon, was born in Sherborne Street. Mom had 3 sisters (Maud, Annie, always called Nance and Gertrude). Maud died fairly young. Her married name was Hewings and she had a son Billy, husband Edgar and they used to live at 5/119 Great Tindal Street. I had two older cousins, Maureen and Jacqueline Johnson who were Auntie Gert’s children. My mother’s other sister, Aunt Nance whose husband was Harry Mitchell, had four children, Sylvia, Alan, Sheila and Shirley (twins). Both Auntie Gert’s and Aunt Nance’s families lived in Clark Street in adjoining terraced back houses and all the children went to Osler Street School.
1/323 was reached up an entry, on either side of which was Troman’s Greengrocers (later owned by Hickmans) and Frank Tucker’s butchers shop. This entry opened out into a yard around which were six houses, an outside brew house and 3 outside lavatories.
People moved in and out of the houses but I can only remember Mrs Bradshaw who used to live on her own in number 5, opposite were Maud and Walter- I can’t remember their surnames in number 6. Next door to us were Mr and Mrs Owen and their son Brian. They didn’t move in until I was about 10 because I remember my Uncle Walter had just given me a punch bag that was fixed to a plank and you had to stand on the plank so that when you hit the punchbag it didn’t fall over. Brian must have been about 5 or 6 and he came outside and wanted to have a go but he couldn’t reach the punchbag without standing on something.
My grandmother (Nan) lived at number 4. She was Maud Sheldon, married to Bill Sheldon. He’d had a really chequered history. He used to live in India looking after tea plantations. When he returned home, I remember sitting on his knee at a very young age while he told me all about his time in India. They gave him a presentation when he retired of a solid gold Hunter watch which I used to play with. Every Christmas he used to get a box of Havannah cigars which I presume came from the company he used to work for.
My father was invalided out of the RAF at some stage during the war because he lost a kidney, he was operated on and they removed one of his kidneys and when he came out, I think this was about the time he got married, he went to work for his father, William Jones who ran a general store in the Sandpits. They used to keep a cat and my father used to take me down on a Sunday for a walk and we’d go and feed the cat and then we would go next door to Devotis, which was an Italian Ice Cream Parlour and I’d sit on a stool at the counter and have an ice cream in a sundae glass. On the corner opposite Devotis was Jeffs, a gents clothing store. Around 1950 my Grandfather moved premises, into a lock up shop next door to Jeffs, between it and a Garage which sold cars. I think the owner of that was called Wal, but I am not certain. I do remember that he had two daughters. They moved to that shop when I was between 10 and 12 years old and until I was about 15 I used to go down there on a Friday night and Saturday to earn some pocket money.
It was a general store that sold almost anything from galvanised bath tubs hanging from the ceiling, groceries, general hardware etc. The original Arkwrights (Open all hours). All manner of items displayed outside in boxes.
My mom used to help out packing Sugar in 2lb bags. Sugar used to be delivered in huge great sacks and I remember going with my mother to Granny Jones house where the sugar used to be poured into a galvanised bath tub and then my grandmother and my mother would spend Wednesday morning packing it into blue bags ready to be collected for resale in the shop.
I used to go to St Johns Church of England School, together with Bobby Rogers, Kenny Orme, Barry Downes, Johnny Winfield, Tony Jones (no relation) and Doreen Blakely and many others whose names I can't remember. This would be 1947 - 1953.
I passed for the Grammar School and I went to St Phillips Grammar School, Plough and Harrow Road next to the Oratory. I actually passed also to go to another Grammar School but I chose St Phillips because it was a Catholic school and I was Church of England which meant I would have free periods to do my homework in.
Going up Monument Road you came to the Methodist Church and behind the Methodist Church was the Church Hall where the youth club used to be run by Dave Barrett, where you could meet up with all of your friends. Lots of teenagers went there and quite a few came down from Osler Street area because they didn’t have a youth club there, including my cousin Alan Mitchell.
There were a couple of snooker tables, although you had to be tall enough to play snooker, and table tennis tables. However, the best part of the evening was when you’d have a break and you could have buttered toast made for you and a cup of tea.
My first introduction to crab football was at St John’s in the hall behind the church, where the vicar used to get us doing a bit of exercise by playing crab football. Crab football is where you sit on the ground and you lift yourself up on your legs and arms and run around like a crab trying to kick a football, and usually kicking people. And we played touch rugby in there trying to get the ball into a waste paper basket at either end.
We used to play at the park on the corner of Ladywood Road and Monument Road- Chamberlain Gardens, where there were tennis courts, a big open tarmac space with a slide and some swings and a roundabout and fairly reasonably maintained gardens. I used to mainly go there to play tennis. I remember Johnny Winfield walking along the railings outside and falling off and impaling himself and we had to get the ambulance out and the firemen and get him cut off- that was extremely nasty.
I remember going to the swimming baths to have a bath and that used to cost sixpence and we used to go swimming. Once I dived into the Monument Road Swimming Baths Pool while it was still being filled up and cutting my head open on the bottom, aged 9. No health and Safety then.
Going up the road from there were rows of shops- Hickman’s original fruit and veg shop was in that block, opposite the Co op. The Co-op shop fascinated me as I was transfixed by the way the money was shot across the shop in those little metal containers, and the change came back the same way. There was also a chemist (Knowles) next to Hickmans where I got a part time job, washing up bottles and things during the summer holidays, working three or four days a week.
Eventually I lost contact with all of my friends. After meeting my wife Susan and marrying in 1965 we gradually moved further and further southwest each time we moved house. We now live in St Ives in Cornwall where we have been for the last 30 years.