ICKNIELD PORT ROAD

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18th May 2018

 

Memories of Bill Burton

W. Pimm and Son's Ltd., 229 Icknield Port Road - Telephone Edgbaston 5911/3

My dad, also Bill Burton, worked for all his working life, apart from his national service. I have never 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.

 

Pimm's, more properly known as William Pimm & Son Limited, were based at 229 Icknield Port Road, in the next block of shops to those shown in the photograph labelled 226 Icknield Port Road on Mac’s website. William Pimm the elder, born 1881, an iron worker from Burford, Oxfordshire moved to Birmingham in about 1900, lodging in New Spring Street in 1901. He appears to have started up a wire working business and according to my dad’s stories soon made enough money to build the whole block of shops shown just along from Mac’s photograph. He and his wife lived and worked at 229 and rented the other three units out. His business at the time was a mix of speculative building, as well as wire working – it seems that the Pimm's empire started with the manufacture of birdcages! William (and Lily whom he married in 1903) had four children and sons William (born 1910) and Frank (born 1919) went into the family business. The business was eventually handed down to the two sons with Bill, as he was always known, taking the leading role. My dad started work there in about 1937 as a 15-year wire solderer. The firm rapidly expanded from making birdcages at 229 into the wider pet trade and became a major Midlands wholesaler as well as having a number of retail pets and gardens shops – “Pimms for Pets” being painted on the shop fronts as well as on the fleet of delivery vans and lorries.

 

The 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. Pimm's 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.

 

In 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.

 

My 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.

 

Other folk I can remember working at Pimm's were Jack Morris, a capable builder and repair man as well as Pimm's rat catcher – 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.  

 

Pimm's 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.

 

Pimm's 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 Pimm's 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.

 

Not sure how Pimm's came to fade away and eventually disappear.

 

Competitors 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. Pimm's 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.

 

In 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.

 

That’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 corrections.

 

Bill Burton

 

 

25th April 2018

Adverts are from a Church Magazine for 1946

 

8th January 2016

 

ROLLING MILLS

 

 

I was wondering if you would like some information for your website concerning two brothers who worked for the above for 50 years each!

 

William Mills was in Grove Lane for a number of years before moving to a foundry in Wednesbury, both my dad and uncle carried on working for the company until they both retired. Uncle Albert lived in Icknield Port Road and my dad in Harborne.

 

They were craftsmen who were responsible for “one off” jobs and did the first casting of new orders before mass production in the foundry, because of their unique (?) skills came to the attention of some important people and were both awarded the B.E.M. in the 1969 New Year’s Honours.

 

Some of their work included the following: -

 

Figures of Mr. Fortnum and Mr. Mason for the clock commissioned for the stores 250th anniversary.

 

Parts for Lord Snowdon’s aviary in London Zoo.

 

Engine blocks for the Rolls Royce Merlin engine used in the Spitfire.

 

Engine Block for Sir Donald Campbell’s Bluebird.

 

Rocket nose cones, etc.

 

I realize that the companies move to Wednesbury is not Ladywood anymore but they were both born there learned their skills there.

 

Brian Blackwell in Sechelt. B.C. Canada

 

son of the late Harry Blackwell and nephew of the late “Abe” Blackwell

 

 

29th June 2015

 

May Day celebration in Icknield Port Road

 

Many thanks to Balsall Heath Local History Society for the photograph

 

16th January 2015

Memories of Les Hobbs

My name is Les Hobbs, I used to live at the rear of the butchers and Harris’s the greengrocers and the hairdressers Lawleys plus Cox’s.

 

I played drums in my bedroom and I’m sure the neighbours might remember the row, still playing in bands at 76. I went to Barford Road School and Dudley Road Juniors; I remember Miss Madden and the trip to the Mersey tunnel.

 

Anyone remember me?

 

 

Memories of Bill Burton

One of the Bricklayer's Arms - date - mid thirties? - I can just make out George Pittaway on the licensee plate over the door - it shows some sort of gathering outside the pub - notice the bunting and people in their Sunday best? - some with buttonholes? - is that a football by the girls at the front? - wonder why my grandfather, known as Jack Burton, is on his bike?

 

Another possibly mid thirties - my grandfather outside another pub! - fifth from left at the back - nice hat - pub not recognisable to me - any offers? - might be somewhere else in IPR - it's not his other local, the Queen's Head - but might though be a pub outing - as some men have bunches of flowers - to take home?

 

 

5th August 2014

These photographs are copyright and cannot be used on any other website, publication or any other form of media without the prior permission of  Mac Joseph and Brian Bedford

 

Just thought you might like these views taken from top of 85ft Hydraulic Platform at Ladywood Fire Station in 1970/71 when the demolition was going on. I was a Fireman at Ladywood 1968 to 1972 when I transferred to Cardiff. Before Ladywood I was at Albion Street which closed March 1968 when we moved to Ladywood on Icknield Port Road though the two ran in tandem for a couple of months or so.

 

One looks towards City Centre and the other towards the Reservoir.

 

 

 

 

Photographs courtesy of Tony Madsen

 

6th April 2014

These photographs are copyright and cannot be used on any other website, publication or any other form of media without the prior permission of  Mac Joseph and Brian Bedford

 

This is a photograph of my dad’s shop (BEDFORDS) which was situated at 46 Icknield Port Road and was taken around 1961

 

 

This is my mother, Ivy Bedford serving in the shop

Photographs courtesy of Brian Bedford

 

 

24th March 2014

These photographs are copyright and cannot be used on any other website, publication or any other form of media without the prior permission of  Mac Joseph and Marion Newbold

 

 

 

 

Hi Mac, the chap in the photograph is James Turner he died in 1938 so the photo is much earlier. The lad on the horse was born about 1902.

 

They lived at 25, 26, 27 Icknield Port Road, Charlotte Turner his wife was a shopkeeper at number 27.

 

They had coal yards in Vincent Street and at the New Wharf in Monument Lane.

 

 

20th December 2013

These photographs are copyright and cannot be used on any other website, publication or any other form of media without the prior permission of Roy Edwards, Leslie While and Mac Joseph

 

Tram in Icknield Port Road, just by the Queen's Head

 

Another great photograph of the Queen's Head

 

16th December 2013

Memories of Bill Burton

The two ladies walking across the frontage look very much like my grandma and aunt (both from Marroway Street) - wonder if they were on their way to do a bit of shopping on the Dudley Road?

 

Lots of memories of the Queens - dad's and uncle Joe's local - and we were all members of the fishing club based there - I as a junior member, who could only go into the function/club room upstairs - for a lemonade on club nights.

 

I think I upset one or two of the senior members of the club a couple of times by winning matches, or contests as they were called then! - young whippersnapper - still have an engraved trophy in the loft somewhere. The pub also had a "Gentleman's Only" bar, where uncle Joe played his dominos - guess they were quite common in those days?

 

Think I've told you before that Bill Pickering was the landlord at the time - he retired to a pub down this way at Powick.

 

 

29th November 2013

These photographs are copyright and cannot be used on any other website, publication or any other form of media without the prior permission of Roy Edwards, Leslie While and Mac Joseph

Belle Vue Outing

1935 Jubilee Celebrations the Belle Vue

The Queen's Head

The Wheatsheaf

 

1st November 2013

These photographs are copyright and cannot be used on any other website, publication or any other form of media without the prior permission of Roy Edwards, Leslie While and Mac Joseph

Margaret and Ernie Luckman, Coronation 1937

Cox's Bakery at the corner of Icknield Port Road and Coplow Street

Had this used to be a Public House?

Group of men on an outing from the Bell Vue Public House

 

 

Bell Vue Cricket Team

?? Nelson, Tommy Cane, A. Burford, Sid Williams, ??????,

Tommy Reynolds, Stan Smith,

Arthur Crisp, N. Bowker, Bert Pearhouse, Teddy Rhodes

Icknield Port Road with Winfield Rolling Mill on the right hand side

Note - the old style toilets

 

Looking towards Dudley Road

Icknield Port Road at the corner of Gillott Road

 

16th October 2010

The car was parked outside 317 Icknield Port Road in 1960.

 

 It belonged to my uncle (Eric Glover).

 

The building behind the car was a barbers shop.

 

The pedestrian crossing at the Freeth Street can be seen behind the car.

 

Alan Beet

 

Ladywood Fire Station during construction

Ladywood Fire Station during construction

Ladywood Fire Station during construction

Ladywood Fire Station during construction

Ladywood Fire Station

George Gupwell's second shop at 336 Icknield Port Road, located here from 1960-1965

13/321 (Nin and Frank Mears) - Coronation Party in Icknield Port Road

1-39 Icknield Port Road, 1968

315-330 Icknield Port Road, 1965

Icknield Port Road, 1962

Icknield Port Road 1968

Icknield Port Road, 1960

Belle Vue Public House

Icknield Port Road1961

Freeth Arms, 1965

Icknield Port Road by Dudley Road

226 Icknield Port Road, 1961

 

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