STEWARD STREET

 

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20th July 2021

 

STEWARD STREET ADULT SCHOOL

 

 

This certificate was presented to Frederick Parkes and dated 1888

 

Does anyone have any information about the Steeward Street Adult School?

 

 

28th August 2019

Memories of Julian Green (WATTY GREEN)

 

Walter "Watty" Green

1878-1966

Julia Elizabeth Gree, nee Thomas

1878-1959

Waty's wife

 

The Cross Keys in Steward Street, 1950's

The Cross Keys and Watty, 1920's

 

The Cross Keys, pre WW1

Watty is in the back row without a jacket, wearing a waistcoat

Watty Green sporting hat, tie and moustache.

Standing behind the chap holding the dog nearest the centre of the photograph

The Cross Keys pub, circa 1910

 

Circa 1920's

1911 June 22nd Coronation of King George

The Cross Keys Pub. Watty Green, (wearing a large badge on his chest)

and many of his family.

Watty at front (in glasses) at fundraising dinner dance

"Spare a Brown" at the Palais de Danse

 

 

Courtesy of Carl Chinn's Brummagem Magazine - WATTY GREEN

 

Watty Green - Friend of the Poor

 

John Scott of Cannock has thoughtfully contacted me after he was “given material regarding a man who was once well known in the Black Country and in the Spring Hill area of Birmingham.  This man was the Great Great Uncle of my wife, Beverley Scott, who once spoke about him on local radio to you Carl. The man I am referring to is Watty Green. Walter John Green, known all his life as Watty, was born in 1878 in College Street, Birmingham.  He was the second child of nine to Walter and Ellen Green.  The other children were: Amy, William, Laura, Maud (Beverley’s Great Grandmother), Nellie, Minnie, Jack and Alfred.  Father, Walter, was a nail cutter and then a publican who died at the age of 46 in 1899.  Watty was by this time 21 years old.  His mother Ellen also died young and her brother brought up the younger children.  His name was Alfred Faulkner and the children called him ‘Unkee’. "Watty started life like his father before him as a ‘Jack Cutter’ which was cutting nails to size.  At the age of 21 Watty married Julia Thomas at All Saints in Hockley.  Between 1899 and 1919 they had ten children:  Minnie, Walter, Ivy, Maud, Phyllis, George, Eileen, Florence, Dennis and Louis.  Dennis was the man who passed this information and his photographs to me.  All the boys went into the bookie business and some of the girls married men in the same business, so the Greens were very well known in the area.  There are numerous photos of Watty’s children enjoying themselves at the seaside, so it is believed that they were quite well off.  They certainly appeared to have enjoyed life immensely as children.  Louis and Dennis were both sergeants in the Second World War.

 

“From an early age Watty was interested in horse and greyhound racing.  He was also very interested in boxing and once promoted a young boxer called Len Fowler.  I have an official programme from the White Heavy-Weight Championship of the World dated 16t July 1914, which Watty attended.  This was at Olympia in London and was between Georges Carpentier of France and Gunboat (Edward J.) Smith of Philadelphia.  I have also quite a few photos of boxers and promoters who I cannot identify and would be interested if any readers have any knowledge.

 

“As well as running a pub, the Cross Keys in Steward Street, Watty set up a bookmaker’s and went into partnership with Jack Boffin.  Watty and Jack worked their way up to become respected members of the local community and Watty throughout his life regularly attended charity functions and gave money to local boys’ clubs so they could better themselves and pull themselves out of the poverty that Watty himself had been born into.  Watty also distributed shoes to the poor of Birmingham.  It is apparent that he felt very strongly about caring for the poor and needy as I have come across a souvenir programme from the Birmingham Business Sportsmen’s Committee dated Monday 14 December 1931.  This programme was the eleventh annual boxing tournament at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham on behalf of the Police Aided Association for clothing destitute children of the city.  Watty at this time was a member of the Committee. 

“There were six fights: lightweights Len (Tiger) Smith from Birmingham v Harry Corbett from London; Larry Gains, the then leading contender for the World Heavyweight Championship sparred against his partner Harry Levene; lightweight Peter Price from Worcester took on Peter Nolan from Walsall; featherweight Charlie Rowbotham from Birmingham fought Arnold (Kid) Sheppard from Ferndale USA.  Flyweights Alby John from Smethwick v George Kirby from Birmingham; and finally, Jim Rowbotham, the bantamweight champion of the Midlands, went against Tommy Hyams from London.  Unfortunately, it is not known who won each match but the programme does show that donations added up to 526.14.6d.  Not bad for one night’s charity work in those days.

 

“Watty ran The Cross Keys pub Spring Hill Birmingham between 1910 and the 1940s.  The pub is still there today.  While he ran this pub he gave away 500 hot cross buns for the poor on each Good Friday.  He was also a founder member of Birmingham and Midlands BPA (Bookmakers’ Protection Association) between the late 20s and early 30s.  Watty died in 1966 aged 88 years.  His wife Julia had already passed away six years earlier.  His death was mentioned in the 1966 edition of the Greyhound Racing Association Hall Green Bulletin.  It stated that up until his illness a year prior to his death Watty was a regular patron at their stadium from when it first opened.  They described him as ‘A grand Old Gentleman who would be missed by all’. Surely a fitting sentiment for someone who did so much for the poor of Birmingham.

 

Carl Writes: I was privileged to have known Denny Green, one of Watty’s sons, and to have interviewed him on my BBC WM Sunday show. Denny was one of the finest Englishmen I have met, and I have met many. Generous, patriotic, intelligent, witty and thoughtful, he was a storyteller of the highest order. Denny had a powerful gift whereby the verve and colour of his speech allowed you to see the past with him, to hark at the words of those whom he recalled so vividly, and to feel the things that he had felt. Denny told me many tales about the days of illegal betting, about the running of races down by the cut, and about the big-heartedness of his dad. He was deeply and rightfully proud of Watty, a man who’d had it tough as a youngster and who never forgot what it was like to be clammed. No matter how well off Watty became he never abandoned his roots and the people whence he sprang. He gave back to those in need, not in an ostentatious, overweening way but in a kind and sensitive manner – and he did so not for self publicity but because he believed that it was the right thing to do.

 

A close friend of Watty was a chap who came from the same mould. He was Jim Smith. Each year Jim put on a big charity concert at the Alex for the poor kids and my goodness he knew how to pull in the top names to back him up and fetch in the money. Amongst them were Stanley Holloway with his true-life monologues; the Crazy Gang with their slapstick humour; and Sandy Powell with his catchphrase, “Can you hear me mother?”  Jim was involved in a host of charitable activities, from free and easies in pubs to the putting on of big concerts in picture houses. One year he even organised a dance on at the Palais in Ladywood and got the great Bert Thomas and his orchestra to play. Over 2,000 Brummies and Black Country folk flocked there for a memorable night.

 

Jim grew up close to Watty in Summer Hill and it seems they were lifelong friends. They even shared their love of horse racing. Watty was a racecourse bookie whilst Jim was a tic-tac man, the chap who used hand signals to pass on information between bookies. Through this work and through Watty, Jim got to know most of the racecourse people in Brum and the Black Country and gained their wholehearted support for his charitable work. There but for the Grace of God go I – both Jim and Watty hold fast to that motto. Watty himself is remembered still with affection and respect by many older people. When the history of Birmingham is written from the people’s perspective Watty Green and his kind will claim their rightful place amongst the names of those who should always be remembered with honour.

 

Sadly his son Denny died recently. I was unable to attend his funeral although I paid a tribute to him on the radio. I am sure that John and those who loved him and who were his pals would wish me to dedicate this article to the memory of a proud Englishman who always did his duty – Denny Green.

 

 

25th August 2017

Steward Street corner of Cope Street, 1966

Coloral Works, 1959

Rear of 52 Steward Street, 1951

Rear of the Cross Keys

 

2nd April 2016

Arthur Black, 1966

Steward Street, 1967

 

20th April 2015

 

Coronation Party in Steward Street outside the Cross Keys Public House

 

9th June 2008

Party in Steward Street, probably the Coronation

Photograph courtesy of Babs

Steward Street

 

Steward Street

Steward Street

The Cross Keys, 1954

Steward Street, 1950's

 

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