Author Archive

Tony and the Friends of Cotteridge Park are looking for anyone who has accurate information on the history of the park, especially the land before the park was created. And was the bird table by the Breedon Road entrance once a war memorial? Any photos, memories or information about the park and events associated with it most welcome. See also their website.

Thanks to Matt Chambers for these – more of his Breedon photos are available on Flickr by clicking here.
Discos at the Breedon Cross, around 1976-8

Discos at the Breedon Cross, around 1976-8

Discos at the Breedon Cross, around 1976-8

Discos at the Breedon Cross, around 1976-8

Bernie is trying to find out where the Kings Norton Estate Office used to be – it was used for collecting rents from Grant properties in the area. Can anyone help?

Stirchley has its own forum, featuring lots of questions and discussions about its past, present and future.

See here for the site.

In response to a query about Winstanley’s factory:

Let me put some meat on the bones for you. Mr Winstanley lived on the road to Barnt Green, at the foot of the Lickey Hills, and as I recall he was a keen gardener. He would have come across my dad as a result of two situations. Early in 1938 when the go-ahead was given to construct the “Shadow Factory” in Lowhill lane, Rednal, Fleetwoods were given the job of clearing the growing crop of grass/hay on the fields. Due to the urgency and secrecy, Dad set fire to the lot, bringing the trains to a stop on the Leeds to Bristol line. When the wind changed it engulfed the posh houses on the side of the Lickey Hills, including Mr Winstanley’s.

The second reason was, as Fleetwoods were home to a lot of horses, and just across the road from his factory, there was a trade in “horse manure” and Mr W was quick off the mark for compensation in the form of manure for his garden. I recall going with the driver on two occasions to dump the muck at his front gate. Mr W was a kindly man, bespectacled & larger than life. It was he who showed me, by scratching my name and a message on a young marrow, as it grew, so did the message, much to the embarrassment of the writer if it was rude…

It was wartime and after 1940 everything was kept strictly on a need to know basis. I can, even now, see what was behind the green doors in Cotteridge Rd, and other than the stacker truck trolleys being refurbished for Cadburys I don’t know what went on within the depths of the factory. It was a very skilled workforce and much more lethal bits and pieces were spirited through those doors, I am sure. Just the other side of the railway lines stood Peerless & Ericsons in Kings Norton Factory Centre. I know that they produced parts for Bofor Guns.

I’m also wondering why the police officer, who patrolled the Kings Norton Factory Centre during the WW2, always carried a revolver. It was unknown in those days for a bobby to be armed.

Cliff Fleetwood
Shropshire

Bob writes, “I am a former pupil of Cotteridge School, from 1953 to 1958.I can remember a few of the teachers and pupils mentioned and wondered if anyone remembers an accident when the dinner van bumped into the wall separating the two playgrounds, knocking down part of the wall and injuring a pupil called John Stevens”?

Allan wonders if anyone has any history or pictures about the Breedon Bar, particularly the early days. If so, let us know.

Sandie is trying to find details and photos of her grandmother Florence Harrison, who used to drive a team of six horses up and down the Pershore Road delivering milk. Does anyone remember Florence? Leave a comment or get in touch if so.

Kerensa writes, “I am trying to find details of my great grandfather Ernest Simpson who lived at 65 Holly Road around 1918. He would have been about 30 at this time. His father was John Simpson, and he was a bricklayer by trade. I also believe he had two sisters named Beatrice and Evelyn and brothers George and Harold. I would appreciate if anyone either has any further information regarding them such as mother’s name or has a general information about the family”. Please get in touch or leave a comment if you have anything.

Heather is researching her family tree. She’s interested in Edwards ‘leather sellers’ from Macdonald Street. The business was run by Esther Edwards (nee Horton), she had two sons Walter Oliver born in 1866, who became a butcher and married Louisa Elizabeth Richards in 1887, and George Edwards born 1869 who became a tailor and married later in life to Elizabeth (Betty) Judge from Towcester. Any information on these people would be greatly appreciated.

John e-mails to say:

I had a uncle Charles Jones who was a tram driver on the Pershore Road. I remember the tale that he was involved with a over-turned tram. Looking at the 1930 to 1940 memories a phantom tram flew down Breedon Hill, came off the rails,slid down as far as Fordhouse Lane.

Does anyone have any more details? If so, please leave a comment below or get in touch!

Tony is doing his family history. His great grand parents, James Henry and Elizabeth Adkins, lived at 112 Midland Road from about 1902. He was a local slater and his son James William Adkins, a property repairer, lived at 82 Pershore Road, later renumbered 1729, (where Tony’s mother Eva Kathleen Marlow was born in 1919). James and Elizabeth had eleven children: Avis, Charlotte, Alice, Alberta, James. Bertram, Emma, Elizabeth (Tony’s grandmother), Harry (who died in Belgium in 1917), Beatrice, and Maude. St Agnes Church features a lot in the family history and Tony would like to find a picture of it. If anyone could help with any information about any of these folk he’d love to hear from them.

Barbara lives in Cotteridge Road, in a converted metalworks near the railway. She’s interested in the history of the building, which was originally the Hudson steel tube manufacturers, then Murdoch Works, owned by Winstanley engineers (see image below). She’d be delighted if anyone has any memories, information or phots. Contact us or leave a comment below if you want to get in touch.

Note from Winstanley & Co

Note from Winstanley & Co

The last day of Woolworths, December 2008

The last day of Woolworths, December 2008

Somerfield on the site of the former St Agnes Church, 2008

Somerfield on the site of the former St Agnes Church, 2008

Cotteridge roundabout, 2008

Cotteridge roundabout, 2008

Kevin was born and lived at 1 Laurel Road from 1952 to 1974 and has many happy memories over that period. His Granddad and Grandma, Harry and Flow Pritchard, used to run the corner shop at 32 Cotteridge Road. He writes, “the Grant Arms was in my time always known as a pub but I am trying to find out if it was ever known as the Grant Hotel. The period I am interested in is 1899-1900”. If anybody has any memories of the Grant Arms, contact us.

In response to a query on this site about Charlotte Road:

As you may already know this road runs parallel to Pershore Road and was mine, and loads of other young lads, rabbit run to Stirchley Senior Boys School, via Elm Tree & Ash Tree Road.

I recall that at the far end, from Cotteridge, was Ten Acres & Stirchley Co-op bakery, & their Works & Building Dept. By referring to the Stirchley Website I was able to confirm my own memories, that it suffered some bomb damage, and casualties by the name of Bishton(?).

During the 1939/45 war it was also my route, when reporting for duty at Stirchley Police Station in Victoria Road. Maybe because I associate this road with school and war duty I do not have any affection for it.

Police Aux M. S. This was the name displayed on the shoulder flash. We were trained by senior police officers and I now understand how they relied and trusted us with responsibilities and authority, far beyond our youthful looks. Anecdotes would fill a whole web page, some sad and serious, others a real howler. I can recall some of the names of the Police Messengers, based at Kings Norton and Stirchley Police Stations.

Photo of PAMS below taken around 1942/3 at Tally Ho.

Photo of PAMS below taken around 1942/3 at Tally Ho

Back Row L to R: Lol Avery (well known neighbour to your contributor Doreen Hill), Cliff, Stan ___, Bob Sanford.
Front row, Roy Mosely, Stan Boraston, Ray Mosely (yes they were twins).
Stan Boraston achieved acclaim for organizing a dance (with gramophone records) at Selly Oak Institute where most of the “B” Division, including Senior Officers, attended. There was even a picture in the Birminham Mail.

Cotteridge Church in 2008 - since the mid eighties the consolidated home of the Methodist, Anglican and URC churches, along with various community facilities. The former URC site on Watford Road became old people's flats in the 1980s, and St Agnes became a Kwik Save.

Cotteridge Church in 2008 - since the mid eighties the consolidated home of the Methodist, Anglican and URC churches, along with various community facilities. The former URC site on Watford Road became old people's flats in the 1980s, and St Agnes became a Kwik Save.

 

Cotteridge Fire Station

Cotteridge Fire Station - looks pretty much identical to forty or even seventy years ago!

Beaumont Court - the former Cotteridge bus garage which has been sheltered accommodation since the mid eighties when the garage closed.

Beaumont Court - the former Cotteridge bus garage which has been sheltered accommodation since the mid eighties when the garage closed.

The canal - fairly unchanging, unsurprisingly!

The canal, looking west from the Breedon bridge - fairly unchanging, unsurprisingly!

The former Breedon Bar - since 2005 flats

The former Breedon Bar - since 2005 flats

The former Barclays Bank - about two months after this photo re-opened as a trendy wine bar and restaurant, La Banca

The former Barclays Bank - about two months after this photo re-opened as a trendy wine bar and restaurant, La Banca

The Murco petrol station on Pershore Road - formerly the Jet garage

The Murco petrol station on Pershore Road - formerly the Jet garage

An industrial premises remarkable only for being the former Savoy Cinema, opposite the Breedon Bar

An industrial premises remarkable only for being the former Savoy Cinema, opposite the Breedon Bar

Breedon Bar in 1997. It closed in about 1992, caught fire in about 1996, and was finally demolished in the early 2000s, it's now some flats.

Breedon Bar in 1997. It closed in about 1992, caught fire in about 1996, and was finally demolished in the early 2000s, it's now some flats.

The former Breedon Bar - it's been flats since the mid 2000s

The former Breedon Bar - it's been flats since the mid 2000s

Cotteridge Junior & Infant School – photos taken in 2008.

See also their website.

Cotteridge School in 2008 - the annexe building

Cotteridge School in 2008: the main building from the infant playground

Cotteridge School in 2008: the main building from Breedon Road

Doreen Hill lived on Pershore Road just below Cotteridge School, which she attended from 1938 to 1948. She would welcome anyone who remembers her to get in touch, please leave a comment below or email us.

Frances Barrack lived at 77 Watford Road with her parents (William and Elsie) from the 1920s until she married and moved to Bournville after the war. She spent her working life as nurse at Woodlands Hospital, and now lives in Rednal with her husband Stanley Newton.

Here she recounts her memories of Cotteridge to her nephew Andrew. The text below is the full version of the memories which are summarised on the memories page.

Frances would like to hear from anyone who remembers her at school or the Barrack family at Watford Road (if so, e-mail us and we’ll pass it on) and she has a question for anyone who can help. There are nine houses on Watford Road with names carved into the lintel stones above the front door eg. Shirley, Hockley, Paisley, Bentley and 77 Watford Road which is called Seafield to which Frances comments “Well you couldn’t see any fields from No 77 and you definitely couldn’t see the sea!” But if anyone knows the why these houses were given these names then please write to us.

Family history

Mr & Mrs William and Elsie Barrack lived at 77 Watford Road from the early 1920s until 1967.

Elsie’s maiden name was Hickling and she was born in 1887. Her family originated from Smethwick.

William’s side of the family came from Aston. William was always known by his middle name Ernest, and for reasons unknown he had two pet-names for Elsie, calling her both Mabel and Ethel, depending on the occasion.

William and Elsie Barrack

William and Elsie Barrack

They began married life in Gooch Street, between the Bristol Road and Hurst Street, before answering an advert asking for tenants to look after an elderly lady living at a house in Cotteridge. They moved to the house and cared for the lady (Mrs Richards) until she died, then becoming the tenants of 77 Watford Road for the next forty years.

Elsie and William had three children. Their first child was also named Elsie and was born in 1924 and twins Frances and Frank born in 1926 –Frank being named after his mother’s favourite brother Frank Ernest Hickling, who was killed in the First World War. Eldest daughter Elsie Barrack left school at 14 years old and worked at Cadbury’s. She moved to Bradford around 1947 as demonstrator for the company. The job was short-lived but Elsie made Bradford her home until she died in 1994. Frances and Frank also left school at 14, Frances following in her sister’s footsteps and working at Cadbury’s while Frank went to work at Charles Taylor’s in Bartholomew Street. When Frances married she moved to Bournville and had a daughter Christine in 1954. Frances spent the rest of her working life as a nurse at Woodlands Hospital. She now lives at Rednal with her husband Stanley Newton, Frank married Hazel Shaw from Quinton in 1953 and set up home in Rednal. They had two sons, Stephen and Andrew and then moved to Bromsgrove. Frank became a respected press brake tool designer and worked at Bronx Engineering in Lye for over thirty years. As grandparents, Elsie (nee Mabel/Ethel) and Ernest (nee William) continued to live at 77 Watford Road until they passed away in 1967 within a few weeks of each other, at the age of 80.

Frank, Ernest, Frances and Elsie Barrack

Frank, Ernest, Frances and Elsie Barrack

Neighbours

“There were Mr and Mrs Huggins at 75 Watford Road. On the other side of us at 77 was Mr and Mrs Gilbert, but before them was a family called Edkins, they moved to a bungalow at Withall. Mrs Lancaster lived next door to the Huggins. As a little girl I asked Mrs Lancaster where kittens came from, and she told me cats dug kittens up from out of the ground. Then when our cat had kittens under the rhubarb leaves in our garden that was proof to me that cats really did dig up kittens.

The landlord of our house was Mrs. Robinson, who lived at 81. The rent was 10 shillings. Mrs Robinson had a son called Douglas, who was a nudist and used to lie in a hammock stark naked. Mum thought it was horrific and when I used to take the rent round she’d say “don’t go in the garden!” – there was a path along the back gardens that led to the passage way between 81 and 83. One time Mrs. Robinson wanted us out of the house for some reason. I used to go round with the rent and she’d refuse it. Then I would push it under her door and she would push it back. This silly carry-on continued until one of her sons took over as landlord. There were three sons, I don’t know what other houses they owned in Cotteridge but I know they owned property down in Portsmouth. Mum and Dad were still renting the house up until they died.

Mrs Flavell lived at No 83. I remember our mum went round to Mrs Flavell’s to help kill some chickens. Once they’d cut the heads off mum and Mrs Flavell just ran in the house but us children hung over the fence watching these headless chickens run round. Horrible really I don’t think I could do it now. Dad used to kill our chickens by wringing their necks.

Howell’s house was what is now the vets surgery near Woodfall Avenue. It used to have a wall round the front and as children we’d sit on the wall but Mrs Howell used to come out and shout “get off my wall!”

Woodfall Avenue is where the allotments were. There was the church, and these allotments were there. It had all become overgrown and Mum used to go down to the old allotments with a basin, to pick wild blackberries so she could give us a bit of pudding. But this one time Mrs Howell came up to her and said “those are my blackberries!” I think Mum nearly threw the basin all over her. But Mrs Howell condescendingly said, “You can have them this time. But don’t come here again.” Mr Howell had built that modern house and these blackberry bushes were really where from the old allotments but she said, “they are mine.” I remember there was a stream there.

When they built those lovely new houses (Woodfall Avenue) Mum used to go down and look at them, but Dad was never going to move from 77. Frank and I always felt ever so sorry for our Mum, she always hoped we could move to a modern house and Dad would grudgingly go and take a look with her. But you knew Dad was never going to move. Dad wasn’t a man who liked change.

 

Family life at 77 Watford Road

Mum used to take in lodgers. There was Norman Nelson, Mr Crabtree (we had to call him Mister) who Mum let the downstairs front room to, and another but I’ve forgotten his name. Frank and I shared the front bedroom when we were little children but when we’d grown up a bit I moved in with Elsie in the back bedroom and then Frank had to share the front bedroom with one of the lodgers. You couldn’t imagine it today. Eight of us in the same house, no bathroom, no hot water, an outside loo.

Dad used to keep chickens in the back garden. I would say we had at least eighteen and then a couple of cockerels. It was mostly hens because of the eggs. I remember Mum put some eggs under this hen, but one was a bit on the slow side hatching and all the other chicks had come out, and Mum was frightened the mother would abandon this egg, so she put this egg in her bosom and went around with it all day until it hatched. Then in the dark she pushed it back under the hen so it would accept it.

But Mum didn’t like the cockerels, they were vicious. I remember one time one of the cockerels chased her down the garden and she threw the watering can at it to stop it attacking her.

When the war happened Dad went to talk to some official person and he got grain for the hens, he was registered as supplying eggs.
We had no running hot water; the kitchen had a big square ceramic sink and a single cold tap. The fire in the back room had an oven and hobbs that you put your kettles on. The only hot water we got was from the fire or you put a kettle on the gas stove in the kitchen. It was very bad really, no bathroom just a tin bath in the kitchen, and we had to share the water. And outside loo of course. Mum used to sit out there with the cat on her lap. We used to say she’d die sitting on the toilet – and she did, God bless her. There was never a bathroom at 77, I still was using the tin bath up until I got married. When I moved to Cobbs Field at Bournville, Mum used to ask me if she could come up on the bus and have a bath.

Frank once had a terrible accident on his bike on Bunbury Road. We were out cycling together and he was pedalling along with his head down but I thought he’d see this car parked up ahead but he didn’t. He went straight into the back of it with an awful crash. I can remember him sliding off the car like a rag doll and lying dazed on the road. A lady came out from her house and we got Frank sat in her garden, while she cleaned him up. His face was a terrible mess. When we got home Mum was beside herself when she saw his injuries but the first thing she said was to tell me “Go out in the garden and pull up the parsley!” There’s an old superstition about transplanting parsley is bad luck and that was the first thing we had to do, before attending to Frank. Ridiculous really, but that was Mum.

Mum and Dad used to go out on a Saturday night, always to the pictures. The Savoy, in Cotteridge. The King’s Norton on King’s Norton Green. The Empire and Pavilion down Stirchley. That was their night out. And if they went to Cotteridge they went in the Grant Arms after the pictures. Dad had perhaps half a pint but that was it. They weren’t drinkers.
Friends I can remember? Well there was Connie Booth who lived in Holly Road. Her father was an engine driver on the railway. You thought he was God, I mean… a driver on the steam train! Nice man he was. Millie Tye was another friend, she lived in Heathcote Road.

We always laughed about the story about the Kleeneze man. There were a lot of door-to-door salesmen compared to today. Anyway this Kleeneze man came to the door, and Mum answered and he was stood there in the pouring rain and was so bedraggled and frozen to the bone. Mum didn’t want his wares but she felt so sorry for him she said “Oh come on in you poor devil.” He was absolutely saturated and asked if he could lie down on the hearth in front of the fire. Before Mum could even give him a cup of tea he was asleep on the rag rug, so Mum just left him. He was still there when Dad came home from work. Mum must’ve been in the kitchen or up the garden and Dad walks in to find this man asleep on the rug, steam literally coming off him. Dad hadn’t a clue who he was or why this man was lying on the floor. Well you can imagine what he said to Mum when she appeared. And the Kleeneze man he must’ve had quite a shock when he woke up to find Dad bent over him. But Mum explained what had happened and it became a joke they always laughed about for years after.

 

School

Frank and I both went to Cotteridge School and sat together in class. When Mr Tozer the teacher used to shout out “Barrack!” it was always for Frank, but I used to stand up also because I was a Barrack too. But Mr Tozer he used to say “You’ve got a handle to your name. When I want you I shall call “Frances” not Barrack.” I always remember him saying I had a handle to my name… When I was eleven years old I moved over the playground from the Junior School into the Senior Girls. But that was just for girls, so Frank had to go Stirchley School. The other teacher I remember was Miss Garfield, we used to call her Gerty Garfield, I couldn’t stand her.

I remember a lot of the mothers used to be outside the railings giving the children biscuits and all sorts, because there were no school meals. No shoes were allowed in the hall, so you had to walk around the edge, you couldn’t go across because they polished the floor, it was like glass. In the war I used to hope a bomber would come and blow the place up. I used to say “if a bomb dropped I wouldn’t have to go to that bloomin’ school again!” I was never lucky, the Germans never hit it.

Another teacher was Mr Major, he lived in Woodfall Avenue. He wrote on my school report “Frances talks too much” and when I took it home Dad refused to sign it, and instead wrote on the report “and it is your job to stop her” and I had to take it back to school. Then Mr Major pushed a letter through our letterbox telling our Dad to go up to the school. Dad said “he hasn’t even got the guts to knock on the door” but he had to go up to the school to see the headmaster. I don’t know just what happened over it, but I could have killed our Dad, I really could.

I remember the Life Boys at St Agnes Church. And Councillor Fryer, he used to come round and give you a talk and bore the pants off you. He used to give these talks in the school hall, we all used to groan “oh gosh he’s here again”.

I think Fryer had two sisters who opened a wool shop… Fryer’s Wool Shop.

Of course the railway bridge was just outside Cotteridge School on Breedon Road and Frank would run along the parapet. Never thought twice about what would happen if he fell off the bridge. And I remember there were some stiles there and we used to take a short cut back to Watford Road.

The War

When war started Frank and I were evacuated to Headless Cross at Redditch. Because Mum wanted us to stick together as brother and sister we went with the junior school but they were only children and Frank and I were 13. So we had no companions really – I think it’d been better if we were separated and went with the seniors. We went on the train and they put these labels on you and they took us to what looked like a school house and women came in and they just picked who they wanted. At the end there was Frank and I left plus another girl. You felt like a spare part. So then they walked us round the roads in Headless Cross and started knocking on the doors asking “will you take these children…” It was really that haphazard. Anyway we got to this one house and this lady answered the door, her name was Mrs Moseley and she said “well I only want one but because you are brother and sister I will take you both in.” But Frank had to sleep next door – there wasn’t enough room for both of us to stay at Mrs Moseley’s. Frank had his meals with us but he slept next door. I always remember Frank said how they got MacLeans toothpaste at his house. Well we’d never had toothpaste back in Watford Road, we used to clean our teeth with salt and soot. He said the toothpaste “tastes lovely” and used to eat this MacLeans. I bet the poor woman wondered where the toothpaste was going.

But Frank soon had enough and packed his bags and came home on the Midland Red. Mum brought me home soon after that. The war started in September and we turned 14 at the beginning of December the next year so after that we were at work. Me at Cadbury’s and Frank at Charles Taylor’s.

I remember the plane that came low over Cotteridge School looking for the Triplex factory, you could see the pilot and the swastika on the side of the plane. Then I remember we heard a German plane was shooting at people in the street. Mum was beside herself as she had sent Frank out on an errand. When he eventually came back Mum was so relieved. But Frank had got the sense to shelter in someone’s entrance.

We had no electricity at number 77 until after the war. It was gas, but only downstairs. We had a candle to go to bed at night. We weren’t allowed to read in bed because candles were too expensive. But when the Germans bombed Grant’s Wood Yard it lit up Watford Road like it was daylight. Frank was able to read in bed that night, he thought it was bloomin’ marvellous.

Dad built an Anderson shelter in the garden; he made a right mess of it. Dad used to do a job and he’d say that it was temporary but nothing he did ever became permanent, nothing ever got finished. We only went in the shelter once. After that we said if we are going to die well we might as well die in bed. Mum would say she would get us up if it got too bad. I think you got very blasé about the bombing. All you used think was “oh gosh they’re here again.” We went into the pantry under the stairs the first time the bombs came down, but after that we stayed in bed. You knew they were German bombers because their engines made that “whum-whum” sound. And you could always hear the anti-aircraft guns starting up. A bomb did drop just beyond Kings Norton railway station but nothing round the houses near us. You just thanked God it wasn’t you. That’s how you thought about the bombing really.

If you were at the pictures then you got the warning come up on the screen if they thought there was a raid. I remember being at the Savoy watching “The Last Days of Pompeii” when the sirens sounded. Elsie wouldn’t let me stay to watch the end. I never did see what happened at the end – until it was shown on telly a few years ago. 65 years later and I finally got to see the end! But I always remember Elsie dragging me out the Savoy because of the air raid warning – I could’ve killed her!

Dad was working nightshift at the Austin throughout the war and whenever there was a raid they used to go into what they called ‘the tunnel’. They always played “Woody Woodpecker” on the loudspeakers, so if that started he said they knew they’d be down there all night. I suppose it was meant to cheer up the workers but he hated that song. I know Frank said one night the sirens sounded when Dad was on the tram to the Austin so he just stayed on until it got to the terminus at The Lickeys and spent the night in the Hare and Hounds. When they asked him the next night at work where had he got to he just said he’d been in a public shelter. Public house more like! He was a devil for playing cards. We never knew how much money he lost at cards. When he came home with his wages, he only gave Mum so much. She never knew how much he earned. That was her lot and she had to deal with it.

Dad used to take us into town to see the bomb damage. We’d get off the tram in Navigation Street and sort of walk around. I remember one shop that was blown up and there was all these sweets scattered about amongst all the broken glass on the pavement. Our Dad said “don’t you dare touch anything.” And nobody touched anything.

They made Hollymore Hospital into a wounded soldiers hospital and my sister Elsie used to go up there and get chatting to the soldiers. She’d bring all these different fellows back to Watford Road. Dad got very annoyed and he said this isn’t a boarding house. But Elsie was a bit flighty she liked to go out and dance with the men. I remember one time when she stayed out too late at night, Dad went out to find her – she must’ve been around 21 then – but he still got the walking stick to her.

I know Frank used to listen to the radio or read about the war in the papers but I don’t remember following the news myself. The only time I can remember was when the newspapers said the Germans were putting people in ovens. I was down Stirchley – I don’t know what shop it was – but they’d got all these newspapers with photographs of these ovens and the bodies in the concentration camps. I went and had a look and people were saying it’s not true, it’s all fake. They didn’t believe it: it was too horrible to believe this was happening.

Shops and businesses

When I was young none of the shops existed at the top of Watford road, they were just houses. You had to go round the corner (into Pershore Road) before the shops started.

I remember Fleetwoods, they were opposite Cotteridge School and Clifford Fleetwood was in my class. Everything was delivered by horse and cart then. But when it snowed… I remember the horses used to come up Breedon Hill and the poor horses used to slip in the snow and they got sacks out to try and help them get a grip with their big hoofs. I used to feel ever so sorry for them.

I remember Huins the shoe shop. Dad took Frank in there to have his feet x-rayed because he couldn’t believe Frank had outgrown his shoes so quickly. Dad went barmy and refused to buy a new pair of shoes until the x-ray showed Frank’s feet were bigger.” (Before the harmful effects of radiation were realised, many shoe shops used to have an x-ray machine so customers could look at their feet. It was more for novelty value than anything else.)

I remember the carnival in Cotteridge Park and the Ten Acres Co-op, they used to give you a cardboard box with oranges, a squash and an ice cream. Then you went into the park to the carnival. We thought it was marvellous, you got this box with sandwiches. And The Blue Belvederes band. The Bummer Toots, as our Dad used to call them.

Ferris’s was a great big house. As children we used to say they had a gold bath in there with gold taps.

The Treasure Trove: I remember there was that big bear when you went in the entrance. And then there was a statue of a nude man outside and people used to come along and stick chips on his wotsit. When we were children the place was just a little shop then Mr Vincent opened it as the Treasure Trove. There were sheds round the back where they stored all the big things – suites of furniture, grandfather clocks and beds and wardrobes and all sorts of things. With the house and the sheds it would take you quite a while to go round and look at everything.

Frank did a paper round for the newsagents at the top of Watford Road. That was Morrow’s. Our Dad was a devil for nicknames and he used to call the newsagent “Moses” Morrow. I don’t know whether he was a Jew, but each Saturday evening I would help Frank deliver the newspapers so he could get it done more quickly and we could go to the pictures together. But this one Saturday the newspapers were late arriving and as we were waiting, a lad called Gordon Salt started talking to me and said “if you kiss me I’ll deliver your papers.” And our Frank kept saying “go on, go on, it won’t hurt you just to give him a kiss. We can get away and go to the pictures early.” Frank was very mercenary, but I said I am not kissing him, I don’t care what you say Frank. I am not kissing him. Gordon Salt always had a drippy nose. No way was I kissing him. Fortunately the lorry finally drew up with the papers and I could get away from Gordon Salt. Funny enough when I was married and living at Bournville, the man came round to read the gas meter man. I looked at him and I thought I recognise you… you’re Gordon Salt. At least his nose had stopped running.

Yoxall’s – they sold dog biscuits.

The chemist Bellamy’s: Frank worked at Taylor’s chemist, the one opposite. He used to deliver prescriptions for them. They would make up the medicines in the shop and also refill soda siphons and Frank would take them to addresses even as far as town (Birmingham) on his bicycle. If there had been an air raid the night before there would be broken glass and water running down the street but Frank always had to deliver the prescriptions. And he’d always come back with shrapnel, which he collected in a drawer at home.

One day Frank found a pound note on the floor in Taylor’s and gave it to Mr Barker the manager. After three or four months Dad said “have you ever heard whether anybody claimed that pound note?” Frank said no, so Dad said you go to work and you ask them. Mr Barker owned up and said no one had claimed the money and so he gave it to Frank. But I don’t think they would’ve done if Frank hadn’t have enquired and our Dad hadn’t have asked if anyone had claimed it. It was a lot of money back then.

There was a music shop – Dugmores – and they got like a concave window. And when you looked in the window it was like those mirrors at the fairground, and we used to pull faces in the shop window and your faces were all terribly distorted. And the shop woman used to go barmy she used to go “Clear off! Clear off!”

Then there was Jones, a little sweet shop. And our Dad was always sending me up there, “Go and get me some acid drops,” then you’d get home and Dad would say “These acid drops are stale. Take them back!” I had to go back and say our Dad says these sweets are stale. The shop woman shouted “I do not sell stale sweets!” She went barmy and said tell your Dad from now on not to come in here. But he never did go in there – he always sent me!

I remember there was another sweet shop on Dell Road, near Fleetwoods. Elsie used to get them root liquorice from there. I hated it. But Elsie loved that root liquorice.

Apart from Bellamy’s and Taylor’s, there were other chemists too… Wakefields, Bloomfields and Hedges. Dad used to send me there for his snuff. I used to run down the Cotteridge and I used to shout “L2-60 box of snuff” all the way to Hedges, because I used to think if I forget the number… and you could only get the snuff from Hedges.

Mum used to send us up to the butchers, Mr Walker’s; this was when we were really hard up. She would say “Go into the butchers and ask for six pennies worth of ‘something to frizzle’”. And Mr Walker would go round and collect all the bits from the chops and sausage he’d cut up and for six pence he’d give you all these left-overs. You’d get quite a bit. It was enough to feed us. Well one day during the period when Dad was unemployed, Mum sent him up the Cotteridge to go to the butchers to “get 6d worth of something to frizzle”. But he wouldn’t go, he came to the school instead and waited for us to come out into the playground. And he said, “your mother says you’ve got to go in the butchers and get six penny-worth of something to frizzle.” I knew Mum wouldn’t have told him to come and get me, but being muggins I went into the butchers for him. When we got home our mother heard what he’d done and really did tell him off. But Dad wouldn’t go in the butchers, pride I suppose… Mum said to him, “Yes. But you’d eat it…”

Frank and I used to go for a ride in Hirons bakers van, because the son of the Edkins, who had lived next door at Watford Road, married a girl who was the daughter of Hirons, who had the bakery on the green at King’s Norton and he used to deliver the bread. And he’d come to our house as Mum used to have a loaf off him – it was nice bread – and he’d say “d’you want a ride?” And then me and Frank would get in the van and he’d take us on his round; he’d say if you see any policemen you’ve got to duck down. We thought it was wonderful.

Frances would like to hear from anyone who remembers her at school or the Barrack family at Watford Road. If so, e-mail us and we’ll pass it on.

Frances Road excursion, c1952

Frances Road excursion, c1952

A trip, possibly to Kettering Park, organised by Frances Road resident Mrs Butler in circa 1952/3. Participants were Frances Road residents past and present and include Lois Brown, Molly Hickey, Phyllis Patrick, Maggie Snipe, Alice Howes, Rodney Stokes, Sidney Banner and Steve Lovesey. The coach is provided by Birmingham firm Ludlow Brothers.

Thanks to Jan Lovesey for this – her website has loads more information and pictures.

The "bottom shop" at the corner of Frances Road and Lifford Lane, early 1930s

The "bottom shop" at the corner of Frances Road and Lifford Lane, early 1930s

Frances Barrack lived at 77 Watford Road with her parents (William and Elsie) from the 1920s until she married and moved to Bournville after the war. She spent her working life as nurse at Woodlands Hospital, and now lives in Rednal with her husband Stanley Newton.

Here she recounts her memories of Cotteridge to her nephew Andrew. Frances would like to hear from anyone who remembers her at school or the Barrack family at Watford Road. If so, e-mail us or leave a comment at the end of the article.

The text below is the edited version featuring the sections on wartime Cotteridge and the shops – for the full reminiscence including family history and home life, click here.

My brother Frank and I both went to Cotteridge School and sat together in class. When I was eleven years old I moved over the playground from the Junior School into the Senior Girls. But that was just for girls, so Frank had to go Stirchley School. I remember teachers Mr Tozer and “Gerty” Garfield (I couldn’t stand her).

I remember a lot of the mothers used to be outside the railings giving the children biscuits and all sorts, because there were no school meals. No shoes were allowed in the hall, so you had to walk around the edge, you couldn’t go across because they polished the floor, it was like glass. In the war I used to hope a bomber would come and blow the place up. I used to say “if a bomb dropped I wouldn’t have to go to that bloomin’ school again!” I was never lucky, the Germans never hit it.

Another teacher was Mr Major, he lived in Woodfall Avenue. He wrote on my school report “Frances talks too much” and when I took it home Dad refused to sign it, and instead wrote on the report “and it is your job to stop her” and I had to take it back to school. Then Mr Major pushed a letter through our letterbox telling our Dad to go up to the school.

I remember the Life Boys at St Agnes Church. And Councillor Fryer, he used to come round and give you a talk and bore the pants off you. He used to give these talks in the school hall, we all used to groan “oh gosh he’s here again.
I think Fryer had two sisters who opened a wool shop… Fryer’s Wool Shop.
Of course the railway bridge was just outside Cotteridge School on Breedon Road and Frank would run along the parapet. Never thought twice about what would happen if he fell off the bridge. And I remember there were some stiles there and we used to take a short cut back to Watford Road.

Frank, Ernest, Frances and Elsie Barrack

Frank, Ernest, Frances and Elsie Barrack

When war started Frank and I were evacuated to Headless Cross at Redditch. Because Mum wanted us to stick together as brother and sister we went with the junior school but they were only children and Frank and I were 13. So we had no companions really – I think it’d been better if we were separated and went with the seniors. We went on the train and they put these labels on you and they took us to what looked like a school house and women came in and they just picked who they wanted. At the end there was Frank and I left plus another girl. You felt like a spare part. So then they walked us round the roads in Headless Cross and started knocking on the doors asking “will you take these children…” It was really that haphazard. Anyway we got to this one house and this lady answered the door, her name was Mrs Moseley and she said “well I only want one but because you are brother and sister I will take you both in.”

But Frank had to sleep next door – there wasn’t enough room for both of us to stay at Mrs Moseley’s. Frank had his meals with us but he slept next door. I always remember Frank said how they got MacLeans toothpaste at his house. Well we’d never had toothpaste back in Watford Road, we used to clean our teeth with salt and soot. He said the toothpaste “tastes lovely” and used to eat this MacLeans. I bet the poor woman wondered where the toothpaste was going.

But Frank soon had enough and packed his bags and came home on the Midland Red. Mum brought me home soon after that. The war started in September and we turned 14 at the beginning of December the next year so after that we were at work. Me at Cadbury’s and Frank at Charles Taylor’s.
I remember the plane that came low over Cotteridge School looking for the Triplex factory, you could see the pilot and the swastika on the side of the plane. Then I remember we heard a German plane was shooting at people in the street. Mum was beside herself as she had sent Frank out on an errand. When he eventually came back Mum was so relieved. But Frank had got the sense to shelter in someone’s entrance.

We had no electricity at number 77 until after the war. It was gas, but only downstairs. We had a candle to go to bed at night. We weren’t allowed to read in bed because candles were too expensive. But when the Germans bombed Grant’s Wood Yard it lit up Watford Road like it was daylight. Frank was able to read in bed that night, he thought it was bloomin’ marvellous.

Dad built an Anderson shelter in the garden; he made a right mess of it. Dad used to do a job and he’d say that it was temporary but nothing he did ever became permanent, nothing ever got finished. We only went in the shelter once. After that we said if we are going to die well we might as well die in bed. Mum would say she would get us up if it got too bad. I think you got very blasé about the bombing. All you used think was “oh gosh they’re here again.” We went into the pantry under the stairs the first time the bombs came down, but after that we stayed in bed. You knew they were German bombers because their engines made that “whum-whum” sound. And you could always hear the anti-aircraft guns starting up. A bomb did drop just beyond Kings Norton railway station but nothing round the houses near us. You just thanked God it wasn’t you. That’s how you thought about the bombing really.

If you were at the pictures then you got the warning come up on the screen if they thought there was a raid. I remember being at the Savoy watching “The Last Days of Pompeii” when the sirens sounded. Elsie wouldn’t let me stay to watch the end. I never did see what happened at the end – until it was shown on telly a few years ago. 65 years later and I finally got to see the end! But I always remember Elsie dragging me out the Savoy because of the air raid warning – I could’ve killed her!

Dad was working nightshift at the Austin throughout the war and whenever there was a raid they used to go into what they called ‘the tunnel’. They always played “Woody Woodpecker” on the loudspeakers, so if that started he said they knew they’d be down there all night. I suppose it was meant to cheer up the workers but he hated that song. I know Frank said one night the sirens sounded when Dad was on the tram to the Austin so he just stayed on until it got to the terminus at The Lickeys and spent the night in the Hare and Hounds. When they asked him the next night at work where had he got to he just said he’d been in a public shelter. Public house more like!

Dad used to take us into town to see the bomb damage. We’d get off the tram in Navigation Street and sort of walk around. I remember one shop that was blown up and there was all these sweets scattered about amongst all the broken glass on the pavement. Our Dad said “don’t you dare touch anything.” And nobody touched anything.

They made Hollymore Hospital into a wounded soldiers hospital and my sister Elsie used to go up there and get chatting to the soldiers… she was a bit flighty and liked to go out and dance with the men – one time when she stayed out too late at night, Dad went out to find her – she must’ve been around 21 then – but he still got the walking stick to her.

I know Frank used to listen to the radio or read about the war in the papers but I don’t remember following the news myself. The only time I can remember, I was down Stirchley and they’d got all these newspapers with photographs of the bodies in the concentration camps. I went and had a look and people were saying it’s not true, it’s all fake. They didn’t believe it: it was too horrible to believe this was happening.

When I was young none of the shops existed at the top of Watford road, they were just houses. You had to go round the corner (into Pershore Road) before the shops started.

I remember Fleetwoods, they were opposite Cotteridge School and Clifford Fleetwood was in my class. Everything was delivered by horse and cart then. But when it snowed… I remember the horses used to come up Breedon Hill and the poor horses used to slip in the snow and they got sacks out to try and help them get a grip with their big hoofs. I used to feel ever so sorry for them.
I remember Huins the shoe shop. Dad took Frank in there to have his feet x-rayed because he couldn’t believe Frank had outgrown his shoes so quickly. Dad went barmy and refused to buy a new pair of shoes until the x-ray showed Frank’s feet were bigger.” (Before the harmful effects of radiation were realised, many shoe shops used to have an x-ray machine so customers could look at their feet. It was more for novelty value than anything else.)

I remember the carnival in Cotteridge Park and the Ten Acres Co-op, they used to give you a cardboard box with oranges, a squash and an ice cream. Then you went into the park to the carnival. We thought it was marvellous, you got this box with sandwiches. And The Blue Belvederes band. The Bummer Toots, as our Dad used to call them.

Ferris’s was a great big house. As children we used to say they had a gold bath in there with gold taps.

The Treasure Trove: I remember there was that big bear when you went in the entrance. And then there was a statue of a nude man outside and people used to come along and stick chips on his wotsit. When we were children the place was just a little shop then Mr Vincent opened it as the Treasure Trove. There were sheds round the back where they stored all the big things – suites of furniture, grandfather clocks and beds and wardrobes and all sorts of things. With the house and the sheds it would take you quite a while to go round and look at everything.

Yoxall’s – they sold dog biscuits.

The chemist Bellamy’s: Frank worked at Taylor’s chemist, the one opposite. He used to deliver prescriptions for them. They would make up the medicines in the shop and also refill soda siphons and Frank would take them to addresses even as far as town (Birmingham) on his bicycle. If there had been an air raid the night before there would be broken glass and water running down the street but Frank always had to deliver the prescriptions. And he’d always come back with shrapnel, which he collected in a drawer at home.

There was a music shop – Dugmores – and they got like a concave window. And when you looked in the window it was like those mirrors at the fairground, and we used to pull faces in the shop window and your faces were all terribly distorted. And the shop woman used to go barmy she used to go “Clear off! Clear off!”

Then there was Jones, a little sweet shop. And our Dad was always sending me up there, “Go and get me some acid drops,” then you’d get home and Dad would say “These acid drops are stale. Take them back!” I had to go back and say our Dad says these sweets are stale. The shop woman shouted “I do not sell stale sweets!” She went barmy and said tell your Dad from now on not to come in here. But he never did go in there – he always sent me!

I remember there was another sweet shop on Dell Road, near Fleetwoods. Elsie used to get them root liquorice from there. I hated it. But Elsie loved that root liquorice

Apart from Bellamy’s and Taylor’s, there were other chemists too…

Wakefields, Bloomfields and Hedges. Dad used to send me there for his snuff. I used to run down the Cotteridge and I used to shout “L2-60 box of snuff” all the way to Hedges, because I used to think if I forget the number… and you could only get the snuff from Hedges.

Mum and Dad used to go out on a Saturday night, always to the pictures. The Savoy, in Cotteridge. The King’s Norton on King’s Norton Green. The Empire and Pavilion down Stirchley. That was their night out. And if they went to Cotteridge they went in the Grant Arms after the pictures.

Friends I can remember? Well there was Connie Booth who lived in Holly Road. Her father was an engine driver on the railway. You thought he was God, I mean… a driver on the steam train! Nice man he was. Millie Tye was another friend, she lived in Heathcote Road.

Frances Newton (nee Barrack)
Rednal, Birmingham
July 2008

Judith is researching her family who lived at 113 Midland Road from the 1920s until at least the early 1950s.

Their name was Stenson – Georgina and Harry (Henry). They had five children, four girls and a boy, some of whom stayed in the area. The girls’ married names were: Neild, Simpson, Ripley and Walton.

Any information is most welcome – please leave a comment or e-mail us and we’ll pass it on.

Colette writes, “I’m researching my family tree and particularly two brothers who went to war and were both killed in 1916. They lived in Charlotte Road, Stirchely, and I am trying to just build up a picture of the street they came from. If anyone has any memories passed down of people, families and events in Charlotte Road I would love to hear about them”. As always, if you have any information, please leave a comment or contact us.

John Hornsby has another question:

There are some large boulders in Cotteridge Park. Obviously the triangular shaped formation would have been the original postion, which resulted from the melting of glaciers which reached south to the Lickeys.

The smaller side block adjacent to the main structure may have been added to the formation by the ancients to form a Dolman (ancient way-marker) with roofing stones now gone.

But, does anyone recall the original positions of the other stones in the park near the rail bridge (forming the side of the plinth of a now destroyed memorial), and flat ground level stones around the keepers’ hut?

And do any old stagers remember the boulder on Cadbury’s property visible from trams as they sped past the Hole Lane corner – is it still there?

Leave a comment below or email us if you have any answers.

Straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak
With thanks to Cliff Fleetwood. His 2008 comments shown in italics.

This document is also accessible in the original PDF by clicking here.

Family firms have a proud place in Birmingham’s industrial history & those which are still under individual control continue to make important contribution to its future. (Quote from Birmingham Post & Mail April 1974)

Service to industry is a field in which one such concern, W.R.Fleetwood Ltd, Pershore Rd, Cotteridge has distinguished itself in road haulage. It moved from the horse-&-cart era to motorised transport.

The business was founded in 1919 by Mr W. (Billy) R. Fleetwood who became Chairman of the Company, but his father, a farmer, had also engaged in haulage work in the Selly Park area. Billy was working for his father when the First World War started. He joined the Army, and became a lead driver of a gun battery within the Royal Horse Artillery.

After the war he felt the urge to establish his own business and saved 40 guineas to buy his first horse. With a second-hand set of harness he set himself up at Hazelwell Farm, Kings Heath and business soon gained a firm footing, his first large contract being the carrying of raw cocoa from the canal basin to the Cadbury Works at Bournville.

In 1924 he married Elsie May Taylor at Malpas Church, South Wales, and in 1926 moved to 1775 Pershore Road Cotteridge where their only son Clifford was born. The enterprise soon became, with the help of his wife, the centre of a well established business with the introduction of a motorised Ford Model T 30-cwt van.

Initially, my parents rented 1775 Pershore Road & the stables in the yard at Breedon Road from Walter Carroll Blacksmith who lived in no 1777 Pershore Road. The Blacksmith forge & wheelwrights premises belonged to Mr Carroll, & lay at the bottom of the yard adjacent to 1 & 3 Breedon Rd. These houses were occupied by Mr & Miss Millership & in later years Jack Wilmot, Master Blacksmith who worked for my father.
 
I must place on record the name of Fred Meredith, Wheelwright & Carpenter, who lived in Shirley Road. I recall he kept canaries & always chewed tobacco!! I have seen him build a huge cart wheel, from several pieces of wood & together with the blacksmiths fit an iron tyre, the result, a perfect circle. In his time he had been noted for making the “wooden swords” for Miss Powell at Cotteridge School for her class to perform the sword dance (with success) on two occasions.

When Mr Carroll retired in the late 30’s my parents acquired the yard/stables, the blacksmith & wheelwright business together with the properties 1771 to 1777 Pershore Rd & 1 & 3 Breedon Road.

The business went from strength to strength with further contracts from Cadburys hauling coal & coke. From these contracts he was able to make a long business association with Birmingham Corporation. He was largely engaged in work with the Public Works department & at that time had three men working for him.

In the years prior to the outbreak of the second world war the haulage business played an important part with  the erection of the Austin “shadow” factory at Cofton Hacket. The factory was completed in 1939, the year in which the Fleetwood concern became a limited company.

Horses & carts continued to work alongside the motor lorry & during the war the Fleetwood’s stables in Breedon Road also accommodated horses belonging to Birmingham Corporation. At any one time there could be as many as 70 horses working out of there.

Billy Fleetwood was proud of his love of horses, Shires, Clydesdales, Suffolk’s, & Percherons, showing them, with great success,  in the various show rings, e.g., Kings Heath, Smethwick, Brewood, & onetime Olympia, London.

Further extracts from the Post & Mail.

After undertaking a Motor Vehicle Engineering Apprenticeship at the Austin Works, Longbridge, Mr Fleetwood’s son rejoined the family firm to keep the wheels turning with ever increasing shortages of skilled men, spare parts, and the tendency for the War Dept to commandeer some of the best vehicles.

The Company found itself increasingly engaged in war work – from emptying chemical lavatories to hauling munitions. {My father was also responsible for the issuing of petrol coupons to the local traders e.g. Milkman, Coalman, and farmers. Ambler Bros, Funeral Directors, also set up an agency at 1775 Pershore Rd, Cotteridge until well after war ended}.

The company tipper lorries were used in the construction of war time airfields in the Midlands, including Honeybourne & Snitterfield. Other types of vehicles were used to transport Tank Gear Boxes, from Morris Commercial Adderly Park, to Oxford, & windscreens for Army Lorries from Triplex/Percy Lane to destinations as far as Scotland and Brighton.

I must also mention Herbert Wathen, who lived in Dell Road. From the first day of the war, to well after victory, he did the same job seven days a week! He picked up a gang of men in Rushall, Walsall, carrying them to the Morris Engine factory, in Coventry. His 1st lorry was one commandeered to serve with Air Defence Great Britain ADGB & sent to Shrewsbury Army HQ. But my father managed to hide a new Bedford Lorry in Heathcote Road, away from the Ministry man, and this vehicle spent its whole life under the control of Herbert.

In 1946/47, during that terrible winter & tea was still on ration, two lorries driven by Tommie Batchelor, (Midland Road) & Jimmy Rowe, (Winnie Rd Selly Oak) were sent to London under sealed orders to collect 12 tons of tea from the CWS, Commercial Road, East London, destined for Ten Acres & Stirchley Co-op.

TAaSCo were about to run out of tea supplies & the reason for the secrecy was that the CWS was on strike & surrounded by pickets. The lorries and drivers set off at 5.00am and were met with a police escort in the East End of London. Managers, and the drivers loaded the vehicles, and again with police escort through the East End set off for Birmingham. The weather was atrocious with deep snow & ice. They arrived back in Stirchley at 6.00am the next day. Both drivers received thanks from the Directors of Ten Acres & Stirchley Co-op.

The years immediately after the war saw the firm embark on a policy of diversification which has brought substantial rewards. General haulage over longer distances became an important part of its activities.

Horses & lorries were also involved with Wates Civil Engineers & the development & construction of the flats and houses on the Wychall Park, Longfellow, & Walkers Heath estates. Waste disposal was beginning to come to the attention of the authorities & in which the firm had realised their facilities {large open quarry at Romsley, Worcs.} were of great advantage. Contracts were made with British Leyland, Cadburys, Tesco, British Pens, & the M5 Granada Service Area at Frankley.

Specialist vehicles were being introduced and the Fleetwood firm began with the introduction of “ground level demountables”. In 1968 a Fleetwood vehicle was displayed at the Three Counties Show, Malvern.

Fleetwood lorry

In 1961/62 a planning application was made to demolish the old stables and construct a vehicle workshop. Despite the previous working relationship with Birmingham Corporation, the Authority made an objection. The matter went to appeal and the City Planning Authority lost, one reason being that the Public Works Dept had a similar large depot in Dell Road.

At the corner of Breedon Rd & Pershore Rd there was a small lean-to building, in which a solitary craftsman worked throughout the 60/70s producing imitation marble grave ornaments. There was little or no Health & Safety in those days, & the man worked all day in an atmosphere of cellulose paint. He paid his rent to my father and little else was known of the man. I wish I could recall his name.

The Fleetwood Company had grown & now employed some 40 to 50 drivers and skilled HGV mechanics. Now with better working facilities the rewards were contracts to repair and service, the then, Ministry of Transport bulk gritters & snow ploughs, FINA petroleum tankers, & other local traders vehicles.

In March 1968 the firm suffered its first industrial dispute. This dispute was what was known as the “Birmingham Differential” demanded by the local District Officer of the Transport & General Workers Union. The payment was for an extra 34s & 6pence and was outside the Government Policy, at that time. Several other hauliers were targeted at the time, W.R.Ingram Ltd, Rawlins Bros, Drews Lane, & Robertson Buckley of Erdington. The dispute caused wide spread concern within the business community.

The tactics of the Trade Union official was brought to the attention of the Minister of Labour, Ray Gunter, who summoned the Directors (Mr & Mrs C.R.Fleetwood) to London for talks about the relationship between hauliers and the TGWU. The dispute lasted all of two days!

The Company continued to expand, and with specialist operations was able to offer employment to more personnel. However, once again the firm, as well as many others, was targeted in 1971 by the union, which was demanding “special Payments” for drivers of HGVs.  The dispute lasted 13 weeks and several firms in the East of Birmingham & the Black Country folded. 

Due to the fact that not all drivers supported the strike it became, at times violent, causing concern for the children at Cotteridge School.
The number of people employed by this firm was reduced by 30%, and more attention was paid to developing alternative means of handling the carriage of waste material.

During the miners’ strike of 1973, & the 3 day week, the firm and its remaining employees were working almost 20 hours per day, responding to requests by local and national government. Regrettably, cash was almost nonexistent.

In 1974 the Company was taken over by Leigh Interests, who were very big into the disposal of hazardous waste. It was very difficult for the family firm to adapt to the big company philosophy and early in 1976 Mr William (Billy) R. Fleetwood died. The lease to the yard, and the private properties fell to the beneficiaries named in his will.

Leigh Interests Ltd was not able to agree terms for a new lease and closed the operation in Breedon Road.

So in the end Birmingham Corporation or its successors were able to achieve its goal by developing the site for housing. This with the “police flats” and the demolition of the police station made something of a mini estate.

Francess Barrack asks about the names of houses in Watford Road? The name over 1775 Pershore Road was “Roseville”, but I am not sure of the name over 1777!

I do recall that a onetime tenant of 1777 was Billy Forest who you would now describe as an “entrepreneur” within the entertainment industry, an early Simon Cowell maybe?

Barbara writes from British Columbia. Her Grandfather, Frank W. Turner, was born in Birmingham and lists 9 Bournville Lane, Stirchley as his residence and that of his next of kin, a James Turner (undefined relationship) in September 1914, on his signup papers for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. He served with distinction as a medic in Flanders, and after the war settled in West Toronto, Canada with his wife Lilian, having Barbara’s father James in the 1920s. Any information is most welcome – leave a comment, or e-mail us and we’ll pass it on.

Jim is researching a book and wants to hear from anyone who knew a Mr Yoxall, born 1857, who owned some allotments, a corn and seeds shop, and who was awarded the OBE in 1937 for his service as a city councillor during the Great War. E-mail us using the link at the right if you have information to pass on – he’s particularly interested in when Mr Yoxall was awarded his OBE.

John Hornsby writes:

I was six in 1939 and remember every second of the war, particularly the raids on Birmingham. As a lad I remember standing at playtime at Trittiford Road School watching in awe as a thousand Allied bombers came over heading for Germany, forming up from varied airfields as they came over.

We may now not always have the chronology of events right but in general the following may be of interest:

The first big raid over Bham was the 20 hour raid following on Coventry the previous night (where my grandmother was a victim). Our family found the communal underground shelters overcrowded and hot and we took a risk and came out heading for home. As we walked we saw the search lights beaming, shells going up, the bombs falling and the town blazing. It was the flooded Anderson at the bottom of the garden after that!

I met a gentleman recently in Cotteridge Park who was born in the cottages opposite to Francis Road and as a lad remembers a German bomber coming over, circling and the pilot waving or saluting down!! The same plane then dropped his incendiaries which burned down the woodyard in Francis Rd alongside the rail track. He then saw the plane head away towards Bournville and those corner placed guns somewhere in the distance hitting the tail of the plane and it was last seen losing height.

An ex-Bomber Command pilot friend once told me that the German Navigation School in Berlin failed to school their pilots well and he thought this was the reason for them never quite finding and hitting the Austin. That and their fuel was at the limit around Cotteridge where they would turn for home. Many came down on the back trip from Wythall, Oxfordshire and the South Coast. If they had done their turn at Waste Hills it perhaps it may have been a different story.

The 1943 lone plane as mentioned sprayed bullets up the Pershore Road as workers were about to come out of the factory gates below the then Breedon. One day I will succeed in finding the outcome of its flight.

1733 Pershore Road

1733 Pershore Road

I was born at 1773 Pershore Rd. in 1935 and went to Cotteridge Infant & Junior School until 1945 and then to Kings Norton Grammar School for Boys until 1953. I have found the info on Cotteridge very interesting. My father was born at no. 1 Cotteridge Rd. so I learned a lot of history about the area from him. It is very interesting to read what one person feels is important history and to compare it with anothers thoughts.

On reading Mr Fleetwood’s memories I wonder if he remembers running into his house to get what I think was his father’s shotgun when the German bomber came over the school roof, just missing the bell tower, twice, and the pilot had the cheek to wave to us kids standing by Fleetwood’s yard in Breedon Rd. Also the bomber which opened fire on the workers leaving Guest Keen & Nettlefolds, I’m glad to say that he missed all of them to the best of my knowledge.

I also well remember getting told off by our teachers for being late into school because we had been watching the firemen putting out the fire at the wood-yard in Frances Rd. For once the bomber was accurate in only hitting the wood-yard and none of the houses, although if he was aiming for the railway yard then his aim was lousy. I remember watching very early in the war when a bomber was very low over Bournville being shot at with shells bursting all round him and my thought was for the men on board the plane not being able to do anything about their fate, but I soon learned to have different feelings though.

On the subject of carnivals in Cotteridge park, my brother and I both won first prizes in the fancy-dress competitions, a few years apart, but with the same costume, made by my mother. The costume was of John Bull which went down well, but I doubt if many know who he was now.

Tony James
December 2007

Cliff writes…

On a lighter note, does anyone recall Cotteridge’s only TV personality? Roy Edwards was a wonderful singer and regularly performed on a TV programme called ‘Lunchbox; (I think). He lived with his wife, who ran a hairdressers, right opposite Cotteridge Police Station, on Pershore Road. If anyone has a recording of his I would love have a copy (usual costs repayed).

I remember the incident where I convinced Roy to sign autographs at a jumble sale, organised by Round Table at Kings Norton School, and due to his popularity with females of a certain age, it resulted in a near riot with the police being called.

I attended Cotteridge School from 1962 to 1969. My older brother Colin was in the year above me and my younger brother Keith three years below. We lived at 1 Lifford Cottages in Lifford Lane where our playground was the cut (at the front of the cottages) and the railway (behind us).

Among the teachers I remember were Miss Self, Miss Hudson, Mrs Brooking, Miss Smith, Mrs Meggs, Mrs Rudkin, Miss Wells and Mr Waugh. Our head was Mr Pebworth, but I also remember Mr Hewlett who I think kept pigs. Miss Smith fascinated me as I thought she was at least 100 at the time, andI think I was one of the few children who liked her and enjoyed her class.

Children I remember are Philip Haynes and his brother Tony who lived down the lane from us, Jackie Barker whose family lived at Lifford Hall for a while, Julie Richards who lived at the Breedon Pub for a while, Susan Cope and Wendy Mason whose mom was our crossing warden in the late 60s. We used to get our daily sweet ration from the sweet shop at the top of Francis Road or the shop next to Austin Clissetts just up past the old police station.

Our mother also went to Cotteridge from 1928 to 1937. My mother remembers a teacher named Mr Merryweather and tells me that the girls used to go to a house in Cotteridge to do housework as part of their lessons. Older girls stayed at Cotteridge but the boys went to Stirchley school. After school she worked at the paper mill by the canal, her grandparents, Major and Annie Flavell, owned the chip shop next to the Breedon pub.

We moved to Stirchley in the mid 60s but stayed at Cotteridge School and today the pull is still strong as 17 years ago I moved back up the Hill and now live just round the corner from Lifford Lane where I can see the roof of the house I was born in from my bedroom window.

Julie Bailey (nee Pedley)
October 2007

John Hornsby writes:

Does anyone know the fate of the German Bomber and Crew which flew very low over Billesley, Kings Heath and Cotteridge in 1943?

The undercarriage of the plane was of clear perspex type material and all who saw the plane could see the crew clearly. I remember the crew in light khaki looking down, one holding a clip board type document holder: obviously a flight plan of sorts.

The main raids had finished by then and the Luftwaffe were rarely seen over Britain by then. This plane came in without cover (it sent a few bursts of ammo up Stirchley High St) and it could not help to be intercepted. Some say it was brought down over Yorkshire. A suicidal sortie really. I saw the plan from the back steps of a house in Billesley.

Leave a comment below or email us if you have any further information.

 

Cotteridge Fire Station Band, about 1930

Fire Station Band, about 1930

I was born in King’s Norton Fire Station and attach a copy of the Fire Brigade Band assembled outside the Fire Station in about 1930. My father is on the left of the top row holding a tuba. Although I left Birmingham over 50 years ago, to me it’s remarkable, after such a period of time, I can still recall the names of shops in Cotteridge when I lived there – some your correspondents have already mentioned, some not.

A few which come to mind are George Mason (the grocers) on the corner of Pershore Road where butter was patted, cheese cut to weight with a wire, and money put in a container and propelled across the shop to a central cash desk. Tansleys the fishmonger who, prior to Christmas, had turkeys (unplucked) hanging from the front of the shop. Blakes, the electrical shop where I bought records (78s). On the same side of the road (next to the Post Office) was a drapery shop where my Mother used to buy knitting wool and which I think was called ‘Frys’. On the opposite side of the road was ‘Gem Stores’ a small grocers where my Mother used to buy ‘Empson’s Tea’ (she insisted on Empson’s Tea) then, further along toward the junction with the Pershore Road, Tay’s the Butchers. To list the names of the shops I remember going down Pershore toward Cotteridge School would be boring to the reader so just one – Hazeldene’s the barber. Here I was dragged (probably kicking and screaming) for Mr Hazeldene to do a ‘pudding basin’ – no stylists in those days.

The variety and choice of shops then have nowadays been replaced by something very clinical and multinational without much to attract one’s interest. I don’t know what’s happened to Cotteridge, perhaps the wonderful hotch potch of shops remains. Although living many, many miles away, in our equivalent of Cotteridge we still have a fishmonger, an ironmonger, an electrical shop, a independent chemist shop, a butchers. a greengrocers, a bakers and cake shop (all made on the premises) and so on. Not a MacDonalds in sight. If there’s any disadvantage in having this variety of shops it’s that it can take three hours to buy a lightbulb. Somebody’s bound to trap you for a ‘chat’, as I’m sure they did in Cotteridge all those years back.

Chris Perman
September 2007

Cotteridge School football team 1945 - 46

Cotteridge School football team 1945 - 46; players included Barry Hicks, George Caldicott, Cedric Herbert, Fred Lee and Derek Base

Rachel is looking for information concerning her grandmother, Ivy Lee.

She married a Mr Clifton Peter Scott-Riddle on 18th March 1939 at Birmingham Register Office, but it transpired that he was already married and the marriage was later annulled.

Does anyone have any information about this as it supposedly made the papers at the time? I am trying to find out his real name. Ivy Lee lived with her mother in Beaumont Road, and gave birth to Rachel’s father later that year.

Leave a comment below or email us if you have any answers.

Karen is wondering if anybody knows something about the history of the large double fronted red brick building on the corner of Station Road and Middleton Hall Rd – now known as Naden Green. Apparently, it was originally built as a convent in the early 1900s. Any photos or details of its previous uses would be most welcome.

 E-mail us or leave a comment below and we’ll pass your message on.

Ruth writes,

My mother, Vera Tidmarsh, lived at 11 Cotteridge Road. She had three brothers, William, Percy, and Albert (who was known as Fred). Albert was in the RAF and was killed in 1944. Percy died young but I am not sure if that was during the war or not. I know he married Eva Wheeler who I think came from Holly Road. Ruth’s mother, Vera, was briefly married to a Ronald Clive Wheeler and think he may have been related to Eva.

If anyone can remember the Tidmarsh family I would love to hear from them.

Email us or leave a comment below if you have any answers.

Debbie Bevins, neé Wilson, is trying to locate some old friends. She writes, “I lived in Cotteridge for a very short while from 1970 when we moved from Warwickshire.

I remember my first days at Cotteridge School where I have vague recollections of there being murals on the walls of the playground? I lived in Frances Road, but we moved to Wales and I lost touch with my best friends at the time: Paul Poole and Nicola Peevor who I remember had a slide in her garden which got so hot being made of metal, you were hard pushed to sit on it at times!

I have many fond memories of happy summer afternoons playing with a group of friends from the street and if anyone is out there and remembers me I would like to hear from you”.

E-mail us or leave a comment below if you want to get in touch and we will pass it on.

Cotteridge School - St George and the Dragon mumming play from 1945 (photo courtesy of Tony James)

Cotteridge School - St George and the Dragon mumming play from 1945 (photo courtesy of Tony James)

Dennis writes,

My family lived at 94 Watford Road from circa 1915 for many years. The family were Ashley and Agnes Stinton, with children including twins Claude and Seth, Percy (who served in WWI in the RAMC), John Ashley (died of wounds in 1918) Ron, Irene and Annie. I wondered if anyone knew them or had any photos.

Contact us or leave a comment below if you do.

Tony wonders is anyone can remember an off licence in Beaumont Rd in the 1960s. He’s lived in Bournville for over 45 years and seems to remember residents taking a carrier bag to the off licence to disguise the fact that they were fetching drinks, but he’d appreciate any confirmation that this was true. 

Leave a comment below or email us if you know any more.

 

Cliff and his dad, circa 1930/31

Cliff and his dad, circa 1930/31

Thanks to Cliff Fleetwood for these photos.   

He writes, my father, Bill Fleetwood, was possibly one of first ‘horse whisperers’, who won vast numbers of trophies for his horses” in the 1920s and 30s. 

He remembers, “”Snowy” Mason, or “Dripping” Ballinger, or Herbert Wathen who lived in Dell Road. Finally Walter Carrol who was the blacksmith responsible for shoeing most of the horses in the area, & who originally acquired the land in Breedon Road from Fishers. Dad bought the whole property from Walter.   

Another horse which was rescued by Billy was a City of Birmingham Corporation horse & was temporarily stabled at Hole Lane during the Blitz.
Timoshenco, Bill Fleetwood's means of transport during WWII

Timoshenco, Bill Fleetwood's means of transport during WWII

A German land mine (a bomb on the end of a parachute) fell and was caught in a tree, without exploding, so the area was cordoned off for a couple of days. The horse was without feed or water so Cliff’s dad dodged the police officer at the top of Hole Lane and took the horse across the field at the rear of the stable, so avoiding any metal, sparks or noise on the roadway from the horseshoes. 

 
A dark mare prepared for show, taken in Cotteridge Park. Picture from Birmingham Post & Mail

A dark mare prepared for show, taken in Cotteridge Park. Picture from Birmingham Post & Mail

Main picture: Billy Fleetwood standing (dwarfed) by 'Norton Statesman' 18hh (that is over 6ft at the shoulder of the horse) in Breedon Rd. The horse was a regular at all the Midland Horse Shows, & also worked for his living

Main picture: Billy Fleetwood standing (dwarfed) by 'Norton Statesman' 18hh (that is over 6ft at the shoulder of the horse) in Breedon Rd. The horse was a regular at all the Midland Horse Shows, & also worked for his living

The last man employed by Fleetwood's to drive horses, and the picture was taken in the late 50s. His job was to cart materials to R.J.Hunt Ltd.

The last man employed by Fleetwood's to drive horses, and the picture was taken in the late 50s. His job was to cart materials to R.J.Hunt Ltd.

The Life Boys which met at St. Agnes' Church in the 1950/60s.

The Life Boys, early sixties

Thanks to Mary Thorpe for these, who writes: “the top one features just Reverend Fred Carroll and Miss Jennifer Fryer and the second is about a year later.  Names of the boys (on the first) I can remember are: next to Revd. Carroll is someone Edge, next to Miss Fryer is Paul Cooper, then back row second from the left is Robert Bassett, Stuart Maddocks, Leslie Ormrod, John Betteridge, David Harris, Martin Holeyman, [don’t know], someone Gilman, (don’t know).  Hope someone can  fill in the rest of the names!” 

Click the photos for a larger version.

The Life Boys, St Agnes Church, early 1960s

The Life Boys, early sixties

Also thanks to Mary for this photo of the Girls’ Life Brigade at St. Agnes Church, sometime in the early 1960s. She writes, “again, I can’t remember names, but those I do remember are from top left, Mary Harris (me!), two sisters, unknown, unknown, Janet Fisher, Jacqueline someone, unknown, then on the front row, unknown, Delia Harris (no relation), Joan Badger, Reverend Fred Carroll, unknown, Anne Fisher. I do hope someone is able to furnish the other names. I continued in the GLB, eventually going to the Company at the Methodist Church until I started helping Joan Badger with the Brownies back at St. Agnes’s in the 1970s”.

Life Girls at St Agnes, early 1960s

Life Girls at St Agnes, early 1960s

Email us or leave a comment below if you know who anyone is or have any memories to add.

Elizabeth is looking for informaton about a shoe shop called Huins on the Pershore Road around 1929, which her relatives (Gordon and Daisy Jarvis plus their children Pearl, David and Philip) lived above. She would love to see any surviving photos of the shop and this particular stretch of Pershore Road, or hear from anyone with any memories of the shop or family.

E-mail us or leave a comment below with any information to pass on.

Alison is trying to trace her family history and wonders if anybody recognises the building in the photo opposite (click to enlarge).

The Stephens family all lived around Rowheath Rd, and were Methodists, and the photo is from around 1935. Alison wonders if it is perhaps the Methodist Church.

Please contact us if you have any thoughts.

Simon is trying to find out any information on Cotteridge Fire Station:

I believe my great grandfather was based there, after initially serving at the Central Fire Station in Birmingham following discharge from the South African Constabulary. This could have been anytime between 1907 and WW2. His name was Leading Fireman William Henry Stanley. Any help will be gratefully received.

Leave a comment below or email us if you have any answers.
 

 

Debbie has read in the history pages that “by 1871 Kings Norton had a Nursery Garden owned by Mr Henry Pope”. She is currently researching her family history and believes that Henry was a son of Thomas Pope who was in turn the eldest son of Luke Pope (born 1740).

She is looking for information on the nursery, when it was established, its location etc. She thinks that the Pope family had several established nurseries in the Smethwick / Handsworth / Cotteridge area and is trying to establish if Henry set the nursery up himself or if in fact it was in Cotteridge before this and his father Thomas established it.

Cotteridge Primary School football team, 1959-60

Cotteridge Primary School football team, 1959-60

Thanks to Neil Brown (goalkeeper) for this: contact us if you want to get in touch with him.

Also featured are Nicky Twigg, Cliff Owen, Ian Cresswell, Archie Milward and Mr Hewlett.

Update: Marty Holeyman has e-mailed to say that he is the Harry Potter lookalike on the right hand side. If anyone wants to get in touch with him, contact us or leave a comment below and we’ll forward it on.

Update 2: Ian Caswell writes: “Absolutely amazed and pleased to see the photo. I am the ‘footballer’ front row extreme right. Slight mis-spelling but the name should read Ian Caswell. Archie Millward is actually the one on the other side of Neil Brown behind the teacher. Archie and I are still in regular contact after 55 years! Front row far left is Richard James.”

John is looking for information on the Grant Arms pub, when was it built, who lived there, etc – he’s trying to research for family who live there now.

Caroline’s grandmother is looking for some old friends of hers called Edwards (or similar), who owned a business maybe on Pershore Road, which she thinks sold a variety of goods quite similar to Woolworths. They lost touch in the 1940s.

David is looking for information on his grandfather, Alfred Kinsella, who used to work for Fleetwoods Hauliers taking supplies into Cadburys. He was a carter and used to show the shire horses at the Kings Heath Show at Alcester Lane End, and was wandering if anyone could steer him towards more information about Fisher/Fleetwoods and the horse show / fair that was in Kings Heath. David’s father worked for Cadbury Bros at their waterside stores, and he remembers Alfred Kinsella coming to the waterside laden with brick, clay and bits & bobs. There was an area at the back of the waterside stores where stuff like this was tipped – this is what Alfred was doing for Fleetwoods. Alfred Kinsella married David’s grandmother in 1934 and he would love someone to remember him and maybe another picture might turn up.

Cotteridge Carnival, 1936/7

Cotteridge Carnival, 1936/7

 Cliff Fleetwood writes, “The vehicle is a long nose Fleetwood’s Bedford lorry which were not running much after 1940/41. The last job that this particular vehicle was engaged in was going around most of the public air raid shelters emptying the chemical closets. It was driven throughout by a man called Johnny Biddle. His one claim to fame was an incident when emerging from under a railway bridge near to Kitts Green, when a bomb dropped by a lone German bomber exploded and took the front engine bonnet off the lorry. Two seconds later and Kitts Green would have been covered in s…”

Ro is trying to get in contact with a family who lived at 106 Frances Road in the 1920s until about 1938. Timothy and Eliza Gregory may have moved to Cotteridge from Telford, Shropshire, possibly to work on the railway. Their family included Matlida, Alice, Elizabeth, James or Jane or Jame, John, Martha and Timothy George, all of whom would be over 80 by now.

Contact us or leave a comment below if you have any clues.

Bunbury RoadBob lives in the village of Bunbury, Cheshire, and wants to know if this old photo of “Bunbury Road” is the one between Cotteridge and Northfield.

Click for a bigger image.

If anyone can give him any idea of when and where this might be, please leave a comment below or email us.

Cotteridge Infants 1928 (photo courtesy of Mr George Nicholls)

I was born on the Pershore Road just up from the Breedon Pub in 1968, and my family moved to Redditch in 1980.

I attended Cotteridge School and captained the football team to the league title with Mr Stone as manager. (The dreaded Miss Richardson was Head Mistress (now deceased I believe)).

My memories of Cotteridge are all good. Playing down the cut, challenging everyone to football matches in the park and running through everyone’s gardens. Our neighbours were the Georges, Lanes, Leas and Bushells.

It was a close community then with many events being held and day trips to place like Blackpool being organised with the help of Kings Norton Ex-Serviceman’s and the Sunday School in Dell Road. (Mr Sturgess and Mr Carr). School friends and neighbours who still might be about were Simon Cartmell, Phillip Ryder, Paul Dutton, Malcolm Lea, Karen and Nicky Masters, the Turnballs, Girlings, Gavins and Pratts.

If anyone remembers a car crashing into the front room of a house (in about 2001), well that was our house. Also does anyone remember the ice cream van overturning outside what was then Wilmott Breedon? The gas leak when everyone had to be evacuated, the silver jubilee in the Sea Cadet hut, the fire in the basement of the house on the corner of Dell and Pershore Road (The Malonies I think?) and someone moving their TV into the middle of the road sitting down and pretending to watch it (smart move) after an argument with his wife!

Terry Smith
June 2004

I know Cotteridge pretty well! I was born there. It sits on top of a hill, you go down to Stirchley, down & up to Kings Norton & Bournville, the only time you do go a little higher is towards Northfield.

It was a centre of industry, especially during WW2; do any of you recall RJ Hunt Ltd foundry just over the canal at Lifford Lane, and Compressor Accessories by the first railway bridge in Lifford Lane?

R.J.Hunt Ltd was the heavy industry of Cotteridge producing cast iron products. Scrap and other metal was brought by road a rail to the site just over the rail and canal bridge at Lifford Lane. Casting sand came from “Wildmoor Sand” near Bromsgrove. From my memory they produced gearbox casings and brake drum castings for Morris Commercial. Fleetwoods also removed the “black sand” (spent sand after being used in the casts), which was a filthy job. The skill of the labour force in producing the “casts” out of wooden patterns & sand had to be seen to be appreciated.

There was also Chisholme Grey in Hudsons Drive, and Winstanleys in Cotteridge Road, behind the Grant Arms. Mr Winstanley taught me how to scribe my name, with a nail, on a young vegetable marrow & as it grew my name got huge!

Winstanley’s was a small engineering firm with a skilled force of men who undertook diverse mfg of fixture and fittings. When they opened the large green doors onto Cotteridge Road you were immediately confronted with drills, lathes, shapers, and power saws.

Writing this I can still smell the machine oil and acrid smoke from welding.
One of the main contracts was with Cadbury Bournville, during WW2, when they refurbished & overhauled the small “hydraulic stacker” trucks, or trolleys. Similar work was undertaken by the smaller firm, whose name escapes me, that was situated next to the old Savoy Cinema in what was the old lodge gatehouse to the “Manor”.

It was my fathers firm (WR Fleetwood, see the separate history here) who transported the trucks, to and from Cadbury’s. I hated the job, in those days as it was very difficult to tie the dam things down, for the short journey to Bournville Lane, to prevent them, “falling of the back of the lorry”?

At the back of where you now live was the firm of Chisholm Grey, in Hudsons Drive. The specialised in brassware and plumbing products. During WW2 they worked full out providing sanitary fittings for army camps, especially after December 1941 when the USA entered the war. The Americans would insist on sitting on proper toilets, not “doing it” in holes in the ground like our forces.

Looking back, I now see how the small community, and small firms such as the above, worked together and formed relationships which sadly does not happen these days. I have mentioned Mr Winsatnley, in the Cotteridge website, and who lived at Barnt Green under the shadow of the Licky Hills. He in turn introduced my father to Mr Lawrence Cadbury and Mr Christie of Chisholme Grey and so this bond occurred through the war and after.

There were Birmingham City Council work horses billeted in Breedon Road & when the incendiary bombs fell on the yard they were turned loose in Cotteridge School playgrounds. That same night the Grants timber yard, in Francis Road was gutted, but the houses either side were saved.

Then there was the very early morning incident with the ‘phantom’ tram? A No36 set off from the top of Pershore Road, with no one on board, picking up speed passed Midland Road, Holly Road, Dell Road, and literally flew over Breedon Hill, came off the track, turned on its side and slid down as far as Fordhouse Lane, coming to rest just outside the paper shop and missing a war time pool petrol road tanker by a few feet.

Or I could tell you about the day a German bomber just missed the top of Cotteridge School, as it came out of the low clouds looking for (we now know) Triplex Safety Glass. I clearly saw the pilot and bomb aimer.

In later years there was Sewells Timber, opposite Hudsons Drive, on Pershore Road, Wavern Engineering at the old Savoy Cinema, Bert Gillard who sold me my first 14″ TV and was able to watch the Coronation. Yes, I also recall Treasure Trove, but what about Mrs Grant Ferris’ beautiful home & garden being turned into a rather opulent Police Station with the gardens having police flats built thereon. I was one of the very privileged youngsters to be aloud into the house by Mrs Grant Ferris, and I still recall the noise her chauffeur driven Armstrong Sidderly car made, early on a Sunday morning on its way to church.

Cliff Fleetwood
Shropshire
March 2004

Cotteridge School in 1912

Cotteridge School 1912 (photo courtesy of Tony James)

I was at Cotteridge School from 1958 – 1964 and would like to give my memories, especially regarding Miss Smith. As several have mentioned, in hindsight we realise she was a teacher who cared about children learning and yes, Maths was her subject. I did benefit from being in her class and wish that I had paid more attention. Miss Smith had always taught the ‘remedial’ class, but the year I came under her care she had obviously asked to be allowed to take a ‘normal’ class. My mother told me in later years that most parents were horrified to find on the bottom of the reports under “class next year” the name of Miss Smith as they had not been told of the change in circumstances!

I too remember the tappings on the head and ruler on the hand, but also remember the Geography lessons because she had a lot of penfriends and visited them. I also remember visiting her house – with about 3-4 others – and having a Japanese afternoon on a Saturday. We were able to examine Japanese items and had a Japanese meal. I think this was a reward for something – perhaps good work!

It is perhaps only 4 or 5 years ago that I saw Miss Smith in Kwik Save while visiting my father, but was unable to get through the queues to speak to her. I enjoyed my time at Cotteridge School and would love to hear from anyone who remembers me.

Mrs Mary Thorpe (nee Harris)

I was at Cotteridge School from 1962 – 67 and remember it just as if it was yesterday. Sounds corny doesn’t it, and that’s what our parents used to say, thinking about something from the past. But it´s absolutely true. I remember the children who shared more or less the same experiences, from the first day in Miss Self`s class, to leaving the school after the 11 plus and Mr Pebworth as the headmaster.

Some of the children I remember:

  • Jeffrey Watson (went to his birthday party, he lived on the Pershore Road, just down from the school)
  • Teresa Hastings and Heather Wilson (I think some of the boys were a bit scared of them, they could pack a punch)
  • Anita Clamp (my first love, emigrated to Canada andI never saw her again, her father was a policeman I think)
  • Anita Harris (always smiling)
  • Hetty Sturge (a quiet little black girl, with a religious family)
  • Colin Pedley (my best friend but we lost contact after we came in different classes at our next school)
  • Robert Waldron (his father owned a shop just over the road on the corner of Francis Road, it had all sorts of things in there, both new and old)
  • Then there were the Cotton twins, Robert Wagstaff, John Baldwin, “Nobby” Clark (of course) Later when I became a soldier i served in the same Regiment as his cousin and we could share some memories.

I really missed Cotteridge, both the ups and downs, I remember getting a smack on the legs by Miss Reed, for talking in class, but I really liked her and was sad when she died of cancer not long after. Of course there was the infamous Miss Smith, when I look back on those days, I don´t think she meant to be as mean as she seemed, I think she was just a product of an old fashioned type of teaching. She thought she could control us better by fear then kindness. I must admit no one dared to say anything when she was teaching, pity it was maths (my worst subject).

Well after years in the army I have settled down in Denmark and I have a son who is 14 years old. It is interesting to compare my son’s school life to my own and I wonder if he will think about his school in the same way we others think about Cotteridge.

Philip Haynes, Holstebro, Denmark
Used to live at 171 Lifford Lane
June 2003

Police flats on Breedon Road

Police flats (now local authority housing) under construction on Breedon Road, on the site of the former Fleetwoods yard.

The full history of WR Fleetwood Ltd is here.

I attended Cotteridge school around 1972. I have fond memories of my short stay at the school. Memories of my first kiss and pulling the legs off daddy long legs (not necessarily in that order…)

What I remember of the playground is an alcove that had rubber tires wrapped around a pole and painted like a snake. I spent many lunch breaks hanging of that yellow snake. I also recall some little cubicle like seats at the same end of the playground. This is where a young girl asked me if I had ever been kissed… Like a fool I said no and she planted one on me. The funny things you remember.

We lived only a few houses down Pershore Rd from the school. Many of the pictures I see on the other page are very familiar and I can see where our old house is in one. My father spent a lot of time renovating that place and it would be interesting to see it today. I also remember buying sweets at the corner shop one street down.

The park was where I remember riding my bike, catching spinners and testing out my new plastic binoculars. I recall hanging from trees and falling off of them a lot.

All in all my memories of this area are very cherished and have stuck with me. I now live in Canada and have for the past 28 years. I still come back to Brum from time to time and must make an effort to look around the old haunts.

Andrew Stokes
Vancouver, BC, Canada
January 2003

I believe that it was 1955 when I first attended Cotteridge School and I remember a time of jigsaw puzzles and play sand. I learned to swap chocolate for dinky cars; I also learned not to show my mum the results of the days trading.

In those very early school days I can’t remember any names with certainty however a Mrs Brooking and a Miss Pledge seem right.

Later when I was 7 years old I was in the classroom on the ground floor north from the main hall my teacher was a lady: I think her name was Miss Self.
I do have bad memories of school dinners; the rules were that you ate all on your plate. My problem was I only liked the custard!

In later years I remember moving to the classrooms upstairs. I was occasionally in Miss Howard’s office; she was the headmistress, but not for any problem just delivering paperwork. I missed having the infamous Miss Smith for a teacher, she had a reputation for being a very strict and uncompromising person, and she demanded improvement. I personally did not understand if she was a good or bad teacher, although my sister Lynne one of her later students is one of her supporters.

My last years at the school I remember teachers Mrs Wells and dear old Mr Hewlett my favourite teacher of all time: I’ve seen him angry (all red faced), and I’ve seen him on friendly helpful days. I know he liked classical music because he played it for us before assembly. He also liked paintings and encouraged everyone to try to improve their skills in art. I played football for the school team. I don’t think we ever won a game, in fact we used to lose by something like 14 to nil! Mr Hewlett was our coach, or rather the bloke who organised the game. I don’t think any professional players ever came from our teams of years 1959 – 1961, we turned our defeats into a tradition. We managed more fouls than the opposition so there!

Children’s names I remember are Gillian Owen and Wendy Head from Midland road Hazel Harris from Heathcote road, Mary Wilson from Shirley road, Robert Basset from Dell road, David Harris from Shirley road, Stephen Foley, Stephen Ward, Stuart Maddocks, David Payne, Robert McKay, Eileen Waterhouse, Kenneth from Rowheath road, and David from Ashmore road.
Before I finish I must mention the snow ball fights in winter when the older children split into two opposing sides, I remember cold hands from throwing and sore ears from being hit!

Martin (Marty) Holeyman
Adelaide, Australia
July 2002

Paul is looking for any pictures or information about the police station in Cotteridge – can anybody help?

I attended Cotteridge School from 1957 – 1963, my two sisters and brother were also pupils, my older sister started school during the war years. The head teacher at that time was Miss Howard. My memories of the school are very mixed; I remember a teacher called Miss Self, who was very kind and loving; but there was also a teacher called Miss Smith who used to hit us on the head, a practice that would be very unpopular now.

The memory I have most about that time is school dinners were I would have to sit and eat every single morsel, I would be there all of lunch time looking forlornly at Brussels sprouts congealed with cold gravy, I wasn’t allowed to leave until they had gone, most days I went home with them in my pocket much to my mothers disapproval. I remember playing tig on green (until they painted all the railings blue) and playing with the girls from the secondary school which was closed before I had a chance of going there, I remember the boys were in a different playground to the girls, and we weren’t encouraged to mix. There are such a lot of memories pouring in right now.

From Cotteridge School I went to Queensbridge Secondary School in Moseley, worked for a few years met a great guy, married moved to Somerset and then on to Perth, Western Australia, where I have been living very happily for the last 15 years. I got this site through one of my friends who I was at Cotteridge School with, we still keep in touch.

Eileen Hughes (née Waterhouse)
Perth, Western Australia
July 2001

I left Cotteridge School in 1968. During my time there the headmistress was Miss Howard, who was followed by Mrs. Copeland. The teachers in the Infants were Miss Self, Mrs. Brooking and Mrs. Frederick. the Junior teachers were Miss Meggs, Miss Smith, Mrs. Wells and Mr Hewlitt. He retired in 1967 and the photo shows me presenting him with a present. I was chosen because I was the oldest child in the school.

In 1967 we had a new head, Mr Pebworth and Mr Waugh came to be a junior teacher. The caretakers were Mr and Mrs Dandy. Sports Day was held at GKN sports ground (where Do-It-All is now). Everything we needed for sports day had to be carried down the road from school. So a stream of children carried bins, tables, hoops, skipping ropes, bean bags, dressing up clothes etc. We had running races, skipping, bean bag, dressing up and egg and spoon races. We had swimming lessons at Stirchley baths and we all had to walk there and back.

The annexe building was an art college. In 1967/68 Mr. Pebworth taught some pupils Irish dancing for a display in front of parents. We wore green silk skirts. We also put on a production of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. At morning breaktime we all had a little bottle of milk. Juniors were milk monitors who took the crates of milk round to each classroom. Fourth year juniors were also duster monitors. On Monday mornings they had to collect clean dusters and towels from the caretakers and deliver them to each classroom and then on Friday afternoon they had to collect them back up for the caretaker to wash them over the weekend ready for Monday. These reports are for my sister Susan and me.

Later on, both my daughters went to Cotteridge School. Elizabeth is at Birmingham University doing Maths and Lyndsey is working in a science laboratory.

Mrs Margaret Dunbar, née Middleham
Cotteridge
September 2000

I was at Cotteridge School during the 1930s.

These are the teachers that I remember. Miss Showell was the headmistress. Miss Doherty, Miss Henshaw, Miss Genders, Miss Carpenter, Miss Leek, Miss Powell, Miss Carr, Mr. Brooking and Mr. Tozer were the other teachers. My brother, who is a little younger than me, remembers Mr. Major.

In the senior school Miss Turner was the head with Miss Franklin, Miss Rogers, Miss Shergold, Mrs. Mortiboys and one other teacher.

In the 1920s one of my friends remembers that the teachers were Miss Butcher, George Liddell (who played right-back for Birmingham City), Mr. Spicknell- the head, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Merry, Mr. Towers and Mr. Gibbs.

I remember that once, during the 1930s a fair came to Cotteridge Park. All the children went home for a midday meal and I think we may have had about two hours for lunch. Well, many of us stayed in the park watching the fair being put up and Miss Showell came to the park and rang the school`s hand bell because so many of us were missing.

I also remember taking a letter to the Park Keeper asking if we could have some holly and greenery from the park to decorate the school at Christmas time.

Alderman Fryer was a frequent visitor to the school.

There was a cane for use on naughty children. Many families expected the discipline at home to be carried forward to school. On many occasions I remember saying that I had been disciplined at school and was told “I expect you deserved it”.

Harry Pettie, the person who told me about the 1920s, told me that he had been Little Boy Blue in a panto. He also said that Mr Merry had a favourite saying, “You little B…..Button”. Across the road was Fleetwood`s yard with stables and shire horses. Clifford Fleetwood (the son) would be 73 now. He had a pony called Dinah. In their yard was Carrol, the blacksmith. Before Fleetwood’s owned it, it was Noah Fisher’s yard.

Jean Harris
Birmingham
August 2000