Posts tagged ‘Memories’

Cliff Fleetwood writes…

Here are some further anecdotes about the Kings Norton Scouts.
With all the current concern about knives and crime recently, in my days with KN Scouts your status was measured by the size of your sheath knife or two, if you were lucky, that you wore on your belt. Sometimes that belt was similar to a “cowboy gunslinger”. Some of the names I still recall besides Wally Watts WW1 veteran, Norman Brown Scout Master and a Crown Court Official, Dennis Hurley Senior Scout who I believe became Head Master at Turves Green School, Keith Newcombe (28 Midland Road), and Geoff Newham.

Keith & I were asked to provide guard of honour for the official opening of THE QE Hospital in March 1939 by HM King George & Queen Elizabeth. When the pomp and circumstance was ended Keith & I decided to sneak off. We had reached half way down Metchley Park Road when we heard the Royal Car(s) coming. Two lonely boy scouts stood at the kerbside at the salute with our staves as the Royal Car swept by. HM Queen Elizabeth gave us two a charming waive. We came down to earth when we tried to get on the No 11 Outer Circle bus as the conductor tried to stop us boarding with our “sticks” as he described them. We had “jobsworths” in those days.

Cliff Fleetwood writes…
Picture one shows Mr & Mrs William (Bill) Meredith at their retirement home in Kent.
Bill was the postman at Cotteridge Post Sorting Office from around 1938 until 1950. His walk (postal speak for round) was from Pershore Road South to the Breedon Cross, including some of the side roads.
He had two fingers missing from one of his hands as a result of wounding during WW1. He finished his enlistment with rank of Seargent.
2.He served with 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards during WW1 and was awarded the Albert Medal (very rare and now replaced by the George Cross) in that war. During WW2 he served in the Home Guard based at GKN Breedon Hill with rank of Warrant Officer.
Picture two shows Bills widow, with nephew on right, at Chelsea Barracks in 1998 having donated the medal to the Brigade of Guards Museum. Director on left.

Ian Fergus writes…

I found this site very recently and reading it has brought back so many memories. There are so many names I recall from the time I lived in the area!

I grew up in Midland Road, where we lived from 1963 until 1971. I went to Cotteridge school and then to Kings Norton Grammar.

My Dad Archie set up a football team based in the park, that went on to become quite a successful set up, Cotteridge Park Rangers.

It started as a way of occupying youngsters and initially lads of my age ended up with a local football team. This included names like: David Harris, the Cotton twins, Ray Priest, Alan Waterhouse to name but a few.

It then grew and an adult team was formed, no longer based in the park but retaining the name.

They played in the Kings Norton League and won several titles during the late 60s early 70s.

We moved away in 1971 to live in the west country. I have visited the area on several occasions and had a trip down memory lane. I also have a number of photos stored that I intend to scan and get to the site, most of these relate to the football but I would be fascinated to hear if there are still people around who recall those days.

Update: Spent a long time thinking about these pics and huge apologies to those I have failed to recall but as best I can remember the names are shown below. I would be fascinated to see if anyone could fill in the gaps and would love to hear from anyone that either played or could remember those days.


Photo 1: (standing L to R) Rob Price, David Harris, Ian Fergus, Paul Toombs (holding ball), unknown, Roger Owen, Archie Fergus (Manager), unknown.
(kneeling L to R): Ian MacLelan (I think), Ray Priest, Keith Hilston, John Petrucciano, Neil Derrington, Vincent Hickey,
(seated L to R) unknown


Photo 2: (Back L to R): one of the Cotton twins, Roger Owen, unknown, Mick Corke, David Garner.
(Front L to R): unknown, Ian Fergus, David Harris, unknown, Alan Waterfield


Photo 3 (Standing L to R): unknown, Rob Garner, unknown, unknown, unknown, Rob Price.
(Kneeling L to R): Ray Priest, unknown, unknown, Paul Toombs, unknown, Neil Derrington.



I attended Cotteridge School from 1948. I had a week at Bournville School on the Green and made such a fuss as they made us have a lie down in the afternoon. I did not want to lie down. I remember the rocking horsein the windows which was still there many years later.

My first teacher at Cotteridge was Miss Rich in the reception class. Opposite the class room was the small stair case up to Miss Howard the headmistress’s office. The hall had murals of nursery rhymes on the walls and the parquet floor was highly polished. Mr Carling who was a dab hand with the side edge of a ruler, Miss Smith who was very strict, Miss Powell and Mr Hewlett who shouted and went red in the face. I remember the wall being knocked down between the boys and girls playground and Mr Hewlett picking up the boys toes. I had lived in the cul de sac on Dell Road, I remember Barbara Barnes and Pauline Dunn. The horse which used to pull the milk float ate the top off the gate post whilst the milkman had a cup of tea in one of the houses. I attended Dell Road Gospel Hall every Sunday with Mr Stormont in charge. Saturday was the baths in Stirchley in the morning and the Pavilion picture house in the afternoon.

I did not pass the eleven plus exam so went onto the Senior Girls School aged 11 years. Miss Walshe was the headmistress for the first year, she then left to take up the position of headmistress at Dame Elizabeth Cadbury School which opened in 1959. She was very keen to teach us netball and we continued to play until we left in 1958. Having won all our matches whilst in the final year a few of us continued to play for Miss Walshe as Linden Netball Club which she ran for many years after her retirement. It was a very successful club, won many trophies and had many girls trialled for the England Netball Squad.

Miss Warren became the headmistress, Miss Watterson, Miss Woodall and of course our final year teacher Miss Garfield who used to say ‘Girls that is not Christian like’ whenever we misbehaved. I remember girls came to join us from Kings Norton and Stirchley schools, Kay Parker and Maureen Alcock who also played netball for the school team.

I was a member of Dr McMahon’s special choir which sang in the Town Hall. The memory of sitting in the choir stalls at 14 never left me even when as a member of the CBSO Chorus I stood in the same place for concerts years later in the 1970’s. I left at 15 years old in 1958 to join the GPO as a telephonist.

In addition to the shops mentioned on this website I do remember the horse meat shop just down from school on Pershore Road and the Treasure Trove bear was a white polar bear named Harold. Peter who ran the Treasure Trove after his father died told me that he was sold to a posh hotel in the centre of Manchester. I too spent many hours in there and still have a few items bought from the fascinating amount of items.

Looking back now I suppose we were all quite poor, but we did not know anything different. What more could you want, going to Cotteridge Park to play on the swings, the pictures on a Saturday and the swimming baths. Life was carefree. Happy Days.

Val Lovett nee Taylor

Cotteridge Through Time by Wendy PearsonCotteridge Through Time, by local author Wendy Pearson, is a great new book, first published in 2011.

It features 96 pages, each with two pictures: a historic photograph, alongside the same view in the present day. Each scene comes with a detailed caption and description.

Themes include industry, transport, education, retail and leisure.

It’s a great read, and a great present for nostalgia-lovers.

It’s available on Amazon now, at this link.

ISBN is 978-1445602387.



Derek Gilbert writes:

I went to Cotteridge school, 1945 – 1951.

I was a milk monitor there and remember distributing the milk when it was frozen and the tops had come off (must be 1947). Teachers I can recall were Miss Smith (strict but no patience with slow learners, hence my writing has always been poor), Mr Hewlet (a short temper, remember him lashing out at Pamela?).

Pupils remembered were Dave Gunter, Bernard Tye (Tyler?), Jean Poorley, Pamela ___?,  Arthur Newman, Dereck Underwood.

Went home to Watford Road via Cotteridge Park or the “Styles” between the houses and the railway. One day going past Ma (Mrs) Ferris’s back entrance, which had a big steel door, some other kids was throwing stones at it and making a din a guy came out siezed me and few more kids. Hauled us before Mrs Ferris. Eventually we were released after a lot of pleading we wasn’t the ones.

Later on her land was compulsory purchased and the police flats were built. This was before Fleetwoods yard was built on.

Peter writes:
I was wracking my brain to remember the name of the very large site exhibiting and selling second-hand furniture, bric-a-brac, books etc in Cotteridge. It was a favourite haunt of mine when I was a scholar at Kings Norton Grammar School for Boys 1949-1955.

The shop was Treasure Trove.

Peter writes back:

I vaguely remembered the bear at Treasure Trove, but reading about him brought him vividly back. I used to put pennies in the coin-operated Victrolas (is that the right word – large music-making machines with a rotating copper disc punched with slots that operated to play music-hall tunes). Most of them didn’t work, but a few did. I spent many intriguing lunchtimes browsing at that place. Other lunchtimes I spent my dinner-money on return train rides between Kings Norton and Northfield with a bag of chips from the chippie on the corner of Northfield Road (or near it).

I’m at that age when childhood memories come thick and fast, a nice nostalgic blast, I never thought I would be such a softie…) I was born and brought up in Northfield, my mother’s sister and brother-in-law were live-in stewards at Kings Norton Golf Club during and after the war. I remember that the land between Northfield and the club used to flood (down Hole Lane) and the unmade lane was sometimes impassable without a boat. Happy Days.

There are two other references to Treasure Trove on the site too:

Cliff wrote:
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.

Kath wrote:
Near St. Agnes Church was a shop called “Treasure Trove” that sold all kinds of things, many from house clearances. It was a wonderful place to look round,you could find anything from a large stuffed animal to a tiny button. It was owned by a Mr Cecil Vincent.

I was interested to read the article about the High House, Kings Norton. I lived at flat 5 the fire station from 1949 until I was called up in 1956.

My father had a part-time job ferrying cars from longbridge to various parts of the country and used to park them overnight in the drive leading to the coach house. As a 12 year old I took the keys to one of the cars and crashed it into the coach house gates. A fireman who had seen me in the car, informed my father who made my life a misery and grounded me for a week.

I, with other boys from the fire station and the two brothers who lived at the shop (under the clock) gained acces to BK Alloys and got up to untold mischief among the scrap planes keeping a wary eye out for the watchman who chased us off on many ocassions. Our escapades came to an abrupt end when when we blew up a war-time emergency water tank on the site with sticks of potassium found in outbuldings at the scrap yard and thrown into the tank whilst some men were fishing there. For my sins, and on leaving school in 1954 I was sent to BK Alloys as an electrians mate, but I never let on about my past.

Our other stamping ground was opposite the fire station behind some war-time garages, a wild over grown area where you could spend all day messing about until our camp fire got out of control and set fire to the undergrowth and trees.

I was also a member of the Boys Brigade at the church next to the tram depot, had a paper round at Wincotts and a Saturday job at a greengrocers opposite the tram depot.

Happy days…

Ken Weston
October 2010

Another memory that was jogged is in the picture of a tram shown in the post Pershore Road trams. The second picture shows exactly the same spot of a terrible accident, in snowy weather on a Sunday afternoon in about 1947, involving a Midland Red bus, a tram, and a private car.

There were also double deck buses involved used on the visiting hours hospital run. The conducteress on the Midland Red was thrown through the front glass window and was treated, as other injured passengers were, in the houses 1713 and 1715 Pershore Road.

I was a prime witness and in the subsequent court case, even as a very young man, disputed the evidence given by the police sergant on the amount of snow in the gutters of Pershore Road. Fortunately the court accepted my version of the events and convicted the right person.

If I recall correctly the damaged tram was recovered by another tram sent down the “up” line, from Cotteridge terminus and so cleared the road.

Perhaps someone reading this on the Cotteridge website can verify my version?

Cliff Fleetwood

High House was a large gentleman’s residence that was built in the mid eighteenth century. Later, outbuildings were constructed to the north of High House which catered for the maintenance and repair of the wagons and coaches in use at the time.
The largest of these outbuildings occupied a greater area than the main house, but was very long and not very wide and ran east to west parallel to what is now the railway line. I will refer to this building later as The Coach House.
The whole area is now a business park, and bears little resemblance to the area I knew very well as a child in the early fifties. As a rough approximation, High House would have stood just to the south of what is now Sovereign Road, and the coach-house would have been between Sovereign Road and Castle Road. These approximations lie between Melchett Road and the railway line. Prior to 1955, the whole area was fields and woodland.


In 1817, access to High House was via a gated driveway complete with Lodge. The entrance was situated about ten yards south of what is now the railway line. The drive ran through woods in an ‘S’ shape to a large hard standing by the House. There was a secondary access point for foot passengers from what is now Pershore Road. This entrance lay halfway down the hill leading from Cotteridge to Kings Norton and also ran through woodland. As one walked along the driveway from the Lodge, after twenty five yards, there was a smaller driveway leading to the outbuildings.

At this time, High House was at the centre of what was known as High House Farm. The farm was extensive and was bounded to the south by land owned by the Earl of Plymouth and an estate owned by Mr Mynor. The northern and eastern boundary abutted Cotteridge Farm, then owned by Mr Spurrier.

There was of course, no railway line and no shops. The farm filled the area between what is now Lifford Lane and Pershore Road almost into Stirchley. The farm consisted of eight large fields and I make no apology for listing the names of all the fields. As can be seen, echoes of these fields exist today as road and place names…

  • Long Meadow
  • Tanners Meadow
  • Crofts Lands
  • House Close
  • Tanners Close
  • Cotteridge Close
  • Garden Close
  • Hill Close

The term ‘Close’ refers to fields fenced on three sides only.

On 6th November 1817, the owner of the farm, Mr James Pool, sold the farm via the auctioneers J&C Robbins. The sale was held at the Woolpack Inn, Moor Street, Birmingham. I believe the purchaser was Mr Pumphrey. On 17th January 1850, Mr Pumphrey sold the farm via the auctioneers Cheshire and Son. The farm was described as easily worked soil especially suitable for the cultivation of turnips and barley. I can find no record of the buyer.

In 1882, the railway line had severed the farm, the track being at its current location. The overall size of the farm remained the same, movement between the two parts of the farm was via a farmers bridge over the track just north of High House. The original road bridge carried what is now Pershore Road (as it does today).

By 1904, virtually all of the farm to the north of the railway line had gone. St Agnes’ Church, the Methodist Chapel and two Sunday Schools now occupied the land. Further developments of the railway line had widened its course and a second line running north had joined the original at a junction just north of High House. The farmer’s bridge had disappeared. The Lodge and gates had gone, being replaced by a signal box. The driveways remained the same but all of the outbuildings except the coach-house had vanished. The Pershore Road Bridge had been altered to accommodate the widened track.

By 1916, all the farm to the north had gone. On what once was farmland, suitable for the cultivation of turnips and barley, stood a tramway depot, private houses next to the Methodist Chapel (now shops), and allotments.

By 1937, the allotments had been lost to a fire station and a much enlarged tramway depot. It was virtually the same in 1937 as it was thirteen years later when my parents along with a five year old boy moved into the coach-house as tenants.


At this time, my Father was working, as a toolmaker, at what was known as Kings Norton Factory Centre. My Mother and I were living at my paternal grandmother’s house in Leicester. It was post war, and there was a dire shortage of private houses, most of the building carried out was to help rebuild the infrastructure of the country. We, along with thousands of others, had lived in rented rooms and relatives houses for all my short life. The wartime camaraderie had evaporated, and tenants were, for the most part, not treated well.

We received a message from my Father to the effect that he had found us a house close to where he worked. We travelled to Birmingham, met my Father and he took us to the coach-house. The flat we were to occupy was on the top floor and in poor order. Nobody else lived in the building.

I well remember the three of us in the small back room. My mother was in floods of tears. My father looked rather crestfallen. I was over the moon: what a great place to live! All those fields and woods and a railway running past.

We moved in, and to their credit, my parents made it quite cosy. We lived there for five years and I loved it. The Flat (as we now called the coach-house) was a big building. It measured 120ft long by 20ft wide and as tall as a three storey house. There were however only two storeys: the working area which was a series of workshops and stables occupying the ground floor, for the height of two storeys, and the living area above the western half of the building for about 60ft.

Access to the flat was along the driveway leading to High House. Taking the left hand drive at the junction, it was about fifty yards to the flat. Passing through a large wooden gate the coach-house extended into the distance on your right hand side, a large field being on your left hand side.

As you walked along the front of the building the first thing on your right, was a recessed area containing two stables and an entrance to what I assume was a large tack-room. As you walked further along, you became aware of a huge set of double sliding wooden doors suspended on two iron rails. These doors opened onto a covered ‘garage’. This was where the better coaches would have been kept.

A little further along was a covered courtyard with a flight of stairs to the living area on the right hand side and a solitary toilet under the stairs.

After the courtyard, the roofline of the building dropped by about ten feet and the remainder of the building consisted of a blacksmiths workshop complete with furnace, a large square workshop where new rims were fitted to wooden wheels and a carpenter’s workshop.

At the far end of the building was a large Victorian hothouse in poor repair. Against orders, I entered this hothouse many times, and can still picture the exotic plants now left to look after themselves. I can only imagine that these were once used to decorate High House in its heyday.

At the very end of the building was a crater full of rubble: the result no doubt of a stray bomb meant for the adjacent factories.

The living area was long. Up the stairs from the covered yard, through the front door, along a narrow hall to the first room….the kitchen. Ahead of you was a big black range. In the far left hand corner was a sink and a solitary cold water tap. Between the two, a cooker fuelled by bottled gas. The door to the next room was in the far right hand corner.

This was our living room. The fireplace shared a chimney with the range. In the far left hand corner was the door to the bedroom, in which we all slept.

The only toilet was under the stairs by the covered yard. Quite a walk if you needed it in the night.

The only windows were facing north and very small. They were the iron framed, roman arched type common in factories all over the Midlands. The only other source of light were skylights on the south facing side of the roof.

I remember these dripped a lot.


Life at the Flat, for a small boy, was wonderful. The artefacts I discovered from the buildings previous life led to all sorts of adventures. I found horseshoes, leather harnesses, old tools, wooden wheels, numerous old steel wheel rims and a host of other steel bits and pieces, the purpose of which I still do not understand. The prized possession was a rusty revolver.

I kept my treasure in the blacksmiths forge. The front of the furnace had a small access door to a large ashbox. I cleared the remnants of the last fire, and this became my stash.

Other oddments found were several iron farm gates, and dozens of pigtail fencing spikes as used in the war for the rapid erection of barbed wire fencing.

By standing an iron farm gate on end allowed me access to the top of the wall separating our field from the railway line. Sitting on the wall watching the busy flow of locomotives moving from Birmingham to Kings Norton sidings was a major recreation. I would wave at the drivers, and they would always wave back.


At the eastern boundary of the field was another wall running from the railway wall to the bomb damaged building. I tried to scale this wall, but it was too tall for the farm gate method. I had to wait about two years until I had grown taller. I eventually climbed a cherry tree adjacent to the wall and looked over.

It was small boy’s heaven. Old aeroplanes for as far as I could see. British, American and German. All had their wings removed, but were intact otherwise. They were in huge piles four or five deep and ready to be explored.

I had a problem. I could jump from the top of the wall, but could not return.

To overcome this, I built a den at the base of the cherry tree, and over a period of weeks, wore away the crumbling mortar to make a hole just big enough for me to climb through. I took the precaution of not making it big enough for a man to climb through, should I be chased away.

The aeroplanes were part of a materials reclamation programme and were under MOD control. A company called BKL Alloys ( whom I think still exist ) were responsible for the metal extraction.

I couldn’t care less at the time. They were there for one purpose only: to play with.


After much exploration, my favourites came down to two: a complete Hurricane fuselage and a complete German bomber fuselage. I spent many many hours in them, bombing both Berlin and London!!

A nasty incident however, curbed my enthusiasm. I slid the cockpit canopy of the Hurricane to the closed position whilst I was sitting in it. The canopy closed with a click and I was trapped. Nobody knew where I was as I dare not tell anybody what I was up to.

I do not remember the details of my final release, but I can still hear the click as the mechanism released the canopy. I was trapped for several hours.


As a family, we would visit High House during the summer. The House was now a social club. The steward was an old man called Amos, assisted by a younger man Roy.

I cannot remember much about the House. There was a bowling green on the southern grounds which was well used. A very large room ran across the rear of the House containing three full sized snooker tables, end to end, and a spectators seating on three sides. I didn’t like going there as you were not allowed to talk.

The most impressive thing was old Amos. He carried a catapult and a supply of steel balls. Rats were a problem, but Amos could kill a rat at thirty yards.


The summers came and went, and I never tired of the field or surrounding areas. Suddenly, things took a dark turn. Slough Estates had bought the land belonging to High House and they wanted us out.

I do not understand the legalities of the situation and therefore speak as I remember. What I do understand is that my hatred of Slough Estates (or SEGRO as they now like to call themselves) remains with me.


The first hint that something had changed is that we now paid the rent to Slough Estates and not to Amos. The price, of course, increased.

I returned from school one day and found that High House had been reduced to rubble.

A few weeks later, I returned to find that all the outbuildings attached to our flat had suffered the same fate as High House. All that remained standing was our living area. My collections of artefacts were buried under tons of rubble. I cried.


Slough Estates then served notice on my father that our flat was to be demolished and we had thirty days to find alternative premises. This notice had no legal authority as subsequent events proved. The thirty days passed and we were still in residence.Slough Estates then began a truly Rachmanesque campaign to remove us. The electricity supply was severed and removed. Lighting was provided by oil lamps and candles. Heating was difficult.

When this failed, a large and deep trench was dug across the access drive to the Flat to prevent movement of vehicles. This was, after a period of some months, filled in.

Their final move was to sever and remove the water supply to the house. We had no running water and no sanitation.

The Fire Service were sympathetic to our plight, and provided water containers and a supply of water: if we could collect it. I remember as a boy of ten, pushing a push-chair across the railway bridge with a container to be filled up at the fire station many times a day.

This situation continued for about a year and attracted the attention of the local press. Slough Estates had no comment. The water and electricity were never restored. Eventually, my parents had the deposit for a new house and we moved out.

On the day of our move, as the removal van was loading, three large bulldozers appeared in the field and sat revving their engines. I was in the cab of the removal van and remember looking in the door mirror as we moved up the driveway for the last time. The bulldozers had already reached the house. By the time we had reached Kings Norton, the Flat would be rubble.



I have written what I believe to be true, but have viewed it through the eyes of the child I was. If anybody could throw some light on the true purpose of the coach-house, or what it was like in its heyday, I would be most interested.


John writes: “I worked for Bob and Anne Moore at the Breedon, and just came across an old photo.  It shows Bob & Anne, Malcolm, one of the regulars, and Steve Gibbons’ wife Susie”. Contact us or leave a comment if you have any other memories of photos of the now-gone Breedon Bar.

I used to live at 1774 Pershore Road behind and above a second hand shop therefore consequently my nickname at school was Steptoe.

The family ran this business from just after the second world war until the late 1990s. In fact one of my dad’s childhood memories was playing cricket across the Pershore Road, imagine that now!

My granddad Frank, started the shop, F E Waldron, and ran it until he died in 1965.

My grandmother Elsie Waldron, (known as Margaret at St Agnes church because she didn’t like her name and so her church friends gave her a name that she liked), was  a dress maker and later lived in Midland Road where she created wedding outfits and dresses for many until she died in the 1980s.

My dad, Reg Waldron, took over the business from until the late 1990s however was tragically murdered in the shop by a guy that needed money for Christmas. It was a pretty unpleasant affair and the guy was arrested by a retired police officer cleaning his soiled clothes in Kings Norton Green laundrette.  So I suppose this is part of a darker side of Cotteridge as this is one of a few incidents in the area.

I like Cotteridge, it has many memories both happy and sad and therefore I still feel apart of the area though have not lived there for many years.

FE Waldron

FE Waldron, around 1945-50

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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
March 2004

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

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

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
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
August 2000

I started at Cotteridge School in 1985 and was in Mrs Green’s class. Mr Minchin was the headmaster and Mr Callaghan was the deputy who used to tell very long stories in assembly and play his guitar. I liked reception since we got to play with the lego and toys in the afternoon, but in the morning we read Ginn books like “Look”.

I don’t think we had a computer when I was in 1I or 3I (with Miss Edwards) but by the time I was in 6I with Mrs Jenkins in the Annexe we had got a little Spectrum that played games like Postman Pat and Tablesums. We also got to use the electric typewriter to write stories to put on the display boards in the classroom.

All through infants we learnt a lot of maths, reading and writing (Mrs Roe used to come and teach us joined-up handwriting), but still got to play with technic lego, capsella and other strange toys that you don’t see nowadays. We didn’t use calculators much but did get dictionaries.

We had a play house in reception but not in any other years. We had squash and biscuits every day – one custard cream or two plain biscuits – just before morning playtime.

Round about now strange things started happening to the school – the air raid shelter was knocked down (making a lot of noise and stopping Mr Minchin from doing assembly), as were the old outside toilets. We all helped create the new gardens which replaced them and watched the builders from the playground though the dinnerladies like Mrs Milner kept us from getting too close.

They also moved the staffroom to by the library and turned the classroom by the hall into a classroom again rather than a storeroom. The classrooms were painted in strange colours like murky brown and dark green and looked very 1970s, but they did start to paint them – including the hall, which turned pink one holiday.

In juniors, I was moved to the other class in my year for some reason, so was taught by Mrs Wase in Class 2. She was a very good teacher and we did mental arithmetic tests every morning. We also used to get a “good” or “very good” if we did impressed her and then she added up who had received the most in the week and gave them a prize. Her classroom had a posh computer which did more than a Spectrum and had a disk drive rather than a tape recorder.

But, one day we came back from dinnertime and found that Mrs Wase had gone to hospital because she had hurt her leg in some way, which meant we had a lot of supply teachers for the rest of the year.

We got Mrs Wase again the next year in Class 4 to make up for it, and we did all sorts of new things like going swimming at Linden Road, going to a place called Woodlands where we did assault courses, canoeing and archery. I was not very good at any of them, but it was a nice few days away.

About this time we got lots of new things in the school – loads of filing cabinets arrived along with the new National Curriculum folders which every teacher got. And we had new Nimbus computers and printers in every classroom which meant that we could play new games like Trains and something to do with castles, or print our writing using Minnie.

The next year I was in 5F with Mr Fletcher in the main school upstairs. He liked art and music and we used to make lots of things out of wood, especially after we went on a trip round a furniture factory. He also had loads of motorised lego that could be controlled by a little computer, which was good fun. Around this time I did my cycling proficiency course at the Patrick Collection and learnt how to cycle safely.

I was also briefly in the school cricket and rounders teams, but we weren’t very good, though we did win a medal in a tournament at Strikers Indoor Cricket Centre on Lifford Lane. At cricket practice after school Mr Minchin could hit balls into the flats on Breedon Road but we could only manage to get them a few feet.

In year six I was taught by Mrs Burton, who gave us stars of various colours for good work or behaviour. Gold was the best, followed by silver and then red, blue and green. When you got a star, you had to stick it over your name on the wall and the person with the most got a mystery prize.

We also got to go to Bell Heath – a field study centre near Worcester where we learnt about geography and history. I remember going into Worcester and looking round the shops, and walking across a rubbish tip. It was a lot of work rather than a holiday! Year six children got to be something called playleaders, which meant playing with the little infants in their playground. This was always fun, especially if you were no good at football which the juniors played. Towards the end of Year 6 we had to chose a new school, and we finally left for them in 1992.

I attended Cotteridge School for a year in 1938, when I was 12, after my family moved to Birmingham from Gloucestershire. We rented a flat over Eden and Son, the butcher’s shop, opposite the Grant Arms. My younger sister Sylvia also went to Cotteridge School, but my brother Sidney had to go to Stirchley School. At Cotteridge School I was issued with my gas mask, ready for the war. I remember that one of the teachers was called Mr Major.

One of my most vivid memories is that we were given free dinners because my dad was ill and couldn`t work. Each week the school gave us a little white ticket and we had to go by tram to a house in Cartland Rd, Stirchley for a revolting dinner. The tram fare was 1/2d (1/4p) each, so each day the “free” dinner cost us 2d (1p).The fares for the whole week cost 10d (4p).It doesn`t sound much, but we only had 9 shillings (45p) to live on. It wasn’t worth it. I would have much rather gone home for a sandwich. One day I lost the tram fare and we had to walk all the way, instead of just from the Co-op. I don’t know how it was decided that we should get these dinners, in those days nobody asked children their views or explained things like that.

We had family ties to Cotteridge. My grandparents lived at 9 Holly Rd. My grandfather, Sidney Boston, was a painter and decorator and went to work with his handcart. All of his 7 children attended Cotteridge School. The eldest, Thomas Boston, served in the 1914-1918 war and his name is on the Honours board in the library. I also had an aunt and cousins who lived in Laurel Rd. These photos show the street party in Laurel Rd, in 1935, for the Silver Jubilee of King George V, the decorations put up on the house in Holly Rd for the coronation in 1937 of King George VI and the Cotteridge football team of 1915, where Thomas Boston is 2nd from the right, standing up. I enjoyed living in Cotteridge and I remember some things very well.

Near St. Agnes Church was a shop called “Treasure Trove” that sold all kinds of things, many from house clearances. It was a wonderful place to look round,you could find anything from a large stuffed animal to a tiny button. It was owned by a Mr Cecil Vincent.

Lawton`s Cooked Meats, next to the Midland Rd railway bridge, sold delicious meat and such delights as pigs` feet, tripe, chitterlings, black pudding and a-la-mode beef, which was a big round of cooked beef in jelly and they would cut off slices for you to buy. I often got sent on errands for my gran.

An old lady, Mrs Grant-Ferris, owned a big house near the school, where Grant Court is now. She owned lots of property in Cotteridge and I remember that she often wore a fur coat.

Number 1 Holly Rd was the fire station. The station master was called Mr Cox and he had a horse-drawn fire engine, wore a shiny brass helmet and rang the bell loudly on his engine.

On the corner of Dell Rd and Pershore Rd was a sweet shop that had rows of sweet jars in the window and we could buy gobstoppers, sherbet fountains and liquorice rolls, if we could ever make up our minds with so much choice.
Opposite the school on the corner of Breedon Rd was Fleetwoods Haulage Yard, where they used horses to pull the carts.

If we wanted to travel to Birmingham we caught the 36 tram along Pershore Rd. The terminus is where Beaumont Court is now. Where the Jet garage now stands used to be a small factory in the early 1940s.

On Saturday mornings we used to go to the pictures at the Savoy Cinema, (opposite the Breedon Bar) and see films with Shirley Temple or Alan Jones.
On Sunday afternoons we went to Sunday school at the Gospel Hall in Dell Rd.
Sometimes there would be a fete or carnival in Cotteridge Park. It was very exciting to watch the jazz bands marching through Cotteridge to the park where they were judged to find the winner. The Blue Belvederes often seemed to be the favourite.

I have seen a lot of changes in Cotteridge, I wonder what’s next?

Mrs Kathleen Marsh, née Tainton
Acocks Green, Birmingham
July 2000

I attended Cotteridge school from the age of 5 in 1925 until I was 14. Our school day started at 9am and we would have lessons such as reading, writing arithmetic and needlework. At breaktime you were allowed a drink of milk which you collected from the caretaker and it cost 1 penny (½ p).We would play games such as skipping, statues and whip and top. There were no school meals so we all went home for dinner.

The rest of the day would be taken up with lessons and we went home at 4.30pm. The school uniform for girls was a gymslip and blouse. No shoes were allowed in the hall, so each child had to change into pumps for assemblies and change back afterwards to go back to the classroom.

At the age of 11 the girls went to the annexe for senior girls and the boys transferred to Stirchley School. In the seniors we had a netball and swimming team which I was part of. My brothers and sisters also attended the school. Teachers were much stricter then and had to be treated with the utmost respect. My days at Cotteridge School were very happy and I was sad to leave aged 14 to start work at Cadbury’s.

My own children have attended the school as well as my grandchildren and my great-grand-daughter still goes there today, she is Jessica Keane in 5R. Four generations of my family have passed through Cotteridge School and all of them have had happy times there. I have seen the school go through many changes and it`s great to see it celebrate its centenary. I hope that it continues for the next 100 years and that the children enjoy their time there as much as I did all those years ago. I have very fond memories of my time there from 1925-1939.

Mrs Edith Morris
June 2000

I came to live at Cotteridge in October 1939. War had just started. I went into Mr Brooking`s class and have very happy memories of it. I used to walk through the park to school and soon made friends.At playtime we did games like hopscotch and skipping. The boys had their own playground. We paid 2½d (1½p) each week for milk and could buy a biscuit for a halfpenny. We had an hour for dinner break and everyone went home for dinner. If you were naughty you could sometimes get away with having to stand in front of the class or you could get the ruler smacked across your hands. At the end of each day one child would ring the hand bell to signal hometime.

I was evacuated to a farm just outside Burton-on-Trent. After 18 months away I returned to Senior School. My 3 children, Margaret, Robert and David Garner also went to Cotteridge School and had happy times there. My school played a part in my later life when I remarried Walter Simpson who was a classmate all those years ago. I still have a group of friends who were at school with me and we have been sharing our memories of Cotteridge School.

Mrs Betty Simpson, née Ward
June 2000