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The variety and choice of shops then have nowadays been replaced by something very clinical and multinational without much to attract one’s interest.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.