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

One Response to “Late 1930s”

  • Rob Abbott:

    Came across this post by accident. I was born in 1971 and lived on Laurel Rd opposite Holly Rd, Coteridge.
    I remember the name Boston very well. Brothers Jack and Alf Boston who lived at no.9 Holly Rd were very close friends of the family. The old stories they used to tell us from days gone were fascinating from the fire tender horses trying to leap over the railings and onto the railway bank only to become stuck; to seeing the great airships overhead and seeing the orange glow at night from the Coventry Blitz.

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