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

One Response to “Thirties and forties”

  • Stan:

    The name of the little firm who did welding on the Cadbury trucks, next to the Savoy, was F.D. Williams. The original owner was known to my father-in-law as “Oddie Williams”.
    My father-in-law, Sid Hill was born in Shirley Rd, and moved to the Pershore Rd when he was six weeks old, in 1909. Apparently, most of the kids of that period, had nicknames for each other. Sid”s nickname was “Bunny Hill”.

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