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

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