Posts Tagged ‘Industry’

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.

Roy writes:

We have a relation, Brian Lambert, over from Australia.

Could someone help please if anyone has any memories or photos of a company called R J Hunt, a foundry which was situated by the bridge close to the Breedon Cross pub.

Any help would be gratefully received, thank you.

Any information please leave a comment below or email us and we’ll pass it on.

Anyone know anything about this?

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

Barbara lives in Cotteridge Road, in a converted metalworks near the railway. She’s interested in the history of the building, which was originally the Hudson steel tube manufacturers, then Murdoch Works, owned by Winstanley engineers (see image below). She’d be delighted if anyone has any memories, information or phots. Contact us or leave a comment below if you want to get in touch.

Note from Winstanley & Co

Note from Winstanley & Co

David is looking for information on his grandfather, Alfred Kinsella, who used to work for Fleetwoods Hauliers taking supplies into Cadburys. He was a carter and used to show the shire horses at the Kings Heath Show at Alcester Lane End, and was wandering if anyone could steer him towards more information about Fisher/Fleetwoods and the horse show / fair that was in Kings Heath. David’s father worked for Cadbury Bros at their waterside stores, and he remembers Alfred Kinsella coming to the waterside laden with brick, clay and bits & bobs. There was an area at the back of the waterside stores where stuff like this was tipped – this is what Alfred was doing for Fleetwoods. Alfred Kinsella married David’s grandmother in 1934 and he would love someone to remember him and maybe another picture might turn up.

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