Posts Tagged ‘Wartime’
Sandie is trying to find details and photos of her grandmother Florence Harrison, who used to drive a team of six horses up and down the Pershore Road delivering milk. Does anyone remember Florence? Leave a comment or get in touch if so.
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.
In response to a query on this site about Charlotte Road:
As you may already know this road runs parallel to Pershore Road and was mine, and loads of other young lads, rabbit run to Stirchley Senior Boys School, via Elm Tree & Ash Tree Road.
I recall that at the far end, from Cotteridge, was Ten Acres & Stirchley Co-op bakery, & their Works & Building Dept. By referring to the Stirchley Website I was able to confirm my own memories, that it suffered some bomb damage, and casualties by the name of Bishton(?).
During the 1939/45 war it was also my route, when reporting for duty at Stirchley Police Station in Victoria Road. Maybe because I associate this road with school and war duty I do not have any affection for it.
Police Aux M. S. This was the name displayed on the shoulder flash. We were trained by senior police officers and I now understand how they relied and trusted us with responsibilities and authority, far beyond our youthful looks. Anecdotes would fill a whole web page, some sad and serious, others a real howler. I can recall some of the names of the Police Messengers, based at Kings Norton and Stirchley Police Stations.
Back Row L to R: Lol Avery (well known neighbour to your contributor Doreen Hill), Cliff, Stan ___, Bob Sanford.
Front row, Roy Mosely, Stan Boraston, Ray Mosely (yes they were twins).
Stan Boraston achieved acclaim for organizing a dance (with gramophone records) at Selly Oak Institute where most of the “B” Division, including Senior Officers, attended. There was even a picture in the Birminham Mail.
Frances Barrack lived at 77 Watford Road with her parents (William and Elsie) from the 1920s until she married and moved to Bournville after the war. She spent her working life as nurse at Woodlands Hospital, and now lives in Rednal with her husband Stanley Newton.
Here she recounts her memories of Cotteridge to her nephew Andrew. Frances would like to hear from anyone who remembers her at school or the Barrack family at Watford Road. If so, e-mail us or leave a comment at the end of the article.
The text below is the edited version featuring the sections on wartime Cotteridge and the shops – for the full reminiscence including family history and home life, click here.
My brother Frank and I both went to Cotteridge School and sat together in class. When I was eleven years old I moved over the playground from the Junior School into the Senior Girls. But that was just for girls, so Frank had to go Stirchley School. I remember teachers Mr Tozer and “Gerty” Garfield (I couldn’t stand her).
I remember a lot of the mothers used to be outside the railings giving the children biscuits and all sorts, because there were no school meals. No shoes were allowed in the hall, so you had to walk around the edge, you couldn’t go across because they polished the floor, it was like glass. In the war I used to hope a bomber would come and blow the place up. I used to say “if a bomb dropped I wouldn’t have to go to that bloomin’ school again!” I was never lucky, the Germans never hit it.
Another teacher was Mr Major, he lived in Woodfall Avenue. He wrote on my school report “Frances talks too much” and when I took it home Dad refused to sign it, and instead wrote on the report “and it is your job to stop her” and I had to take it back to school. Then Mr Major pushed a letter through our letterbox telling our Dad to go up to the school.
I remember the Life Boys at St Agnes Church. And Councillor Fryer, he used to come round and give you a talk and bore the pants off you. He used to give these talks in the school hall, we all used to groan “oh gosh he’s here again.
I think Fryer had two sisters who opened a wool shop… Fryer’s Wool Shop.
Of course the railway bridge was just outside Cotteridge School on Breedon Road and Frank would run along the parapet. Never thought twice about what would happen if he fell off the bridge. And I remember there were some stiles there and we used to take a short cut back to Watford Road.
When war started Frank and I were evacuated to Headless Cross at Redditch. Because Mum wanted us to stick together as brother and sister we went with the junior school but they were only children and Frank and I were 13. So we had no companions really – I think it’d been better if we were separated and went with the seniors. We went on the train and they put these labels on you and they took us to what looked like a school house and women came in and they just picked who they wanted. At the end there was Frank and I left plus another girl. You felt like a spare part. So then they walked us round the roads in Headless Cross and started knocking on the doors asking “will you take these children…” It was really that haphazard. Anyway we got to this one house and this lady answered the door, her name was Mrs Moseley and she said “well I only want one but because you are brother and sister I will take you both in.”
But Frank had to sleep next door – there wasn’t enough room for both of us to stay at Mrs Moseley’s. Frank had his meals with us but he slept next door. I always remember Frank said how they got MacLeans toothpaste at his house. Well we’d never had toothpaste back in Watford Road, we used to clean our teeth with salt and soot. He said the toothpaste “tastes lovely” and used to eat this MacLeans. I bet the poor woman wondered where the toothpaste was going.
But Frank soon had enough and packed his bags and came home on the Midland Red. Mum brought me home soon after that. The war started in September and we turned 14 at the beginning of December the next year so after that we were at work. Me at Cadbury’s and Frank at Charles Taylor’s.
I remember the plane that came low over Cotteridge School looking for the Triplex factory, you could see the pilot and the swastika on the side of the plane. Then I remember we heard a German plane was shooting at people in the street. Mum was beside herself as she had sent Frank out on an errand. When he eventually came back Mum was so relieved. But Frank had got the sense to shelter in someone’s entrance.
We had no electricity at number 77 until after the war. It was gas, but only downstairs. We had a candle to go to bed at night. We weren’t allowed to read in bed because candles were too expensive. But when the Germans bombed Grant’s Wood Yard it lit up Watford Road like it was daylight. Frank was able to read in bed that night, he thought it was bloomin’ marvellous.
Dad built an Anderson shelter in the garden; he made a right mess of it. Dad used to do a job and he’d say that it was temporary but nothing he did ever became permanent, nothing ever got finished. We only went in the shelter once. After that we said if we are going to die well we might as well die in bed. Mum would say she would get us up if it got too bad. I think you got very blasé about the bombing. All you used think was “oh gosh they’re here again.” We went into the pantry under the stairs the first time the bombs came down, but after that we stayed in bed. You knew they were German bombers because their engines made that “whum-whum” sound. And you could always hear the anti-aircraft guns starting up. A bomb did drop just beyond Kings Norton railway station but nothing round the houses near us. You just thanked God it wasn’t you. That’s how you thought about the bombing really.
If you were at the pictures then you got the warning come up on the screen if they thought there was a raid. I remember being at the Savoy watching “The Last Days of Pompeii” when the sirens sounded. Elsie wouldn’t let me stay to watch the end. I never did see what happened at the end – until it was shown on telly a few years ago. 65 years later and I finally got to see the end! But I always remember Elsie dragging me out the Savoy because of the air raid warning – I could’ve killed her!
Dad was working nightshift at the Austin throughout the war and whenever there was a raid they used to go into what they called ‘the tunnel’. They always played “Woody Woodpecker” on the loudspeakers, so if that started he said they knew they’d be down there all night. I suppose it was meant to cheer up the workers but he hated that song. I know Frank said one night the sirens sounded when Dad was on the tram to the Austin so he just stayed on until it got to the terminus at The Lickeys and spent the night in the Hare and Hounds. When they asked him the next night at work where had he got to he just said he’d been in a public shelter. Public house more like!
Dad used to take us into town to see the bomb damage. We’d get off the tram in Navigation Street and sort of walk around. I remember one shop that was blown up and there was all these sweets scattered about amongst all the broken glass on the pavement. Our Dad said “don’t you dare touch anything.” And nobody touched anything.
They made Hollymore Hospital into a wounded soldiers hospital and my sister Elsie used to go up there and get chatting to the soldiers… she was a bit flighty and liked to go out and dance with the men – one time when she stayed out too late at night, Dad went out to find her – she must’ve been around 21 then – but he still got the walking stick to her.
I know Frank used to listen to the radio or read about the war in the papers but I don’t remember following the news myself. The only time I can remember, I was down Stirchley and they’d got all these newspapers with photographs of the bodies in the concentration camps. I went and had a look and people were saying it’s not true, it’s all fake. They didn’t believe it: it was too horrible to believe this was happening.
When I was young none of the shops existed at the top of Watford road, they were just houses. You had to go round the corner (into Pershore Road) before the shops started.
I remember Fleetwoods, they were opposite Cotteridge School and Clifford Fleetwood was in my class. Everything was delivered by horse and cart then. But when it snowed… I remember the horses used to come up Breedon Hill and the poor horses used to slip in the snow and they got sacks out to try and help them get a grip with their big hoofs. I used to feel ever so sorry for them.
I remember Huins the shoe shop. Dad took Frank in there to have his feet x-rayed because he couldn’t believe Frank had outgrown his shoes so quickly. Dad went barmy and refused to buy a new pair of shoes until the x-ray showed Frank’s feet were bigger.” (Before the harmful effects of radiation were realised, many shoe shops used to have an x-ray machine so customers could look at their feet. It was more for novelty value than anything else.)
I remember the carnival in Cotteridge Park and the Ten Acres Co-op, they used to give you a cardboard box with oranges, a squash and an ice cream. Then you went into the park to the carnival. We thought it was marvellous, you got this box with sandwiches. And The Blue Belvederes band. The Bummer Toots, as our Dad used to call them.
Ferris’s was a great big house. As children we used to say they had a gold bath in there with gold taps.
The Treasure Trove: I remember there was that big bear when you went in the entrance. And then there was a statue of a nude man outside and people used to come along and stick chips on his wotsit. When we were children the place was just a little shop then Mr Vincent opened it as the Treasure Trove. There were sheds round the back where they stored all the big things – suites of furniture, grandfather clocks and beds and wardrobes and all sorts of things. With the house and the sheds it would take you quite a while to go round and look at everything.
Yoxall’s – they sold dog biscuits.
The chemist Bellamy’s: Frank worked at Taylor’s chemist, the one opposite. He used to deliver prescriptions for them. They would make up the medicines in the shop and also refill soda siphons and Frank would take them to addresses even as far as town (Birmingham) on his bicycle. If there had been an air raid the night before there would be broken glass and water running down the street but Frank always had to deliver the prescriptions. And he’d always come back with shrapnel, which he collected in a drawer at home.
There was a music shop – Dugmores – and they got like a concave window. And when you looked in the window it was like those mirrors at the fairground, and we used to pull faces in the shop window and your faces were all terribly distorted. And the shop woman used to go barmy she used to go “Clear off! Clear off!”
Then there was Jones, a little sweet shop. And our Dad was always sending me up there, “Go and get me some acid drops,” then you’d get home and Dad would say “These acid drops are stale. Take them back!” I had to go back and say our Dad says these sweets are stale. The shop woman shouted “I do not sell stale sweets!” She went barmy and said tell your Dad from now on not to come in here. But he never did go in there – he always sent me!
I remember there was another sweet shop on Dell Road, near Fleetwoods. Elsie used to get them root liquorice from there. I hated it. But Elsie loved that root liquorice
Apart from Bellamy’s and Taylor’s, there were other chemists too…
Wakefields, Bloomfields and Hedges. Dad used to send me there for his snuff. I used to run down the Cotteridge and I used to shout “L2-60 box of snuff” all the way to Hedges, because I used to think if I forget the number… and you could only get the snuff from Hedges.
Mum and Dad used to go out on a Saturday night, always to the pictures. The Savoy, in Cotteridge. The King’s Norton on King’s Norton Green. The Empire and Pavilion down Stirchley. That was their night out. And if they went to Cotteridge they went in the Grant Arms after the pictures.
Friends I can remember? Well there was Connie Booth who lived in Holly Road. Her father was an engine driver on the railway. You thought he was God, I mean… a driver on the steam train! Nice man he was. Millie Tye was another friend, she lived in Heathcote Road.
Frances Newton (nee Barrack)
John Hornsby writes:
I was six in 1939 and remember every second of the war, particularly the raids on Birmingham. As a lad I remember standing at playtime at Trittiford Road School watching in awe as a thousand Allied bombers came over heading for Germany, forming up from varied airfields as they came over.
We may now not always have the chronology of events right but in general the following may be of interest:
The first big raid over Bham was the 20 hour raid following on Coventry the previous night (where my grandmother was a victim). Our family found the communal underground shelters overcrowded and hot and we took a risk and came out heading for home. As we walked we saw the search lights beaming, shells going up, the bombs falling and the town blazing. It was the flooded Anderson at the bottom of the garden after that!
I met a gentleman recently in Cotteridge Park who was born in the cottages opposite to Francis Road and as a lad remembers a German bomber coming over, circling and the pilot waving or saluting down!! The same plane then dropped his incendiaries which burned down the woodyard in Francis Rd alongside the rail track. He then saw the plane head away towards Bournville and those corner placed guns somewhere in the distance hitting the tail of the plane and it was last seen losing height.
An ex-Bomber Command pilot friend once told me that the German Navigation School in Berlin failed to school their pilots well and he thought this was the reason for them never quite finding and hitting the Austin. That and their fuel was at the limit around Cotteridge where they would turn for home. Many came down on the back trip from Wythall, Oxfordshire and the South Coast. If they had done their turn at Waste Hills it perhaps it may have been a different story.
The 1943 lone plane as mentioned sprayed bullets up the Pershore Road as workers were about to come out of the factory gates below the then Breedon. One day I will succeed in finding the outcome of its flight.
I was born at 1773 Pershore Rd. in 1935 and went to Cotteridge Infant & Junior School until 1945 and then to Kings Norton Grammar School for Boys until 1953. I have found the info on Cotteridge very interesting. My father was born at no. 1 Cotteridge Rd. so I learned a lot of history about the area from him. It is very interesting to read what one person feels is important history and to compare it with anothers thoughts.
On reading Mr Fleetwood’s memories I wonder if he remembers running into his house to get what I think was his father’s shotgun when the German bomber came over the school roof, just missing the bell tower, twice, and the pilot had the cheek to wave to us kids standing by Fleetwood’s yard in Breedon Rd. Also the bomber which opened fire on the workers leaving Guest Keen & Nettlefolds, I’m glad to say that he missed all of them to the best of my knowledge.
I also well remember getting told off by our teachers for being late into school because we had been watching the firemen putting out the fire at the wood-yard in Frances Rd. For once the bomber was accurate in only hitting the wood-yard and none of the houses, although if he was aiming for the railway yard then his aim was lousy. I remember watching very early in the war when a bomber was very low over Bournville being shot at with shells bursting all round him and my thought was for the men on board the plane not being able to do anything about their fate, but I soon learned to have different feelings though.
On the subject of carnivals in Cotteridge park, my brother and I both won first prizes in the fancy-dress competitions, a few years apart, but with the same costume, made by my mother. The costume was of John Bull which went down well, but I doubt if many know who he was now.
John Hornsby writes:
Does anyone know the fate of the German Bomber and Crew which flew very low over Billesley, Kings Heath and Cotteridge in 1943?
The undercarriage of the plane was of clear perspex type material and all who saw the plane could see the crew clearly. I remember the crew in light khaki looking down, one holding a clip board type document holder: obviously a flight plan of sorts.
The main raids had finished by then and the Luftwaffe were rarely seen over Britain by then. This plane came in without cover (it sent a few bursts of ammo up Stirchley High St) and it could not help to be intercepted. Some say it was brought down over Yorkshire. A suicidal sortie really. I saw the plan from the back steps of a house in Billesley.
Thanks to Cliff Fleetwood for these photos.
He writes, my father, Bill Fleetwood, was possibly one of first ‘horse whisperers’, who won vast numbers of trophies for his horses” in the 1920s and 30s.
He remembers, “”Snowy” Mason, or “Dripping” Ballinger, or Herbert Wathen who lived in Dell Road. Finally Walter Carrol who was the blacksmith responsible for shoeing most of the horses in the area, & who originally acquired the land in Breedon Road from Fishers. Dad bought the whole property from Walter.
A German land mine (a bomb on the end of a parachute) fell and was caught in a tree, without exploding, so the area was cordoned off for a couple of days. The horse was without feed or water so Cliff’s dad dodged the police officer at the top of Hole Lane and took the horse across the field at the rear of the stable, so avoiding any metal, sparks or noise on the roadway from the horseshoes.
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.
I came to live at Cotteridge in October 1939. War had just started. I went into Mr Brooking`s class and have very happy memories of it. I used to walk through the park to school and soon made friends.At playtime we did games like hopscotch and skipping. The boys had their own playground. We paid 2½d (1½p) each week for milk and could buy a biscuit for a halfpenny. We had an hour for dinner break and everyone went home for dinner. If you were naughty you could sometimes get away with having to stand in front of the class or you could get the ruler smacked across your hands. At the end of each day one child would ring the hand bell to signal hometime.
I was evacuated to a farm just outside Burton-on-Trent. After 18 months away I returned to Senior School. My 3 children, Margaret, Robert and David Garner also went to Cotteridge School and had happy times there. My school played a part in my later life when I remarried Walter Simpson who was a classmate all those years ago. I still have a group of friends who were at school with me and we have been sharing our memories of Cotteridge School.
Mrs Betty Simpson, née Ward
I was first aware of Cotteridge Park in 1930 when I was 6 years old. The Park was a Children’s paradise, full of fun and laughter. There were rules of conduct, enforced by a uniformed park keeper. The park was enclosed by iron railings and at dusk the bell rang and the gates were locked. Cycling was prohibited after 10am.
There were both concrete and grass Tennis Courts, very well maintained, with an hourly fee charged; a putting green where a golf club and ball could be hired for a small fee, and a Crown Bowling Green.
There were two shelters, one large and one small, very useful in bad weather, and a bandstand, sadly all vandalised and demolished.
There were various annual events, Ten Acres Co -Op Society organised for their members children a tea party, with a small cardboard box full of things to eat, an orange squash drink and an ice cream. Cotteridge organised a carnival, floats and tableaux lined the streets and jazz bands from other areas competed for a prize. they were dressed in exotic costumes and played bazookas and beat drums as they marched around the streets, before gathering in the park. A fairground with dodgems, roundabouts and side stalls attracted a large crowd, who paid a small entrance fee. All of this ended in 1939 with the start of the war.
Air raid shelters were dug on the higher ground and the WAAF arrived with a barrage balloon.
The fair returned to the Park after the war, but this was not organised by the local people and it attracted a yob element, so at the request of the locals this ended.
Later the railings were removed, and some vandalism occurred to the young trees. The red may trees a feature of the Park grew old and died, and were never replaced, neither was the drinking fountain…
Heathcote Road, Cotteridge