NEW SPRING STREET

NEW SPRING STREET 29/09/2016

William Higgs: A Brookfields Childhood. My late father William (Bill) Higgs (pictured below) loved to talk about his childhood in Brookfields, where he remained, except for his time in the forces during World War 2, until he married. In time I realised that those memories should be captured so I recorded his recollections. Of course now that he has gone I think of so many more questions that I should have asked, but nevertheless I hope that the following account is of some interest.

Bill and his mother Florence outside the house in Leopold Terrace. The lady on the right is Ada Higgs, the wife of Bill's brother Ernie. Ada was the daughter of the well known Ladywood bookie Bill Cunnington.

Bill and his mother Florence outside the house in Leopold Terrace. The lady on the right is Ada Higgs, the wife of Bill's brother Ernie. Ada was the daughter of the well known Ladywood bookie Bill Cunnington.

The Beginning. It was Good Friday, 14 April 1922, when local midwife Mary Gravatte made her way towards Leopold Terrace at the back of 28 New Spring Street. She was heading for Number 5, where Florence Higgs was about to give birth to Bill Higgs. Florence- Floss or Florrie to family and friends- had moved to Leopold Terrace in the early 1920s and remained there until her death in 1963. Florence had four children, two with her first husband (Ernest)- Ernie and Arthur- and two with her second husband (Frank)-  my father and his brother Norman. Her two husbands were brothers and her first died as a result of being gassed in the First World War. Her second husband died suddenly in 1925 and she did not marry again, bringing up the children on her own. No doubt she had help from her family, all of whom lived close by, including her mother Sarah Ann Owen at 99 Hingeston Street.

Leopold Terrace. Consisted of ten houses, all at the rear of number 28 New Spring Street and my father could recall the names of those neighbours who stayed the longest at each of the houses. At number one were the Thorpes, next door was Harry Hughes, a widower when Bill knew him, and at number 3 were the Howls with their five children. At number 4 were Arthur and Blanche Burgess with two daughters. Number 6 was the home of the Maskells, the Seals lived at number 7 and the Harpers at number 8. The Tanners lived at number 9 and at number 10 were the Gibbs family. Close to the first house in the row were two toilets and a brewhouse, whilst at the far end, by number 10, were three more toilets and two brewhouses. Given that there were five toilets for ten houses, it is easy to see that each toilet was shared by two families. Every house had a set day for using the brewhouse to wash clothes. Some of the women used to wash items, iron them and then take them straight to the pawnshop.

Number 5. Like many of the houses in Brookfields, number 5 Leopold Terrace consisted of three main rooms, a small living room, a bedroom and an attic. There was no bathroom or toilet of course, nor even any running water until the late 1930s. Instead a tap was situated in the middle of the yard. This was useful primarily for the centrally located houses, as those at either end of the Terrace could use the taps in the brewhouses. Lighting in the house was provided from gas mantles.  In the bedrooms the gossamer mantle had long since disappeared when Bill was a child and was never replaced. As a result a blue flame flickered from the burner when lit, providing no light worth talking about; usually the family took up a candle. The only heating in the house was the open fire in the downstairs room. The dominant feature in the living room was the table. Table cloths were a luxury not required at number 5, so newspapers did the job instead- a feature unchanged into the 1950s. The table top would be scrubbed regularly and a new ‘tablecloth ‘covered the surface- a fresh copy of the Birmingham Mail sufficed! The floors were simply covered in oilcloth. There were no easy chairs and Florence sat by the fire in the most comfortable of the chairs. An overmantle or shelf was available to house crockery and jugs and in a recess in the corner stood the wringer. Encircling the fire was a hob, on which stood a kettle and a teapot bubbling away for most of the day. The grate was black leaded twice a week so that it had a highly polished surface. Clinker had to be removed regularly and on one side was an oven, suitable for cooking a meal.The downstairs area included a small pantry containing a gas cooker and sink. Within the pantry a set of steps led down to the coal cellar. Bill’s family obtained their coal from Coopers at the canal wharf at the top of New Spring Street and the boys would bring the coal to number 5 in a barrow belonging to Coopers. The barrow required a 3d deposit, refundable on return. One hundred weight of coal cost just under two shillings, approximating to about 9p in modern currency and fetching coal for some of the neighbours was one way of making a copper or two for the children. The houses had a small fenced off patch of garden in front, where one or two people grew the odd vegetable or flowers. In later years Bill would keep a couple of fowl in a pen in the area. The sleeping arrangements were simple enough.  Florence occupied the first floor room whilst Bill and his three brothers all slept in the attic, two to a bed.  Rent was three and four pence a week around the 1930s. The landlord would come around every week and if tenants were unable to pay on the day, they had to take the money to Grimley and Son in Temple Street. 

Meals. Breakfast usually consisted of a piece or two of bread dipped in tomato juice or bread or toast covered with dripping. Bill could not recall ever sitting down to a full breakfast on a plate. On Sundays there might be a few pieces of bacon for breakfast. The staple diet, though, was bread and jam, bread and lard, bread and dripping and stew. Once oldest brother Ernie had started work he would sometimes bring home a tin of peaches or pineapple chunks. On Friday nights there would be a treat in the form of fish and chips. One of Florence’s sisters, Millicent Griswell, owned a chip shop, firstly in Warstone Lane and then in George Street West and Ernie used to bring them home. On Saturdays a highlight might be a penny worth of some stale cakes from Tromans in Icknield Street- usually amounting to about eight cakes. Sunday dinner might be a rabbit, made into a stew, or two or three pigs trotters or a cow heel.  In Bill’s words “Stew it up in a pot and it was lovely.” Florence’s meals were no more varied than the children’s.  Her evening meal regularly consisted of potatoes mixed in with cabbage, making a basic ‘bubble and squeak’. 

Making Ends Meet. With the death of Frank a key role of breadwinner fell to Ernie, who was fortunately old enough to leave school. In order to supplement her widow’s pension of ten shillings a week Florence also worked as a cleaner at times, including at one of the local pubs. In addition, she would sometimes clean her sister Leah's house for a few shillings. Leah was the wife of Jim Hyde and the couple lived in Coralie Street. Leah was a metal burnisher, although the dust from that job would have been a problem for her as an asthma sufferer and may have contributed to her sudden death in 1942. She and Jim were unable to have children which did mean that they had a little more money than other members of the family and could afford an annual holiday to Falmouth. Florence, on the other hand, never saw the sea in her entire life.  A regular source of income came about in 1927, when Florence took in a lodger. She was an elderly lady called Mrs Rebecca Walker and her daughter Biddy was also present at times. This meant reorganising the sleeping arrangements, as Mrs Walker took over the attic. Bill and Norman, as the two youngest, therefore moved into Florence’s bedroom, whilst Ernie and Arthur had to sleep downstairs. Mrs Walker remained in Leopold Terrace for the next couple of years but she was an elderly lady and in 1929 she died. Bill recalled receiving his Sunday morning breakfast just as two men negotiated her coffin through the door leading from the stairs. Biddy was never seen her again. She made a small amount of money through selling her mother’s furniture, which was removed by a couple of men from Bateman's furniture shop in Icknield Street. They certainly did a thorough job, because when they had finished the family found that they had even taken the knob off the bedroom door.

The Local Area. There were small shops in virtually every street and in New Spring Street there were several. Opposite the terrace at number 27 was Williams’s and two doors up from the entry at number 24 was Mrs Oakley’s, selling bread, cakes and household nick nacks. Many people also went to Burns’s for their bread on the corner of New Spring Street and Ellen Street. There was also Kinsey’s a dairy before the war and Fulford's- a hucksters shop that seemed to sell everything. The proprietor had a red face and always wore a white coat. Finally, close to the junction with Icknield Street was Potts the newsagents. An added attraction was that goods could be bought and paid for later. In Ellen Street was Mrs Davis’s. Bill remembered that she was deaf but she used to give a lot of ‘strap’, where you could run up credit. The debt would be entered into a book and you were expected to pay up on Friday night. In that area, Bill recalled, if you didn’t give strap you wouldn’t sell much. She was a very old woman and the local children would take advantage of her. Just inside the door of her shop were bottles of R White's lemonade in crates and the local children would sit on the crates. Then, while she was serving one of them to a halfpenny of sweets, they would remove a bottle of pop from the crate and pass it along the line.There was a row of shops in Icknield Street virtually opposite New Spring Street. There was Stoddards Pork Meats, next door was Freeman's the Post office- everybody went there for their pension- and next door was Farmiloes, a cooked meat shop, then Ernie Constable and his wife with a stationery shop. Ernie died drinking in the Gate pub and his son then kept the shop for a number of years. Then there was a fruit shop, Ladson’s. One of the men who served there was known as ‘Little Arthur’ and he always wore riding gaiters. Next door was Sid Burbery's the butcher and then an older lady who kept a small sweet shop, followed by George Baines's the cake shop. Next door was 'cheapjacks'. Nobody used the name of the owner it was always called 'cheapjacks.' You could buy items such as soap powder, soda, blackleg andparaffin. Next door to that was a barber’s shop. Close by was Quiney's coffee house run by a red headed man with glasses. Children were often in there playing the ‘check machines’- a type of fruit machine. Further along Icknield Street was Pruden’s the barber, where Bill continued to have his hair cut until the 1980s. Apart from the properties there were the ever present sounds and smells to be found in any community with a mix of industries, pubs and people living close together.  The clang of the heavy machinery from the factories accompanied the pall of smoke that was a permanent presence. The factories were one source of smoke but of course most homes generated their share from the family coal fire. Those coal fires provided employment for the chimney sweeps, whose arrival would allow the children to dash outside and wait excitedly for the brush to emerge from the top of the chimney. But woe betide the family that decided to save a few coppers and not call the chimney sweep. They ran the risk of a chimney fire, when the smoke would be even thicker than usual, billowing across the local streets and leaving a distinctive smell that many would recognise instantly. Drifting across the area most of the time were the outpourings from Hockley station and goods yard. The crash of wagons together with the whistles and barks of the steam engines accompanied the railway’s own contribution to the quota of steam and smoke in Brookfields. There were more cheerful sights and sounds, such as children playing excitedly in the street or the hubbub in and around the local pubs. Florence liked an occasional drink and would at times meet her friends for a Sunday glass of stout. On Sundays some women would sit outside the pub with their drink shelling peas for the afternoon meal. Relative quiet would descend at night time, although the peace was shattered on one occasion during the hours of darkness in Leopold Terrace. The families were awakened to the sound of an argument when it transpired that one of the daughters had left her husband and returned to her parents. The shouting made it clear that the husband had turned up demanding that his wife return with him. When the father refused to hand her over, the husband threatened to break the windows unless he complied. Still the father resisted before the sound of breaking glass echoed off the buildings. Shortly afterwards the daughter emerged.

Street Traders. In the 1920s and 1930s New Spring Street would see a number of people travelling around the local area selling their wares. One man used to tour the streets on Sunday mornings with a pair of scales. He would stand in the middle of the yard and shout out ‘Come out and get weighed- a ha’penny to weigh you’. He also offered to guess your weight and if he was more than four or five pounds out he would refund the money. On one occasion Bill recalled the arrival of a funfair carousel, giving rides on roundabout horses.There were always plenty of handcarts in the street, usually belonging to greengrocers and they became well known in the area. One day they would be at the top end of the street and the next at the other end. Ernie Groombridge had one- and he actually lived in New Spring Street. Bread and milk were also delivered, although most people went to the shops in New Spring Street. Occasionally knife grinders visited New Spring Street, although their business was mainly with the shops as housewives would grind their knives on the stone steps of the house. Horses played a key role in hauling the various vans and carts. Close to Freeman’s in Icknield Street was a horse trough, which remained in place for many years.

Starting School. Bill’s first school was Ellen Street, a short distance from home. On his first day when it was break time he ran home- and was taken straight back! He clearly recalled his first teacher, who was Miss Duggard. She soon took pity on the young Bill and often made a point of giving him some of her sandwiches. They were always cut wafer thin, with cheese or pieces of ham, nothing like the hacked -door steps that his mother prepared. Another of the teachers was Billie Boone, who was fond of allocating nicknames to the children. One of the lad’s wore a prominent pair of glasses and he earned the title of ‘the boy with the bay windows’. ‘Daddy' Harris was the headmaster. When the youngsters played cricket in the playing ground he would sometimes bowl underarm to them.

Life at Icknield Street School. At the age of 11 Bill moved to Icknield Street. There were six classrooms downstairs and six on the upper level off a veranda that circled the top floor. Morning assembly took place every day and PT sessions were held in the hall, although the boys also visited the playing fields on one half day a week. Mr Davis was the headmaster. Bill recalled that he had a habit of walking around the upper level veranda, a practice that allowed him to look down into the classrooms on the lower level. Then he would come down, walk into one of the classrooms, speak to the teacher about something that had caught his attention and someone would be called out for punishment. Bill’s first class teacher was Mr Simson. He bore a white scar on his cheek and had cornflower blue eyes. Bill recalled him fondly as a man who would take an interest in his pupils. He was also responsible for taking the boys swimming, an event that took place in the morning on one half a day each week. Other teachers included Mr Simnett, who taught arts and crafts and he was killed in 1939 when hit by a car. Mr Peacock was Sports Master, a tall light haired man who took PE lessons in the hall, whilst the music master was Mr Jones, who played the violin. Other teachers were Messrs Topping, Erch and Caddick. Bill’s final teacher was Mr W. E Smith, a bespectacled, red faced and sombre man, but nevertheless Bill had fond memories of his teaching skills. Science lessons took place on one half day each week in a basic laboratory. Woodworking classes, though, were held at the Manual Centre in Camden Street and were the responsibility of Mr Sydney Smith and Mr Howard. Attendance was for one half day each week and a longstanding tradition was that the first thing to be made was a toothbrush rack. Once completed the pupil would receive marks out of ten and a score of seven or above enabled the pupil to take the rack home. On Bill’s first day in the woodworking class he was sawing some wood ready for his toothbrush holder and Mr Smith came up to him and asked what he was doing. “Sawing some wood” was the answer. “You’re not sawing wood, the saw is sawing wood, you guide the saw”, replied Mr Smith.“Let the saw do the work” was a piece of advice that Bill always remembered.

Earning Some Coppers.  Bill was always looking for ways to earn a few coppers, especially running errands for his aunts or uncles. One Friday evening his uncle, Caleb Owen, approached him and asked if he would like to earn sixpence in the morning. Caleb had been given the job of replacing some of the glass panes in the windows of one of the local factories in Warstone Lane, so he told Bill to meet him at the factory the next day. The following morning Caleb sent Bill to Parker and Osborn's to buy some glass of the type that went into the small panes common in the factories at that time, together with some putty. When he returned Caleb started to take out the cracked and broken panes before he replaced them one by one. After he had finished he asked Bill to fetch him an empty milk bottle, and then he was despatched to the local shop for a penny worth of lamp oil. When he had his items, Caleb took the putty out of some of the unbroken panes before replacing it with fresh putty. His next step was to dip a rag into the paraffin, clean the windows with the new putty and finally polish them. A little later on that morning someone came round from the factory, counted the windows and paid up all of those that shone brightly! Before he left school Bill had two part time jobs. The first was delivering newspapers, requiring him to be out of bed at 5.40am and outside Mr Potts’ newspaper shop in New Spring Street by 6am. The delivery round took until 7.15, after which he returned home for breakfast. At 8.45 he left home for a full day at school. After school, at five to five he had to dash up Key Hill to Davis and Perks at 64 Spencer Street in the Jewellery Quarter for three quarters of an hour of running errands. Then he had to return to Potts’ Newsagents for his evening paper round.

Leisure Activities. Bill would frequent Northwood Street baths on a regular basis. The building housed both a swimming pool and wash baths. Costs were tuppence for the pool or a penny for a bath, with the option of borrowing a towel for a halfpenny. Swimming trunks were also available for a halfpenny. He also visited the cinema, usually the Palace on Summerhill Road. The Palace had three tiers, a stalls, circle and gallery. The gallery cost tuppence and the seats were hard wooden benches with no backs. When Bill was young one of the staff carried a cane. Any sign of trouble and he would bang the cane and swiftly eject the troublemakers. Most holidays were spent either at the Lickey Hills or Edgbaston Reservoir. Bill spent many hours at Edgbaston Reservoir, which in those days cost one penny for admission. His refreshments consisted of a snack such as bread and dripping and cold tea. Bank Holiday Mondays were a popular time to visit, and Bill would fish for tiddlers. Fishing tackle consisted of a basic rod and a jar. The rod was a stick with a piece of string on the end and a bent pin, using bread for example as bait.Trips to the Lickey Hills meant visiting Pat Collins’ Funfair. On at least one occasion Bill and his friends gambled their return tram fair in the amusement arcade and that meant a long walk home! His usual gang of friends included Harold Breakspear, Billy Cooksey, Charlie Hogan and Raymond Wigley.

Christmas was the time for many families to receive free Christmas fare from the Birmingham Mail and Bill’s family was no exception. About a fortnight before Christmas the vouchers would arrive informing people where to go to collect their items. It was always on Christmas Eve morning at Bingley Hall or Thorp Street Barracks. Bill’s family would arrive at about 6.30 in the morning to be one of the first in the queue. Goods were laid out on trestle tables and the families received a joint of beef, two quarter pound packets of tea, a pound bag of sugar, cakes and a Christmas pudding, as well as some chocolate biscuits. They also received a voucher to take to a local greengrocer for vegetables and potatoes together with a ticket to buy 2cwt of coal from the coal wharf. Bill recalled carrying four bags back from Bingley Hall.

Bill’s Sporting Prowess Develops. For children living in the 1920s and 1930s the street was a great playground and Bill was no exception, developing his early skills in football and cricket in that traditional way. He spent many hours playing outside but street football brought its hazards, as in Bill’s young days you could be arrested and fined, so it was necessary to have lookouts on the corners of Icknield Street and Ellen Street. The police had a significant presence on the streets in those days and Bill remembered watching around twenty constables marching out of Kenyon Street Police Station with a sergeant in front. Gradually they would drop off in ones and twos to take up their allotted beat. Happily there were alternative sites at Camden Street recreation ground or a little further afield in Summerfield Park. Camden Street Recreation Ground had two park keepers, known to the local youngsters as ‘Bluebird’ and ‘Cherry Pecker’. Bluebird earned his nickname because he always wore a blue uniform, whereas ‘Cherry Pecker’, a large man who opted not to wear a uniform, was so called because of his prominent red nose. Bill remembered that, “They’d watch you like hawks”. The children would initially mistakenly think that they could get away with misdeeds where the bigger man was concerned as he was less mobile. However, he knew who the culprits were and when they turned up the following day they would be refused access for a day or two.The two men were based in a hut in which they kept some sports equipment such as cricket stumps that were available at no charge. There were also swings and see saws and the Recreation Ground was locked at nights. Summerfield Park was a couple of miles away and it had a definite advantage in that it possessed two marked out football pitches. Not that you could simply take them over. The trick was to be there early enough so that you and your friends could at least try to stake a claim to one of the pitches. Usually there would be an argument with another group but sometimes a compromise could be reached by using the goalposts at one end and some form of clothing to double up as goals on the half way line. As often as not, though, Bill and his mates would simply mark out a pitch on the open grass.

Sporting Achievements. Bill showed some considerable skills as a footballer and played regularly for the Icknield Street School Team. By the early part of 1935 he was attracting the interest of people not connected with the school. 1935 was the year in which George V celebrated his Silver Jubilee as King and a series of events took place across the nation to mark the achievement. One such event was a national youth football tournament, involving regional representative teams from different parts of the UK and Bill was selected to play for the Midland Counties. Caps were awarded to the participants and Bill proudly took his home. Unfortunately his caps were pawned by his mother, providing yet another clear illustration of how hard times were for the family in the 1930s. Pride in achievement was one thing but it did not put food on the table. On leaving school Bill continued to play football, including for Bromsgrove Brookfield, who competed in the Birmingham Youths’ and Old Boys’ League. By then, though, he was at work and his childhood was over.

If anyone knew the Higgs family or their relatives I would love to hear from them.

Tony Higgs            anthnyhggs@aol.com

NEW SPRING STREET VIEWED FROM ICKNIELD STREET. Andrews mother Ethel Cooper lived at number 5 back of number 15 New Spring Street (5/15). Located on the left of the photograph just past the BP sign.                                           Read more in the entry below from Ethel's son Andrew.

NEW SPRING STREET 21/04/2016       I have just come across your website by accident and have found it most interesting. My mother, maiden name Ethel Cooper, was born at 5/15 New Spring Street, Brookfields and she was still living there when she left to emigrate to Australia in 1922 aged 19. She had been an apprentice silversmith but wanted to see the world. She later met and married a young man from Newcastle UK in Sydney and married. Her parents names were Henry and Frances and she had an older brother William and older sisters Violet and Isabel. From reading some of the stories on your website I would imagine that their old residence would have been demolished long ago. My mother passed away quite some years ago and I have little idea of her early life. If anyone has any information about the Cooper family from all those years ago or their descendants it would be greatly appreciated.         Andrew Blades (Ethel's son). Email Address: asblades1@bigpond.com.au

NEW SPRING STREET 14/06/2015
I have just visited your wonderful website.
My mother, Shirley Holland would like to hear from anyone who used to live in no1 back of 39, New Spring Street, Brookfields, Birmingham between 1948 -1950. Her parents were Mrs Elsie Holland and Mr William (Bill) Holland. Their siblings: Shirley Holland (67), Veronica Holland, Susan Holland and Peter Holland.
Please contact pau1masters@hotmail.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET 04/05/2015
I have recently found your site and it brings back so many memories.
My name was Joan Chapman and I lived at 1/39 New Spring Street during the war. I had a brother Michael and two sisters Pamela and Linda. We lived behind Alf and Floss Darby and I remember their daughter Jean. We went into their cellar during many air raids. Next door to the Darby's lived my auntie Phyl Taylor and Uncle Fred with their daughter Jackie. My cousins Raymond, Peter, Colin, Roger and David Russell lived down at the bottom of our yard.
June Fleetwood was my best friend and we slept at each others houses quite a bit. More names from then are, Keith Cotter,David and Audrey Walker, Frank Hadley.
I used to run errands for Mrs Addie Fletcher who ran the Outdoor Pub with her daughter and she used to organise trips to the Aston Hippodrome for the pantomime.
I passed the entrance exam to grammar school in 1949 and we left the street in 1950. happy days.
Joan Hufton joanhufton@aol.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET 18/10/2014
My name is Laurence White and myself my two sisters Isabella and Gail and my Mom (Marie) and dad Laurence (Larry) lived at the address 5 back of 39 New Spring Street, Birmingham 18 from 1957 to 1968 in fact I was born there.
I don’t have much information but I do remember we lived next door to the Clarks at one end of the yard and The Doyle's Bill and Margie and children I think at the opening end.
I remember coming out of our yard and going down a hill to go to school and I remember a so over the road Flores comes to mind if anyone can help.
Would love more info.   Laurence White     laurencejwhite@hotmail.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET 07/08/2012
Until the houses was demolished by the Council and we were all moved out, I lived with my family at 43 New Spring Street in what I believe was called a "through house" in a street of back to backs.
We had 2 rooms downstairs with stairs going off the back room, a kitchen and toilet extension on the back, 2 bedrooms, an attic and a cellar.
The reason for my email is that my sister has expressed a wish to have a dolls house made in the style our old home and I am therefore doing my best to find out all I can about these houses, with regard to the room sizes and possibly a drawing of the interior of the houses . Is there any advice you can give me with regard to whether this type of information is available.
Anything anybody can tell me would be much appreciated. Rita Robinson  (Ex Brookfields resident) rita195@btinternet.com

NEW SPRING STREET 07/08/2012
I am looking for the following old pals.
Stephen Elliot. Used to live in New Spring Street. Would be about 63 yrs of age now (2012). Had a sister called Pauline. Stephen joined the Royal Marines (?)
Philip Thompson. Phil used to live in Rosalie/Coralie Street. He went to Icknield Street school with Robert Austin. Would 64yrs of age now (2012).
Thanks in anticipation
Robert Johnson (Ex New Spring Street)   bob.johnson@blueyonder.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET 18/12/10
Just came across your site by chance while looking at Camden Street school where I went, what a fantastic site loads of things I could talk about too numerous to write at the moment. I lived in New Spring St next door to Norman Baileys but it was his brothers house when I lived there my maiden name was Perry my mom and dad were Alf and Elsie and my sisters are Kathleen and Valerie and brothers Donald, William (Billy), and my twin. John. I would love to comment some more after i've read more on your site.
Janet Brandon nee Perry   jan.brandon@hotmail.co.uk


NEW SPRING STREET 29/02/08

AUNTIE, ME & EDNA

AUNTIE, ME & EDNA

Photo taken in 1939. I believe it was taken just before the war started when I was six years old. My name is HENRY ROBERTS the photo was taken outside number 56 NEW SPRING STREET.  Abbaroberts@aol.com

NEW SPRING STREET 31/01/08
 I have been looking on this site and told my mom about it as she is allways on about her childhood.Well my moms name was Judith Bailey she had a sister called Flo and a brother called Colin. My granddads name was Albert Bailey but cant remember my nans name as she died when my mom was only 16. She went to Camden Street School and lived in New Spring Street and tells me about what it was like for growing up. I am not sure if you or anyone else would remember my mom. I am unable to send photos but if anyone else has got any they could send to me on my email address then I would be greatfull as then I could show my mom.
Thank you for taking the time to read my email  Debbie Email: dyatestt@btinternet.com

NEW SPRING STREET 17/03/07
Does any remember Clarkson's button factory on the corner of New Spring Street and Clissold Street.I worked there in 1960/61 but never see it mentioned anywhere.I used to look after about a dozen automatic button making machines by myself.I was only 16. Bob Shale  Email: rwshale@hotmail.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET 17/12/06
What a great site came across it by accident.My Gr grandad Arthur Beresford and Gr nan Elizabeth Line lived at 3 back of 36 New Spring St with there daughter Florence.He was a butcher and he died in France in 1918 in the war.Flo ,my nan,married my grandad Albert Claybrook and lived in the same house with Elizabeth.They had 2 children Alan ,my dad, and Eric.Flo worked at Bullpits i think and albert(speedy) was a runner for Watty Green,does anyone remember them. Alan Claybrook  Email: snowie123@hotmail.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET  05/01/05    

 Methodist Church building            (that used to be) in New Spring Street

 Methodist Church building            (that used to be) in New Spring Street

This is an up to date picture (taken 03/01/2005) of the Methodist church (that used to be) in New Spring Street, the 253rd Birmingham, 1st Brookfields Scout Band used to practice in hall at rear of church every Friday night (prior to 1967), after that moved to Scout Hut in Clissold Street (Hut was built by scouts themselves).
We also had church parade from here every 2nd Sunday in the month, I still got band uniform and bugle.              Ken Grinnell

NEW SPRING STREET  17/06/04
I'm really pleased that i've discovered this site. I was born in 1949 at 1/60 New spring Street and lived with my mom and dad Bill & Rose& my brother & sister Roy And Jean. Our neighbours were Dave & Jean Williams, Terry & Sheila Eades & The Kavanaghs (a family Of 14)too many to mention.I left in 1968 and have very fond memories of the street, if anyone remembers me or my family I would like to hear from them.
I've remembered some shops that used to be on Spring Hill, they were Jeffs (Gents Outfitters), The Launderette (nexy door to the cake shop),The Star (Toy Shop),Coach And Horses Pub, The Queens Pub (corner of Spring Hill & Ingleby Street),Featherstones ButchersAnd The Home & Colonial. Such a great shame, all those shops now theres nothing. Robert Clarke   rlclarke@blueyonder.co.uk

         157 New Spring Street (1969)

         157 New Spring Street (1969)

NEW SPRING STREET   15/02/04
I came across this site purely by chance whilst starting to research my family history. We used to live at 169 New Spring Street. I look forward to contributing further comments. It would be great if anyone had a map of Brookfields that could be sent to the website.
Ian Colston  Email: ic004e0222@blueyonder.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET 12/03/04
Does anyone have or know where to get a street map of Brookfields, around 1950 up until they knocked the houses down. I want one as a memory jogger. All these names that I remember but can,t place their exact location.
Wendy Petit nee Johnson mentioned the Lamb pub. My Aunt Rose and Uncle Alf Hems either owned or managed it. I would imagine it was towards the of the 50's. As a matter of interest they had 2 children. Diane, who died tragically in her 30's and Martin who can be seen in the photograph of Camden Street Football Team.
Ian Colston    Email: ic004e0222@blueyonder.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET  09/04/04
I was born in 1953 and I lived at No. 169 with my parents Joe and Taffy and my brothers Stephen and Maurice. and up to 1960 my Granny Rose. Next door at 167 lived my Aunt Rose and Uncle Alf Hems. They had 2 children Diane the eldest and Martin. Martin can be seen in the football team photograph at Camden st. school on this site. Aunt and Uncle either owned or managed the Lamb Tavern on the corner of Clissold Street and New Spring Street. On the other side of the road lived my Aunt Joan and Uncle Fred Raybould. Their 2 children were Paul and Carl. On the other side of our house at 171 lived the Wooleys and their children Allan Janet,and Roy. A couple of doors further up lived the Hardings and their daughter Wendy. I went to Camden Street School (New Spring Street Entrance) with my best friend Paul Evans who lived in Hingestion Street His Grandparents lived up the next entry to me in Rosalie Street. Nobody that I have noticed has mentioned GREENS sweet shop opposite.
Ian Colston Email: ic004e0222@blueyonder.co.uk

 NEW SPRING STREET   26/11/03  I remember Brookfields it was a nice place to live. we lived in New Spring Street up a terrace, ten of us in a two bed house,  we had no water in there, no electric. just gas light. and a tap in the middle of the yard for every one to use and of course the old bruas where mom use to wash once a week. We lived all through the war up that terrace and saw Bulpits hit, we where in Rees an Felix when it got bombed.  I went to Camden Street School and all my sisters. then when the war ended we moved to Hingeston Street not far from our other house but it did have one more bedroom thank god. I don't know how mom managed with nine of us. We used to go to Camden Street dance and the mint on a monday 1/6d they where the days we did enjoy our-selfs. Saturday we go down the flat to do moms shopping and on the night go to the Tower ball room  those where the days. We went down memory lane a few weeks ago and was very disapionted in fact I think I spioled it. but I will always remember it the way it was when I lived there in 1940. poppy_jim@blueyonder.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET  06/08/05

Standing are Poppy and Jim (poppies husband)  at the Tower Ballroom.                                                                                Does anyone recall the names of the two couples seated??

Standing are Poppy and Jim (poppies husband)  at the Tower Ballroom.                                                                                Does anyone recall the names of the two couples seated??

NEW SPRING STREET     The evacuese,I remember June Millichamp and the Laurels Pub we lived across the road from there in Hingeston Street, before that we lived in New Spring Street the garage belong to evenses they had a daughter Dorothy. before the garage was Mr Pots tobacco shop and we also had our accumulaters charged up and then there was dollys shop across the road sold sweetsand icecream and at the top of the road was Rees and Feelix. at the top of the road was the horse trough public toilets.              poppy_jim@blueyonder.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET  28/11/04                                                                                                                                                            I Remember when we lived in a back to back in Brookfields the old tin bath came out every Saturday night in front of a roaring fire, boiling buckets of water on the gas stove we only had one bedroom and attic, one room down stairs to do everything and a pantry to do cooking and wash yourself, Mom had eight  children I often wonder how she managed, but she did. We only had gas light down stairs we took a candle when we went to bed, we had to share toilets at the top of yard. Mom had Monday as her wash day in the bruwus there was always help from one of the other residents to turn the mangle for her Ted everyone helped each other in those times they where hard times in the back to backs but we never let anything get us down just got on with it.poppy  e-mail : poppy_jim@blueyonder.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET
I was born at (2 / 213)  beter known as no2 back of 213 New Spring Street, Brookfields, Birmingham 18 it was the usual back to back house,originally they were Police Houses a block of seven three at the front and four at the back. New Spring Street stretched from Icknield Street all the way up to the junction of Western Road and Crabtree Road. We were surrounded by factories and as one would start to walk up the walkway to our houses at the back there was a factory on the right called the "Lamp Factory". This stretched along the side of the walkway, down New Spring Street to Clissold Street along there to Prescott Street and up to the walkway opposite ours. Coming back to our walkway, up New Spring Street and after the front three houses there was another factory called the "Belmont Chandelier Works". This went on for about two hundred yards and then there were more houses until they met at the top of the Street with Crabtree Road, coming back down on the other side, again more houses and then another factory called "Bolt, Nut and Rivet Works". After that would be a high wall which would be the beginning of Coopers Coal Wharf, beyond this wall would be a canal basin from which they would unload the barges of coal. In between this first wall and the second wall would be a pair of very large slatted wooden gates. This was the entrance where people would fetch their coal from either in an old pram or in one of the barrows that Coopers would let on loan for a small deposit.
Continuing down from the gates would be the second wall and again on the inside would be another canal basin from which more coal would be unloaded. At the bottom of this second wall, the corner went into a large half circular shape and in between would be similar set of large wooden gates. Beyond these would be a small building, outside this building would be a "weigh" bridge upon which we kids would spread our legs and rock it. This "weigh" bridge was a very large metal plate upon which lorries or horse and carts could be weighed after they had been loaded up with coal. I think Coopers were a distribution Center for coal and the little building was where the weighing equipment was held. Inside the large gates would be a house where the "Carless" family would be living and one of their jobs was to keep an eye on the whole of the wharf and the barges making sure that no kids were playing around there.by Norman Bailey
Adapted from Norman's book "Childhood Days in Brookfields". (see BOOKS page)

NEW SPRING STREET
My family lived at 40 New Spring Street. We lived at the front of a back-to-back house. There was my mom, dad, eldest brother Brian, June, Terry, myself and Tony. Auntie Doris (Scott) lived in Coralie Street. The Dolman's lived almost opposite - there was Alf, Alice and their daughter Maureen. They were related to the Elliots also of New Spring Street -children Pauline and Stephen. There was also the Woolley family that lived at the top of the 'yard' They had one daughter named Gillian. I went to the reunion on July 12th 2002 but unfortunately I didn't know anyone from my childhood days there. Perhaps as the word spreads about the reunions then maybe I will meet up again with friends I had there when I was a child.
Valerie Cooper nee Fleetwood   valerieacooper@yahoo.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET  28/12/04
I have just been on the Brookfields site on the internet and saw your message about living at 40 New Spring Street. Well I remember you all well. My grandparents Flos and Jack Robinson lived at number 2/40 New Spring Street, in the back to back house right behind you, also my nan's sister Gert lived with them. We lived opposite at No. 43 next to the Cotters. The Neweys were on the other side of the entry, at the front, next door to you and had one daughter. I remember when I was little we had no TV and Mrs Newey very kindly let us watch the Railway Children on her set on a Sunday afternoon.
I remember Brian was a little older than me and very handsome. I had a bit of a crush on him at the time. I believe he had a problem with his heart? And June was a bit older than me and Terry about my brother John's age. If I remember right June married and had twins.   I remember the brewhouses up the yard and the outside toilets which everyone shared, the lines of washing on Mondays and Mr Neway talking to himself in the toilet!
Seeing your memory of New Spring Street brought back a lot of good memories for me too.
Thanks. RITA ROBINSON   rita@erbiegray.freeserve.co.uk

NEW SPRING STREET
I remember Val Fleetwood of New Spring Street (I had heard she had become a dietician) I went to school with her, her brother Terry who I last saw working as a butcher in the Bull Ring some years ago was my childhood hero being I think about 3 years older than me, which seemed like an age. I also remember Pauline Elliot and brother Stephen (i think) and from the bottom of the yard Maureen Doleman. Whatever happened to Christine Taylor another of our school friends from "up the road".I used to live at 3/25 New Spring Street which was almost opposite the New Spring Street Garage.We lived there until 1962 with my older sister Christine and younger but now looking older brother Graham. I had a paper round covering the Jewellery Quarter at "Constables Paper Shop"  in Icknield Street next to the Post Office opposite Rees & Felix I think I only got the job because Ernie Constable used to drink in the Gate pub with my Dad. 23/10/02
From John Solomon  Email: johnsolomon6@aol.com

NEW SPRING STREET   (Re Brookfields shops) 02/11/02
I was born in New Spring St.  Memories came flooding back after reading some of the other comments.
On the corners of New Spring St and Ellen St there was Mrs Elsie who ran a greengrocers, this closed down in the early sixties if I remember and shortly afterwards Mrs Elsie died. Mrs Elsie used to drive a Jaguar car whose rear part of the roof could be folded down, the roof section had two chrome arms that folded down just like baby's prams that were fashionable at the time.
On the other corners there was an off licence, opposite there was 'Florries' a general store run by Florrie and Dennis Ayre. On the fourth corner was Mr Whites or 'The Dairy' as it was sometimes called. Further up New Spring St towards Iknield st next to the garage was Mr Potts the newsagent, it was here that you took your accumulator for charging, something I had to do on a regular basis so my dad could listen to the boxing on the radio. Around in Iknield Street opposite the No8 bus stop and the public toilets was Gays toy shop.
Bob Johnson    Email: bob.johnson@blueyonder.co.uk

New Spring Street Brookfields Garage 1958                                                         Thanks to MacJoseph

NEW SPRING STREET     Just round the corner from New Spring St almost opposite Baines Bakery, was a Furniture Shop I think called Reeves & Felix. Also in New Spring St was a small grocery shop,where my Father used to help with the icecream on Sunday Mornings. My two Aunts worked at Baines.
Raymond Prigg  08/12/02
Email: Gadney2002@aol.com

NEW SPRING STREET 04/05/03
I was born at 234 New Spring St Brookfields went to Brookfields School also Camden Street School. I had two brothers Trevor & Roger Thomason. I got married in 1960 to Brian Savery (from 206 Lodge Road)  at St Peters church Spring Hill & we are still together 43yrs later.  I remember all the shops in different articles on the site, Leah Taylor from Crabtree Road shop & Mrs Garbett both died in the old peoples home where I worked in Quinton . I remember Barry Ridgeway, Reggie Maylin, Killer Bates, Iris Aston, Barbara Ellis, Anne Culley, Ken Aston, Kevin from the outdoor, the Flints, Peter Tierney, Terry Tierney, Kathie & Jean Tierney, Patty Gregory [ she was murdered ] Ronny Froggat, Maureen Stilges, Johnny Duroes, Bill Walters, Teddy Humphries, Jimmy Hewitt, Judith Bailey and Jonny & Margaret Morton. Tony Orton married the girl from the outdoor on the corner of Crabtree Rd & New Spring St . I also went to a youth club at All Saints School run by Betty & Eric Marsh we had to go to church 3 sundays out of 4 in order to go to club. Lots of other kids went as well from Hingeston Street , Clissold Street and Abbey Street ,etc'.   Sheila Savery nee Thomason    Email: sheilasavery@hotmail.com

Photo is of mom's milkman & a boy named Tony Ralph

Photo is of mom's milkman & a boy named Tony Ralph in cowboy hats in the garden of 234 NewSpring Street the milkman worked for Wacaden he was always up for a laugh his name was George.  Sheila Savery 02/10/03

Outside 234 New Spring Street 1958

This is a photo of my hubby's lorry (he worked for the danish bacon company then) when he was my boyfriend in 1958 its parked in Newspring Street outside of 234
next door was Sutton & Ash & across the road was Russells.        Sheila Savery 05/11/04

NEW SPRING STREET16/04/04
This is for Sheila on her article NewSpring St, you mentioned that Tony Orton married a girl from the pub on the corner of Crabtree Rd. I am wondering if this girl was my cousin Christine or pat as my uncle had an outdoor called the Crabtree Arms she had two daughters as I have mentioned.
Well this is a great site keep up the good work Email:Kathy fanknackers@hotmail.com

 

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