THE FLAT SHOPPING CENTRE
HOCKLEY NEAR WINSON GREEN BIRMINGHAM
Scroll down for the roads off The Flat: Ford Street, Heaton Street, Icknield Street, Key Hill and Whitmore Street all in the HOCKLEY AREA.
THE FLAT (Lodge Road) was once a thriving shopping center before the advent of the modern supermarket its shops catered for the local families of Winson Green, Brookfields, Hockley, Ladywood and beyond.
Shopping other than from local shops was mostly done on the “Flat” (lower part of Lodge Road). Where a gathering of fifty different types of shops could be found. Our family had an account at the Co-op located near Heaton Street our number was 249537. Spencers the greengrocers with it's open market type front always seemed to have chickens and rabbits hanging up and fish on a slab. Boots the chemist, Woolworths, Freeman Hardy and Willis shoe shop, George Masons grocers, Marsh and Baxters pork butchers, Sutcliffes who sold records and Hunts the baker where the best dripping cakes in the world could be bought with a toffee bottom, full of currants with a sugary top, the corner piece was the best, these are just some of the shops that occupied the Flat between Park Road and Icknield Street. Ted Rudge
MORE SHOPS in alphabetical name order are listed below if you find any missing please let us know. * Full names of some are not known can you help?
Boots the chemist
Bike Shop (next shop to Yarnolds)
the bike shop on the flat was called Harrolds (Jim Evans Rosalie Street 01/08/02 )
Butchers (next shop to Boots)*
Bob Smart (Gents outfitter)
The Brown Lion (Public house)
Burley's The butchers (next to Boots)
Broadmeads the electrical shop
Cafe (near Yarnolds)*
China Shop (oposite Woolworts)*
Chemist opposite Spencers, but I can't remember the name
Freeman Hardy and Willis shoe shop
George Masons grocers
Glarys ladies fashions (near Woolworths)
Griffins the green grocers
Hunts the baker
Hole in the Wall outdoor
Hardware/Crockery shop (George Lowe) on the bend of the Flat and Icknield Street opposite Nortons
Hudsons the butchers
Marsh and Baxters pork butchers
Maypole (Grocers) Where my sister Irene used to have to "pat " the butter,and weight the sugar and tea into bags in the 1950s.(Maureen Hickin)
Mapps the cooked meat shop
Nortons (corner Key Hill)
Neals the Jewlers (The shop was opposit the Penticostal Church)
Penny Wink seller (cnr Heaton Street)
Pet Shop (near Woolworths)*
Spencers the greengrocers
Sid's (a second Burley shop by the Hole in the Wall)
Walter Smiths the butchers
Winkle seller was called Tommy Day was on the corner of Ford St near
Mr Walter Edwin Heath his wife Esther Annie (nee Pickard) boy on the left Henry Heath girl on right Jessie Heath the main frontage is in Ford Street corner with Lodge Road (The Flat) and the house is in Park Road (early 1900s) the big lamp above the door came from the Birmingham children's hospital. Mr Heath studied at Kidderminster hospital before starting up as a chemist his wife is one of the family of Pickards tailors out of Great Hampton Row
Thanks to John Houghton for the information and photograph 24/04/02
THE FLAT 28/08/2015 The BROWN LION
Photo of myself Matt Redmond (on the right) and Martin Byrne taken in the Brown Lion around 1955, you can see our darts sticking out of out top pockets....I lived in digs with his family in a house back of 56 Key Hill Drive. Matt Redmond AldermanMatthewRedmondMBE@virginmedia.com
The "Brown Lion pub" on the flat was in use during the war, it was opposite Heaton Street, it was only a very small pub. At the side was a cobbled court yard that had a deep slope, like a coach house. I am not sure when it closed, but my sister worked in Woolworth`s and said you could get to the back entrance of Woolworth`s up the courtyard. Maureen Holtham 22/07/02
THE FLAT 18/10/2014
I am Margaret Johnson as a child I used to go to the Hockley Pentecostal Church on the Flat (Lodge Road). The church used be packed out on Saturday nights I used to know Burt Neal and a lot of others . I Have photos if you would like some of Miss Reeves and Miss Fisher they were great leaders.
Best wishes Margaret Johnson email@example.com
THE FLAT 21/05/2011
My Grandad who passed on in 1954 lived at 3/23 LODGE ROAD, down the entry between Spencers the Green-Grocery shop and a sweet shop. His rent was 7/6d per week and a penny in the slot gas meter. The ‘Brew House’ if I remember correctly, was located in the corner of a’ blue bricked’ covered yard, between two other houses passing a small garden on entry to the yard. Further along on the the right of Spencers was Mrs Woolley sweet shop. There was also a PH called the Bulls Head’ on the corner of Key Hill & Icknield Street, opposite Norton's General Stores. Opposite was Smith’s the Bakery and confectioners.
These memories are from the early fifties with some passed on by word of mouth in fact some are from visiting my Grandfather, William Maggs, who lived in his ‘Back to Back’ house at 3/23, which was owned by Spencer’s. Negotiating the boxes of vegetables and the strewn, discarded potatoes and cabbages ect. there were two yards enclosed by two houses and a small fenced garden to the fore, with dark black soil, growing wall flowers. As you passed through the gate there was the yard and houses to the right and my Grandfathers to the left, in the house on the opposite side of the yard lived the Bailey family. The brew house was on the right, with a coal fired copper. One flushing ‘privy’ was on the left, with carefully cut squares of newsprint hung up. The drain was in the centre of the yard. As you entered the house into the scullery, there was a stone sink with a brass stop cock, with a window overlooking the yard. A gas cooker, but also a black coal fired stove, always with a ever bubbling iron kettle, hanging above. To the left of a large wooden table, which we understood replaced an earlier metal oblong bomb shelter. There was a narrow door which opened on to a spiralling staircase, which rose up to the bedroom and an attic. Below, was the entry to the cellar which held the coal, which was delivered down an outside opening grill. There was also a lounge type room, entered to the left of the main door. A main meal was ‘Brisket of Beef’ with all the vegetables cooked together in the same pot. The means of lighting was a gas lamp and mantle.
Granddad worked, before his retirement, for ‘The Great Western Railway’, as a Carter pulled by a horse that was always called Dolly who was always decorated with brasses and flowers for May Day. In fact, the writer, coincidently, worked for The Mint Birmingham Ltd (The MBL) located further along and on both sides, of Icknield Street, in the late fifties. This company that was started by Heaton Bro’s was in the business of brass and copper tube, and non- ferrous rolled sheet and also the striking of coinage. The casting shop, was situated within the factory, at the corner of Icknield Street and Warstone Lane.
I may have rambled on a bit, but trust this may be of passing interest.
All the best with your excellent work to help maintain our history and the memories, which hope may never fade
Kind regards David Treadwell firstname.lastname@example.org
THE FLAT 09/09/09
Does anyone know whereabouts of Graham Powell (Satch). Her married a girl called Brenda who had a hearing problem and at the time was working for the Co-op milk at Vauxhall. He lived before he was married just off The Flat/Lodge Road in Hockley - Circa 1940/1960. My brother Derek is 70 this year and would love to get in touch with him.
THE FLAT 24/05/08
My dad was born and bread, in Winson Green, his dad owned a shop I think they could be from around James Street (James Turner Street?). They were a big family 12 or so kids. His mother died when dad was 7 that would have been around 1928 give or take a year. Both mum and dad worked for Spencer's the "Green-grocer" on the Flat, It was quite a big shop for the time and a very busy one. I bought my first "shop bought" bike in 1962 from "Sport and Play" on the Flat, It was a racer. The shop let me pay it off weekly, I was 13 at the time. The bike was a red and gold B S A. Mr spencer had a Daimler, which my dad drove and washed for him and dad also drove his lorry. Looking through the photos on the site they brought back memories, even though I didn't live in the area, i spent a lot of time there. Again, thank you for the site, I will visit it often.
Michael Britton email@example.com
THE FLAT 31/01/08
How would you like to enjoy a Dripping Cake from HUNTS.
This area of our community holds many memories for the youth of yesterday, where we all ran errands to
earn pocket money to go to the pictures.
Your mom joined the Co-op before our family,by the sequence of numbers ours was 255725 never forgotten.
Many young people used Georges Cafe,mainly to use the Jux Box to play the Latest and favorite tunes, Then save to buy your records from Sutcliffes, also many courtships started her.
Just Memories. Regards Colin Mills
THE FLAT 09/02/07
You have asked if anyone remembers HE Griffin's from The Flat at Hockley.
My mother, Lillian Izzard (nee Wheeler) was 'In Service' to the Griffin Family. My Mother was born in April 1910 and would have been 15 years old or so when she went to look after the Griffin Family and live-in as their house keeper in a big house in a road between Lozells Road and Heathfield Road. Saldley my Mom passed away 13/11/2000 aged 90 years old.
Although my Mother was actually classed as a servant, my Mom always spoke of the family with the highest regard, she said she almost felt as if she was a member of the family, they always gave her birthday and Christmas presents. She respected Harry Griffin the father very much and I think she had a soft spot for Harry the Son. She was deeply upset when the daughter Jessie died from an eating disorder. My Mom had every wednesday afternoon off and a day off once a fortnight when she had to take her wages home to her Mother.
My Mother was the middle child of Mary (Polly) and Harry Wheeler, who you mention in your book BRUMROAMIN, my grand mother kept the tea rooms for twenty years in Black Patch Park after the gypies were gone. My Uncle, William Wheeler the youngest child of Mary & Harry Wheeler also worked for Griffin's for a few years in the late 1920's, he worked part time in the shops at Hockley and Erdington. Although he is aged 92 he has a marvellous memory and always pleased to share these memories with anyone.
Brenda Harper E-mail : Harperb899@aol.com
THE FLAT 19/02/07
I lived on Spring Hill but went to Icknield Street boys school, and had a good friend named George Sheard who lived in Heaton Street. I left school in 1962 but still remember the good times we had in the flat at lunch times, annoying the ladies in Woolies and Nortons, and chatting up the girls from Camden Street girls school.
rob smith Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE FLAT 21/10/06
I remember THE FLAT we lived in little Park Road, just round the corner every Monday night we would go and watch the van with the animals go into the slaughter house at the butchers. My sister worked at Masons and Woolworths. My brother used to live in the coffee shop with his mates they were teddy boys. Our name was Humphries Pat Jimmy and Irene.At night I used to walk the flat with my mates and we would look in the shop windows bagging what goods would be ours if we had the money. My mom would go to Spencers on a Saturday afternoon for any thing going cheep before they shut. What a great web site I shall find some old photos to send off the old street. Patricia Byers
THE FLAT 11/10/06
I Remember as a kid, late forties early fifties having to take the "accumulator" battery across to a shop on the Flat to be changed for a charged one for the Wireless! Anyone remember the name of the shop?
Patrick Limacher Email: email@example.com
THE FLAT 23/09/06
My family ran the butchers shop Myttons on the flat. The business was bought from a Mr Underwood in 1896 by my grandmothers family (Myttons) granny married a Mr John Aldington Hunt and so the family name became Hunt . We closed the shop and slaughterhouse in 1977 a sad day. However, the business has carried on and I have a butchers at the Scott Arms Great Barr. E Mytton Ltd or Mytton's the butchers were at 25 LodgeRoad between Hunts the bakers and Spencers the greengrocers. As I remember from the 1960's shops from the Park Road end on same side as our shop were
Duoro wine shop, I used to buy bottles of Guinness or Mackeson to feed a calf on a monday night to keep it quiet if it was not to be slaughtered until Tuesday. Playfair shoe shop, Burleys butchers shop, they also had a shop further down next to Boots chemists, next was grocers Pearks, Hunts the bakers run by Mr Parkes who lived in the same road as me in Handsworth Wood, Myttons with the slaughterhouse down the entry,
Spencers the greengrocers, fruiterers and fish shop . this was a shop with a long open frontage run by Joe Clewer and his son John, a sweet shop came next, Mrs hudson ran a wool and clothes shop next to Hudsons the butchers, I think George Masons was next ? there was a large Marsh and Baxters shop which had a lovely smell of bacon and sausage, I used to fetch bacon for the bus depot order as we did not sell bacon at that time. The next shops to Heaton Street were the Birmingham Co-op with the butchers on the corner? Boots the chemists were on the other corner with the other Burleys butchers next door. The remainder to Icknield Street is a bit vague I will have to try and remember.
YARNOLDS 30/04/05 Just looking around the site, especially The Flat - does anyone remember a shop called "Yarnolds", I think they sold net curtains. I may be wrong but I'm sure I used to go there with my Mom and Nan
Mac Joseph Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
YARNOLDS 04/05/05 In reply to Mac Joseph's comments about a shop called Yarnolds on the Flat - yes, he remembered correctly. The shop sold net curtains and bedding, towels etc. I remember my Mom used to pay a few shillings a week into a "club" with several other ladies she worked with and was allocated a number. Every week a number was drawn and you could then take your "chance" as it was called and go to spend it at Yarnolds. Pam Willis
YARNOLDS 11/05/05 Pam, thanks for confirming Yarnolds. The only other thing I can remember is that when you went in, on the left hand side were lots of net curtains. My mom and nan always bought their curtains from there and when we went down the Flat we always ended up there. Coming from Ladywood it was always an exciting trip, sounds like it was a long way away, but in those days it seemed that way. Mac Joseph email@example.com
WORKING ON THE FLAT 21/03/03 I worked at Peark's on the FLAT after school and Saturdays delivering the groceries, cutting cheese and butter, packing broken buiscuits and best of all cleaning up after the shop cat.
Next door was the home killed butchers and the fun we had when an occasional sheep escaped !
I lost my job after I was knocked of my bike by a No 8 bus in Icknield Street and deliveries changed to a man and van so I went to work in the Jewellery quarter. Brian Moore
LIVING ON THE FLAT 25/04/05
I lived over Perks on the Flat from 1937 when I was two years old until 1958 the stories I've just read on the web site have brought back a flood of memories. Very mixed emotions, how many out there remember the Hockley Stonehouse Gang and that superb man Harry Webb known as 'H' and the trips to Tong.
GEORGES CAFE ON THE FLAT 05/02/03 The best place on the flat was georges cafe,"our gang" loved this cafe, all we ever wanted was enough money for a bottle of coke, and some tanners to put in the juke box. the years we called the flat ours was 1961 to early 1964. Best singers then Billy Fury, the Everlys, HelenShapiro, Johnny Tillotsen etc.
There was a lady who worked at Spencers, and she used to tell tales to my mom that I was in "that dive" over there with that thug! I`ve been married to "that thug" for 39 years now! I worked in woolies for a short time with Margie Fowler and Barbara Randall, we had a great time!! In our last year at Handsworth New Road school Barbara and myself always had to go down the bag-wash on Tuesdays after school to do the washing, guess where we were while the washing was doing-Georges Cafe with the lads!!! great days.Jacqueline (Carnell)Perry firstname.lastname@example.org
THE FLAT 12/03/04
A shop to add to your list Neals the Jewlers, the shop was opposit the Penticostal Church
Bert Neal the owner is still an active member of the Church being now over 90 Years of age.
Does anyone have any early photographs of the Penticostal Church????? please. Roy Warrender email@example.com
I remember Bob smarts gents clothes on the corner of Icknield street and the flat, Nortons on the corner of Key Hill and Icknield Street if you bought anything here the assistant would put your money into a cannister attached it to some wires that crossed the ceiling then pulled a cord and your money crossed the ceiling to the cashiers office, your change and receipt then came back to you the opposite way.
There was a cafe on the flat next door to the bike shop near Yarnolds, also remember the Abbey pub corner of Park Road and Lodge Road with the Post Office next door and the Police Box on the corner of Ford Street and the flat. Roger Dennelly 22/04/02
THE FLAT 10/05/02
My Dad Ernie Birch worked at Cannings (Gt Hampton Street) and would on some Saturday mornings walk to Hunts the bakers on the Flat and fetch dripping cakes and bring them home. We lived in Phillips Street Aston at this time, so he walked a fair way!! but it was worth it cus they tasted bostin. Rod Birch
I can add a few more names to the shops on The Flat as I lived in Ford Street
Miss Woolies sweet shop and delicious home made ice cream large basin full for a shilling.
Hudson`s the butcher`s his wife, also had a baby clothes shop nearby.
Mytton`s Butcher`s where live cattle were slaughtered. Gee`s was the name of the china shop.
Another chemist called Izon`s was near the bike shop, and a cooked meat shop called Mapp`s where I had to go every Saturday for my dad`s " Pig`s Brains" (ugh) "Black Pudding" and "Chicklings".
The "Brown Lion Pub" was directly opposite Heaton Street next to Griffin`s also a green grocer`s.
Smith`s the cake shop [not so delicious as Hunt`s.] there was also Playfair`s shoe shop, next to the "Hole in the Wall" . Tommy Day was the name of the winkle man. Maureen Holtham nee Fowler 11/07/02
I used to go to the bagwash which was on the flat next to the church I think:
Roderick Scott 02/03/03
The fruit and veg stall on the flat was owned by my uncle....Ernie Groombridge, my dads brother in law. After he passed away it was taken over by uncle Ernies son.. (cousin Ernie)
From Val 30/03/03 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Butchers on the flat next to Boots was called Burghleys (I think) they also had a shop at the Park Road end of the Flat. The butcher at the Boots end of the flat was a big man with a red face. I also remember the till was an elaborate brass affair that someone obviously spent hours polishing.
Regarding Myttons the butchers I have heard that one day a cow escaped and was chased up and down the flat by the slaughtermen and the driver of the lorry. Unlike Burghleys Mr Myttton ( I believe it was him) was very thin and always wore a peaked cap.)
On saturdays my uncle Tom used to sell papers on the corner of Ford Street and the flat.
Hunts used to sell ham as well as bread, they had a small counter at the back where it was freshly cut off the bone.
On the same side as the bike shop was Chadwicks the grocers. Mr Chadwick was a shortish moustached man and all the groceries were weighed and wrapped for you I always remeber the butter being cut off large slabs, being patted into shape and being wrapped in greaseproof paper. Andy Jarvis 24/09/02
LIVING AROUND THE FLAT The Winson Green / Brookfields zone was our widespread family patch. Some of my folks remember the Ellen Street landmine, and one in Lodge Road. Pre-War, my Ma's big family lived in Roseberry Street and Aberdeen Street before moving to a larger house in Lodge Road, close to the timber yard and BOC (for years they all heard strange 'bumps in the night' and still call it the 'haunted house').
The website picture of the no.32 tram took me back to the late 1940s, my childhood, before the 96 bus took over. I remember the tram stop just as shown in the picture, above Scribbans, and that the trams on this route were shorter than other trams (such as the Bristol Road, pleasure-seeking Lickey Hills trams--summer days and illicit bluebellpicking, as I recall). I was born into a family branch that lived down the bottom of Lodge Road along The Flat. We were thought of as 'low' in more ways than one: we lived in Heaton Street, and I went to Icknield Street School--not good, many said! There were fine folks in that street, and some rough uns too. Saturday night pub banter could be noisy, from the 10 o'clock chuckout at the Brown Lion pub, which became a wishy-washy launderette around 1958(?). And on The Flat, midweek, kids plus grannies might watch animals arrive for slaughter at Mytton's the butchers--cheery Bert was the main hand; or see whether Griffins or Spencers had the best veg and whatever on Fridays and Saturdays. And then we were choosing bread or doughnuts between Wimbush's (next to Woolworths) or from HV Smith's bakery, close to Sally-Ann's up-market ladies' shop. There was an amiable bike shop man (Reg?) at 'Sport and Play', and another bike shop round past the Bazaar on Icknield Street (Centric). Then there were two chemists, Boots and Frank's, with the tall Tommy Day/Chapman and wife running a flower stall on his barrow outside Boots. And Pope's the gents' outfitter (he was a real 'gentleman' with his formal style, and he sold bowties, a bit upmarket, I remember); then FHW shoes, Harris's Drycleaners, George Mason's grocers, a steamy cafe on the corner of Icknield Street, the Maypole Grocers, close to Gees, the crockshop, and then Chadwick's grocers opposite Mytton's; and the CoOp and Marsh and Baxter's butchers opposite Sutcliffe's. This was the neighbourhood record shop, a goldmine of pop revenue where Italian Bel Canto opera might waft out from time to time, rivaling the 'Can Belto' sounds of more regular 1950's musicmaking; and then the Douro Hole-in-the-Wall off-licence (corner of Ford Street) where a railway horse and cart ran amock and charged into the corner window, by the police phone box, around 1952-3 (?).Talking of railway horses, one branch of our tribe lived in the railway house next to the stables in the yard at the end of All Saints' Road, corner of Crabtree Road, close to the canal moorings. The Dad of that house knew ALL the railway horses by name and they knew him, even on the street. He was devastated when BR switched to lorries and three-wheel wagons for local deliveries. He loved the horses and was their Blacksmith and general carer--before that he had smithied in Spring Hill Passage. That branch of the family did well and became posher than most of us. Their well-organised and thrifty daughters ran the ladies' hairdressers (Glarry's) on The Flat. We kept a cool distance most of the time--family members don't always get on very well. We lived in the less reputable spot. THEY were UP the hill by All Saints', and WE were down in grubby Heaton Street. They had an indoors loo and other plumbing. Many of our neighbours shared outdoors loos, and yard taps ... and thumped their washing dollies in big tubs in the yards on Monday mornings. We probably smelled a bit compared to our better-off folks ... But ... That part of the family moved out to Derby, with opportunities in Rolls Royce engineering. They are still in that locality, or at least their descendants are. And there is a better sense of tolerance nowadays. Another branch of the tribe lived in Little Park Road, grossly overcrowded, no privacy at home, noise and hurly-burly. Always clean-scrubbed smartly turned out, they lived behind the house of one Mr Hinman, piano tuner from Crane's, the big music shop in the city center, behind Lewis's. He was pink-faced, amiable, cheery, always smart in his huge grey suit. These family folk are out in Tamworth nowadays, or Sutton Coldfield, and Streetly. Their old homes are long gone. Coming down towards Little Park Road from All Saints' Road, past the railway weighbridge entrance, on the opposite side close to the bottom you'd come to a clean and tidy, spick and span alleyway, a well-used but unmarked entry, leading to a well-kept yard. This is where as little kids who did not know what was really going on, you were instructed in pairs to take packets of coins wrapped in paper containing instructions, say not a word to anyone and silently hand the packets to silent hands which reached out from a silent kitchen or back room--this was an illegal betting shop! Home you came; not a word was exchanged. All nods and winks, cos nothing had happened, had it? Of course the coppers knew about it! How could theynot? Everybody knew everything.
At the Triangle, by the horsetrough at the bottom of Warstone Lane, more or less opposite to Rees and Felix the drapers, people in my childhood remembered a butcher with the name Quick, a chap with the unfortunate initials I.P. And even as I write this message, I can see an old Rees and Felix heavy quality blue brocade bed cover which I still use to cover a musical instrument these days. My Granma bought it for my Ma around 1933, I am told--what a time ... It is faded but still good. I like it. Many members of my family used to walk that way and look in the shop windows, either going to Spring Hill public library (a fine building which I too used to haunt, and drive the staff bonkers until I mastered or ignored mysteries of the catalogue system) or on their way to work in Bulpitts, making chrome-plated kettles and the like, Swan Brand. Or they were going up to Bellis and Morcom if they were in to engineering. Otherwise, going up from The Flat, they'd walk up Key Hill, past Norton's the biggish department store which later moved out to Perry Barr, up past the 'Miss Reeves and Miss Fisher' ladies shop (these saintly sisters also ran the Pentecostal hot-gospel church on The Flat), past the toy shop, with its dreamland trainsets, a place we could not go in as we had no money, and then up through Key Hill passage and into the jewellery quarter. There was plentyof paid work in those days. My sister left Camden Street Girls' School and worked up there, making shiny enamelled badges. Other family members went that way on foot to the Lucas empire, then flourishing forever, it seemed--like Rolls Royce ... This was the then loosely-organised though highly productive zone, the jewellery quarter (no Heritage center was even dreamed of) where I worked as a child every evening after school. There was no homework in those days, and we left without a qualification to our name but hopefully with survival arithmetic and English to see us through. And no foreign language experience at all. We used Brummie at home, standard English in the classroom, as best we could, and foul language with our pals! The 4 o'clock sprint was common, up from Icknield Street School into scores of teeny workshops, some staffed by only two or three blokes, sizing rings and setting stones. We'd run errands, take packets of gems elsewhere, collect assayed gold and silver, make tea, wash up, sweep the filthy stairs and workshop floor for gold-dust, store the sweepings carefully and get the evening's mail off to the post office--every day, for perhaps half-a-crown a day, often less. Some of my family married in All Saints' church. The rector was a man called Johnson, said to be a bit quarrelsome or grand. But at weddings he apparently warned people that they could drop the ring through the heating grill at the entrance to the chancel. A disaster to be avoided. A nice stand-in called Eric Marsh helped out until the mild-mannered John Morris came in from somewhere (in 1962). The church had a peal of bells on which simple tunes could be rung out, wafting nostalgically over the area on quiet days. Who installed those bells and the key system to operate them? What happened to the organ when the church was pulled down? And where are the bells now. Not everything was idyllic--far from it; or unmitigated Hell. Or reliably safe, or predictable. There were some strange things, odd people doing wayward acts you were never warned about or prepared for. Ugly street fights could erupt between grown men in their middle years (not just between kids) apparently over old issues, or from a flare of temper between post-War spivs and local rivals. Once in the gentle Peter Duffy's barber shop in Heaton Street, some guys took in smiles and beer and whisky and encouraged Peter to turn on the Saturday races on the radio--or was it a boxing match? All customers got merry for a while, and merry smiles turned to aggressive growls, and brawling soon followed. The police came down in a Black Maria from Kenyon Street and were probably more heavy-handed than necessary. Not a happy end to the day, as we all saw, and it was customary for many to turn out and watch a fracas. Likewise when a fit and aggressively wiry woman in her early forties (mother of kids who for long were the terror of the neighbourhood) bullied and physically assaulted a frail white-haired isolated woman aged about 75. The latter's crime was to want a bit of peace, and to be old and defenceless against the sadistic and repeated attack. Violence does much damage ... to onlookers as well. As a seven-year old I recall feeling sickened at witnessing that horrible spectacle. These days such assaults would be in the courts, and should have been then. It seemed acceptable, I am sorry to say. Then there was the time the council started to repair the surface of The Flat (1952?), smoothing out some of the bumpy tarry fibre and rubber blocks or whatever they were; and, a fatal error, interrupting repair work from Friday night to Monday morning. On the quiet Sunday afternoon, some sharp-eyed locals spotted a few loose and accessible blocks and examined them carefully. Aha! Gold, well almost! The neighbourhood was not rich and winters were cold. The word got out that free winter fuel was there for the taking ... Those blocks burnt wonderfully, brightly, and long, soaked as they were in decades of pitch and whatnot. People came from far and wide, with mokes, old prams, pushchairs, and bags and boxes -- no one had a car then in our circles. Like in the picture house where news footage captured the energies of large teams of Soviet workers (or German slave labor), there were men and women, young and old, pulling the street to pieces, with hammers, picks and shovels, lifting perfectly good paving blocks and whisking them away for future domestic firesides, never to be seen again. Somebody told the police, of course, as I recall when a few vehicles tried to pass and people would not cease pulling up the road--they had to work quickly and remove the evidence pronto. When the cops arrived there were few folk around, and the road was much transformed! Those blocks had been swallowed down hundreds of street-level cellar grills; and front doors were firmly closed, inhabitants probably dreading the knock which might signal a stentorian inspection. Most people got away with their spoils and kept their mouths shut. Then, around 1956-7, very distinctive strangers, predominantly uprooted and lonely men, arrived in large numbers, first inhabiting a single house sold by one of our neighbours at an extortionate price. The neighbourhood was wholly unprepared for other ways of living, strange aromas of spicy cooking, different attitudes to local women, high-spirited attitudes to noise, vigorous social life, late-night partying. Thank goodness some people in our street made an effort to communicate constructively. The national authorities had made no effort to prepare anyone. Somehow, at least in my time, we did not suffer the bad feeling which overtook Sparkbrook or Handsworth--once a revered and leafy zone to us, and where we were NOT welcome as noisy slum children. 'Get back down your own end!', the well-to-do would yell when we seemed to threaten their manicured gardensand flower beds! Talking of gardens and strange things back in the 1940s, when we kids came down to The Flat from the Lodge Road Scribbans tramstop, we'd cross over to the side where houses were once quite grand, where an Irish Dr O'Brien used to have a surgery, and where the garden railings had been sequestered for the War effort. We could run over garden after garden, which can't have pleased people. One such place we called The Money Garden. Here, I'd now guess, someone DID like to see us kids playing in their overgrown grass. We would find money there, small coin, farthings, halfpennies, silver threepenny pieces, hidden in the greenery. So it would be down on hands and knees, going through every blade, turning every clump in the hope of gaining something. If two or three of you found a coin or two, you might all go off to the nearest sweetshop and together buy two pennorth of something, kayli, or liquorice, or two ounces of striped mints, to be shared out with glee. It was magic! We never understood that someone in that house, a kind person, had obviously thrown coins out from time to time knowing that little kids would come and search, and often go away in triumph. The amused benefactor was probably watching us from behind net curtains. Who was it? Their kindness is still remembered. However, by the early 1960s the area was emptying of solid 'old families' who had provided much of the stability that we took for granted and never valued, probably. These were the many households with the same family name, spread up and down the street. Private landlords had not repaired or maintained properties for years--their agents seldom came near except nervously or aggressively to collect the rent; and agreeing to no improvements to War-damaged properties perhaps dating back to the 1860s-70s. This is what happens when an area gets a 'blight' reputation. Low self-esteem gets even worse. After years of doubt in the late 50s, we were bought compulsorily by the City and scattered to Northfield high-rise pleasures (they *were* then, with bathrooms, immersion heaters, and indoor loos); other folk went to Pheasey Estate, Kingstanding, or Erdington, or Castle Bromwich. Supportive communities were destroyed. Some people fought to stay, and ended up in Newtown as a last resort, nowadays a troubled spot despite the very best efforts of many good people, I understand. If anyone wishes to talk on Email I shall be pleased to respond within the limits of my knowledge. My formal education was all local, inadequate I'd say, and limited therefore to a fairly concentrated knowledge of some locals' ways. Having learned much from them, I may also have learned a bit since that time, having lived in London, Bristol, Dublin, Amsterdam, and now fenland Cambridge; and having lived and worked for spells of time in central-southern Africa and Eastern Europe (before and after the end of Soviet rule). Of course, I can only re-evaluate or re-interpret a formative past, one which I don't share with many people nowadays. It shaped much of my outlook. from Paul E:Mail email@example.com
more from Paul
Many people from many streets had living connections with nearby zones--I used to go up to the Blackpatch Park area to train spot as a 10 yr old; and a couple of times went to the Brookfields Workhouse (as we still called it) in 1958 where my old (great) uncle Alf died amongst some pitiful ragged wrecks of humanity; and a few early-middle-aged moms in our street used to talk about taking chesty kids up to Summerfield Park where the air was supposed to be clean, and would help clear infections. And older people remembered the pre-War Palais de Dance on Monument Road/Spring Hill (and the big rear-view sign, 'BERT'S BACK', when dancing opened again after the War and a certain dance band could line-up and play again). And the dance jaunts to, and post-dance adventures at, Edgbaston reservoir . Paul 28/02/03 firstname.lastname@example.org
******************************************************************* THE FOLLOWING ROADS OFF THE FLAT WERE IN THE HOCKLEY DISTRICT
LODGE ROAD the Flat end 23/03/06 My wife Hazel Anne Jones (nee Johnson) worked as a counter clerk at the post office in Lodge road circa 1962 the post office was owned by her great aunt Rose Linell, she well remembers going to the cafe shown on this web site for sandwiches. The pub on the corner I think was an Atkinsons house - renowned for its very thick glasses.Memories are made of this. Robert David Jones email@example.com
ICKNEILD STREET the Flat end 27/02/04 I have just made a nostalgic and happy tour of The Flat thanks to your contributers.
But can someone tell me what the bars or railings were at the bottom of Ickneild Street just as it came onto the Flat they were opposite the bottom of Key hill? The pavement went below the road somewhat and this rail was on the road side. I was forever being told not to climb and do turns on them and I should like to know after all this time what they were there for! Sue Perfect Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My father George Lowe used to own the Hardware/Crockery shop on the bend of the Flat and Icknield Street opposite Nortons and the pub at the bottom of Key Hill. Kind regards Rob.
Shops on the flat Clement Butcher, Griffins and Spencers Green Grocers, Douro Wine Shop, Wooolworths . There was also a Pushbike shop, I can't remember the name but think it was a mans name. He had a 3 Wheeler bike. Bryan W Drew 27/09/02
When Bian Drew refers to the cycle shop is it Centric Cycles just inside Icknield St just round the corner from Woolworths. Does anyone remember the cycle track at the back of the Post Office in Key Hill, we spent many a happy hour there on our track bikes. On the Flat does any body remember the "Band of Hope" and the "Salvation Army" at the Penticostal Church . I think the butchers on the flat was Marsh & Baxters. I used to live in Park Rd by the Railway Tavern. Fred Herbert email@example.com
KEY HILL 12/08/09
I lived in key from 1950 till 1959 at the back of Nortons upholstery workshop which was situated at the end of Cemetary Lane, at which the old victorian gents toilet was at the corner of the lane and the cemetary, our full address was 53b Key Hill Hockley B'ham18. If you are interested, I have a photo of Nortons when the queen visited the area in about 1955, it was taken by the Daily Mail.
John Shellis firstname.lastname@example.org
HEATON STREET 16/02/2018. This is the first time I've visited your site and I would like to know if Heaton Street would be be considered as being in the Brookfields district ? (No, Heaton Street is part of Hockey) I had an aunt and uncle - Violet (nee Wheeler) and Walter Neal who lived in Heaton St from, I think, just before the war. They had four children: Syvlia, Brenda (deceased), Alan, and David. Both girls were members of a Pentecostal church at the one end of either Heaton St or Icknield St. Would anyone know what it was called or if it's still there ? Trevor Bow email@example.com
HEATON STREET13/01/2016 Does anyone know of Bert J and Elsue M Spence who lived in Heaton a Street in 1950s.
Children John, Jimmy, Jeremy, Julie and June.
Please email me if you have any information of where they are now. Sue Raynes Sueraynes56@gmail.com
HEATON STREET 23/07/07
I allways remember those dark cold winter nights when you had to go out to the toilet, the toilet paper was cut up newspaper stuck on a nail and every Sunday night listening to the sally army playing on the flat and listening to the steam trains whistling as they went past. I lived in Heaton Street, the good old days.
HEATON STREET 24/09/03 I use to live in Heaton Street Hockley off the flat. Has anyone got photos of Heaton Street or does anybody remember me Rita Barrett. I lived next to the outdoor there was a sweet shop called Garretts were we use to get our home made ice lollies from, across the road was "Peter the Barber" . Tommy Day use to sell friut and veg off his barrow on the corner of Heaton Street. Who remembers Spencers the fruit shop where you would get the best smoked kippers and Hunts the bakers for the lovely dripping cakes which use to stick to your fingers please let me know (by email). Best regards Rita Barrett Email: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rita's request for Heaton Street photos was answerd by Mac Joseph who sent the photos below. Thanks Mac.
26 October 1969 15 November 1961
WHITMORE STREET 27/06/2017 Great looking at some old memories. I was born in 1966 at 120 Whitmore Street. People may remember more about Whitmore Street my memories are hazy, however, my two brothers John and Stephen went to Icknield Street School. But I do remember the Butlers (Mary) and the Fannons. I remember there was a big fire in the factory next to our house.
And on the Flat (Lodge Road) I remember Mr Fell (I think he owned a tailor shop).
I`ll see if i can dig out any photos.
Regards Andy (Andrew Brookes). email@example.com
Photos of WHITMORE STREET
WHITMORE STREET 04/07/08
I was born in Dudley Road hospital on 6 January 1950 and lived in Whitmore Street until I was 18. We lived down the entry next door to the laundry on the corner of Park Road (cant remember what it was called) CAN ANYONE? My maiden name was SPITTLE not a name you would forget, I had two elder sister Margo and Ann who used to hang around the FLAT, I remember the Palladium Picture House I went there on a Saturday afternoon to watch "Flash Gordon" also I remember the Espresso Bar (cafe) on Hockley Brook ,the times I have walked into town to meet friends. There is one person I would love to see is Brian Curtis we used to all meet on the old market stalls in town then go round the old bus garage, does anyone remember going there . After I left Camden Street school in 1965 I worked at Woolworth on the Flat until I was 18 . I also remember the Methodist Church I took the pledge when I was about 11 I think it was a Miss Fisher and Miss Fry sorry to say I broke it. Where our house was at the back of the shops on ? Linda Kelly
WHITMORE STREET 23/03/06
Bostin site spent so long reading the story's here. The pictures of the flat bring back memories as we shopped there when I was very young in the late 50's and 60's Mom and Dad were from the area of the flat Mom Elizabeth Cain from Abbey Street and Dad Fredrick Styles from Whitmore Street.
Gladly they are still with us in there 80's.
Keep up the good work. Robert Styles
FORD STREET 20/08/10
Hello Ted I have been looking at your Brookfields website for some time and have connections with the area - Hockley. I knew the Flat and Lodge Road. My grandmother Theresa Masters lived at 2 Ford Street Hockley and after I was born at Dudley Road hospital in 1952 we all lived there with her for a year. My mom was Florence Masters and had a twin sister Maud they went to Icknield Street School aboout 1927 onwards and I have a photo I think was taken 1928 - 1930.My mom is the girl at the back far right and Maud is next to her. It also shows 2 very strict looking teachers I wonder if anyone recognises them (this photo is on the Icknield Street School page).
My Aunt and uncle Winnie and Harry Phelps also lived in Ford Street and my two cousins Barry and Brian Phelps went to All Saints - I wondered if they were in the photo taken in 1949? Barry would be 10 and Brian about 6.
I was christended at All Saints church in December 1952 and the photo from Sheila Savery looks interesting - does anyone know when that was taken? I would love to hear from anyone who remembers any of these names. My mom married Dick Little and become Florence Little in 1948 and they met in the Abbey pub when he was de-mobbed about 1947.
Barbara Hanford firstname.lastname@example.org
FORD STREET 30/01/08
First photo shows me Carol William with hula hoop, No 6 haberdashery shop which was owned by Minnie Powers, Mrs Miller standing at No 8 and people going into No 9 which was Bingham's shop (Bingies). Second photo shows me standing outside No 4 Ford Street circa 1956
My mom worked at Wasdells Mudguard factory which was opposite where we lived. Does anyone remember it? It was Tommy Wasdell. There were ledges on the outside wall where we used to play 'ledges' in teams. On that same side of the street as you came down there was the Irish Yard, Donkin familty used to live there. Then there was the Pawnshop who Reg used to look after, in between there was the entry where Len the milkman lived and the O'Carroll family. Then Wasdells, and after that was the brassfactory. Then we had the opening what a great place that was where we used to congregate for play. Carol William Sarah.email@example.com
FORD STREET and the FLAT
I lived at number 3 Ford Street opposite LLoyds and Pastalls (brass ) I went to All Saints School in 1962 Mrs Brooks and Mrs Pool looked after me I remember a few teachers from that time, Mr Williams was the head, Mr Manning, Mrs Pierce,Mrs Thorpe (my favorite ) Mrs Rowbottom, Mrs French,Mr Morris was the vicar. in my class where many "kids" Elaine Maylin has to be top of my list. Robert Chapman, the Saddler twins, Kay Waller, Angela Evans. too many to mention here. Ford Street was by the island with Lodge Road ,the flats as it were known. On one corner, outside the off licence was the fruit barrow, on the other was a cafe run by two men. at the bottom of Ford Street was the bus garage,back now up to Park Road was the chippy with its little "pews " to sit in I used to work in the second hand shop a little higher up. I had a very good friend called Alan Brooks , we went everywhere together. I not seen or heard from him in 35 years because we moved to Sheldon. I have tried but to no evail. A few doors away from Alan lived a girl named Pat Healy, she was the tallest girl in the world. I bet she could see for miles.
Sometimes I close my eyes and I can walk out of our house and walk round the flats or up Lodge Road, past the post office, up the hill ( making sure I don't step on the cracks or you'l break your back) past the bakery, cross over and into school. Paul Gattrell firstname.lastname@example.org
FORD STREET 17/07/03
I remember a small shop about half way down Ford Street, run by Mr &Mrs Bingham. A few doors away, was a garage that repaired cars. I also remember my dad taking my brother and me to an airshow at Summerfield Park the star of the show was a vulcan bomber does anyone else remember these? . Paul Gattrell email@example.com
FORD STREET 21/07/03
I lived in one of the 'back to back' houses in Ford Street, 3 back of 11 to be precise. My parents had moved in there in 1955 two years after they were married. I was born in Dudley Road Hospital on the 1st October 1959 and went home to Ford Street a few days later, we lived there until the re-development of the area in the late 1960's. It was a bit of a family affair living in that part of Ford Street because my Great Grandmother (known to me as Gran) lived next to the entry to our yard at number 11, her daughter, my Great Aunt, ran a little grocery and general provisions store at number 9 two doors away. The shop was called 'Binghams' (which was her surname), she was Mary and her husband was called Ernie, although my Aunt was more affectionately known to a number of local people as 'Bingie'. I was known to most of the kids in the road as Gary Bingham..............although my surname is actually Callaghan. (I had lots of friends because of my relationship to 'Bingies' sweet shop!) One of the unique things about 'Bingies' shop was that you could buy a cup of pop over the counter. You would pick your flavour (Dandelion & Burdock was my favourite) and she would open the bottle and pour it into a plastic glass, and you would drink it in the shop. It would cost (according to my Mother) one penny, tuppence or threppence depending on the size of the glass you had. My Father, Bernard, had just started his own drapery business towards the end of our time in Ford Street and would sometimes sell some of his stock through 'Bingies' shop. I recall the time that he started a craze in the street for 'Batman' capes. 'Batman' was the big thing on the television at the time and my Dad had bought a stock of them. He put some in 'Bingies' shop window and the next thing you know.......Ford Street was full of 'Caped Crusaders'
FORD STREET I remember with great affection the times I would sit on my 'Grans' front doorstep on Ford Street and set up a firewood shop. I would go to 'Spencers' the Greengrocers on 'The Flat' and get some of the timber fruit crates, chop them up in to strips, put them into bundles and try and sell them as firewood to people walking down the street.
I look forward to posting more memories here in the very near future.
My best regards to you all. Gary Callaghan.
FORD STREET My sister and I remember the Fish and Chip shop in Ford Street called Reggie's. We use to go there on a Saturday and have pea's and chip's they were lovely. He only had one table and 2 benches, the chips and pea's were mmmm nice. We also use to go to Norton's.
Maureen Harwood firstname.lastname@example.org 12/12/02
Construction of the Hockley flyover 6 september 1967 photos supplied by Alan Elliot