Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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January 2016 - Issue No. 178
Carl Writes

Aston has played a major part in my life. Although I grew up in Moseley and Springfield we spent a lot of time `Down the Lane' - along the Ladypool Road in Sparkbrook where Our Dad came from and where we had relatives and the family bookmaking business. We also spent much time in Aston as Our Mom came out of Whitehouse Street, which runs just off the Aston Road North.
Born Sylvia Perry, she grew up in the yard at the back of the Albion pub. Behind the rear wall of their terrace of blind back houses was the playground of Saint Mary's Church of England School, where Our Mom had gone as had Our Nan, Lily Perry, nee Wood.
Our Nan's mother and father settled in the street in 1915 and they died just before it was cleared, but one of my earliest memories is of going into their house with Our Mom. I recall going down a step from the street into the one room which they had downstairs and seeing the table in the middle of the room, and I have a vague recollection of a steep staircase in the corner.
Even after Gran and Granny died, Aston featured large in our lives. Our Nan had been given rehoused in a Council maisonette in nearby Rupert Street, Nechells and me and Our Kid often stopped with her during the school holidays. When we did, of a dinner-time (it wasn't lunch then) we would always traipse down Avenue Road to the Midland Wheel where Our Winnie worked.
She was Our Nan's favourite sister and our favourite aunt, and together they would take us to a coffee house, in Rocky Lane I think, where we would have bacon butties and play the 'one-legged pirate'. It took Our Mom weeks to work out that we meant the one-armed bandit.
Then we'd pop along to meet another of Our Nan's brother's, Our Georgie, who worked in Eastwood's Scrapyard in Whitehouse Street. Usually, they'd take us into the little room of the 'Albion' or stand us on the step, swearing us to secrecy from Our Mom, and whilst they had a drink we'd have crisps and Vimto.
It is 45 years and more since Our Granny and Granddad Wood died and since redevelopment laid waste Whitehouse Street and destroyed the great shopping centre of Aston Cross but my childhood memories of Aston have been stirred by the evocative photos of Michael Kitchen in this month's issue. A talented photographer, he captured the Last of Old Aston in the mid-1960s and next month we shall feature his evocative photos of town on the cusp of change.
As ever there is much more from Muriel Bolton's memories of the Blitz to Alan Jones's recollections of yard life in Ladywood, and from Bob Betteridge's stories and family tales about King's Norton to Anna Rose's account of the Ukrainians of Birmingham

Have a bostin read and a happy and healthy new year


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February 2016 - Issue No. 179
Carl Writes

It is hard to think of greenery in the old industrial Nechells, dominated as it was by gas holders, railway lines, back-to-backs and other terraced housing, and darkened as it was by by factories and workshops billowing out smoke and pollution. Yet green there had been, as the name Nechells Green makes plain a place which was the most eye-drawing feature on Tomlinson's Map of Duddeston and Netchells in 1758.
Nechells Green then consisted of two large pieces of land that lay between fields, separated by a route that headed down towards Aston and would become known as Thimblemill Lane, after a mill where thimbles were made.
Also part of the Green was a small triangle of land bounded by two other routes. The first split into two at the apex of a triangle. It went downhill from Nechells Green and was indicated as the road towards Perry Barr. This was to become Rocky Lane, which later ended at Aston Cross.
The other way headed into Duddeston and is still with us as Bloomsbury Street and Vauxhall Road. It went on to just below Gosta Green. This track was joined by another route that led to Saltley Bridge over the Rea, which later emerged as Saltley Road and Saltley Viaduct, and further on down, by a pathway which made for Duddeston Mill, hence becoming Duddeston Mill Road.
There were two other roads that led off clearly from the Green, but which seemed to peter
out in fields and become tracks. One reached out towards Saltley Bridge, which crossed the
River Rea and led to Castle Bromwich. Nechells Place would follow part of this trail. Another led to a slitting mill which came to be known as Nechells Park Mill, and hence the pathway would develop in modern times as Nechells Park Road.
It is remarkable that the ancient routes coming from Nechells Green were not obliterated by either the urbanisation of Nechells or its wide-scale redevelopment in the 1950s and 1960s. It is also remarkable that the name of Nechells Green was not wiped out.
These thoughts on Nechells have been prompted by an excellent new book on Changing Nechells by Ted Rudge MA and Keith Clenton, which is featured this month. It stirs memories of the past with old photographs and then contrasts them cleverly with modern views a comparison that is thought-provoking. Change is also the key word for the photos from the later 1960s included from Michael Kitchen's superb collection, but significantly they also highlight continuity. And as ever there is much more to highlight our past this month.

Have a bostin read
Tara a bit


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March 2016 - Issue No. 180

Carl Writes

Joseph Salter was a missionary at the Strangers' Home for Asiatics, Asians and South Sea Islanders in the East End of London, and was deeply concerned with the welfare of these people. Much of his work involved him with lascars, merchant seamen from what was then India. Interestingly, he visited Birmingham in the 1860s and described meeting a Christian convert called Dada Bhai, who ran a lodging house for Asians. Indeed it was one of three such places in Lichfield Street and the nearby London Prentice Street, both of which would soon be cleared for the cutting of Corporation street.
This is the earliest record of Asian people in the city and they were followed by a few students, doctors and lascars who had decided not to return to life on ships. By 1939 there were about one hundred Indians in Birmingham, but by the end of the Second Wold War their numbers had increased to about a thousand, boosted by lascars working in the munitions factories.
Over the next few years more men from the newly-independent India and Pakistan came to the city, including some from Sylhet, in what was then East Pakistan but which today is Bangladesh. They rented cheap dwellings in Spring Hill, Balsall Heath, Aston and Lozells, which were in the throes of the clearance of back-to-backs and redevelopment. Some of them formed informal savings groups and bought run-down terraced houses collectively or jointly.
As for work, a few men went into catering and from the 1970s the majority of Indian restaurants in Birmingham have been run by Bangladeshis from Sylhet. Others operated markets stalls, especially in the King's Hall Market in Corporation Street, although the majority became labourers in factories
Most of them thought that they would work in Birmingham for a few years and return to Bangladesh, but after their country's independence in 1971 and a widespread famine five years later, the ageing men began to bring their families over even though it had become more difficult to do so because of the 1971 Immigration Act.
The age and gender profile of the community started to change and therein lies the power of the remarkable photographs of Roger Gwynn that are included in this month's Brummagem: not only are they visually captivating but also they are also a historically important insight into a still-emerging community on the cusp of change. As ever there is much more to stir memories from to working days at Aston Cross to recollections of a Shirley childhood and from a tribute to a proud paratrooper to a tale of the Jewellery Quarter.
Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit
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April 2016 - Issue No. 181

Carl Writes

The first mention of Balsall Heath is in a document from 1541 which described it as Bordishalle Hethe. W. B. Bickley, an expert on the district, felt that Bordishalle was derived from Bordesley, which adjoined Balsall Heath. He went on to explain that locally the name Bordesley was pronounced without the ‘d’, becoming Bor’sely. He deduced that this word was attached to heath and thus led to Bor’sley Heath and then Borsall Heath.
 Thereafter Balsall Heath was spelt in a variety of ways. In the Bordesley Tax Roll of 1552 a Bawsall Heath was recorded, and in July 1610 Joseph Rotton of Baulsole Heath was baptised at King’s Norton Parish Church. However by 1753 some people were spelling the name as Balsall Heath, as was shown by an advertisement in Aris’s Birmingham Gazette.   
 The heath itself stretched from the Spark Brook (on the Stoney Lane) to the Moseley Road, below which the land falls towards the River Rea. As part of King’s Norton, Worcestershire, this area was enclosed with all the other heaths and commons of the parish in 1772. 
 Development in Balsall Heath was then signalled in 1828-9 when new roads were formed as a result of action by the agents of the estate of William Moore a bankrupt, and Mr Frowd. Ten years later, the Haden Estate was sold for building land and Belgrave Road was cut; whilst new roads emerged to the west following the breakup of the estate of the Reverend Vincent Edwardes – hence Vincent Street and Edward Road.
 Still, as late as 1850, the local blackberry canes and nutbushes continued to bear abundant fruit, whilst pike could be caught in a pool on the River Rea. The outpouring of Brum continued, however, and in 1869 the Longmoors Estate of the Cox family was sold for building. This filled in most of the open spaces west of the Moseley Road.
 With an expanding population, in 1862 the local ratepayers voted for independence under the Balsall Heath Local Board of Health, and then in 1891 they voted for annexation by Birmingham. As part of the deal, the city took over the debts of Balsall Heath, gave it three councillors, a free library, and swimming and washing baths of the Moseley Road.
 Then in the years after the Second World War, Balsall Heath was often the first place of settlement for many immigrants and by the late 1960s it was probably the most multi-cultural area of the city. Its distinctiveness and diversity were captured in a precise moment of time by the highly talented photographer, Des Gershon – some of whose photos of Balsall Heath in 1970 are featured this month. We also remember the terrible air raid of April 1941 and the escaped lion from the Onion Fair of 1927 – and as ever there is much more to stir your memories.

Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit
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May 2016 - Issue No. 182

Carl Writes


Wench is a powerful word. To an older working-class Brummie its use indicates deep affection for a woman; whilst Our Wench was your big sister, the one who acted as a little mother and who through her minding and caring for her younger brothers and sisters had no time for herself.
Our Nan, Lil Perry, was Our Wench. The oldest daughter of twelve kids, she told me that many's the time she's been sent out the house with the younger ones so as to give her Mom space and time to do homework, in her case threading rings on radiator rods until her fingers bled. Nan said she would push an old pram with a babby in it and a toddler walking each side whilst she had a titty bottle in each pocket ready to feed them when they started to grizzle.
Wench itself is an old word. Arising from wencel, a child, it changed slightly to become girl as indicated in the Middle English poem Cleanness and later in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. In Act V, Scene II he writes: Why there's a wench, come on and kiss me Kate.
We should not abandon this word that reaches out deep into our past and which belongs to us simply because ignorant outsiders dislike it. Pat Hambidge is someone who never did so. She was proud to be a Brummagem Wench and six years ago we proudly featured some of her evocative poems from her book 'The Riches of a Brummie Wench'.
I was proud to have known Pat and to learn from here. She was a proper Brummie whom I admired. Sadly she died in June 2013 but in her memory, her loving family has had a second book printed called 'The Further Riches of a Brummie Wench' - with all proceeds going to Kidney Research at Pat's request. I am sure you will be as enthralled as much as me by Pat's evocation of the old end.
As ever there is much to stir memories from Les Clarke's engaging photos of a changing city to Gerald Walton's detailed account of his time as a choir boy at St Mart's Aston Brook, and from Ton Gee's account of Charli Mitchell's belt to schoolday memories.

Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit
June 2016 Brummagem magazine cover  



June 2016 - Issue No. 183

Carl Writes

The Crimean War was damned by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery as one of the most ill-managed campaigns in all recorded history. It pitted the Russians against the British, French and Turks whose chief aim was to capture the major naval base of Sebastopol and so destroy Russia's supremacy in the Black Sea.
The British and French forces gathered at Varna in Bulgaria, where they were devastated by diseases, and after which Varna Road, Edgbaston was called. Other roads recalled that conflict, including Raglan Road in Edgbaston and Handsworth, named after the British commander, Lord Raglan, and Balaclava Road, Kings Heath, which honours the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Another battle was brought to mind by Inkerman Street, Aston and Inkerman Street, Vauxhall; whilst Cathcart Street, Vauxhall remembered Sir George Cathcart, a leading British officer killed there. Finally the victory at the Alma was commemorated by Alma Street, Aston, Alma Crescent off Dollman Street, Vauxhall, Alma Passage off High Street, Harborne, and Alma Place off Stoney Lane, Sparkbrook.
Some of these streets were swept away in the redevelopments of the 1950s, 60s and early 70s. It was in that time of transformation that Mike Jee embarked on a most historically important photographic project that captured the end of much of old Birmingham.
He came here in 1967 to work for Cadburys and went on to attend local history extramural evening courses on Industrial Archaeology at the Birmingham and Midland Institute. The tutor, Dr Jennifer Tann enthused him and impressed upon him that the city was in the process of irrevocable change.
As Mike explains, although much that was being demolished was unsanitary and decrepit, many fine buildings which could have been properly renovated were destroyed, and local neighbourhoods with their inhabitants were disappearing. Indeed some areas, such as Ashted, would cease to exist even in name. As a result, and as I had just got a new Praktica camera, more useful than my previous rather awkward thing with bellows, I started to go round the city and take photographs.
Between 1969 and 1973, Mike took a series of remarkable photographs, many of which featured Balsall Heath, which was in the process of demolition and reconstruction and was area he often passed on the Pershore Road. This month we include some of those compelling photos, including one of Varna Road. As ever there is much more  from Birmingham's hospitals to wartime memories and from recollections of Handsworth Park to fishing trips.
Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit



July 2016 Brummagem magazine cover  

July 2016 - Issue No. 184

Carl Writes

Mentioned in 1461 as Small Hethe and in the 1511-12 Rental of Bordesley Manor as le Small Hethe on Coventry Wye, Small Heath was then a small piece of uncultivated heathland close to the junction of Green Lane with the Coventry Road. Indeed as late as 1882, it was shown as the area between Tilton Road and Saint Andrew's Road. This is now occupied by the ground of Birmingham City, originally formed as Small Heath Alliance.
It is likely that the name of the football club was largely responsible for the fact that the area covered by Small Heath increased. Today the district stretches along the Coventry Road from Watery Lane to the River Cole and from Green Lane in the north to the railway lines separating it from Sparkbrook in the south.
Although Small Heath joined Birmingham in 1838 along with the rest of the manor of Bordesley, the maps of the city tended to include only the Kingston Hill end of the Coventry Road - for the land to the east was still dominated by farms.
By the time of Pigott Smith's Map of 1855, though, there had been changes: a freehold land society had laid out an estate with Muntz Street as its focal point; and across the Coventry Road, Wordsworth Road, Lloyd Street, Glovers Road and Whitmore Road had emerged.
Seven years later the more rapid urbanisation of Small Heath was encouraged by the finishing of work on the Birmingham Small Arms Company factory in a green-field site on the borders of Small Heath with Sparkbrook and Greet.
Within twenty years, Golden Hillock Farm (also known as Glover's Farm) had been built upon and the Cooksey Road locality had emerged. By the mid-1880s, back- to- backs and other terraced housing had filled in Small Heath as far east as the line formed by Victoria Street, Muntz Street and Golden Hillock Road; whilst Ryland's Farm had become Small Heath Park.
Over the next twenty years, Little Hay Farm disappeared with the cutting of Waverley Road and its offshoots such as Oldknow Road; whilst Whitmore Farm disappeared for Henshaw Road and Cyril Road. Here better quality terraces for the lower middle class and the well paid of the working class were built.
This months Brummagem brings you evocative photos of some of those roads, photos that were taken by Roger Gwynn in the later 1960s when he chronicled the last years of much of the old Small Heath.
As ever there is much more to stir memories, from Brenda Nattrass's poignant recollections of a hard childhood to the heroism of Roy Fellows in the Second World War, and from recollections of a working life at George Mason's to those of pubs, hospitals and trams.
Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit

August 2016 Burmmagem magazine cover  

August 2016 - Issue No. 185

Carl Writes

Back in the 1980s I learned a lot from an old man called Fred Sutton. Fred had grown up in Aston, and was a good amateur boxer. When he was fourteen his mother and father ensured that he would be apprenticed and until he died he was very proud of the tools bought by his parents and of his own skill with a micrometre, a precision instrument for measuring used by engineers.
Fred was fifteen when the First World War began and quickly it became obvious that the volunteer soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force would need to be supported by large numbers of new recruits. He was one of the young men who went to join up because Lord Kitchener said if any young men of sixteen who enlisted before they was called up and conscripted could choose which service they went into. I wanted to go in the Air Force because I was interested in machinery.
But Fred was not allowed to join up as he was in a reserved occupation. He went in to work on the Tuesday and the manager he sent down for me to come up into the office as he wanted to know where I was Monday. Of course I told him the truth. I says Lord Kitchener says he need us.
He says you know me, Fred, no one can take you away from here. No one. Not even the King or Queen of England. You are an apprentice here he says and you will be more useful to winning this war by staying here than going into the war. As a matter of fact, he says, you'll be making them because aeroplanes wasn't known then.
That day when I met Fred, and the many times after when we spoke, he proudly showed me a certificate to prove he had striven to join up. It bore his name and stated that he was not liable for military service and it was also stamped. This certificate also emphasised that Fred was on the military register and was not to be called up for service with the colours so long as the certificate was enforced.
For Fred and other men, it was vital to prove that they were keen to fight for their country and that they were not conscientious objectors. Such a person was an individual who had claimed the right to refuse to perform military service on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, and/or religion.
Sadly, in the First World War such men of conscience were denigrated but by the Second World War the strength and courage of these men was widely acknowledged and in this month's Brummagem we bring you a powerful article about such men in Theatres of Conscience. As ever there is much more, including the wonderful photographs and intriguing story of the Handsaker family and a memorable account of a schoolboy boxer.

Have a bostin read.
Tara bit


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September 2016 - Issue No. 186 

Carl Writes

Properly, the Bull Ring was that stretch of road which ran between Moor Street and Park Street. It is first recorded as leBullrynge in the Charter of King Edward's School in 1552, and according to William Hawkes Smith writing in 1825, its name arose from certain priveliges granted to one John Cooper, who flourishing in the High Street, about three hundred years ago, and who was a benefactor to thne town. One of the remunerating priveliges claimed by the said Cooper was that he should bait a bull in this part of the town whenever he pleased. Until the redevelopment of the area in the 1960s, a bull ring was attached to a wall in the Bull Ring.
However for generations the Bull Ring has had a much wider scope to embrace the whole markets area, including the indoor and outdoor markets, the rag market and the wholesale markets. This expansion of the name the Bull Ring to cover a whole area began in the later eighteenth century as it is not named on Westley's Map of 1731 nor on Bradford's Map of 1751.
However, in 1757 the Great Bull Ring is mentioned in an advertisement and the Bull Ring itself is indicated on Hanson's map of 1781. In 1806 the Street Commissioners of Birmingham, then the local authority, cleared the houses on the eastern side of Spiceal Street and on the western side of the Bul Ring and lower High Street. This opened up a great triangle of space which had Saint Martin's at its base and which became the Bull Ring of memory.
More developments swiftly followed. Most impotrtantly the old manor house of the lords of the manor, the de Bermingham family, was knocked down and its moat was filled in. Upon the site was placed the Smithfield Market for wholesale fruit and vegetables, which was opened in 1817.

Have a bostin read.
Tara bit


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October 2016 - Issue No. 187
Carl Writes

Like all of my generation born soon after the end of the Second World War we lived with that conflict. We watched television programmes like ‘All Our Yesterdays’, which showed the build-up to the conflict and then what happened between 1939-45. But it wasn't just on the TV that we saw the war.
 It was all around us in Birmingham - in numerous large and small bomb pecks which bore witness to the ferocity of the air raids which had laid waste to so much of our city and in the many terraces of older houses which were broken up by new buildings erected on a blitzed site.
 Passing such places, Our Mom and Dad would tell us their stories of the war. They were mostly about the Blitz and but Our Mom also had vague recollections of her evacuation with Our Nan to Cheltenham, whilst Our Dad had stronger memories of going with Clifton Road School to Coalville in Leicestershire. Along with so many kids, they returned to Brum during the phoney war of late 1939 and went through the Blitz of 1940 and 1941.
 Organised evacuation was a major feature of the planning for war for cities like Birmingham which would become targets for enemy bombing. The Chief Education Officer was appointed as the Evacuation Officer and the city was divided into three zones. The central wards and those containing munitions works or public utilities were regarded as 'Evacuation Areas'; the inner ring as a whole, residential or partly residential districts were designated 'Neutral'; whilst residential suburbs were classed as 'Reception Areas'.
 Birmingham's scheme was based on an orderly evacuation taking place over two days, on the first of which children would leave the city with their teachers. Each school was classified into primary, secondary, elementary, special and nursery, whilst private schools were to fit in where they could.
 On 20 July 1939 a test evacuation of nine local schools was carried out at Hockley railway station. Then on 1 September the official evacuation began. The first evacuation train left Brum at 8.20 a.m., and others followed throughout that day and the next. All journeys began from New Street, Snow Hill or Moor Street stations, and then stops were made at local stations to pick up more evacuees. The children were greeted by wardens and police officers, but ticket inspectors and collectors stopped tearful mothers from joining them on the platforms
 Most children spent a short period away from home and many did not join the evacuation at all. It was estimated that between 80,000 and 90,000 children should have left Birmingham at the start of the war, but the total only reached 25,241 pupils from elementary schools plus 4,260 teachers and helpers, and between 5,000 and 6,000 from secondary schools. Most of them were sent to the rural parts of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Leicestershire.
Not all of the evacuees had happy experiences. In some places working-class Brummie children were made unwelcome, whilst others were treated insensitively and sometimes badly, as were Sheila Gibbons and her brother, Frankie. This issue includes her moving account of their experiences, whilst we also bring you memory-stirring photos of the Ladypool Road and much more.

Have a bostin read.
Tara bit
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November 2016 - Issue No. 188
Carl Writes

The 1948 British Nationality Act guaranteed free right of entry to British subjects and Commonwealth Citizens and until 1961 it was mostly West Indians who took advantage of this legislation. However a large number of Indians and Pakistanis also did so, with three thousand of them living in Birmingham in 1951 and ten thousand a decade later.
 They had been preceded by a few others, such as Dad Bhai, who had run one of three lodging houses for Asians in one of the poorest parts of Birmingham in the 1860s. Thereafter a few students, doctors and lascars (merchant seamen) arrived and by 1939 it was thought that there were about one hundred Indians in Birmingham.
 The most prominent was Dr Dhani Prem, a general practitioner, who joined the Birmingham Indian Association and later became active in the Labour Party. Another pioneer was Ram Singh Bhatra, a Sikh in the Auxiliary Fire Service, who met King George VI when he visited blitzed areas on 12 December, 1940.
 Five years later, the Indian population locally had reached a thousand, boosted by lascars, now working in the munitions factories. It continued to grow with former soldiers from the Indian Army. They were followed by civilians, both Hindus and Sikhs, from the Indian Punjab, especially from the villages close to the city of Jalandhar.
 The ex-Indian Army men were the pioneers of this migration but few stories about them have bene passed down. That lack of awareness of their contribution to Britain in two world wars has led Kiran Sahota to launch a project researching India winners of the Victoria Cross. As ever there is much more to stir thoughts in this month’s Brummagem, including the stories of the fourteen Birmingham VCs in the First World War and the powerful memories of the Blitz on Birmingham of 99-year old Elsie White.

Lest we forget

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December 2016 - Issue No. 189


Carl Writes

Throughout modern Birmingham, long-dead Anglo-Saxons call out to us that they live on through the place names we use daily and take for granted. There’s Dudda who had an estate (ton) that is recalled in Duddeston.Then there’s Bordesley, which may mean the clearing in the wood made by a man called Bord; and Billesley, signifying Bill’s clearing in the wood.
 Similarly, Edgbaston brings to mind Ecbald and his estate (tun) whilst Erdington signifies the estate of Earda.
 To their number can be added Mackadown Lane in Sheldon, which is derived from Machintone. This estate of Macca was entered into the Domesday Book of 1086 but there was no mention of Sheldon. However the name of the whole area began to change from the early thirteenth century when Ansel de Scheldon was recorded as the lord of Makintone. The inclusion of the French word ‘de’ meaning ‘of’ suggests that he took his name from part of the manor where there was a ‘scelf’, a shelf of level or gently sloping ground.
 The Sheldons later gave their name to a new settlement which was successful and by 1330 the nave and chancel of Saint Giles, Sheldon had been put up. Thereafter the use of Sheldon dominated over that of Machintone.
 Still, Sheldon remained a deeply rural district and between 1841 and 1921, its population hovered between only 400 and 500. Ten years later the greater part of the area was transferred to Birmingham and over the next few decades its farms disappeared and their land was built on.
 Sheldon rapidly became a populous suburb of Birmingham, even though it is as far from city centre as any other district in Birmingham, apart from Northfield and Longbridge. Private house builders developed the Wells Green and Sheldon village localities, whilst the Council built up the huge Kent’s Moat Estate and the Cranes Park Estate.
 This latter overwhelmed the Greatock Field, which had given its name to Greatock Lane but which was renamed Cranes Park Road - not because cranes nested thereabouts but because the builder who built the first phase of the estate up to the Sheldon Pub was named Kraines.
 It was to a flat on the Cranes Park Estate that my Aunt Win was moved from Aston in 1952 and my own memories of that locality have been stirred this month by Brian Buck’s vivid account of his Small Heath childhood and youth. As ever there is much more to evoke the past, including thoughts on childhood in the 1940s onwards to an account of becoming an apprentice motor fitter on the railways.  

Have a bostin read and a Merry Christmas.

Tara a bit


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