Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Brummagem Magazines from 2012


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June - Issue No. 135

"In this month's Brummagem, and thanks to Mac Joseph, we bring you a remarkable collection of photos from street parties in one place - Lily Road Yardley. They show celebrations in 1935 and 1937 - and perhaps also from VE Day and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
As ever there is much to stir the memory such as Connie Hayball's moving tribute to her mother to and as moving a tribute to a street - Hazelwell Lane in Stirchley. We also include details about a school reunion for those who went to Burlington Street and Upper Thomas Street in Aston."

 

 

 

 



July - Issue No. 136

Carl Writes

Our Mom was a wonderful cook. On a Sunday she would do a perfect roast dinner of pork or lamb or beef with tender cauliflower, carrots, and peas and the most tasty roast potatoes imaginable. And she would always make her own gravy with juice from the meat, flour, water and seasoning. The smells of cooking, the flavours of the food, and the coming together of family were all mixed into a wonderful experience of a shared meal. The house was always full on a Sunday with Mom and Dad, me and our Kid, Our Nan and 0ur Winnie and three or four other relatives. Our Dad always used to laugh and say Mom was cooking for the five thousand but it was good that she always cooked extra because invariably two or three of my mates would call for me to go to the pub and be given a meal. Mom came from a big extended family in Whitehouse Street, Aston and that's the way her own grandmother, Granny Wood, had done things. Our Mom was also an adventurous cook. She started doing chilli con carne and beef Curries in the mid-1960s. I remember we also had a curry at school when I was about ten in 1966 and it was so bland that it was actually horrible. But Our Mom's curries weren't like that at all - they were aromatic, spicy, and hot with a thick sauce covering succulent meat and rice boiled just right. These memories have been stirred by an innovative, thoughtful, inspiring and beautifully produced book called 'Bangla Food Journeys' by Aftab Rahman. This month's Brummagem includes extracts along with much more.
We bring you the memories of the late Floss Bennett of her Ladywood life; recollections and rare photos of schooling at Uffculme; details of an important project involving Swanshurst School and Brandwood End
Cemetery; thoughts of life in a great house in Sparkhill; and a passionate plea to remember Birmingham's
Italians.
Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit

Carl

 

 

 



  August - Issue No. 137

Carl Writes

Characters abounded in old Birmingham. Noisy, colourful, distinctive, charismatic and passionate their kind is few and far betwteen today. We live in a world that is sanitised, homogenised and refined when anyone out of the ordinary is eschewed and frowned upon. It is a world that does not Value those who dare to speak up and to challenge, that shies away from those who are radical, free-thinking, daring and spirited. And society is the poorer for the loss of characters.
Characters like Percy Shurmer, the Miskin King and a politician of conviction who strove with might and main for the rights of the poor whose address was bavk of. Characters like Ernie McCulloch, the Prince of Beggars, who did Whatever he could to raise funds for kids from the back streets, so that he might take them on a day trip to Sutton Park and buy them clothes.
Then there was Jimmy Jesus, supposedly the son of Wealthy parents who called out for all that would listen to help him Feed my lambs; the escapologist, the man in chains, who would have himself tied up and wait for his cap to be filled with coppers and silver before he revealed himself; and, of course, the Andy Carrier Lady
Small and with eyes that did not see, she stood on the steps by the old Market Hall, almost chirrupping out, andy carriers, andy carriers, and selling her brown paper bags to anyone that would spare a copper or
two to buy one.
Derek Smith is one of many older Brummies who remember such powerful characters in the Bull Ring as it was before the War and we bring you his memories in this month's Brummagem.
As ever there is much more to stir your thoughts of the past - from Charlie Reynold s compelling account of hard times in Queen Street to stirring photos of the Christmas parties put on for poorer kids by the traders of Aston; and from Roger Keight's account of Nanette Stocker and A Day out With Mom to Stephen Leigh's moving story of Erdington Cottage Homes in the 60s.

Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit

Carl

 

 



  September - Issue No. 138

Carl Writes

Modern as Birmingham may seem, many of its place names call out of a strong link with the past stretching
back to when first the Pagan Anglo Saxons colonised this region 1500 years ago. One such name is particularly fascinating, that of Weoley.
Pronounced for centuries as Weeley, as indicated in 1644 by a receipt Signed by Susanna Marrist of Weelie Park, it is an ancient name that recalls a 'weoh' or 'wig'. This was a heathen shrine or temple, in a 'leah', a woodland setting. Such a meaning would connect it with Weeford near to Lichfield, which means the heathen shrine at the ford.
These are not the only names harking back to pagan gods as Woden, who is also remembered in Wednesday, is recalled in Wednesbury and Wednesfield; but with the conversion of the kings of Mercia to Christianity and the appointment of St Chad as bishop of Lichfield in 669 then paganism was doomed.

Despite this the old beliefs lingered long in a few parts of the West midlands. Because they were exceptional these areas were named after the pagan beliefs of their people. As such Weoley is one of the oldest
Anglo-Saxon place names in our region, probably emerging in the later 600s.
Yet little is known about its history until the population expansion of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries when the manor was held by the Somery and Botetourt families - both remembered in road names.
Unlike Northfield, there was never village in Weoley and the district was completely agricultural until the inter-war years when a massive council estate of 2,718 houses was developed over 312 acres.
The focal point of this new district was a huge circular green around which grew up a shopping centre called The Square - as brought to mind by Betty Collings in this month's Brummagem.
As ever there is much more to stir memories - from an account of Birmingham's Poles to that of King Edward's Girls Handsworth class of '42 and from memories of growing up in Billesley to J.H.Richards & Co Ltd, Saltley Road.
Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit

Carl

 

 

 



  October - Issue No. 139

Carl Writes


For too long our people, the common people, were mostly hidden from history. Too busy working day after day so as to survive, they had no time to write down their stories or compile diaries. Accordingly their appearances on the historical stage are restricted mainly to mentions in official annals and concern events when they had committed an offence according to the laws imposed for their own benefit by the ruling class.
Sadly so much of our knowledge of the past is gleaned through these official reports that lack the verve of personal testimony and that relate to working people in an arrogant and insensitive manner. Or else our understanding of the past comes via historians who interpret what they have researched according to their own background, upbringing, beliefs and attitudes.
Of course, the voices of the past are the concern of every historian; yet some historians speak louder than those whom they study. They muffle the voices of the past, making them difficult to understand and to appreciate. Oral history is a valuable way through which we can overcome this problem and speak with the past more directly - so too is life story history.

When writing down their story, or part of their story, the writer sets down what he or she themselves wants to in the manner they want to.
As such life stories, and also oral history, are vital and vivid first-hand sources allowing use to engage with the past in a more democratic and emotional way. Everyone has a story to tell- but too few actually tell it.
There is a real need for the older generation to pass on their lives before their memories are lost forever. Brendan Shields is one of those who has recognised the importance of this imperative and he has written in with an engaging and important account of his Irish family arriving and settling in Birmingham.
It is a story with which many will empathise. As ever there is much more in this month's issue - from a moving tribute to Our Gran Vi Weldon to a great Birmingham firm Brandauer's.
Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit

Carl

 

 

 



November - Issue No. 140

Carl Writes


The Second World War was indeed a total war in which every man and woman had a role to play. And yet for all that historians acknowledge the importance of civilians as well as the armed forces in achieving eventual victory in 1945, too often is the vital input of women glossed over or neglected.
There can be no doubt that without them the battle for freedom could not have been won.
Women were active working in factories, hospitals, the ARP (Air Raid Precautions), the Auxiliary Fire Service, the Women's Auxiliary Police Corps and in many other spheres - not least of which was the Women's Land Army.

This force was started in June 1939 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries - although Lady Denman was its honorary head. The majority of the Land Girls came from rural areas, but over a third were from London and the industrial towns and cities of the midlands and north of England.
At first Land Girls, as they were known, were volunteers but their munbers were supplemented by conscription. By 1944 the Land Army had 80,000 members and it continued until it was officially disbanded on October 21, 1950.
There was also a Women's Timber Corps working in forestry. Sadly and wrongly it was not until July 2008 that its surviving members and those of the Land Army were finally recognised for their work and its importance with the presentation of a specially designed commemorative badge from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Two of those women are Iris Drake and Doreen Lloyd, whose stories are featured in this month's Brummagem. Like all Land Army women, they wore a uniform of brown corduroy breeches, fawn shirt and tie; green pullover, and short brown greatcoat. And like all such women they are proud of their service - and rightfully so.

As it is each year, this November issue is dedicated Remembrance.

Lest we forget -
Have a bostin read.

Tara a bit

Carl

 

 

 

 



  December 2012 - Issue No. 141

Carl Writes


During Holy Week 1941, half way between Palm Sunday and Easter, the Luftwaffe pounded Birmingham once again. On the night of 9 April, 200 bombers dropped 650 high explosive bombs and 170 set of incendiaries. Close to the city centre 'the whole of the Midland Arcade was a mass of flames from High Street to New Street'.
The road itself was ablaze and 'a molten stream of blazing tar pushed its way downhill towards New Street Station'. So grave was the situation that senior officers decided to call upon the Royal Engineers to blast a fire break. Before they could do so a large block of buildings collapsed, 'enabling the fire to be cut off without the use of dynamite'

After the war this area was cleared and much of it became an open-air car park. It quickly became known as the Big Top site because a circus with its big top was held there until 1958. However, redevelopment of this site had begun four years earlier - indeed this was the first major project in the city centre before work began in the Inner ring Road in 1957.
Still called the 'Big Top' it consists of low-rise shops fronting New Street and High Street as well as City Centre House, as well as an office block that once was Birmingham's tallest. Yet though the name has remained for over 50 years, few people are aware of it and perhaps more people recall the circuses that were held there.
One of those who does is Phil Waldren. Born and bred a Brummie, Phil has lived in Halesowen for many years and is a local history photographer of talent and empathy. This month we bring you a number of his photos that were taken at the Big Top circus in 1951. They are rare and important and highlight a Birmingham that is becoming an increasingly distant memory.
As ever there is much more to stir memories form Betty Hattersley's memories of Christmas at the Beehive to Prince Albert Jake Jacob's story of coming from Trinidad to Birmingham.
Have a Merry Christmas

Tara a bit

Carl

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