Saturday, November 25, 2017


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January 2014 - Issue No. 154

Carl Writes:


Lozells is one of the most intriguing names in Birmingham  but what does it mean? The earliest known map of the Manor of Aston was made by John Tomlinson in 1758. This indicated an area called The Lowcells which consisted mainly of a large farm, the buildings of which stood close to the main Lozells Road, then known as Lowcells Lane, on the land now remaining between Lozells Street and Carpenters Road.
A large wood called the Lowcells Wood lay to the south where it was bounded by the Hockley Brook. The earliest mention of this wood is in a deed from 1759. Importantly, older folk from the neighbourhood continue to pronounce Lozells without the 'e' whilst the 'z' is given as ans. Thus the sound is akin to that of Lowcells. Some people think this name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, from the words lowe (hill) and cele (cold), and hence meant the cold hills. However, Joe McKenna, an expert on Birmingham place names, argues that Lozells may mean the hill of Lor, for a deed of 1546 refers to Lorres Hill, otherwise Lowsill.

And according to Margaret Gelling, the renowned place name historian, in Middle English the word 'losel' meant someone who was a scoundrel or who was worthless. Who then was the scoundrel and why was he, or she, associated with the slopes leading up from the Hockley Brook? We'll never know. So like Oozells, the meaning of Lozells will always be swirled in a mist of mystery.
What we do know is that Lozells became a working-class district, one which Tony Hubble recalls with fondness and pride in this month's Brummagem. As ever there is much more from the Country Girl in Selly Park to memories of Ashted and Vauxhall; and from a tribute to a beloved dad to one for a well-loved aunt.

Have a bostin read.
Tara a bit

Carl

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February 2014 - Issue No. 155

Carl Writes

My family the Chinns have lived in the Kings Heath, Moseley and Sparkbrook areas of Birmingham for over 200 years. Before that we can trace our line directly back from father and son to a Henry Chin, the name was spelled with just one 'n' at that time, who was living in the village of Rowington in 1646.
It seems that the family was well established there in the Forest of Arden as we have a reference to a Ralph Chinn in a document from the twelfth century. For almost a thousand years, then, we have been rooted in north Warwickshire and for most of that time have married into other local families.
We always knew that on my Mom's side that we had Irish blood through my Great Granny Wood, who was born on the Curragh Camp in Kildare and whose mother was an Irishwomen whom we believed was called Lilian Clancy; although I have since found that she was actually called Elizabeth Lillian Crenley.
By contrast on the Chinn side we were unaware of any Irish connections until the late 1970s. After visiting his mother shortly before she died my Uncle Bernard, Dad's older brother, had told us that she had said that she was of Irish descent.
In fact my grandmother, Maisy Derrick, was the great granddaughter of a James Derrick, an Irishman who settled in Bilston and then Wolverhampton from at least 1841  and his wife, Eliza Hennesy, had arrived in the Black Country even earlier, in the mid-1820s.
James and Eliza were amongst the pioneers of the Irish migration to the west midlands and as a historian and family researcher I would have been overjoyed to hear their account of their arduous journey from Ireland over the sea to Liverpool and then to Birmingham.
That is impossible, but in this issue it is possible to read the compelling account of Honorary Alderman Matt Redmond on his move from Dublin to our city.
As ever there is much more in this month's Brummagem  from the mysteries of a grandfather's life to growing up in Cattells Grove, and from memories of Upper Thomas Street School to recollections of New Year at the Locarno.

Have a bostin read


Tara a bit


Carl


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March 2014 - Issue No. 156

Carl Writes

The Pen Room is a superb and interactive centre at the heart of Birmingham's historic Jewellery Quarter. It is an independent museum and anyone involved in heritage will realise how hard it is not only to set up such a place but also to keep it going. It is to the great credit of the dedicated team of volunteers at the Pen Room that they have succeeded on both fronts.
Aiming to highlight the importance of Birmingham's pen trade both to the city's economic wellbeing and the development of literacy in the world, the volunteers have brought together a magnificent collection of pens, machinery, tools, photographs, illustrations and books that bring the past alive. Much of this splendid material is on show in a wonderful workshop, whilst the art of writing and calligraphy talks place in another room.
The publication of People, Pens and Production  in Birmingham's Steel Pen Trade, as featured in this month's Brummagem, is another important step forward not only for the Pen Room but also for historical research. Birmingham played a vital role in the Industrial Revolution and its rapid and huge industrial expansion was powered not by steam engines but by the hands of its workforce, many of whom were women, who made small metal goods such as pens.
Sadly the man who has edited this important book and to whom the very existence of the Pen Room owes so much has recently died. He was Brian Jones MBE, a remarkable yet unassuming man. I knew him for a long time and classed him not only as an admired colleague but also as a friend.
On several occasions before Christmas, I brought groups of youngsters from PB II School as well as undergraduates from the University of Birmingham to the Museum. All of them were enthralled by Brian's presentation and by his knowledgeable and sympathetic guidance around the Pen Room. Brian had a special gift in that he treated everyone, irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity and background, with the same courtesy, kindness, consideration and thoughtfulness.
He was a fount of knowledge about the pen trade but unlike so many researchers and experts he was ever willing and keen to share his many years of research. I feel honoured to have known him and I send my sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues and thank him for his work in leaving behind a most wonderful legacy to Birmingham and to our history through the Pen Room, his writings and his example.

Have a bostin read


Tara a bit

Carl


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April 2014 - Issue No. 157

Carl Writes

I never knew Our Granddad Perry to walk. Multiple sclerosis had taken a hold of him when he was in his forties and quickly changed his life for the worse. One of the last times Granddad was able to walk without help was when he escorted Our Mom down the aisle for her wedding in 1954.

After that he was able to stand but soon lost his mobility. Within a few years he was in a wheelchair, but though he may not have been able to get about he was one of the most important people in my life. His fortitude and his humour in the face of adversity, his compelling words and sayings, his vivid recollections of the great players of Blues and the Villa all imprinted themselves upon my mind.

Granddad came out of Hick Street in Highgate and he often told us tales about the Tyseley Terror, a famed hard man, and that we were related to the Tipton Slasher, William Perry, one of the greatest bare-fisted boxing champions of England.

Later in life Granddad was cared for in Magnolia House in Conybere Street, near to where he had lived as a youngster and just behind St Alban's Church where he had sung as a choir boy. In the school holidays I often cycled from our house in Moseley through Moseley Village and down the Moseley Road to go and see him. And each and every Sunday our dad would take me and our kid, Darryl, to fetch Granddad back to ours for the day.

Because he could not walk and could not use his right arm, as a result of the MS, it was difficult to carry Granddad out of the car but most Sunday nights Dad was helped by a proper old Brummie who worked at Magnolia House.

I recall him as tall, well-built, with a black moustache and with his dark hair brushed back. He was always kind and considerate and took time to have a chat with us. Unlike some people, he talked properly with Our Granddad as a person and didn't talk to the wheelchair.

Recently that lovely man's daughter contacted me. She is Jean Jackson and I am delighted to include some of her memories of her dad, Bill Burbidge. We also discovered another connection as Jean's Mom, Jean Warren as was, went to school in Aston with our beloved Auntie Win, a younger sister of Granddad's wife, my nan Lil Perry nee Wood.

As ever there is much more in this month's Brummagem from the story of Perry Common to pubs, petrol stations and parades, and from the Sixties in Brum to the story of a First World War hero.

Have a bostin read


Tara a bit


Carl


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May 2014 - Issue No. 158

Carl Writes

Birmingham's outer city estates still appear new compared to the old central parts of the City. Yet all have deep histories as rural areas, whilst all have increasingly long histories as developed areas. Stockland Green is amongst them.

Some people feel that Stockland means the land where stock, farm animals, were kept but it is more likely that it is derived from the Old English word stoc, meaning an outlying farmstead. The green part emphasise that it was a cultivated area in the midst of woodland or heathland. This interpretation would fit in with the position of Stockland Green which lies on the edge of the old manor of Erdington and close to the borders with the manor of Witton.

There were three farms locally: Stockland Green Farm was on Marsh Hill and opposite Kirby Road; Stockland Farm was just above it at the junction of Marsh Lane, Slade Road and Reservoir Road; and Marsh Lane Farm occupied the site of what is now Bleak Hills Recreation Ground.

By the 1890s, a small village of terraced house had formed around Stockland Road, and there were a number of large residences such as Stockland House - later the site of Northcroft Hospital. The built up area had increased by 1911 when the district came into Birmingham as part of Erdington, and terraced houses lined much of Slade Road.

However, the main development locally came during the 1920s and 1930s when the farms of Stockland Green were overcome by council housing. That means that almost four generations of Brummies have grown up and lived in Stockland Green and yet up until now there has been no local history group. That has now changed and you can read more about the Stockland Green History Group in this month's Brummagem.

As ever there is much more: from memories of washday to the story of a remarkable Birmingham man Reindeer Walton; from working in the markets and recollections of Garrison Lane to a daughter's pride in her Bantam father; and from working in town to back-to-backs in Kings Heath

Have a bostin read


Tara a bit


Carl


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June 2014 - Issue No. 159

Carl Writes

The Onion Fair was a great event in the calendar of the people of Birmingham and had been so almost from the beginnings of the town. As early as 1250, William de Bermingham, the lord of the manor, was granted the right to hold a four day fair at Ascensiontide. This was later moved to the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Whit week and because it featured the sale of horses it became known as the Horse Fair.

From at least 1400 at least, a second fair was held at Michaelmas, which usually started on the last Thursday in September. It was a rumbustious event which spread all over the town. Although its main purpose was for the sale of cattle, horses and sheep, by the early 1800s it attracted a host of showmen, traders and revellers.

The three days over which it took place was a general holiday in Brum and it was seen as a time of great mirth and hilarity which fell in the gay season of the year. Although these Michaelmas Fair celebrations took place all over Birmingham, the focus of activity was the Bull Ring where immense quantities of onions are brought for sale. The presence of so many onion sellers led to folk calling the event the Onion Fair but its rowdiness upset sober and staid members of the Town Council.

In 1875 they stopped the pleasure booths, but the show people moved their sparring booths, roundabouts, swing boats, merry-go-rounds, and pavilions as well as the ginger-bread and toy stalls to the Old Pleck, between Elkington Street and New Town Row.

The famed Pat Collins took over things in 1890 and 20 years later he moved the Onion Fair to the Serpentine Ground by Villa Park. It stayed there successfully until it fell before redevelopment after its appearance in 1969.

Memories of the Onion Fair will be stirred by Brian Farrelly's cracking poem, whilst others will be called forth by Mac Joseph's smashing photos of Roy Rogers at Bird's Custard Factory in Deritend. As ever there is much more to enjoy.

Have a bostin read


Tara a bit


Carl

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July 2014 - Issue No. 160

Carl Writes

What has Marroway Street in Ladywood got to do with a landed estate in Warwickshiore, close to Stratford upon Avon? Quite a lot as it happens  and the connection comes via Samuel Ryland and Anne Pemberton, who belonged to two of the most prominent and wealthy families in the town.

The Pembertons were mentioned as goldsmiths as far back as the later 1500s. In the succeeding generations some of them became ironmongers and money lenders, and with their riches from business they became significant landowners locally.

During the early 1700s it was a John Pemberton who began the development of Old Square and the adjoining streets. He was a well-known member of the Society of Friends. The Rylands were also embedded firmly within Brum, first coming to notice about 1750 when a Samuel Ryland set up as a pin manufacturer in New Street.

It is likely that he was supplied with the wire for his products by a relative, John Ryland of High Street, who had come to Birmingham from Stratford upon Avon. John did well and married Martha Ruston, a wealthy heiress whose family was important in the area from the late 1600s. They are brought to mind in Ruston Street, Ladywood.

John and Martha Ryland were the parents of Samuel Ryland. He and his wife, Anne, lived at the Laurels, Edgbaston, but then moved from Birmingham to The Priory at Warwick. A few years later, when the railway cut through the estate, the Rylands settled at Barford Hill House in Sherbourne, which lay south of the county town.

The bond between the village and Birmingham is made plain, though, in Barford Street and Sherbourne Street in Ladywood and in other street names, for the Warwickshire estate included Marroway Farm in Snitterfield, Northbrook Farm in the parish of Fullwood, and Coplow Hill in Sherbourne  hence Marroway Street, Northbrook Street, and Coplow Street, Ladywood.

In this issue of the Brummagem we bring you the compelling memories of Zelda Field, who grew up in Marroway Street when times were very hard for working-class Brummies in the 1930s. As ever there is much more from Birmingham Salvationists to Brass Bands in the city, and from Polish Scouts at Perry Hall Park 1913 to Rea Street School.

Have a bostin read


Tara a bit


Carl

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August 2014 - Issue No. 161

Carl Writes

Sadly I never knew Our Granddad Perry to walk. Multiple sclerosis had taken a hold of him when he was in his forties and within a few years he was in a wheelchair; but though he may not have been able to get about Our Granddad was one of the most important people in my life.

His fortitude and his humour in the face of adversity, his compelling dialect words and sayings, his vivid recollections of the great players of Blues and the Villa  all imprinted themselves upon my mind. So too did his upset at his stay in Summerfield Hospital, part of the Dudley Road Hospital complex.

I was only five or six years old and we had gone to see Our Granddad in convalescence after an operation. It was a Sunday and when we got to Granddad's ward he was distressed and I remember him saying to Our Mom, You've got to fetch me out of here Our Sylvie, they've put me in the workhouse. As a child I was unable to grasp the significance of why Our Granddad was so disturbed. Years later I came to understand.

Summerfield Hospital had been a main part of the old Birmingham Workhouse  and as such it had been a hated and feared institution. Conceited through their wealth and arrogant in their power, the rich of Victorian England blamed the poor for their poverty and built bastilles to deter them from asking for help.

Once they passed through the Archway of Tears into the hated structure, men and women had their dignity torn away. Legally defined as paupers, they lost all rights as citizens and as heads of families.

Today all that remains of the Birmingham Workhouse is its Archway of Tears. Nearby stands a plaque which is inscribed with the words: In memory of all those folk forced by hardships through the archway of tears and into the workhouse. In life they endured misfortune, in death may they rest in peace.

In this issue of the Brummagem, Rosemary S. Hall writes about children in the Aston Workhouse  and as ever there is much more from the story of the Chinese of Birmingham to stunning photos of Kynoch's in the First World War; and from a hero grandfather to memories of carnivals and pigeons in Cotteridge.

Have a bostin read


Tara a bit


Carl

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September 2014 - Issue No. 162

Carl Writes

Unsurprisingly, the Blitz on Birmingham imprinted itself deeply on the memories of those who lived through it. My Mom and Dad were no different and they remembered many frightening occasions.

Our Mom lived close to Aston Cross, amidst numerous factories and just below Nechells Gas Works in one of the many working-class neighbourhoods that was bombed heavily. Just four in the winter of 1940, she vividly recalls one night of fear when Our Nan and Granddad Perry grabbed her in her night-clothes, held her in their arms and with everyone else from their yard rushed down the middle of Whitehouse Street to the big underground shelter of Powell and Hamner's.

Dad also had traumatic memories. He grew up just off The Lane, the Ladypool Road area of Sparkbrook. He and his seven brothers and sisters slept sheltered in their cellar while Our Granddad was out on ARP duty. One night his oldest brother, Ron, woke up in the pitch dark, thinking a raid was on and that they were trapped. He roared 'Come on, we can get out! This way!' and crawled over the coal and up through the grille to the entry, while Our Dad and the others were shouting in fright. Luckily the bombing had finished that night and Our Granddad came downstairs and calmed them.

On another occasion, a high explosive bomb hit Great-Granny Chinn's house at 54, Alfred Street and Billy the Fire Watcher from Gorton's Woodyard came chasing down to Our Granddad's at number 19, popped his head round the door and shouted: 'Alf! Alf! Brockton's house has been hit'.

Granddad and his youngest brother, my great-uncle Wal, ran down the road and found that the back of the building had been blown away. Digging furiously through the rubble they came across Great-Granny Chinn alive, hidden beneath a sheet of corrugated iron which Our Granddad had put under her stairs to protect her.

These stories have been prompted by the recollections of Audrey Bagby, whose grandparents, the Howards, lived next to my Great Granny Chinn and who lost their house that night.

As ever there is much more in this month's Brummagem to stir thoughts of the past: from a gripping account of one man's journey from Bengal to Birmingham to stunning photos of Ever Changing Birmingham; and from an account of a musical life in the 60s to evocative pictures of back-to-back living in Floodgate Street and Tower Road.

Have a bostin read


Tara a bit


Carl

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October 2014 - Issue No. 163

Carl Writes

Meaning the open land lying to the north, it is likely that Northfield gained its name because it was north of the royal manor of Bromsgrove whence its Saxon settlers had come in the seventh century. In this respect Northfield had much in common with nearby King's Norton. Both had belonged to the kingdom of the Hwicce which was absorbed into Mercia and both were in Worcestershire.

According to the Domesday Book of 1086, before the Norman Conquest of twenty years before, Northfield itself had been held by Alfwold, but now was under the lordship of William FitzAnsculf. He was overlord of most of the manors in what is now Birmingham and most of them were knights who owed him service. But William kept Northfield for himself.

This was because it was a valuable place. Although since the Norman Conquest its worth had dropped from 8 to 100 shillings, still it was worth five times as much as Birmingham. It also had potential for more income and apart from Aston, the population of Northfield was also greater than the other Birmingham manors. One other fact marked Northfield out as a local manor of importance. It had a priest.

But unlike Birmingham, whose population began to grow significantly from 1166 as it became a market and manufacturing centre, Northfield remained an overwhelmingly rural area although whilst agriculture was the main employment, there was a significant presence of nailers.

These had disappeared when Northfield joined Birmingham in 1911 and from the inter-war years its fields were built upon and its population expanded. Yet growing up in Northfield in the l960s, Annie Appleby recalled that there was still a village-like atmosphere.

Her memories will strike a chord with many readers as will those of the late Bernard Jackson, which bring to mind the Balsall Heath of his younger days.

As ever there is much more from a tribute to a Dunlop family to memories of Len Newbury, a Birmingham character. And this issue of the Brummagem also includes a remarkable and rare collection of cycle speedway photos from James Bayliss.

Have a bostin read


Tara a bit


Carl

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November 2014 - Issue No. 164

Carl Writes

Our Mom was proud to be a backstreet Brummie and was proud to be an Aston wench. She always talked a lot about growing up down the Old End and since Dad died over four years ago, she relived her early life more and more.

She saw her old yard vividly and would take me with her for a walk down the entry and go through each house name by name. She told me of the Broadmores and the Lakins, the Coversons and the Gibbs's, the Partridges and the Haddocks, and the Caffreys and the Cooksons. And she often reminisced about good times with her great pal Doreen Taroni.

Mom talked of Mrs Clews and her shop and of the draymen from Ansells lining up their horses outside Atkins's coffee house. She remembered her Granny Wood sending her for a jug of ale from the Albion and of how as a child she would creep into the club room upstairs when there was a do on so that she could sing.

Mom's whole life as a youngster was Whitehouse Street. Most of her big extended family lived there; she went to school at St Mary's between Whitehouse Street and Avenue Road; she worshipped at St Mary's on the corner of Avenue Road; and she went to the dance at the Memorial Hall in Whitehouse Street. And, of course, Whitehouse Street was her family with her Mom and Dad, aunts and uncles, cousins and most especially her beloved Granny Wood and Granddad Wood.

Mom's wish was for us to take her back to Aston when she died. And we did. We took her down her street and past her old yard. We remembered her life at Aston Parish Church and the cortege stopped at the Holte End of her adored Aston Villa on its way to Perry Barr Crematorium. And afterwards we celebrated her life at the Holte pub.

I know this: I am proud to be the son of Sylvie Chinn, nee Perry and one of the Woods out of Whitehouse Street. I am proud to be the son of a proud Aston wench.

Have a bostin read

Tara a bit


Carl

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December 2014 - Issue No. 165

Carl Writes


Each and every one of us has made our mark upon history and each and every person has a story to tell  not only about themselves but also about their people who came before them. But for too long, history has been regarded as the preserve of professional historians and too often that feeling has led to the belief that history belongs only to a select few. But it doesn't; it belongs to all of us, no matter who we are and where we have come from and whatever may be our colour, class or creed.
Thankfully tens of thousands of family and local historians have shown and are showing that history is not an exclusive concern that indeed it does belong to the people  all of the people.
History must be democratised and the lives of supposedly ordinary people matter because the people themselves matter.
I have always believed passionately in this approach. To these ends my work has focused upon those who too often have been excluded from or marginalised by formal history: the working class, especially the poor; women; and ethnic minorities.
And through my work as a Community Historian, I have realised that people should and indeed can tell their own stories and not have them mediated through the words of others. Those stories can be told in many ways whether it be in letters, poems, life stories, creative writing, photographs, paintings, drawings, recordings or videos. This local, community and family history has a two-fold social purpose in modern society.
First, through an awareness of our own past and that of others we can bring people together, recognising the commonality of human experiences through our own lives and stories and those of others who may appear to be different to us. Second, an understanding of the past can provide a vital bond of continuity for young people living in a perpetually changing world, giving them a sense of place and belonging and an appreciation of the fact that the rights we now enjoy were gained through the hardships of those that came before.
These beliefs have deeply affected the BirminghamLives Archive, which you can read about in this issue. It contains over 40,000 letters, hundreds of life stories, thousands of interviews, cine film, tens of thousands of photos and a wealth of memorabilia. Together they make up probably the biggest collection of working-class life history for any one place in the world and that BirminghamLives archive was developed by you and belongs to you.
As ever there is much more to read in this month's Brummagem including article about the Cenotaph at the Transport Stadium in Kings Heath and another on John Bowen, a builder responsible for some of our most impressive public buildings. And we also bring you some wonderful photographs of Birmingham and the 1950s and early 1960s from the late Dennis and Horace Hall.


Tara a bit and

Happy New Year


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