A Compendium of "Memories" provided by members of the

Compiled and edited by Jeanagh Punter and Dave Dudley.

Last Updated 26 May 2004

Memories Index ~
Around BRUM Cafes & Places to Eat Shops, Markets and Vendors
Dancehalls & Big Bands At Home & in the Garden Voices of BRUM
Going to School King Kong Ailments & Medications
Toys & Games we Played Factories & Wartime Shrove Tuesday & pancakes
The food we ate Rag n Bone and Horse Tales Quotable Quotes From Brum and also from the B.C. list
Billesley before the war. Brummie Sayings  

Around BRUM ~

As a wartime child I played on 'bombed sites' and wandered the streets with friends and we never felt threatened or unsafe. School summer holidays were spent in Cannon Hill Park, paddling in the River Rea and just 'messing around' only going home when we were hungry. On a sober note - it is said children today have too many material things, maybe they do but they have lost something we did not have to think about - their freedom. Skipping games, ball games, hopscotch etc all had their seasons, cannot remember at the moment the 'rhymes' we used but may recall them later. We lived in Balsall Heath and our 'walk' was a bus ride to the Maypole and then to walk through lanes to King's Heath Park, then Uffecolme Park then Cannon Hill Park and finally Calthorpe Park and back home. Other outings were a tram ride to the Lickey Hills - the long queue around the terminus to go home......Hilary

And does anyone remember visiting Birmingham's magnificent Reference Library before the sacrilege of its demolition?.......Mike

Another memory. The Dog Inn on the Hagley Road. In 1952 I was the paper kid who delivered the morning and evening paper. It was the last delivery on the round, and I had to go all the way across Lightwoods Park and back again just for that one delivery.......Pat

Shops, Markets and Vendors~

How many of us can remember the aromas of corner shops with sides of 'proper' bacon hanging from a hook waiting to be sliced, butter in a huge lump with paddles to 'pat' your bit into submission? Salt also came in large lumps to be broken up. Tins of broken biscuits were mixed up with kindling for the fire and blue bags for washing. All leavened with dozens of bluebottles and wasps, but complete with chairs for customers to sit on whilst waiting for their goods to be brought to the counter. The Dept of Health would have had a field day.......Jeanagh
Remember those overhead contraptions of wires and pulleys for taking your money to the cashier's office? We mustn't forget the dubious sight of the horse-meat butchers in Washwood Heath Road. I could even take my dollies to the Dolls' Hospital a few doors away. ........Jeanagh

Talking about shops. I remember the local green grocers. It smelt of earth and cabbage. They had a big old till and a pair of weighing scales with the old weights and that was the sum total of technology. A big wooden counter which they used to hide all the vegetables under. It must have been a guessing game as to what was underneath as there was never anything on show. And then there was the familiar ring of the door bell as you opened and closed it......Andrea

Other memories of old Birmingham was the bombed market hall which had stone steps up to it but no roof and there was a pet stall with tortoises. Then there was the Kings Hall Market in Dale End which you had to go up a lot of steps to. When you only have little legs it seemed like hundreds. My parents met when they both worked at the Beehive Warehouse. Any Bells ringing?.......Mary

I remember Lewis's had a 'Pets Corner', I think on the 5th floor where there were animals on display and some for sale. During the summer they had an outside display on the roof and I used to sometimes visit during my dinner hour, it was a nice place to eat your sandwiches etc.......Ron

I remember seeing a live flying fox in Lewis's. It hung like a huge umbrella. I believe that the 'zoo' was closed down when the manager of the department died from psittacosis (parrot's disease)........Roy

Does anyone remember sitting on the animals (stuffed ones) to have your hair cut at Lewis's, and the roof garden, and the wonderful Christmas grottoes?.......Vivienne

All these memories are infectious! I remember Father Christmas at Lewis's. I was always terrified of the huge models of Jack & the beanstalk, or the witch in Snow White..... it was always so dark and you had to walk through with the sound effects blaring...by the time I got to see Father Christmas I was rigid with fright! But the Knickerbocker Glories were lovely in the cafe afterwards. Oh the good old days!.......Jill

I have my photo of me with Father Xmas at Lewis's. Not a balaclava in sight but a lovely knitted pixie hat. Lewis's was a must for all children at Xmas. I remember that the Co-op did a very down market version but Lewis's was always the best. You had to queue up the back staircase and it was themed every year. I did once read that well before my time, they had a zoo on the roof of Lewis's? What was the Beehive warehouse? And I never knew there was a market in Dale End either..........Andrea

Does anyone remember the Old Bull Ring in the 1950s? I remember the shell fish stalls where you could have a little plate of cockles, whelks or mussels for a few pence to eat there. You could also buy them to take home. Tasted much better than ones in jars which you buy now. Also fish and chips eaten out of newspaper. The flavour of the print made them taste wonderful!........Margaret.

Shopping trips to the city centre on a Saturday afternoon, the Bull Ring with the hot chestnut man and the old lady selling 'andy carriers'.

I remember mum and dad taking us to the Bull Ring later in the day on Saturdays to buy the meat going a bit cheaper. They alway bought a bag of crab legs for us to take home and we would all sit with a hair grip getting the meat out.!! ........Diane

Also the fresh baked potatoes in white bags from outside New Street station and the Penny Winkles from the Bull Ring Markets on a Saturday after the morning Flicks Ahh Memories.......

Or remember the roasted chestnut sellers in the Bull Ring and at the bottom of New Street near the station?.......Mike

Voices of BRUM ~

One thing that really stands out in my early memory was of an old woman who used to stand outside the Market Hall in the Bull Ring and cry out "Handy Carrier", anyone else remember her?.....John

Oh yes, but there was no H in "andy carrier".......Alf

The lady who sold 'Andy Carriers' lived in Balsall Heath in an alley off Wenman Street, officially called 'Mount Pleasant' but know locally as the 'Glory Hole'......Hilary

She was blind wasn't she? I remember her from when I came to Birmingham from Hull - 1953. We have the record Saturday Night in the Bull Ring-that says she was blind......Jean

Was she also the same lady that also sold evening newspapers, calling out "Spatch-an-Mail, Spatch-an-Mail".......Bill

I can remember Andy Carrier and the hot chestnuts in a paper bag - special treat and kept your hands warm at the same time. Spatch and Mail lady has been replaced by a man mumbling "Burma." "Burma".......Mary

Then when we came out and got on the bus, Mom would put her bus voice on. Every adult woman in Birmingham had a bus voice. They would all sound like Joyce Grenfell. Or was this just on the number 9 ? It left me in sheer bewilderment anyway.

Oh the posh voice! My Mom had a posh voice which she used for talking to "important" people or while on the phone, or even while on the bus. And well I remember Number 9 bus! What was the one that went to Worlds End? I never wanted to go there.......Chris

Dancehalls & Big Bands~

Anyone remember going to the Odeon cinema in New Street when the sound-track of the film was drowned out by passing trains? And did anyone see Ella Fitzgerald at the Odeon in the 1950's? Did anyone watch a Strong Man bend 'iron' bars with his bare hands in the Bull Ring? How many of you remember just missing the all-night bus service having taken your girl-friend home and started walking until the next one came along. One night, I had succession of missed buses and eventually finished up walking from Kingstanding, then into the city centre and then out to Tile Cross!......Mike

I also went to the Locarno Dance Hall when I got older and to the variety shows at the Hippodrome Theatre......Hilary

I'm from another generation, but still miss the Odeon.....saw bands like Iron Maiden, REO Speedwaggon, Japan, Hawkwind & Marillion there some 20 years ago......it was easy to get to on the bus, & a great night out. Even managed to persuade my brother to let me dye his hair, in exchange for a free ticket !! (Our stepdad wouldn't have looked out of place either....dyed the 'grey bits' in his beard black, but it didn't turn out.....he had to go work on the building site next day with a purple beard !) It's just not the same at the NEC......Terry

I don't remember seeing Johnny Mathis (what a great singer) or Stan Getz but I did see the Heath big band and Johnny Dankworth at the Town Hall. The one thing I remember about the Odeon and that it was a popular place to arrange to meet one's girl-friend or boy-friend at the canopied entrance. Half the people at the entrance went somewhere else after meeting their friend or if their friend didn't turn up......Mike Walker

I must have missed out on Ella, But still recall the "Big Band" concerts like Johnny Dankworth and Duke Ellington at the Town Hall.and Modern Jazz clubs in some of the Pubs.and Brass Bands in Cannon Hill Park. My Uncle Charlie played in the Shirley Silver Brass Band For years. the band always played at Halftime for Blues games at St Andrews. The "cool" dress in those days was light tweed jackets, narrow trousers, and Shoes with shinny Patent leather toes.Haircut was short sides, and flat on top.It was cool to be pseudo American. Are Yes! memories......Dave D

Cafes & Places to Eat

Lewis's Roof Garden and Knickerbocker Glories. The Birmingham Daries next to Keelers Opticians opposite Snow Hill Station.
Best of all - The Faggot and Pea Shop, a cafe near top of old Snow Hill where main dish cost five pence in Pounds, shillings and pence. Gravy another penny. Likewise Jam Roly-poly or Spotted Dick or Custard or a mug of Tea. Going there was a real treat after the Eye Hospital......Dave

If I remember rightly the Faggot Shop on Snow Hill was called Fritters, my father was a Cabinet Maker and worked for a Shopfitting company called Furness at the bottom of Snow Hill before War II and he made the slide in Lewis's and also a large replica cut cake constructed of of plywood, which was then decorated and iced to look just like the real thing for the Christmas display.....John

I remember Grays Department store and the rocking horse and 'wendy house' in the children's department. Lewis's Roof Garden - especially at Easter with lambs & baby chicks....Hilary

I remember Grays, Henrys, Lyons Coffee Houses, the Elephant Cafe in Dale End, where my mum and grandma used to take me for a glass of milk and a couple of cakes off the cake stand.
I also remember the Bull Ring before it was rebuilt in the 1960's, and meeting Mr Holly and Father Christmas at Lewis's every Christmas.......Maggs

Do you remember the smell of freshly ground coffee beans as you walked past the Kardomah cafe? Was it in Corporation Street?......Jeanagh

There was a Kardomah Coffee House in New Street opposite the Burlington Arcade which we used to frequent regularly in the late 50's/early 60's. There was another Kardomah opposite Snow Hill Station. Lyons was in New Street, and do you remember Pattisons which used to sell lovely iced buns......Judy

The Kardomah rings a bell, I think it was Corporation St or as it New St? Or was that Lyons Coffee House . Anyway the one I'm thinking of was near to the junction of New St and High St and it sold Kunzell Cakes with afternon tea. One felt very posh going in there.....Mary

All these names like Lyons and Kardomah and Kunzel's cakes are familiar to me. I ate Kunzel's cakes but I have only heard Mom talk about Lyons and the Kardomah. It is like a secret club that our generation aren't allowed into, when Mom's friends get together. These places must have gone by the end of the 1960's

I think I remember Kunzell's. You were waited on by ladies in white pinafores and caps with a trolley full of cakes that was wheeled to the table. We also used to go into a resteraunt in the Great Western Arcade. It was my treat after sitting for hours kicking my heels while Mom had her hair done by "Mr Teezy Weezy" in Raymonds.....Andrea

I can also confirm that the Kardomah was at the bottom of Cherry Street or Needless Alley in New Street and also opposite Snow Hill Station adjoining Great Western Arcade, the interiors were quite attractive and designed by Sir Misha Black......John

Kardomah was in New Street. And the name can still be read on the wall where the letters were taken down when it closed down......Chris

There was a Kardomah at the entrance to the Great Western Arcade on Colmore Row, opposite Snow Hill Station. Northbound train went into the station via the tunnel underneath the Kardomah and this rattled the tables..........Bryan

My mother used to own a fish and chip shop,on Monument Rd Ladywood during the war, and I can remember that when the air raid sirens sounded, she used to turn off the fryers and parcel up the fish and chips to take down the shelter, lots of people used to get a free supper.....Bernard

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