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 ~
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
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
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
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
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
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
Or remember the roasted chestnut sellers in the Bull Ring
and at the bottom of New Street near the station?.......Mike
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,
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
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
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
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
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
Back to Memories Index
Great Property in Hungary - Still very reasonable
Look and Buy now Hungary joined the European Union - May 1st 2004 !
Original page Created by
Maintained by dcdudley
Revised: 26 May 2004
© 2001-2004 Hunimex Kft.