A Compendium of "Memories" provided by members of the
Compiled and edited by Jeanagh Punter and Dave Dudley.
Last Updated 9:36 AM 11/27/02
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 one delivery.......Pat
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
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
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 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
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
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
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.!!
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
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 she also the same lady that also sold evening newspapers, calling out
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
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 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
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 were
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
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
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
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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Revised: 12 August 2001
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