More Memories - A thirties Ramble Down Clifford street Lozells Birmingham 19 by Stan H Wood
Our street was about a mile long and fairly straight, starting of at Burbury St, crossing Lozells St, Berners St, Wilton St, Wheeler S, Lennox St, Guilford St, Porchester St, Furnaces Lane, William St and ending at Alma St. with Levicks the brass founders factory on the one corner, Recently demolished we used to rely their hooters going off a five to eight in the mornings to rush to work, people would shout "have the bulls gone yet.
The Dewdrop Inn Ansells out door on the corner of Inkerman St, on the next corner was a cycle and electrical repair shop they sold Ever-ready batteries and charged wireless (radio) accumulators they opened all hours. Next door was a little sweet shop cheap-jacks crammed full of odds and sods, farthing teeth cracking Japs Kali, Camel fags a wonderland, across the road our paper shop you had to climb up two steps to buy our Comic Cuts, The Beano, Film Fun, Dandy, The Rover and many more to take us away into our dreams, then we would swap them many times until they wore away.
On the corner a very clean posh grocers shop but to dear for our Mom, coming back the hill was a little shoe menders shop near a sweet shop and grocery shop. Baldwins in William St always very busy, we used to join their Wilders Fireworks club around August time, managing to save two shillings (20p) you got a good mixture, plenty of Bangers, Jumping Jacks, Sqib Fountains and Skyrockets. On the next corner was a home made bakery but when they left it became a rag and bone shop, very smelly you had to hold your nose when you passed it the D. O. E. would have had a field day there, we bought old scrap prams to make four wheel planks to whizz down Porchester streets steep hill, Den and me would be like two madmen.
Just up above was Capeners high quality tobacconists it had a beautiful aroma I used to fetch my Uncle Bills one ounce of Phillips Grand Cut from there, he always gave me a halfpenny which I usually blew on the Bodger it was a board that you pushed a pin to punch out a sliver of silver paper which had a prize marked on it "if you was lucky", opposite was a small fruit shop that sold Fyffes bananas a halfpenny each, next door was the coal yard on the corner of Furnace Lane which we called the gully where we used to fetch our quarter of a hundredweight of cheap coal Mom said "no bats in it please" they loaned us old heavy wheelbarrows, I had a lot of trouble to push it up the gutter, a small factory was on the other side which led down to our Alma St infants school side entrance, next to a Brass button factory, they made all sorts of buttons for the armed services exporting them all over the world we could hear the presses hammering away while we were in school.
The famous Crocodile works exporting the machetes to the plantations and jungles of the world they also made bayonets and knives for the armed services, next to it across the road in Alma St was Flewitts Car Body's a very high quality factory, over the road just above the Crocodile works was Pikes they made traffic lights and road signs, were our Mom and Doll worked, our Granny Christian lived at number 48 just above the traffic lights and on the corner Jelfs coffee shop were you could get a cup of tea for one penny and Dawson's home made bakers next corner where my Uncle Fred started as an apprentice song writer. Mr A B Ketelbey who wrote "In A Monastery Garden" was born a little way past the power station near Mr Browns barbers shop (short back and sides 2 pennies, now back into Clifford St corner of the gully a wood turning factory Landwood's were my wife's brother Johnny started as boy there and worked very hard for many years and now runs is own successful business I met him recently driving his personalized number plated Mercedes a very clever boy. Bufftons sweet shop opposite they had a small stable at the back, some times you could smell the horses in the shop with the wind the right way another job for the D. O. E. she sold every think eggs, cake, boiled ham, bacon, bread and Woodbine cigarettes two for one penny and they also sold toys, our Les and I used to have a lot of fun buying their three penny Pom Pom speed boats that you put in a bowl water then you lit a small candle inside under the boiler to make the little Pom Pom boat go round and round in the bowl we had great fun on old winter nights until the boilers blew, even in those days there was an in built obsolescent.
My mate Lenny Tibbitts lived up the entry across the street we used to keep our pet rabbits in hutches in is brew house they cost four penny's each, we once bought some white mice cost one penny each and took them to the New Town Row picture house (The Globe), well they escaped dain't they cause a riot we got slung out half way through Tom Mix (a western, cowboy film) never a dull moment, across the street up the entry lived the Beeches and Knights. I still see Mr Knight tottering around Erdington a nice guy, ex bus driver lucky on the horses.
Then there were the Finneys, Wilkes and Hans; Alfie a pal of mine sadly got killed while serving in India in the riots after the war. Now to the local pub The Porchester Arms it must have had the smallest smoke room in Brum you could not swing a cat, a dozen punters was a full house, mind you old misery guts Charlie Hunt the gaffer served a nice pint (Ansells) his wife and daughter Sylvia were ok. I used to fetch our Mom's Sunday pint in the bottle while she was cooking the Sunday dinner, she used to say "have you been sipping that beer again" "who me I would say look its still got the label on" but she knew, I can still taste and smell those lovely dinners, but we had to wait till they threw them out of the pub at two o clock then our Dad would sharpen up the carving knife on the stone sink in the brew house before we could all dive, then a little way down Porchester St hill was the old chapel were we joined the B. B. for a short while till I got fed up of marching around with out a band.
Our Aunt Florrie used to keep the outdoor on the corner of Denmark St, on the next corner was Mrs Moores pawnshop I could still see all the wonderful goods in there. From our attic window I spent many hours day dreaming about what I would buy one day, their motorbike and side car was always parked outside when he opened up, We all lived in our Grandma's Woods shop a very small sweet shop No 53 she sold home made sweets Troach drops apples on a stick etc, it must have been a struggle just to pay the rent when our Dad was on the dole, but we survived there were many more ten times worse off than us, we were blessed with lovely neighbours who would always help each other out in times of trouble. Next door No 55 lived my childhood pal Dennis, Rose and His Mom and Dad Len is younger brother and is older sister Olive a good friend of mine who I still keep in touch with I know she is looking forward to receiving a copy of my mitherings as our Mom would call this. I have managed to get our Mom and Dad into history dad would be have been proud but Mom would just laugh and say "silly bugger" they are mentioned in Doctor Carl Chinn's book Brum Undaunted (page 96) he is a lecturer in modern history and a community historian at Birmingham University also he is on BBC W M radio, a very friendly guy a pal of mine. Now where am I yes my mate Den we played for many hours at tip cat, rounders, cricket and glarnies, such a happy childhood days we kept in touch for many years until he tragically lost is life in a taxi accident age 22 12 November 1947 while on demob leave. A little way up the street was Harris's sweet shop over the road at No 48 our Uncle Ernie a bookmaker s bull nose Rover car out side, he hoped to fill it up with us kids when he had a good day and take us down to Witton Park lakes, a very nice man under is tough exterior the apple of his eye was Ernie is only son amongst three daughters, I have seen the police chase our uncle up the street many times but they could never catch him he was a Lozells Harrier.
Mrs Whittaker's grocery and sweets at No 56 a very clean and nice lady adjoining was a coal yard and Georges a small lean to green grocers shed he kept is pony in Buffons stable across the street was Yardley's pork butchers a lovely old couple kept it spotless my sister Doll and I enjoyed many a half glass of Masons pop one half penny sitting on a grate inside, next door Mr's Barnes drapery shop were we bough our paper stiff collars' round the corner was Gould's sweet shop and opposite the Toc H that was hit by incendiary bombs during the blitz, but we managed to put them out before they took hold mind you we were lucky to put them out before they took hold you were very lucky as some batches were explosive as well as daft sods we were to busy collecting shrapnel to worry about the innocence of youth, a bomb dropped at the top of the first terrace up Guilford St, a lot of people were killed, my old school friend one of them was my school friend Leonard Downs another was lamp lighter Joe Bryant, my Uncle and Aunty Elsie's family just missed it.
Guilford St had a steep very hill there were many car crashes on that corner luckily cars did not go that fast in those days so no one was killed. We loved it when it snowed to whizz down on our home made sledges very dangerous our Mom and Dad would have gone mad, Wrensons a large grocer's shop was on the other corner later to change to our local coffee house just past there 2/66 was my Uncle Ernie Cashmores first house later they moved to No 48, Mr Howells family moved in nice people. Stan was a good pal of mine we went to the same school Gower St, we went on holiday to the Isles of Man once with two more pals Les and Bill had a smashing time and now when ever I hear Josef Locke memories come flooding back, oh what lovely booze ups we had and many good singing nights at the Manor and Acorn pub concerts a great crowd Les Bill Jacky Wiers family Stan and Dennis happy days sadly Stan passed away May 1991 is brother Dennis did very well he became a local councillor and the and MP and now is Lord Howell of Aston Manor he slogged away for local people all His life and well deserves his title also he must be the only football referee in the House of Lords he is retired now, he as put on a bit of weight now since I knew him, built like a greyhound in those days we used to race up to Guilford St school I always got there first as he was to busy hopping up and down steps and gutters he liked to make is run a challenge, I can see is Dad now in my minds eye he always seemed to have is old bike with him it must have weighed a ton, a real sharp grafter and is Mom a rosy cheeked happy smiling lady, salt of the earth. Over the road next to the Toc H building was Johnson's a little jewellers workshop where Olive use to work taking silver blanks to the Assay Office in Hockley and other small workshops in back alleys and entries, she must have walked miles every come rain or shine she was a good slogger and she is still going strong always smiling. Next door was Shirley's polishing factory up the entry a pal of our Dads Tiny Meeson worked there, next to was the very large Midland Oil Factory it extended right round into Lennox St what a target that was in the blitz luckily for us it did not get hit we would have been in the Tom Tit with only our buckets and stirrup pumps. Next corner a small green grocers up the steps and opposite our local fish and chip shop fish two pennies and chips one penny scratchings were free and in those days fish and chips were a luxury you had to get whips three (betting slang) to buy them what I used to enjoy was sharing a few chips in any left over stew, my son and I enjoy in our Oxtail soup on Saturdays at the shop lovely grub. Armfields sweet shop on the corner of Lennox St they had two sweet gum machines on the fourth halfpenny you got two.
Just above The Manor Tavern (Ansell's pub) very clean and posh kept by Push Gurley an old ex fighter later a Mr and Mrs Chinn took it over always a good drink there even the tenpenny was ok there, next door a small sweet shop that was rarely open then Marsh the quality butcher always good for some cheap bones foe a stew good people, Clifford St post office over the road still lit by gas light even after the war their pride and joy was their lovely old M G sports car kept in their garage that was highly polished every Sunday, I can never ever remember seeing them out in it, across there was a chemist across Wheeler St that later became a boot repairers opposite was Mr James a very busy pawn shop it came in handy when you were short of the rent money I believe the owner was once Lord Mayor of Birmingham next door was a paper shop and over the road Rudd's greengrocers and Baine's bread and cake shop, now back to Clifford St a little outdoor and on the corner of Lozells St was another fish and chip shop but they fried in dripping now that was the elite until you had tasted them you have never lived beautiful always a long queue. Staring from Wilton St there must have been a dozen shops plus two pubs and two pawn shops two fish and chip shops two greengrocers one butchers two coal yards and three factories a very busy street full of hard working people always ready to help each other true practical Christians god bless them all.
There now I have come to the end of another of my rambles I hope I have not tired you out too much