The Golden Coach: The Number 6 Perry Bar Tram (1904 to 1953)
by Stan Wood

Villa Transport

The Perry Barr no.6 started from Martineau street in the town and ran down to the terminus at the New Crown and Cushion Ansells pub Perry Barr. The fare 4d about five miles a fairly straight run. No.6 started out-side the Mikado cafe next to Preedys & Son Abdulla cigarettes shop passing the Alberto dress shop on the corner.

Then clang! clang! went the bell as it swung right on to a single track into Corporation Street. Rackhams Greys and Dolcis on the left then Dunns the famous hat store on the right stopping at Lewis's store on the corner of Bull St. I remember our dad taking me there to get me a magic lantern cost 7/6d.

Coming to the old square with the underground toilets and Newburys large warehouse and Cranes piano & record shop, just round the corner was one of the first milk bars Farmer Giles. Over the road the Grand Theatre opened 1883 later on to be a cinema then the Casino Ballroom later the Locarno. A pal of mine Albert Archer a real live wire was the manager

Now on the corner of Newton Street The Stork Hotel and Yates wine lodge. On the next corner and stopping just past the Victoria Law courts built in 1891 always very busy and opposite the Central Hall with its high tower still there to-day. Coming to Lancaster place King Edward building and shops with its clock over the top Hawkins curtain stores

Loveday Street on the left our General Hospital, the Castle Pub on the corner, now slowing down as we are in the middle of a mass of criss cross tramlines sparks flying off the overhead cable clang! clang! goo's the bell. As we sway about we love it up there on the top deck in the open air especially if its raining. Many bikes and cars often got caught in those tram lines I did myself many years later 1952 in my old Ford car going to Holte Fleet. My mates Harry Brooks and Harold Wheeler cried out "Yower gooing the wrong way". I had to go round again to get the front wheels out.

Now passing Brown Hopwood and Gilbert where I went for my first job as a lorry drivers mate no luck too young. Stopping at the welfare clang! clang! speeding up over the Canal Bridge "Whoops" up and over past the Globe works where they made the early wireless. Lucas took it over during the war.

Now passing The Marquis of Lorneii pub stopping at Lower Tower Street Corbetts the large dry salter. Then The White Lion pub Brealey Street, the White Horse pub New John St West and Wilsons the quality furniture store, cash only. A very nice kind gentleman. Sylvia and I saved up and we bought some excellent, furniture off him when we married in 1955.

Now coming to the Vine Inn corner of Theodore Street. My wife's family the Ellises lived at 4/6 now. Stopping at Brass Street, the Sportsman Inn and passing Moorsome Street and Ormond Street where the two old lady salt sellers lived. They used to come around the streets pushing a hand cart with large blocks of salt on it sawing small slabs off for a 1/2d. Sadly they were killed in the blitz.

Passing Cowper Street, slowing down by Barclays bank Milton Street, stopping at The British Lion pub and now the very busy Newtown Row shopping centre with George Fishers barbers shop, Carters Garage and petrol pump with a long arm that swung out on to the horse road to reach the cars.

Next Featherstone's butchers run by a large happy lady called Bella who could often be found taking a light refreshment in the passage of The Stork Inn a nice friendly pub run by Ada to become my local later on. Also my lucky pub as it was where I first saw miss right Sylvian 1952 one summer evening as she was passing by with some work mates coming from the Aston Hippodrome.  That's why my party song was "song of songs".

The Newtown Row market always very busy next door to the post office clank! Clang! Now passing the "Co-op" where they put the money in little pots on overhead wires that shot into the cash box and now The Maypole Dairy, Edwards Gowns, Piccadilly Furnishers, Playfair boot & shoes on the knock, George Masons Grocers, our favourite the Bazaar full of bits and Bobs.

Then J.Goulds our tailor only when we were in the money. The corner of Inkerman Street, Greasley Norton bakers Perks where they patted your butter into shape with two small bats and tested your eggs obove a lighted tray. Now Walter Smiths butchers where my Uncle Norman worked driving their van. He often got our Mom some bargains, a lovely man who sadly died young. Smarts Pork Butchers and now the best greengrocer in Aston, Jack Griffins the family firm always full of laughter where our mom got some real bargains on late Saturday night, sell off's, nice plump rabbits 6d. Mom put em in the stew pot ah! Luvelly grub they were a good Christian family one of the sons became a city councillor.

Next Elizabeth Blacks the large drapers where we used to play hide & seek around their floor to ceiling shop windows until they chased us away ah!

Now the smell of the cooked meat shop Averill's, great stuff. There was a large entry next door where we would slip round the back to buy 1/2d orange boxes off Jack Griffins to make our rabbit hutches and go-carts and collect free firewood. Very useful on those cold foggy winter nights when we all huddled round our little black leaded grates toasting crusts of stale bread luvelly.

Now we come to Norris the butchers Kirbys tobacconist, Kettering's shoe shop and Radfords outfitters oh! Now the Thomas cycle shop full of smashing new bikes, dream on lad. Now Buchans the chemists, Mellows the grocers then the beautiful aroma of Williams flower shop Carnations Roses Gillies .I can smell them now and they are still in business in Erdington to day.

And now Bennets sweet shop and next Peacock Grocers on the corner of New Street with the amusement arcade then The Globe our local picture house oh! how we looked forward to the 2d crush on a Saturday afternoons when we could roam the range with Buck Mayard bang! Bang!

Now we are moving off from the tram stop and going up the High Street hill leaving the Newtown Row shopping centre and getting up some speed. Now passing quickly Germany ooh! ooh! the dentist. I can still feel him drilling into my back tooth while peddling away madly on his machine. Oh what a game when the belt came off again!

Up the steep hill passing Mitchell's naughty book shop and Tibbles. Three tailor shops all in a row, Deans loan office and Mrs Spry ladies hairdresser and now our char wallah, the Iommi dining rooms. Next door the "Scotch House" Ansells pub. The gaffer Mr Moore had three lovely daughters it was our gangs meeting place no wonder? We made many friends there, Les Saywell our barber, Billy Bennett who was a no.6 tram driver? ho.ho! We drank some happy singing beer there.

Next corner Pawsons pawnshop Whitehead Street. Now stopping at Woodcocks fish shop and Bennett's coffee house with the billiard hall up the entry always packed out. Off we go ding! ding! Brodsky ladies milliner where I bought Sylvia a nice little hat to wear for our wedding day on her 20th birthday 21 may 1955. She looked beautiful in her new look. Whatever did she see in me? My lucky day.

Another cafe the Angela run by Mrs Groves, then Albert Palsers cycle shop. He was a champion cycle racer! I met him and his wife many years later in his top flat up by the Yenton Erdington. What stories he could tell a very interesting gentleman. He had shelves full of medals and cups and many photo albums. He delighted in telling me a story about how the coppers were once after him for racing on the horse road. They could never catch him because he could turn on a sixpence using his Eddy Coaster gear. What a lad he must have been!

Next door Robinson's sweets stopping at six ways. The Royal Exchange Ansells pub on the corner. You could go in one door on the High Street and come out into Alma Street. Very handy if you were on a blind date

The post office over the road where many years ago I used to buy my Littlewoods 2/6:postal order but one day while standing in a long queue I thought ain't I a mug what am I doing here so I put my half a crown back in my pocket and never had another go. Instead, I put a bob each-way on Lester Piggots horse Lucky Jordan with our local bookie George Davis. It won at 33-1 so I stuck with the gee-gees. George was a very generous man always glad to pay you out a real gent! £2-6d was week's wages.

Then on the corner of Lozells Road, was Juggins camera shop where the Monkey run started going right up to Woolworth's and didn't we fancy our chances in the black out!

Now waiting for the policeman in a white mack gloves and spiked helmet on point duty to call us over the Six Ways crossings, a very busy spot. Ok he is calling us on off we go passing the Midland Bank on the corner. Picking up speed going down the hill at Birchfield Road and passing Chain Walk near Madam Amies Dancing Academy always crowded you could learn to dance to Phillips Band for 6d, one two-three-chassy. We had to pop into the local first for a drop of Dutch courage before we dared have a go by then it was the last waltz an God Save the King.

Now passing The Star Ansells pub on the corner of Johnston Road and then the fish and chip shop and Collier and Mcbrides funeral directors. Still they're to day. On we go past Simpson and Son the large fruit, vegetable fish and poultry shop on the corner of Church Hill Road. Another stop then away down the dip passing some very large houses with beautiful gardens.

Next Livingstone Road with the wonderful smell from the Gilly Gardens. Now coming to the Perry Barr terminus at the Ansells New Crown and Cushion where our driver swings the over head trolley pole around ready to go back to town and the conductor reverses the seat backs.

Now they have a quick swig of tea, then the driver clocks out and off we go passing Barclays bank on the corner of Aston lane then the library and the British Restaurant. The food was excellent very cheap liked their faggots chips and peas bread and butter 2/- luvelly grub almost as good as our mom made. Next door the Birchfield cinema that opened in 1912 and closed 3 march 1962.

Now stopping outside a row of Co-op shops near to the first Odeon Cinema to be built 4 aug.1930. I liked it there, it is a bingo hall now and still very busy. Ding-ding off we go passing more very large houses later on some of the front gardens were turned into car sales. Tiger Hart ex-champion Perry Barr speedway rider had one for a while.

Now coming to the Holy Trinity church on the corner of Trinity Road. At the traffic lights the garage, on the next corner. Now passing the Bulls Head Ansells, still there to-day. Up the hill to Six Ways, Atkins chemist on the left, Christ Church Baptist chapel corner Witton Rd. and Victoria Rd.

Waiting for the policeman on point duty to wave us on. Now passing the National Provincial bank on the corner and Fred Smiths the dentist, Harris dry cleaners, Fawcetts ironmongers, Martins ladies outfitter, Darrals butchers, George Bains bread and cake shop.

Now Birds fruiters and Harry Smith's butchers, then the Municipal Bank and Holmes sweet shop, then Simpson's corn merchants where we used buy 2d bundles of hay and rabbit food. Next door was our favourite picture house The Orient that opened in 1930 very posh. I liked it there very dark just the job to steal a kiss if you were courting. The Malt Shovel M&B pub next. We used to go to some wonderful Christmas parties there run by the British Legion. Our mom and dad used to help and we always came home with handy carriers full of left over's happy days

Now passing many more little shops and stopping at Davis's three shops and Doherty the florists, Oidar Radio, Tom Wood. I worked with his brother Ron on 3 months contract window cleaning before going in the army. I have song and whistled in all the posh King Edward Grammar schools! Some windows were painted black at the hospitals for the black-out so we just leaned our ladders up and slipped into the canteen for an hour.

On the corner of Whitehead Road, Izons chemist and just around the corner was a blacksmiths where they used to shoe horses. Then old Dr.Massie on the corner of Park Lane. He was also a police surgeon when he was sober. Then the dry cleaners Becketts next corner.

Now going down the hill passing many more shops. Hawkins sea food, Burlington Hall Harris woodwork shop where I used to buy balsa wood model aircraft spitfires-hurricanes etc.2/- and spend many happy hours putting them together. Now stopping just past one of Jelf's coffee houses where you could get a thick glass of boiling hot sweet tea for a penny luvelly.

Ding-ding off we go passing the horse trough on the left and the phone box and ye old famous Bartons Arms pub opened 1901 and still going strong,  M&B beer. Just around the corner up Potters Hill was a nice fish shop and Averils tripe, faggots an peas shop very busy with customers from the Aston Hippodrome, opened 1908, sadly demolished in 1980. I remember being taken there by a kind neighbour Mrs.Thomas when I was about four in my new sailor suit. I still have a snap of me in it. They had some wonderful shows there I liked the circus, we used to go up in the gods 4d. Seemed to take forever climbing up those rickety stairs happy days.

Next door to the Hip. was a very good British restaurant it is now a night club The Elbow room. On the corner of Burlington Street was another Griffins fruit and veg shop, then Procters butchers and next Foster Brothers clothing shop. they are still going strong in Erdington to-day some good bargains there. Now on the corner of Webster Street. the Waggon and Horses Ansells pub. We had some good singing nights there. Then the Home an Colonial Grocers, Wimbush bakers and now The House that Jack Built. A grand large departmental store sold everything. Then Timpsons shoes, Hamilton's butchers. They all used to wear flat straw hats. The Dog & Duck, Ansells pub next door.This was the very first pub we went in to get a shandy, very daring at 14. We used to give the ladies in the snug bar the fourpence to get it for us and stand in the passage sipping it, smashing, then off we would go to the local hop full of dutch courage. Sadly this was the pub where my pal Dennis Rose ended his life after a tragic car accident aged 22, 12.11.47, this was a very sad time for our gang. His family was devastated, the car skidded in the tramlines. The Dog and Duck was an old fashioned pub ,through the swing doors. At the back bar there was a stage and sawdust on the floor. I bet they had some good nights there must have once been a lively concert hall!

Next door Bywaters pork butchers and Baines cake and bread shop. On the corner of Phillips Street The Red House radio just above where I once worked for Sid Phillips ans Charlie Young. Over the road was Ted Wallins the builders merchants, we went to some good Saturday and Sunday night parties there quality people. Taylor's chemist on the corner and Biddles the pawn broker.

Now stopping at Richards the well known pork butchers on the corner of Bracebridge Street. The gaffer was a Mr Farr. He was a real character a boozing partner of Bella and George Davis the local bookie. They kept the Stork pub very busy. Mr.Farr left the country suddenly? Ended up in Canada with the mounties at his door. Must be a story there.

Ding-ding off we go passing Lambs hardware shop and Hughes Big Wheel next door to St.Stephens church. Just down the street was Blue Street Park. Bit of a dump. Opposite on the corner of Ashford Street, The Sutton News Paper was first printed there by Mr Barrington Ward. His son was a good friend of mine.

Now stopping at the Newtown Picture Palace first opened as a theatre 1914 changed to a cinema then to bingo and in 1983 sadly demolished oh! what fun we had there when we were kids in the 2d Saturday crush. Ding ding off we go passing The Clements Arms Ansells a very busy pub still there to-day. Passing Carters the pawnshop and the Municipal bank, then Shillcocks where they made leather footballs and boots exporting them all over the world and when the villa won the F A cup 1895 they displayed it in their window. Unfortunately it was stolen now.

Getting up speed going up and over the canal passing a Birmingham public weighbridge, going downhill and passing the Turks Head Ansells on the corner of Lawson Street and stopping at Halford house. Ding ding off we go passing the Fire Station and crossing over to Stafford Street past Maturi knife grinders on the right, going up Dale End past E.H.James Whisky Merchants.

Now the Bee-Hive Furniture Stores, corner of Albert Street, the Red Lion Ansells on the corner of New Meetings Street that joined the Wavelly Hotel just below the popular Everyman cafe where Dan Davis the gaffer put the world to rights while dishing up beans on toast and hot tea

Now swinging right the News Theatre on the left and just above the Co-op where the no.6 took me to buy my first roller skates 5/: at the sale. I had to walk back as I was skint.

Now the policeman on point duty in white waves us back up again into Martinue Street terminus for a little rest before starting off again.

The very first time I saw the no.6.tram would be about 1927 when our mom used to take me in the pram shopping down Newtown row. I would be two years old then clang-clang they thundered along the short single track like big yellow dragons sparks shooting off the trolley pole. It was love at first sight as I sat in my pram outside the Dog and Duck pub, while our mom caught her breath with half of Ansells mild in the doorway, mean-while I was busy scheming how to capture me my own dragon.

Now when my pal Dennis and I were old enough to run about we used to collect large stones and put them in the tram lines but no 6. just crushed them to bits, but one day when we were in the hoop bowling craze, we were busy cracking our old pram wheels all along the High St. Aston by the Orient Picture House when mine ran away into the horse road and got stuck in the tram lines I ran for my life up the nearest entry a tram came clanging along the driver had to stop very quickly to get the wheel out from under the cow-catcher, his language! Well its a good job he did not catch me. I almost did capture my dragon in the end. That's when I learned that old saying "If you can't beat em join em".

In the hot summers our little gang Den Len our Les and me would catch the no 6. at Six Ways clutching our halfpenny fares and our jam jars, bits of urden sacks on Sunday afternoons. It seemed like we waited for hours then clang-clang one came at last and we would all rush up the stairs to sit on top at the front in the open air in complete control of our dragon and if it rained we loved to sit at the back end and try to catch the sparks shooting off the trolley pole. We would all pile off at the terminus Perry Barr the New Crown and Cushion Pub and tramp off down the Walsall Road to the new park. It was a very long walk must have been a mile to the gates down a lane with the bluebell woods on the right and an apple orchard on the left well protected from us scrumpers!

There was a little shop a the park gate (temptation) where we always blew our halfpenny return fares on some sweets or pop, then the cry would go up from the young uns "We are tired, how much further?" That was the cue to give em donkey rides or else a sit down strike. all loaded up we would trudge to the other end of the park past the paddling boats and putting green, (our gang had some good games there).

At last in the distance our paddling pool. Off with ya! boots and holed socks, in we dipped scooping with the urden sacks sorting out any luckless tiddlers to put in the jam jars. Our mom gave us an old net curtain one day as she had no urden sack. We had a field day must have emptied the pool our jars were full, most of the poor things were dead by the time we got home.

Well it was a long walk back unless we sold some of the bluebells we picked as a smoother for our mom's. We used to have to tip out the dead-uns on the way home and top up the jar at the tap, Six Ways Midland Bank in Lozells Road. It was a cast iron basin set in the wall with two metal cups on chains with a little water fountain coming out of a lions mouth. I believe its now at Aston Villa we were very glad of it, like wine to us parched little travellers. It's a wonder my pal Den and I did not end up with humps on our backs through carrying our brothers so many miles, still as that song goes "He ain't heavy, he's my brother", The Hollies, happy days.

Thanks no 6. we did that trip for many years until we got into other interests and our no 6.took us to The Odeon, the Birchfield and Newtown picture houses. Fighting in the Indian wars helped by our hero cowboys Buck Jones and his horse Silver, Tom Mix and Tony,Ken Maynard. What a bedlam we must have made screaming and shouting at those wicked Indians with their flaming arrows. The Mounties, the beautiful Alsation dog Rin Tin Tin, who died in 1932, 16 years old, oh how we loved that dog. "He was ours" and many more films, what wonderful innocent imaginations we possessed. How lucky we were to escape for a short while from our dusty streets.

Time went by our no.6.would take us on our dates with Miss Right to the parks and picture houses and sometimes the theatres up the town if she was a cracker. No.6 kept on running all through the war and the blitz never let us down. Took us to work to join the army in Dale End. To the station to go to the barracks and it was waiting patiently to bring us back home on leave and when the war was over, home on demob leave.

Later on to the never ending parties at Dens 152 Great Colmore Street. It was a long trek but in those days we had wings on our feet. No.6 took us to shows at Bingley Hall, Bull Ring an Navigation Street. To go to the Lickeys.

Sadly time marches on but now before I end my story I have a secret. Late one night (1949) my pal Bill let me drive his no.6 a little way so in the end I did capture my dragon its 1953 the end of the line.

Our "Golden Coach" has to retire
"Good-bye old friends I will never forget you sleep tight happy dreams".      

Young Stan

Young Stan

Young Stan

           On the Left: Stan and Les Wood                                                               On the Right: Den and Len Rose