Brian John Harding, “The Summer Lane Kid” 1/3/1940 - 6/4/2009.
Most of you only knew Brian as The Summer Lane Kid, or for all his efforts in trying to restore Summer Lane, some of knew him for his poetry, and some for the Summer Lane History Society, so here is a biography about Brian.
Brian was born in Summer Lane and had one Brother (alan). His father came from a small village in South Wales, and his mother came from Port Sunlight Merseyside.
He went to Brealey St nursery, and then on to cowper St infant and junior school, he then moved on to Summer Lane School, where he was a prefect, when he left school at 15 years of age he worked as a telegram boy for the Post Office, he then worked his way up to a postman.
When he left the post office he worked on the corporation buses, he left that job to go and work on the Midland Red Buses for a period of time.
In between being a postman he met Brenda his wife they married in July 1960, he has three children, Peter, Susan, and Keith, he has ten grandchildren, nine boys and just the one grand daughter.
When he got married he moved out of “THE LaNE” and went to live with his grand mother in Nechells Green, in 1961 his first son was born, then in !963 his daughter was born.
He then moved house to Sandy Lane in aston, in 1965 Keith his second son was born.
He continued to live in aston for another six years.
In November 1971 he moved to Quinton, he went on a government training course at Handsworth collage to train as a wood machinist, once fully qualified Brian went on to work for a company called Millards, here Brian cut the apex parts of the roof for new build houses.
He was made redundant from there in 1974, his next job was at Fort Dunlop where he was a case maker. He got made redundant again in 1980, he then went to work at Bullpits, he started off as capstan machine operator, Bullpits was taken over by Swan, Brian then changed skills again and worked as a rectifier on the copper kettles, he then moved onto brazing the elements for the kettles, after a while he changed skills again, he still worked for Swan, but as a service engineer, this was the job he really enjoyed doing.
Moulinex then took over from swan, they were a French company, the new company managers came over to England to see how the British did things, Brian was asked to go to France for a week to train the French, and little did he know that this was the beginning of the end of his career.
Brian was a very well respected member of staff, he was a shop steward for most of the years he was at Swan.
In 1996 Brian took his redundancy due to ill health, this was the last job Brian had, Brian had suffered with his chest for a few years, and still managed to go to work, this was the beginning of Brian’s long suffering illness.
Brian knew he would find it very difficult to find another job at his time of life, especially as he had been diagnosed as having asbestosis and emphysema, he always had a love for Summer Lane, the place he was born and brought up in.
He wanted to open a history society, somewhere where people could drop in for a friendly chat and reminisce about the “good old days”, Brian collected hundreds of old photographs over the years, most of them from Summer Lane and the surrounding streets, he also had a small collection of coronet cameras, they had a factory on The Lane, Brian had also written a few poems, he liked to refer to them as stories in verse, he would tell a short story but make it rhyme, he printed and published book himself.
Brian’s health was deteriorating all the time, all his dreams were slowly being pushed further away from him, all the odds were against him, he became a diabetic; he also had rheumatoid arthritis, angina, to go with the two serious lung conditions.
In 2007 Brian’s dream was realised, he opened The Old Summer Laner’s Society, with help from some friends, and as it happened it was in the old coronet camera factory!
Professor carl chinn opened the society and done a live broadcast at the opening, quite a few people turned up which made Brian a very proud happy man.
He opened the society three times a week for almost two years, he had to close the society due to his health, his health had got the better of him, but at least he had lived his dream.