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A TRIBUTE TO OLD BIRMINGHAM

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
hi folks as we all know our city centre is seeing a massive transformation and slowly becoming a distant memory of how it was for many of us....i wont bang on about the loss of many historical buildings as i have said it all before...many times :rolleyes: main observations are that as we are now seeing the return of the trams it seems to me that apart from getting rid of the congestion of the buses we are also seeing a lack of people and will they ever come back we had trams and buses before but the streets were always full of shoppers ect...ell brown for instance takes a lot of photos for us updating what is going on and yes some of his photos are taken quite early in the day but some are not and i keep asking myself..but where are all the people? certain parts of the city centre has become a ghost town especially where the trams are running...businesses along those routes forced to move or close down i took a drive around on sunday and could not believe how many shops were boarded up once again the little man must suffer......we are slowly losing the vibrant busy city centre that we once had...ok maybe some things needed change we must move on to a degree but all i see now is a city centre with no soul and no atmosphere and if and when the transformation is ever finished i will still feel the same way and i for one will always miss the was it once was

so i am starting this new thread as a place where our brummie members can post their posative memories of how for them life once was in the city centre and please feel free to post any old video footage of days gone by....please remember this thread is just for our memories and a testament to how life was...i will kick start by posting this 1950s footage...i am sure some of you will recognise buildings no longer with us...thanks folks

lyn
 
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guilbert53

master brummie
>>>certain parts of the city centre has become a ghost town especially where the trams are running.

I go up a lot taking photos and can verify the city centre is often packed with people.

Note I often try to avoid taking photos with people in them so will often wait at a spot till there is nobody in the photo, so in my photos it can look like the area is deserted. Ell probably does the same.

I agree that roads like Corporation Street are now VERY quiet as the buses and cars don't run down there but only trams do.

However places like New Street, Victoria Square, Centenary Square, Broad Street, Brindley Place etc can be packed with people.

Also indoor places like The BullRing shopping centre, or Grand Central (above New Street station) are also often packed with people.

In fact over the last 30 years or so it could be argued that the pedestrianization of many roads and areas (New St, Centenary Square, Victoria Square, Brindley Place etc) has separated the cars from the people.

So driving round may look like the place is deserted, but WALKING round shows the city centre is as packed as ever.

I often go up to the city centre early on a Sunday to take photos, but as the day "wakes" up" and people begin to check out of all the hotels in Broad Street the area comes to life. There are thousands of people walking round that area on a Sunday.

The recent announcement from the council about the gradual removal of cars from the city centre is just a continuation of something that has been going on for decades.

In the last few days people have been saying if the cars don't go in the city centre it will "die" but New Street has been pedestrianized for years but is as busy as ever (perhaps busier).

Many people now come in to and out of the city by train and New St station and Moor St station are often packed with people coming in to the city centre.

Sorry but the city centre is NOT a ghost town.
 
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oldMohawk

master brummie
I suppose this was my Birmingham ....
But late Sunday evening I was driving down the M1 listening to Radio 5 commentary on the Aston Villa v Manchester City match and at half time the commentators were saying how smart central Birmingham was ... they were very impressed !
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
hi guilbert i take your points but i still say that the city centre is now geared up mainly for the youngsters...the elderly of us no longer have the shops and markets to go to.... i would like to do a survey of the ages of people who actually visit grand central and the bull ring shopping centre the same with broad st..the elderly and disabled only get confused trying to find their way around these high rise shopping complexes having to use lifts and mile high escalators to get to the various levels...only of interest to the young and able bodied....sorry but i actually talk to a lot of elderly people who tell me that they are just too scared to go into the city centre now and that says it all for me...i will leave it at that because as i said in my post 1 this thread is really only for members to put down their memories of the old city centre but thanks for your observations

lyn
 
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Radiorails

master brummie
I liked to visit the city centre as a youngster, it was lively and all the hustle and bustle you expected was there to be experienced. Maybe it was only very old people who found irritations but generally speaking most people seemed to enjoy their trips into town.
Shopping interests were dependant on your age and if you were married with family. I am sure adults always had their favourite shops and other places they usually visited.
When with adults most of the shopping was not of great interest to me but sometimes some places did have an area of interest. The Bull Ring and Markets always had an aura of excitement as they varied in what they did and often previously unseen things came along. Of course no visit to the city was complete without a meal at Woolworth in the Bull Ring, Pattisons or Kunzle. For me the buses were the principal interest and would be the reason to happily agree to a town visit. Over the years - during WW2 and up to 1954 a bus journey into town was usually interesting in itself. Identity Card checks, road detours due to bombing or demolition, newer buses or a rare one that I had never ridden before. Then there was the occasional visit to friends or relatives that lived very close to the city centre. I never found it a time that I did not enjoy.

At a later time, aged ten onwards, I was able to make journeys on my own to town so my spheres of interest started to expand. The Cherry Street Model shop, Snow Hill railway station and the Broad Street area which was less well known as were the main shopping streets of Corporation Street, High Street and New Street: these places were a discovery in themselves.
But by 1954 I had moved to the Deep South ;)
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
thanks alan...smashing post and is just the sort of thing i am after..in itself it is a history lesson

lyn
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Town was always an exciting place to go, Lewis's and Grays, The Bull Ring, Galloways corner, the walk down New Street the hope that there was going to be a visit to a cinema (much better in town than the locals) or even the theatre although the parents would never take me to the Aston Hip. Up Corporation Street, through to High Street. If I was lucky it would be afternoon tea in Kunzles or in the Arcade opposite Snow Hill station. That was up to age 14/15. There was always a buzz about it, then the 5a back home, upstairs so that Mum and Dad could smoke. If I was lucky I got the single seat. Age 16 onwards, the Kardomah for coffee, Zissmans for shirts, there was also another shop where they sold modern clothes but I have forgotten the name, then the Cabin for refreshment and a decision, pictures or dance hall. But from both sets of times, the memories the flower sellers, the man with the chains in the Bull Ring, the gypsies with their lucky heather and of course Kunzles cakes. Still like going into central Birmingham, mainly the Bull Ring Centre and Grand Central, the only problem is moving around because we are elderly, but feisty, and none of you 'brummies' can stand still or give way, I do apologise for my walking stick.

Bob
 

rosie

brummie
I loved the old Rag Market, it was dark and grubby but it was good to wander around the old fur coats, men selling china and saucepans, ladies with second-hand clothes etc. that's where most of my clothes came from, and all of my saucepans when I got married. There had been a fire at the Judge factory so they were very cheap.
Woolworth's for a plate of chips was a special treat in the school holidays.
(I don't apologise for my walking stick, I've had it kicked several times but they accidently get a tap on their ankles for their trouble!)
rosie,
 

Richarddye

master brummie
hi folks as we all know our city centre is seeing a massive transformation and slowly becoming a distant memory of how it was for many of us....i wont bang on about the loss of many historical buildings as i have said it all before...many times :rolleyes: main observations are that as we are now seeing the return of the trams it seems to me that apart from getting rid of the congestion of the buses we are also seeing a lack of people and will they ever come back we had trams and buses before but the streets were always full of shoppers ect...ell brown for instance takes a lot of photos for us updating what is going on and yes some of his photos are taken quite early in the day but some are not and i keep asking myself..but where are all the people? certain parts of the city centre has become a ghost town especially where the trams are running...businesses along those routes forced to move or close down i took a drive around on sunday and could not believe how many shops were boarded up once again the little man must suffer......we are slowly losing the vibrant busy city centre that we once had...ok maybe some things needed change we must move on to a degree but all i see now is a city centre with no soul and no atmosphere and if and when the transformation is ever finished i will still feel the same way and i for one will always miss the was it once was

so i am starting this new thread as a place where our brummie members can post their memories of how for them life once was in the city centre and please feel free to post any old video footage of days gone by....please remember this thread is just for our memories and a testament to how life was...i will kick start by posting this 1950s footage...i am sure some of you will recognise buildings no longer with us...thanks folks

lyn
Wonderful! Thank you Lyn...……...
 

Big Gee

master brummie
This is a very interesting thread, Lyn, full of memories, and many thanks for starting it. First, I used to love going into town with Mom when I was young - we'd walk down and catch the No39 at Witton Circle, then spend an afternoon (during the school holidays, of course) touring the shops. Lewis's and Grey's were both our favourites, then we'd go to the Home & Colonial and later Rackham's. Maybe coffee and a chocolate cake in Drucker's. Later, when I was older and with money in my pocket, I loved spending entire Saturdays in town, in the shops, the Museums (especially the Science Museum), and looking for clothes in the many and various outfitters. Cecil Gee was my favourite. A snack in the Kardomah opposite Snow Hill Station, and when I was in my later teens a meet-up with my mates in one of the many trad-jazz pubs there used to be around town. I think this aspect of Brum has more or less disappeared, but times and people change. Because of my not-so-good mobility, it's years since I had a wander around town - it's surprising how hilly central Birmingham is, and I read once that, like ancient Rome, it's built on seven hills.

My wife still goes into town on the bus, which even though we live in the sticks is easy (and free!), and was there yesterday, clothes buying at M&S and whatever the shops are in Grand Central. When I asked her, she said town, in her view, is as crowded as it ever was with people on foot, and certainly the buses to and from town are packed. She also says that much of the character of parts of the older Brum, such as Victoria Square, New Street and the Markets area, is gone, sad to say. It seems to me that, like many cities around the world, Birmingham has moved, and is moving, on; otherwise it dies. When we lived in the USA in the 1970's the nearest 'big city' to us was Cleveland (Ohio), referred to as 'The Mistake On The Lake', and it was a run-down dump. Totally deserted after about 7.00pm in the evenings, and on Sundays. I still occasionally play Randy Newman's song "Burn On, Big River", about the time when the Cuyahoga River, which flows through Cleveland into Lake Erie, was so polluted it caught fire! And became about the only tourist attraction in the place! But hopefully, like Brum, Cleveland's moved on.
 

mw0njm.

Brummie Dude
every Saturday I went with my mom shopping down the bullring. to the peacocks. and got another hand puppet.
I sure did love xmas time. with all the lights. and the men with there hand carts.lit up by paraffin lamps.
the salvation army band in the old square. and having a carton of milk while waiting for the 43 home
 

carolina

master brummie
It has different memories at different times. To the Bull Ring with my dad to buy crabs claws, then a little older with my mom again on a Saturday into BHS for beans on toast. Teenage years looking for the lastest fashions and dancing at the Locarno and West End. Working at Times Furnishings, popping over the C&A to find something to wear over the weekend. Having my daughter in 66 visiting baby shops for clothes. It was an essential part of my life - always.
 

sospiri

Ex-pat Brummie
In my younger day, when Dad was still alive, the Bull Ring and the markets were our main destinations on a Saturday afternoon. The Rag Market wasn't just rags, it was all sorts of things and my main recollection was of Dad buying us lead soldiers, bright and shiny. The Fish Market was a must for shrimps and crab's legs, then into the Market Hall, never failing to put the odd copper in the bomb, or was it a mine, despite being fairly poor. Dad would also occasionally buy plants to take home, though we didn't have a very big garden in Knowle Road, and by the time we moved to Kings Heath with a large garden, his health was too far gone to do gardening. But we went home, generally on a number 37 bus and occasionally on a number 46, to play with our soldiers and eat the yummy seafood. A good afternoon was had by all. :)

Maurice :cool:
 

BrummyPaul

knowlegable brummie
During the 60's I recall dodging the buses as they turned off New St and up Corporation St. Yes the pavements always seemed to be teeming with people, sometimes shoulder to shoulder. We had to move quite slowly up or down the underpass steps past the Rotunda to the markets, always incredibly busy. And coming out of the Odeon cinema on New Street at dusk, the sky seemed black with starlings, the noise of them was wonderful!
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
thanks maurice and paul....i was waiting for someone to mention the starlings...all a part of the history of our old brum city centre... :)

lyn
 

oldbrit

OldBrit in Exile
Saturday morn The fish market. with Dad and Grandad cockles, musscles? in small plates, pour on the vinegra, yummy loved the smell of the place. Dad always got fish, Haddock or Plaice for Mom to fix.
 

pjmburns

master brummie
Only being a Brummie by marriage I don't have a lot of childhood memories of Birmingham but do recall in 1950s:
  • those annual trips to see Fr Christmas and Uncle Holly at Lewis's
  • meeting my Dad (who worked in Brmingham) and having lunch with him - Greys, Lewis's or the Co-op
  • was the roof garden on Lewis's? - vaguely recall a pets corner.
  • Pimms Pets in the Market Hall (although I don't remember it with a roof).
  • those fascinating money shutes in Greys - remember when they took your money and then sent it via that tube thing.
My main memories of the big shopping areas are in the 1970s when as a student I travelled into and then out of Birmingham every day in term time. At different times of the day depending on when lectures were. Getting on and off the bus in Corporation Street (the number 12). The Christmas windows at Rackhams - waiting to see what the theme was. I didn't like the subway steps especially when it had been raining as I was worried about slipping. If it was early evening then you could hear the noise of the starlings coming in to roost. Also watch their swooping around.
Those were the days when bags were searched when you went into the main shops (just after the pub bombings). Nobdy minded that things took a little longer. I am sure that the last time I went into the centre people were moving more quickly - or have I just slowed down? People actually looking round and not just at a phone screen.
I also remember being fascinated by the news which moved across - but I can't remember where - was it somewhere opposite Bull Street?
 
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BrummyPaul

knowlegable brummie
Only being a Brummie by marriage I don't have a lot of childhood memories of Birmingham but do recall:
  • those annual trips to see Fr Christmas and Uncle Holly at Lewis's
  • meeting my Dad (who worked in Brmingham) and having lunch with him - Greys, Lewis's or the Co-op
  • was the roof garden on Lewis's? - vaguely recall a pets corner.
  • Pimms Pets in the Market Hall (although I don't remember it with a roof).
  • those fascinating money shutes in Greys - remember when they took your money and then sent it via that tube thing.
My main memories of the big shopping areas are in the 1970s when as a student I travelled into and then out of Birmingham every day in term time. At different times of the day depending on when lectures were. Getting on and off the bus in Corporation Street (the number 12). The Christmas windows at Rackhams - waiting to see what the theme was. I didn't like the subway steps especially when it had been raining as I was worried about slipping. If it was early evening then you could hear the noise of the starlings coming in to roost. Also watch their swooping around.
Those were the days when bags were searched when you went into the main shops (just after the pub bombings). Nobdy minded that things took a little longer. I am sure that the last time I went into the centre people were moving more quickly - or have I just slowed down? People actually looking round and not just at a phone screen.
I also remember being fascinated by the news which moved across - but I can't remember where - was it somewhere opposite Bull Street?
Now there's a great memory - Uncle Holly! :D
 
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