I wish I still had his badge.
Thank you Cecil Gee could not think of the name.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.
I usually prefer to take views when it's not too crowded. Wouldn't want to take a photo while in the middle of a crowd.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.
Remember the TV jingle Brum had to "I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside? I do like to shop around the Bullring. Stuck in my mind.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
Mum bought her wedding dress in Brum. in 1952. She got the train to New Street and should have turned right and she turned left by mistake and got a bit lost then found a tiny little shop that sold baby clothes. The owner was a seamstress and had one home made wedding dress in the window. Which she altered for mum. I don't know where it was and she couldn't remember when telling the story. But she liked to tell it. Her and dad had their honeymoon night in Brum too as Brum was special. It still is.Tho old city is dead and buried, as far as I'm concerned, nothing now but new offices and re-vamped shops.
I remember as I think many others will do also,the old bull ring with the policeman directing the traffic standing in the middle of the cobbled road, how he never got run over in the ice or snow amazes me, corner of Moor st. Oswald Bailey, and over the way , Woolworths with the old lady in black on the steps selling handy carrier (4p).
T he market hall without the roof, Times Furnishing,(now Waterstones), the Odeon with Wimpey bar next door, the Midland Educational shop in Corporation st.,old Lewis's with the zoo? on the roof, the old OLD Square with Kings Hall market opposite, the Mecca ballroom, opposite Murdochs piano and music shop where I bought all my records, the music shop in Cherry St., for sheet music.
Yates wine bar and Barrows stores, Henry's, Jamaica Row with all the fruit and veg barrows,the Gaumont cinema, Chetwynds
where all the teds bought their zoot suits which was beneath the West End ballroom corner of Navigation st., and the opposite corner the hot potato man the Queens Hotel fronting New st. station, and the Woodman pub.
Galloways corner of New st.,main post office opposite,as well as the Kardoma in Colmore Row you had the National milk bar over the road next door to the Grand hotel.
I could go on forever, but I'll leave room for someone else's memories.
I do remember those starlings I found them quite comforting in a stressfull time. They matched the hubub that was going on beneath them. I used to race from work in Coventry, I was not let off five minutes early even though I offered to come in early, and they knew my circumstances "you are paid till 5.30pm and that is the time you will finish work, bla bla bla" I was a rebel then, I raced through the town across Greyfriars Green to the station but I always missed the first train to Brum, but I still ran, was bursting so I went in the platform loo then got the train to New St. Straight in to the MacDdonalds full of posers, How can you pose in MacDonalds?, but they did, to me at any rate, cheese burger and a coffee in a paper beaker, bluuurgh! Then high tailed it to the the hospital in Aston to visit mum every night. I got lost the first time. I remember a big traffic island and a white tiles or painted round subway with little windows and shops underneath.Only being a Brummie by marriage I don't have a lot of childhood memories of Birmingham but do recall in 1950s:
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 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.
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?
I would not change a thing and yes l would do it all againBob,they're sad memories now of what a nice youth we had.
My cousin worked at the Council House in the 60's and told me about the starlings. Apparently they were culled as they were making such a mess of the church. Very sad. She said that the formations at evening time were amazing. When you think about it you can understand why they were called 'murmerations'.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!