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A TRIBUTE TO OLD BIRMINGHAM

Lady Penelope

master brummie
I have a memory from 1964 of the old Eye Hospital, now a hotel in Church Street. The out-patients department must have been exactly the same as it was when the hospital was built in 1883. The room was large and very noisy - no private or even curtained off rooms then. The doctors were dotted about the room with huge wooden benches allotted to them for their patients to sit and wait. All examinations were done in public! Good job it was only eyes....

There was one doctor that fascinated me - he was a very tall Asian and must have had something wrong with his ears as they were painted with Gentian Violet. He was an arresting sight anyway as there weren't so many Asians then but to have purple ears as well - unforgettable. The in-patients area upstairs was also original with large rooms with very high ceilings and dull cream and green paintwork.

The best room was the rest-room on the corner of the hospital. This is the one with the beautiful window. The building is one of the few in Birmingham to have been saved.
 

Attachments

Lady Penelope

master brummie
Janice, I remember all the things in your post #19 except for the lunches. We only ever had meals out when we were on holiday. I loved those overhead tubes and the whoosh they made. They were very hygenic in food shops weren't they as the assistants didn't have to handle money and food.
 

Bob Davis

Bob Davis
Talking of the starlings (didn't one play for Villa...Ronnie), in the mists of my memory did not the council do something to window ledges in the centre to stop them roosting? And there was always the pigeons, hundreds of them strutting all over the place, my Hyacinth Bucket grandmother used to hate them. In the 1950s, up to the Town Hall for the big band concerts ad of course Humphrey Lyttleton. Was the continental cinema called the Cinephone or something similar, Wild Strawberries, God created Woman(I saw the uncut version of that in Germany as well) and other exotica and occasionally censored erotica. Now one for the jazz buffs, where was the record shop that sold Blue Note and other exotic American and French record releases, always into there for a free listen to a record not available in the standard stores, and occasionally we would buy one, always remember the first LP I bought there was Lionel Hampton , some of the tracks were titled in French, can't remember the album title, used to drive Mum and Dad wild as I played it on our new radiogram with the BSR 10 disc auto deck.

Bob
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmy
The Cinephone, well there must be a few stories about that place. Of course I never went in there. My ill-spent youth was spent in the Witton Billiard Hall.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
Was there ever a British Restaurant in the City, I used to go to one in West Bromwich where you could get a dinner for 1/6
A few details and photos here John.
 

Edifi

master brummie
Down here in Margate just before dusk the starlings were fantastic.then for some unknown reason they just disappeared.This was about 5 years ago.The noise in the trees at night was unbelievable.
 

mbenne

master brummie
My recollections of Birmingham City Centre are from the 50's and 60's and are quite vague as it was around the time when major changes were taking place so I didn't really have time to comprehend the old and the new. Mom and Dad would take the 58 or 60 bus and get off at the Bull Ring near Woolworths. As a small child everything was overwhelming and seemed to tower above me. The noise and bustle of the market traders selling their goods from barrows was so different to visiting the local shops in Sheldon. My Grandad was one of the few people in the early 50s to own a car and he would drive us into town in his Standard Flying 8, with its Union Jack emblem proudly displayed on the bonnet! Turning right at the cross roads from Sheaf lane onto the Coventry Road by the Wheatsheaf Pub he would call at a petrol garage (opposite the Three Horse Shoes, TSB Bank and a coal Yard) to fill up at 1s 6d a gallon (garage is still there but now a Kwik Fit Centre). The Coventry Road was nothing like it is today no congestion, hardly any cars and never any trouble parking for free lol. Going past Small Heath Park we always seemed to have to stop near the Malt Shovel on the corner of Muntz Street - maybe there were traffic lights here in those days too? Never seemed to be many people around here in those days either! Then up to near the Blues ground, seeing a disused horse trough outside the Greenway Pub, the remains of the tram tracks through the open doors of the bus Garage, the Kingston Cinema, Deritend and the Hoskins and Sewell works, where my Grandad worked as a welder, long before the flyover was built.

Our first port of call would be the rag market - hate to say it but this is where my Grandad would buy clothes for my Nan - he had the purse strings. No idea if they were new or second hand but it was cheap. Even though I had no interest in crockery the auctioneers were fascinating, the way they would manipulate arms full of plates like a circus act. They were never short of punters queuing to buy their never to be repeated bargains before it was all sold off and neatly wrapped in newspaper. I don't know if the market had any particular format as it all seemed a jumble of tables selling everything and anything - have a recollection of my Nan buying me rainbow chocolate buttons from here and a torch shaped like a sausage dog which had a short stubby tale that acted as a on off switch.

We'd also visit the old Market hall, going up some steps at the entrance, where there was a WW11 bomb used as a collection box???? The building had blackened walls and no roof as I recall the floor being wet when it rained. Last memory was seeing a fish stall there with a counter full of live eels. I guess my memories would be clearer but by now everything was changing and all would soon be gone. What a shame these modernist 60's planners had great visions for the future at the expense of our heritage!!!!!!
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
Could I suggest that some posts here get dates/time periods inserted into the posts, some fortunately do. There will be a wide range of reminiscences from the 1940's up to (possibly) the end of the last century. Some places mentioned will have gone - Martineau Street for instance and many shops, restaurants etc. will also have gone. This thread should become a valuable resource for those wanting to study Birmingham of yesteryear: so dates are important.
yes alan a good idea for members to try and put the decades in with their memories although i think most will range from the 40s up until say the 90s.....

please keep these wonderful memories coming folks because reading them it occurs to me that they could be turned into a paperback (same title as this thread) written by the members of the birmingham history forum...i wouldnt have a clue how to even begin that process but i know a man who does:) so who knows....maybe something for the future

lyn
 

mw0njm.

Brummie Dude
yes alan a good idea for members to try and put the decades in with their memories although i think most will range from the 40s up until say the 90s.....

please keep these wonderful memories coming folks because reading them it occurs to me that they could be turned into a paperback (same title as this thread) written by the members of the birmingham history forum...i wouldnt have a clue how to even begin that process but i know a man who does:) so who knows....maybe something for the future

lyn
what a great idear. lyn perhaps mr chinn will give you advice.:)
 

Andy1

Brummie babby
Talking about old Birmingham. I used to have a Saturday job in a fruit & veg shop in what was the "Old Square". I used to work there in 1985. Happy memories of working with teenagers the same age as me. Probably not that long ago in terms of Birmingham's history - but interesting to me as it has now been filled in. The shop was called "Stanways". Walking through the Minories, past Lewis's and down the subway, was quite eerie at 7.30am on a Saturday morning. Especially cold, dark winter ones!
 

Big Gee

master brummie
Lady P's post about the old Birmingham Eye Hospital jogged a few memories of my own. I remember the big hall where the specialists sat on high chairs at wooden desks, and my Mom used to say it looked like a Victorian counting-house. Like many medical men back in the 1950's, most of them were very abrupt and also very old. I hated the place. Then in the 80's I developed a cataract, and ended up back in the EH for it to be fixed, a 'knife-and-fork' job under general anaesthetic, and a 3 day stay in hospital. The ward I was in was large and over-heated, and there was a room for tea, coffee, sandwiches, etc. My best memory of that stay was the gorgeous female specialist, totally unlike the old moth-eaten fogeys of 35 years before!

Maybe this should be in another thread, but sometimes during the night footsteps could be heard along the corridor outside, approaching the ward...no-one ever came in, and when I asked a nurse what that was all about she told me it was the 'EH spook'! Apparently, no-one had ever seen anything, but the sounds of the footsteps were heard frequently, and had been for years and years. I wonder if they're still heard in the new hotel....

I've also had experience of the new EH, another story.

G
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
i remember the old square shops ...there should be one or two photos of them somewhere on the forum...think i read that the shops are still complete but obviously just infilled underground...

lyn
 

Nico

master brummie
Janice, I remember all the things in your post #19 except for the lunches. We only ever had meals out when we were on holiday. I loved those overhead tubes and the whoosh they made. They were very hygenic in food shops weren't they as the assistants didn't have to handle money and food.
Me too. We only ever ate out on holiday.
 

Nico

master brummie
Going to town as a kid ride the bus with Mom and my sister walk round the Bull Ring go in all those big department stores the excitement, Lewis"s all those floors and furniture displays, I remember a cabinet that had four TV's 1 large one one above 3 small ones in a line underneath
Did not see that stuff next to the shoe shop in Rednal.
Never liked C & A all I can think of about that store ladies underwear
The hustle and bustle of all the people then standing in line to catch the bus home with the shopping bags as it got dark
Going to town chapter 2 now my friends and I go on our own and do just for fun, walk round the Bullring go to the Museum, those shows at Bingley Hall were you could but x-ray specs, go play in the carriage's at Moor St Station, walk through the markets and the Midland Red Garage dark a smelly, a trip to the Silver Blades Sunday afternoon listening to My Ding a Ling by Chuck Berry
The guy who sold American style hot dogs with onions from a cart by the 62 terminus.
Going to town ( Down Town ) now things have changed for chapter 3 the Top Rank and all the other clubs dancing, Rum and Blacks Ha Ha trying to pull a bird, looking for that last dance the slow one finally getting the courage to ask.
Starting to dine out Winpey's, Gino's at the top of the ramp getting the He-Man Grill, at the bottom of the ramp a man sold baked spuds.
Our C and A had big wire baskets of sale items. I bought a shirt 5 times too big to wear for work. For 50p and a silk mauve tie in 1973. Mum knitted me a tank top so you couldn't see the shirt was too big. I bought a diamond pattern black grey and white polo neck also and wore it back to front so it looked plain black to be trendy!. I sweated in the pubs because I couldn't take my jacket off. I also got a Mr Sears (whoever he was) bold criss cross patterned cardigan there I wore unbuttoned under my jacket, roasting away then buttoned it up to walk home.
 
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mw0njm.

Brummie Dude
View attachment 140710
I have a memory from 1964 of the old Eye Hospital, now a hotel in Church Street. The out-patients department must have been exactly the same as it was when the hospital was built in 1883. The room was large and very noisy - no private or even curtained off rooms then. The doctors were dotted about the room with huge wooden benches allotted to them for their patients to sit and wait. All examinations were done in public! Good job it was only eyes....

There was one doctor that fascinated me - he was a very tall Asian and must have had something wrong with his ears as they were painted with Gentian Violet. He was an arresting sight anyway as there weren't so many Asians then but to have purple ears as well - unforgettable. The in-patients area upstairs was also original with large rooms with very high ceilings and dull cream and green paintwork.

The best room was the rest-room on the corner of the hospital. This is the one with the beautiful window. The building is one of the few in Birmingham to have been saved.
they had a cellar. one day, while mom was being seen to I, went mooching.down there wow what strange looking machines and gimmicks down there..... in the rubbish bin in the big hall was a load of old slides. i asked for a few.and when i got home tried them in dads projector. they were pic of manky eye balls
 
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jmadone

master brummie
My earliest recollection of "going up town" was in the mid 1950s when one Bank Holiday Dad took my sister and I to Dudley Zoo for a day out. We travelled to town on the 60 bus from it's terminus in Cranes Park Road and then by train to Dudley and thence to the zoo. The return journey was highlighted by a visit to the News Theatre, which I think was somewhere in High Street near Dale End, to watch the cartoons.
As I grew older there were lots of visits to shop in the department stores and Bull Ring market but I'll get my remembrances together and post my thoughts later.
 

mbenne

master brummie
Thinking back to the days of the big department stores, what about the lady lift attendants sitting on those little folding pressing buttons and announcing the various floors all day. Must have driven them nuts! Another job lost to technology.
 

Nico

master brummie
Mum used to go on about the brazier woman in M&S who helped you choose a bra. She never liked being told what to wear or be scruitinised..but another job lost.
When I was best man I bought an off the peg suit (pale blue with a white fleck, padded shoulders!) from Burtons Cov and the sales assistant was really attentive, he knew his stuff, what would suit me, pun not intended, me not being Mr Average, and he got me a shirt and tie (he was on commission I suppose) then he took his own slip on shoes off, for me to look at it with some shoes on. ...do they still have proper sales assistants? I haven't seen any.
My Nan's cousin's son used to be a manager at Burtons Brum. I have not seen him in 50 odd years but we did play together. I should try and make contact as I am the younger of us.
 

farmerdave

master brummie
I used to get either the 32 or 37 bus into town from Hall Green Parade. Certainly remember the starlings near the Midland Hotel together with the shouts of "spatch 'un Mail" from the newspaper sellers. Tea or lunch was often in Lyons in New Street. Seem to remember that most cafes/restaurants in the late 1950s, early 60s, had waitress service rather than self-service. Favourite shop was probably Hudson's Bookshop in New Street. Visited the Midland Institute in Paradise Street quite often. Chap called Ernie was the doorman. Lewis's and Greys were two of the most frequented shops when I was with my Mum. Was there someone who played the piano in the restaurant on the top floor of Lewis's? Hardly ever visited St. Philips but regularly went to St. Martins, in the Bull Ring, including attending Christmas carol concerts. Dave.
 
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