The building was indeed a CWS factory originally,then Hugin cash registers used it and I'm not sure who rented it after that, but ultimately the C.W.S. obviously sold it off. Now behind this building and alongside the canal was the old Birmingham Co-ops bakery, together with stables for the horse drawn vehicles. When I worked for B.C.S in the 1960s the bakery had long been moved to Stechford and the old Bakery or Chateau Belmont as it was known to us was used as a Non Food warehouse, and for business purposes it was called Great Brook St Warehouse, housing Furniture, bedding, Carpets, Toys, and Hardware & Gardening merchandise, it was from here that they serviced the local branches and the city centre department store and also delivered to customers addresses. When you entered the building you literally stepped back in time to the 1930s / 40s, the walls were still tiled in brown glazed tiles on the lower half and white on the upper half, you could see where the ovens once were in the walls by the shape of the bricking up to fill in where they had been, the upper wooden floors still had flour in the joins between the masive floor boards, and as a consequence of this the flour bugs still lived on, so much so that when mattresses for beds were sent out the polythene had to be nicked and the mattress banged to make the bugs fall to the bottom of the packet and let them out before the customer took delivery. (They were harmless by the way) The Manager of the building during my time was a person named Ray Weaving, a large jolly sort of chap, one of his catchphrases was if he thought some thing was poorly done, he'd say "look, it's PATHETICAL".The Co-op fleet of vans were kept there and in those days they delivered all over Birmingham and the outlying districts like Bromsgrove etc. Ron Gibson was the Despatch Forman, I can't remember the Despatch Managers name, Ron was excellent if you wanted anything done quickly and delivered to a customer in double quick time. The Forman that was in charge of the Hardware & Gardening was named Stan Simmonds, another of lifes characters (something you don't see much of today), he said to me once "have you heard of the O.B. from Great Barr" so obviously I was curious as to what he was on about, and this is the story he told me. "Firstly I live in Great Barr" he said "and when the wife sends for the chimmney sweep, he comes along and gives our chimmney a good sweeping, when he is finished the wife then asks him into the kitchen and gives him a big slice of home made cake and a cup or two of tea, whilst drinking his tea he would get his customers book out and start writing in it, the wife couldn't help but notice on the top of some of the pages he had written in large letters OB, and being curious she asked him what it meant, and this is what he told her, "OB means OLD BRUSH, and this is for customers who can't wait to get me out of the house in 2 seconds flat without the offer of even a cup of tea, so next time I go I use an old brush so that it doesn't clean the chimmney so effectively and they have to send for me before people like youselves who always treat me kindly, so they end up paying twice for the same service, for you it is a new brush so you get the top class job done" At the warehouse there were times when the flood water drains would back up and when Stan and the staff arrived for work in the morning and it had been torrential rain overnight the ground floor was under 2 or 3 inches of water, he would phone me and say "don't get ringing for anything for the next hour while we bail this lot out, and if you see Floxham -Kidd (Mr F. Loxham-Kidd Personnel Manager) tell him Ideal conditions for the workers, I don't think so !!!". They finally cured the flooding problem by putting a non return valve in the pipe of the flood drains halfway down the yard. The Birmingham Co-Op wouldn't never spend any money on the place because initially it came under the responsibility of the Furnishing Manager (Keith Seymour in my day) and he didn't want the expense to impact on his departmental trading results, (everything down to a price not up to a standard) He couldn't get away with it today with all this health and safety malarky but that's another story. Right up untill the end you could see the old derelict stables still in the yard where the horses were kept for pulling the bakery wagons in the old days.
Regards Chris B
Regards Chris B