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British Restaurants

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Elizabeth Redmond

Guest
Re: "British Resturants"

Chris,
I didn't know they were still around in the 70s.The last one I remember was Northfield c1951...
Hello Ray,

They were not around in the 1970s. I agree with Rowland (Post 39) Some of the restaurants might have been bought and run as private businesses but they were not subsidised British restaurants.

Chris. (Old Boy)
The one i spoke of post 40, in Gooch St Balsall Heath was the British Restaurant and subsidised until it closed in 1962,you could take your free meals, dinner ticket there in the school holidays, it was very basic, clean very nice food,and most of the staff were neighbours, lovely place, looked very like the one Wendy posted, post 47.
 

Rowland

knowlegable brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

I accept Elizabeth Redmond's recollection of the Gooch Street restaurant as late as 1962, but with two provisos:

1. In 1962 it would long since have become a Civic Restaurant, subsidised by the City Council rather than central government.

2. The fact of its closure in 1962 suggests that it was one of the last surviving Civic Restaurants, the numbers in Birmingham having gradually dwindled since 1945.

Other cafes mentioned, such as Kunzles, or ones as late as the 1970s, may have started as BRs, but were no longer either British Restaurants or Civic Restaurants. Waitress service was never part of the system; on the other hand, a basic take-away service - bring your own bowl - was available, as has been mentioned.
 

sistersue61

master brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

I can remember my nan and now my parents referring to any cheap and cheerful cafe as being just like a BR and they have many fond memories of them.
Someone mentioned National Milk Bars some time ago, these are still around in Wales, Welshpool and Machynlleth and Aberystwyth, as a few.
Sue
 

Hughes

master brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

I have many happy memories of them.Having a bike like most of us in those days and being 14yrs old in 1944,I was able to go to Kings Heath.Stirchley,
Northfield to name just a few.A good meal at a low cost.
Even when I started work at Avery's,Smethwick,a short walk up the hill towards Handsworth(in 1946) there was one still open.
Unfortunatly it did not last much longer.
John Hughes
 

Radiorails

master brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

Reading through this thread reminded me of, what I presume was a British Restaurant, near the Lewis' department store. The name Civic Restaurant also comes to mind and I know I was taken to one or another in the Inner City area.

I do remember, however, quite vividly being taken by my father, during WW2 to the British Restaurant in Billesley *. This would be on one of the very few occasions that my father was on leave from the British Army and that is how I remember it so well as it was a 'red letter day' so as to speak. I understood much later that he had been sent to Norway soon afterwards.

* I was unable to place Billesley on the Birmingham map but mention, in an earlier post, to its proximity to Trittiford Park placed it for me. For some reason I thought it was in Yardley Wood.
 
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Elizabeth Redmond

Guest
Re: "British Resturants"

Billesley and Yardley Wood are very close maybe thats why
 

sospiri

Ex-pat Brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

Just to add to the list of known Birmingham British Restaurants, there was one on Stratford Road, Sparkhill, a few shops from Formans Road coming from the Springfield direction. It closed in the very early 1950s before we moved to Kings Heath. I seem to remember a shoe shop (Barretts?) being either next door or next door but one.

Maurice :cool:
 

norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
Re: "British Resturants"

Just to add to the list of known Birmingham British Restaurants, there was one on Stratford Road, Sparkhill, a few shops from Formans Road coming from the Springfield direction. It closed in the very early 1950s before we moved to Kings Heath. I seem to remember a shoe shop (Barretts?) being either next door or next door but one.

Maurice :cool:


When I commenced working in Kay Westworth's Music Shop at 6-7, Moor Street, we would wander over to Woolworths in the old Bull Ring, and the upstairs restaurant was a "British Restaurant". A good lunch time meal was available for around 2/- (old money). This was in 1949.
 

Rupert

master brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

Oh, I don't know. British Restaurants were not so bad and they filled a need of providing a meal at a reasonable price in difficult times. One of the good governmental ideas I think. I seem to remember liking the jam tart with a 'not very sweet' custard for desert. Strange at first. North Americans have never experienced the kind of circumstances that made these facilities necessary. We visited the UK in the mid 70s and once I learned to keep the front tyre from running up the curb; we set off up the M1. Only a couple of M roads then. Half way to Brum we stopped for a bite to eat at a restaurant on the M1 and this thread reminded me of that stop. It was before the major days of self serve of beverages and at the end of the counter there was a large tray of empty tea cups about six cups wide and 14 long and my Canadian wife wondered what she had to do. She was about to pick up an empty cup, when a strong looking woman with the largest teapot you have ever seen, said..."hold on dearie, just about to fill them". Well, she just ran down the first row of cups pouring tea and without skipping a beat, switched to the second row....ran down that and continued until the whole tray had full cups. One tipped continuous pour. My wife followed the motion to the last cup and burst out laughing. I suppose that, coming from a place where tea is only served in stainless steel pots using warm water and a tea bag on a rope, this would be amusing. Anyway, the mirth got to me also and I had to laugh. Well you do don't you.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

The restaurant in the Woolworth, Bull Ring branch, was a good place to eat and always busy. I remember being taken there many times.

Rupert: I am sure that method of filling tea cups had its origin on the railways here. Long distance trains stopped at principal stations for maybe up to 10 or 15 minutes at the most. Many people got off the train and made a dash for the station cafeteria. As it would be impossible to make everyone a cup of tea within the timescale of the station train stop the multi cup filing procedure was adopted.
That way it ensured all those requiring tea got served and were able to drink their 'cuppa' in time to re-board the train. The other area, when open, was the licensed part serving alcohol. Everyone had things worked out to a fine art. The news stands were also ready for the rush of paper and magazine sales. :biggrin:
 

Rupert

master brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

There you go...planned to a 'T'. What chance did the Germans have against all of that.
 
B

BernardR

Guest
Re: "British Resturants"

Just a reminder - This thread is specifically about 'British Restaurants' which were communal kitchens created in 1940 during the Second World War. In 1943 2160 British Restaurants served 600,000 very inexpensive meals a day. They were disbanded in 1947.

If we do not have a thread for eating places in Birmingham in general there may be a need for one. However it may be felt that this subject is quite well served with the various existing threads.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
Re: "British Resturants"

The British Restaurants may have been a re-incarnation of the dining room movement , which began 150 years ago , whose aim was to provide a decent meal to working people at a reasonable price. This began, I believe , in London. An advert for the opening of the third of these in Birmingham is below, from the Birmingham Post on 1st April 1864.

 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

When I was very little mum took me into a British Restaurant in Birchfield Road Perry Barr somewhere near the old library. The dinner was good but the meat tasted funny but mum said 'eat it'. I was hungry so I did and later she told me it was horsemeat.
 

perry commoner

master brummie
Re: "British Resturants"

There was a British restaurant on the College Road, Perry Common close to the junction with Brackenbury Road. I recall visiting it with my mother during 1946/48. Customers took their own plate and jug to collect whatever was on the menu. I mainly recall the custard which was superb, in fact the smell of the food on offer was wonderful and, I suppose , relatively cheap.
 

Charlie

knows nowt
Re: "British Resturants"

When I was very little mum took me into a British Restaurant in Birchfield Road Perry Barr somewhere near the old library. The dinner was good but the meat tasted funny but mum said 'eat it'. I was hungry so I did and later she told me it was horsemeat.
I went to that one a few times - and always ate everything on my plate! Mind, I was a greedy beggar even then.
 

oldbrit

OldBrit in Exile
I remember a funny thing that happened in the early 50s, I loved sausage and chips and went to Woolworths in the Bull ring to feast on a large plate of the same. Then I went to a music record shop in a arcade? and tried chatting up one of the birds' that worked there and she said "Oh you just had sausage and chips didn't you?" Talk about a red face and been shot down in flames! John Crump OldBrit. Parker, Colorado USA p.s Anyone else have an embarrassing moment to share?:upset:
 

norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
I remember a funny thing that happened in the early 50s, I loved sausage and chips and went to Woolworths in the Bull ring to feast on a large plate of the same. Then I went to a music record shop in a arcade? and tried chatting up one of the birds' that worked there and she said "Oh you just had sausage and chips didn't you?" Talk about a red face and been shot down in flames! John Crump OldBrit. Parker, Colorado USA p.s Anyone else have an embarrassing moment to share?:upset:
John

I remember you from when we first met, working in Moor Street. Your very old friend, and fellow musician, drummer Eddie (Ted) Haynes
 

tim eborn

master brummie
I think the one on Stratford Rd was roughly opposite the Mermaid and if I remember rightly you had to climb some stairs as you entered the door. There was another one on Gooch St, Highgate if my memory serves me right.

I also seem to remember one in town on High St or it may have been Dale End.

Here are two interesting sites on the subject of British Restaurants.

https://www.history.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/War/londonRation.html


https://www.worldwar2exraf.co.uk/Online%20Museum/Museum%20Docs/foodrationpage9.htm

pmc1947
Hi, I think my first meal at a British Restaurant was at Dale End as my Mom managed a canteen during the war. The factory was producing shell casings the name of the factoy was Golds something or other and was reached on the 5/6 floors in a very grim kind of lift, you could see the brick and unglazed windows through the metal trellis doors.

The meal was from memory beans on toast (my favourite) and a steamed pudding,10 pence. The real magic was seeing the foreign servicemen also there. Just HMS on sailors hats and different colours of skins of the servicemen.
Much later in life c1959/60 the Birmingham City Council thought they would spend a lot of money to up grade a British Restaurant in the Jewellery Quarter and compete with the better hotel and restaurants for those wishing to dine out in stile.
They employed my father, Fred Eborn, as the Head Waiter but it didn't take off despite the Council sending out a directive that any functions being held by any Dept. of the Corporation should be held at this venue.
In a way it was a lucky break for Dad as when it was abandoned the Chief Constable asked him to take on the job of Head Steward of The Tally Ho Police Club next to Cannon Hill Park. We didn't have the phone on at home so when the security alarm went off at the club they would send a police car for Dad as he had the keys etc.
One day when going to work by bus he was approached by a" Lady of the Night" at the bus stop on the corner of Belgrave Rd and Pershore Rd. One of the regulars shouted out something to the effect that he wasn't to be solicited as he was a plain clothes copper and that he had been often seen riding in the front of a police car.
 
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