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Hi - I'm still looking for pics of the co-op in the 1970's - esp interiors of the big top side, but any would be good. Ive managed to find 2 -3 of the exterior taken in the high st but would love to see more.
FrankF ...was you still there in 1982 ? , I did my Butchery apprenticeship there working for Bob Martson he took over when it went from a meat counter to a pre-packed operation. I had a great time there..
I seem to remember that Bruce Forsyth re-opened the Co-op in the early 70's and for some reason that I can't recal our Sea Cadet unit was invited along for the day. All I can remember was the photo of Bruce, myself and a shopper on the front page of the Evening Mail that night. I'd love to see that artical and pic' again.
I would like to see some from the early 80,s if anyone has any, I am sure the food hall manager at the time was a guy called Pete...cant remember his surname, does anyone know it. If I remember rightly the staff canteen was on the top floor...maybe 6th floor....remember it well. The deli manager in 1982 was a guy called Dexter if my memory serves me well...
the basement subway as I should have called it was accessed from the entrance to the wines and spirits steps on High street or the small lift from the ground floor. At the bottom of these steps you could access the Oak Restaurant or the sales passage that led on down to Moor street where the Kitchen furniture sales area was. The subway that ran under High street was entered just below the Restaurant entrance and led into the hardware and electrical goods basement in the Big Top building. If you remember the Food Hall was the other side of the Wines & Spirits as I remember it as it was only a single story building tacked on and knocked through to the main High Street premises with a false facade on the front to make it look as if it was part of the old Corn Exchange which was the Central premises. The main Canteen was on the third floor of central premises. Incidentally below the public subway was a futher tunnel which you could walk through which carried all the cables, pipes, phone lines, and services to and from the Big Top Site.
Names to remember : Harold Pallet Store Electrician
Billy Simms " Plumber and his mate Big Harry
Johnny Grimes " Carpenter
Harry Betteridge Third Floor Warehouse
Harry Fletcher Drapery
Alan Rawlings Mens Wear
Mark Thomas Dry Goods Office
Basil Bourne " " "
Bill Dove Electrical Officer
Peter Lovell " Dept Manager
Fred Homer Hardware Dept
Horace Fackerell " Buyer
Ada Martin Tools Dept
Mervyn Manley Store Manager
Edna Naylor Paint & Wall paper
Jack Cook Kitchen Furniture (Ex No10)
Norman White Dry Goods Controller
Bill Gilmore " " "
F. Loxham-Kidd Personnell Officer
Trevor Horne Training Manager.
William Anderson Time & Motion + other jobs
Frank White Wines & Sprits area manager
Mr Bradley " " " Head
Mr Freck Laundry Controller
Mr Cleghorne Coal & Fuel Manager
Ivy Snowden Lighting Dept
if I think of any more I will post later.
Regards Chris B
many thanks for those pics, I recognise Alan from the goods deck - If anyone has any more - please put them up, they're fascinating. Reading the description of the subway was very nostalgic and I didnt realise there was a sub tunnel beneath!
So many names in that list! - I remember some of them and also, Dave Rollason from the TV & Radio dept, Ivy Snowden from lighting who had an assistant called Ann Lawrence, Mick Lavery from the bedding department, Margaret from electrical in the basement, Pauline from the record dept, more names to follow as I remember them!
I have great memories of the coop ....as I said I did my butchery apprenticeship there. My first day and a lot of training was done at the Co-ops meat depot in Albert street which was ran by a George Izatt a big scots man who ....only being 17 was quite wary of as he looked intimidating. The 2 area managers at that time for meat were Dennis Mace and Geoff Lowcock....anyone remember these guys....
CO-OP central Premises information. IF YOU PLACE YOUR CURSOR OVER THE PHOTO AND RIGHT CLICK AND LEFT CLICK ON OPEN LINK IN NEW WINDOW YOU CAN THEN IF YOU PLACE YOUR CURSOR ON THE NEW PIC BLOW IT UP WITH A LEFT CLICK AND READ AND SEE ALL THE DETAIL.
The Grand Louvre building on the left became the Big Top Site after the the Grand Louvre was bombed in the war and was used as a car park for a few years until they re-developed the site
Regards Chris B
Does anyone remember the Birmingham Co-ops GREAT BROOK STREET WAREHOUSE ? It was situated at Great Brook Street / Belmont Row alongside the canal, it was originally 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 would 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 ever 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 thats 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
Stars ~ Thanks for that super photo...Brings back so any memories... Our childhood was so much more interesting watching all the horse drawn vehicles delivering in the streets every day.... Happy days!