• Welcome to this forum . We are a worldwide group with a common interest in Birmingham and its history. While here, please follow a few simple rules. We ask that you respect other members, thank those who have helped you and please keep your contributions on-topic with the thread.

    We do hope you enjoy your visit. BHF Admin Team

Drop Stamp - Birch Rd - Witton

P

Pooledad

Guest
Drop Stamp - Birch Rd Witton
The Drop Stamp was a small company in Witton where my dad worked for many years.
Dad "came up" from Wales at 16. 1938-39. In those days you either went down the mine or went down the mine. He left.
There were hordes of Welshmen in Brum in those days. I often think it would make good reading and good scholarship to have a study done on the Welsh in Birmingham. I have not seen anything on the subject and I think it deserves attention. Deroga Due to a long tradition of both industry and a love for learning the Welsh came to Brum either as factory workers or teachers. I bet just about everybody in the 50s and 60s had at least one Welsh teacher in their school.
Any road up. I digress. So my dad went into lodgings with a truly marvellous Brummie family and worked as a grease monkey at the factory and worked his way up to being a highly skilled tool-maker.
The factory was an amazing United Nations of people. Huge Polish "stampers" who ran the big hammers and furnaces. Ukranians, Welshmen by the dozen, German ex prisoners of war and pre war emigres, Latvians, Lithuanians. Even a Brummie or two. You'd be lucky to hear English. This, however was no impediment as whoever said Brummies spoke English anyway. But it was a bit of a laugh. My dad got so aclimatised he spoke Welsh with a Brummie accent, which tended to flummox the lads back in the valleys.
The factory was run by two Brothers - Hickman. I can't remember their first names right off.
My mom started work there at 16, in the office, when her family came down from Co Durham. So began one of the world's most famous love stories. Hark, what light from yonder furnace shines - Bill Shakespeare a well known Brummie poet.
As a kid I always loved the place. It was magic. Brick walls but tin ceilings and shaking all the time. A regular Dantes inferno at night as they had to keep the furnaces running as it took days to fire them up or down. You could feel the ground shake when they were going full steam. The bang and crash of the hammers. Roar of the furnaces. The heat. The warm, oily smell of lubricating machine tool oil. Picking up handfuls of steel shavings and dust that lay around the machines in little grey piles, and making our own sparklers. My dad running quizes at home that always included the question, "how do you spell Cincinnati ?". I wanted to go to America just because of that name alone. He always got us on that one. For him it was easy, he saw the name daily on the milling machines.
Perhaps the most awesome of all experiences was the annual "works party" a marvellous affair much anticipated by us kids all year. The men put into a weekly pot and put on a party for the kids in the canteen. The canteen food organized by a very large and formidable Welsh lady called Lil, who was a second mother to my dad and used to boss him around in Welsh much to the amusement of the rest of the factory. So wonderful. This deserves a book all by itself. See attached photo and see if you can guess which lovely lad is me.
If anyone who reads this was ever at one of these events they will surely agree.
My dads name was Ron (Ronnie) Poole. My uncle - Harry Lee - worked alongside of him at the same bench. Uncle Harry lived a short distance away at 97 Brookvale road next to the famous "Barn".
Sometime in the late 60s or early 70s the Hickmans sold up - or went out of business. Dunno for sure but the factory closed at any rate. I have no idea if the structure remains or if its gone. Satellite photos make the site look like its been re-built. Right hand side of Birch rd about half way down as you go down the hill. Dunno the number.
Then my dad went to work at Forgings and Pressworks a GKN company. I ended up working at GKN later too. At their head office at the end of Heath St. Technically - but only just - over the border in Smethwick.
So ...... it would be lovely to hear from anyone at all who may have worked there or who, like me as a kid, enjoyed the glories of those wonderul "works parties".
Trevor C Poole
 
Last edited by a moderator:

oldMohawk

master brummie
My Uncle John worked at Drop Stamp probably late 40's/50's. I think he was a maintenance worker, and I also think he lost a thumb in an accident on one of those hammers. I started my working life at Forgings & Presswork, as a junior in the Drawing Office. I remember the Managing Director there was 'Big' Bill Sparrow. He had a formidible Secretary known as Miss Tucker, and she used to phone the Drawing Office and 'command' me to go to a tobacconists on Brookvale road by the Hardy Spicer works to get his favourite tobacco. Woe betide me if I came back with the wrong sort ! I have previously posted about Birfield staff courses at Goldicote House and some pics of a GKN staff course in 1969. Some very clever people from GKN Heath St are in one of the pics. I agree Staff Courses and Works Parties etc could be fun in those days.
:)
 
Last edited:

Dave Bath

master brummie
I was an apprentice at Salisbury Transmissions in Birch Road. I spent a year at Birfield Apprentice Training School at Hardy Spicer's Chester Road. Most of the appies there were from Salisbury Trans or Fudgings and Guessworks, as it was known locally.
Names I recall are Derek Perry, John Wadsworth, Michael Oakes, Joe Allcock, John Smith, John Hayes (we were both to work together again years later and thousands of miles away at Volkswagen South Africa), Graham Simcox (who is still a good friend of mine) and Alan Jones amongst others. Where are they all now I wonder? I was at Salisbury's from 1959 to 1965.
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
If a bad forging was made at Forgings & 'Guesswork' some people threw it into the canal next door. 1950's style 'quality control'. No one noticed until a private boat grounded and British Waterways had to drain that section and found a lot of forgings.
:)
 
Last edited:

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Having lived for nigh on 60 years until recently, in Brookvale Road, I can remember the sound of the Hammers. I would have liked to have seen inside the factory but never did so.

The fish in the cut must have become immune to the vibration and sound as we used to catch some good fish there. I also remember the workers from the factories dropping a line in while have their sandwiches at lunchtime.

My late uncle used to work in the Alf Roberts and Sons factory in Dekyn Avenue.

Happy New Year to All Pedro
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Hi, Pedrocut.
I worked at another forge up Birch Rd, and often wondered what local householders thought of the noise. We later moved to a factory in Hamstead and ran a nightshift. One night a man from one of the large houses up Hamstead Hill came and demanded that the night manager immediately visit his house to listen to the 'racket'. The night manager went with him, had to follow him upstairs to his bedroom, and then noticed that the man's wife was fast asleep in bed while a discussion about factory noise took place !
We did agree to keep the factory doors shut at night.
Happy New Year to You
oldmohawk:)
 
Last edited:

jennyann

master brummie
Staff member
With three drop stamping factories close to each other in the Witton area, it must have been difficult for some people to sleep because of the racket. I worked in the office for six weeks as a temp in the early 1960's at Halladays Drop Stampings in Tame Road, which lasted for several decades until a couple of years ago. It was very dark inside the factory and there was a lot of
noise and sparks from the welding guns. Everyone I met was very friendly and it was one of the best temp jobs I had in England.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Hi jennyann and oldMohawk

Looked to find anything about Alf Roberts and Sons in Deykin Avenue; it seems to have been a specialist in the manufacture of rubber parts and articles, moulded and extruded.

I remember that it was a particularly dirty job and it affected his chest, but he did live into his eighties. He did not have much excuse to be late for work as he lived in Cheshire Road!

Happy New Year to All Pedro
 

paulyx

master brummie
hello pedrocut, i worked for roberts in the mid 60s. i was employed as an elecrtricians mate and as such gained access to all departments in the factory. i dont think there was much thought given to health
and safety then,and a lot of people have suffered the consequences in later life. there was one department we nicknamed the chalk hole where large chunks of rubber were forced manually into spout on
top of the machine,to come out the other end as hose pipe. the area was allways clouded in a thick layer of chalk dust and would cover everything and everyone that came in contact with it,so much so we
would come out looking like the black and white minstrels. no masks, or protective clothing was provided. another department was called the locheed, where machines clattered and clanked all day long
and ear muffs had to be worn all day. the electricion was named alex and taught me a lot, like blue neutral/brown live and how many men to change a lightbulb, 1 and it was always me.
REGARDS, PAULYX.
 

G G Jean

Brummy Wench.
Jennyann my dad worked at Halladays at the same time as yourself. Have tried to put a photo on and clicked onto manage attachments but nothing happens. Jean.
 

jennyann

master brummie
Staff member
Hi Jean: It would be great to see the photo. Try again with the attachments. I know it's different now. Your Dad didn't have very far to go to work did he? I always remember walking along Tame Road to get to Halladays and there was a chemical company on the left hand side that when you walked passed it some vapour would come over the fence and sting your face....acid rain probably. It was definitely dangerous in so many factories in those days. My Father lost the top of his finger as a young man working on the lathe at the G.E.C. Witton.

I have a photo taken at Christmas 1963 at the Christmas Party at the King's Head, Aston Cantlow. There were two other girls in the office at Halladays. One called Diane Chalmers who went to Fentham School and a girl name Joyce who had a great singing voice. I can't remember the men's names.
 

BazzM

master brummie
Jennyann and Jean. I may have said this before, but my Dad worked at Halladays all his working life. He was a buyer for the last few years, and never worked anywhere else from when he left school, till he retired. I too would love to see any photos of this place. Barry.
 

G G Jean

Brummy Wench.
I will do my best Jennyann and Baz. My dad used to repair watches too for lots of his workmates and was there all his working life till he had to retire due to ill health but he carried on repairing watches. If it won't go on I will e.mail it to Jennyann. They go on the practise thread ok. Jean. No go.
 

BazzM

master brummie
Lyn. I will be very surprised if you dont have a picture. You seem (like postie), to have photos of anything anyone asks for. You,re a little gem. Barry.
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
evening bazz....well im struggling with this one...will plod on though...

lyn
 
Top