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  2. All of the moderators are working very hard to tidy up the Forum posts, as you can imagine 15 years tidying takes a lot of time. Quite a bit of this is taken up with off topic posts It would be helpful in future if members could keep their posts relevant to the thread Title,those that are not will be deleted. Thanks.


Discussion in 'THEN AND NOW' started by Smethwick Striver, Dec 25, 2010.

  1. Smethwick Striver

    Smethwick Striver master brummie

    You can take a boy out of Smethwick, but you can't take Smethwick (Smerrick) out of the boy, they say. That's me.

    Smethwick was never quite Birmingham, but fixed firmly between Brum and the Black Country. Only one vote among councillors prevented Smethwick being part of the City of Birmingham, I believe.

    Am I alone in thinking Smethwick needs a place of its own on this excellent site.

    Some consider Smethwick to be the very centre of the start of the Industrial Revolution and was the workshop of the world. Factories like Tangye, Phillips Cycles, GKN, Evered, Hope, Camm, Birmingham Carriage Works, M&B, the Ionic, British Pen, and Avery, are but a few.

    Fox Henderson of Smethwick made the ironwork for the Great Exhibition of 1851, at Crystal Palace; and Chance made the glass, which they also did for the Houses of Parliament. Busy lot, eh?

    Will fellow Smethwickians join me in posting their memories of life in the town?
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
  2. paul stacey

    paul stacey master brummie

    my auntie and uncle owned the sweet and paper shop in Rolf street and I used to cycle to it from weoley castle mad or what!!
  3. Smethwick Striver

    Smethwick Striver master brummie

    Does anyone remember the Radio Rentals control room next to the bus-stop in Waterloo Road, Smethwick? It was the earliest form of cable, I suppose. A bloke sitting on public display, operating the dials, would pump out the programmes for the town.
    Other places at the top of Cape Hill - Marsh and Baxters, with sawdust on the floor, Wrensons (posh) and Fosters, or its predecessor, with those wired cash canisters zooming around the ceiling.
  4. Aidan

    Aidan master brummie

    Until the end of the 18th century Smethwick was an outlying hamlet of Harborne. Harborne became part of the county borough of Birmingham and thus transferred from Staffordshire to Warwickshire in 1891, leaving Smethwick in the County of Staffordshire.

    Smethwick shared many things with Harborne of course, including the Workhouse that was purposely built between the two (adjacent to the new Old House At Home pub) http://forum.birminghamhistory.co.uk/showthread.php?p=320785#post320785 The oldest building in Smethwick is The Old Church http://www.kdharrison.co.uk/photo_6009256.html which stands on the corner of Church Road and The Uplands. This was consecrated in 1732 as a Chapel of Ease from the Harborne parish of St Peter.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010

    ASTONITE master brummie

  6. Mike Shakespeare

    Mike Shakespeare knowlegable brummie

    I lived in Rolfe Street until 1963 and went to school at Crockets lane.
  7. Smethwick Striver

    Smethwick Striver master brummie

  8. evergreen

    evergreen Cradley Heathen

    I lived in Clifton Road, Nan & Grandad lived in Beechfield road, by the Cats Park in Uplands. I was christened in the Old Church and went with my pennies to Mr Panters sweet shop and Mary Price's greengrocers.

    I used to spend may happy hours, sat on a bench in (Robbo's) garage in Beechfield Road watching Mr Robinson mend the cars.
  9. kdharrison

    kdharrison Brummie babby

    I have lived in Smethwick for the last 12 years after crossing the border as a refugee from Birmingham and have become fascinated in the amount of local history in such a small area. I picked up an Alton Douglas book last year from Thimblemill Library which was full of pictures and information about Smethwick http://www.brewinbooks.com/alton%20files/smethwick.htm
    and it has inspired me to start a project of my own. There are 40 odd listed buildings in Smethwick which includes churches, industry and the canal network and I have set out to photograph these and publish them on my website together with any other sites of interest that have thus far escaped the local conservation folks attention. When completed I intend to publish a book of the images (possibly self published through Blurb or other online publisher) and add to the wealth of local knowledge that exists. I'm around half way there, and with more images to post shortly. If anyone wishes to drop by for a look, please feel free..http://www.kdharrison.co.uk/gallery_330764.html

    All the best
  10. Shortie

    Shortie master brummie

    I have to disagree with some of the things you say Striver. Smethwick was not at the start of the Industrial Revolution, as most of the factories you mention were not the originals, but where they ended up after expansion. I suspect you may be younger than me, too, as Crittall Hope was original Henry Hope and Sons of Halfords Lane. My husband did his apprenticeship with Hopes Heating and Engineering which was next door.

    Avery's started in Heath Mill Lane, Deritend, M&B started near there but the original was not at Cape Hill. Astburys of Smethwick did not make the framework for the Crystal Palace, either. It was made by Fox, Henderson & Co in the building which became the headquarters of GKN - in Cranford Street - the building known as London Works. John Henderson is buried at Key Hill Cemetery - and interestingly Smethwick was always classed as Birmingham - addresses often said Smethwick, Birmingham. Chance glazed the Crystal Palace, as you say and the Chance family are also buried at Key Hill.

    Nonetheless, Smethwick had an interesting part to play in the Industral Revolution, as did Dudley, West Bromwich, Walsall and many other Black Country places.

  11. Astonian

    Astonian master brummie

    hi shortie
    happy new year to you for 2011
    i just wanted to comment on your peice of work regarding your reply regarding smethwick i thought it was a very nice piece of work
    and to thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge on smethwick i myself have only abit of knowledge on the area which to a certain degree i know about smethwick
    and i have taken on board your valued information regarding certain companies which i myself was amazed to learn about
    i was totally surprized to learn about averys as i did work there many years ago in my younger days along ide my uncle bill smart whom worked there from youth to old age
    and of the brewery which i always beleived and thought it was there orinional sitefrom start to finish
    but i do know you are quite rightly saying smethwick was always birmingham that i knewany way from my grand mothers bith certi, from 1800 to the early 1900s
    states it was birmingham as well so to me that veryfyeds to me wich i knew a a kid itsbirmingham
    i always thought that crittalls was not an orinional company far back as averys or the brewers but never or less you are true
    after reading your thread i emediatly thought of piddock police stationand the ajoing courts and asked myself the question
    and that was what came first because of its size of holding prisoners was it steel house lane or piddock street as my grand father came from gloucestershire police force
    to the birmingham police force in 1900 to steel house lane and i was told he had to be an high rank to be transfered from gloc to birmingham
    and as to he went to piddock st first or the lane he lived in high park rd smethwick county of birmingham
    but any way i really absorbed your knowledge for future reference and i really enjoyed your thread and well stated for us all
    have your self a nice day i myself is travelling to brum from worcestershire today and hope fully take some pics
    best wishes astonion
  12. Shortie

    Shortie master brummie

    Hi Astonion

    How nice of you to comment! I have to say thought, that I don't have a huge amount of knowledge on Smethwick, but just that really connected with either my own family or Key Hill. Tangyes also did not start in Smethwick, that was Cornwall originally (where Brunel had first come upon them) and then they moved to Birmingham, but I don't have full details at the moment. The one book I have which may mention it is on loan to my daughter! I think John Henderson's huge, but plain, tombstone actually says on it 'London Works, Birmingham', but although I have a photograph, I cannot find it at present - it might be in my loft. I don't know about Piddock Street - perhaps another forum contributor may know, but I suspect you are right in saying that only high ranking officers would have been transferred to Birmingham.
    Enjoy your trip to Birmingham, Astonion, at least you won't be too cold now the snow has gone (thank goodness).
    Best wishes

  13. Smethwick Striver

    Smethwick Striver master brummie

    Perhaps I may be permitted a humble reply to Shorty's somewhat sharp response to my thread about Smethwick.
    What? A Brummie trying to point score over a Smethwickian, perchance?

    Juxtaposing my mention of Smethwick being at the centre the Industrial Revolution with my list of factories through the years was naughty of you, Shorty. Of course they were not originals from the I.R. Strewth, I may be old, but not that old! It was what it was - a list of factories that I remembered. No looking up on the internet, no poring over books to find facts - or catch anyone out.

    I concede my source about the ironwork was iffy. Perhaps some Brummie filled my head with that nonsense years ago; for which I shall wear a hair shirt for you as a penance - for a couple of minutes; just to make you happy.

    As for the Smethwick, Birmingham, postal address, Shorty, it's irrelevant.

    My son who lives in Bidford on Avon has a Birmingham postcode. Does that make Bidford Birmingham? No. That's the point. When I was a lad, the County Borough of Smethwick was in Staffordshire. People around where I lived in the early 50s didn't see themselves as part of Birmingham.

    I started the thread hoping to set the ball rolling for everyday memories from Smethwickians, but it's turned into a bit of a heavy lecture from an Expert Brummie, no less, on Smethwick.

    Who am I , a mere Newbie Brummie from SMETHWICK gainsaying a member of the BIRMINGHAM ILLUMINATI? (Nicely hierarchical names puts me in my place. I'd rather be something else!)

    I think I shall soon be stripped of my membership for this, but before World War 3 starts ..........

    Come on, Shorty, give peace a chance!

    PS. No lessons about Henry Hope's needed either because I worked there - in the drawing office and factory - a long time ago.
  14. dek carr

    dek carr master brummie

    Hello Striver I,m so sorry you feel that Shortie has come down a bit heavy with facts i,m sure she didn,t mean to upset you she,s a lovely women and maybe as a new comer you may not be used to some peoples style of writing but i know by experience that she is always willing to come to peoples assistance when able. Happy new year to you and your family. Dek
  15. Alberta

    Alberta Super Moderator Staff Member

    Colin,it matters not how long or short a time you have been on the forum and the titles Newbie and Expert do not relate to the
    quality of your posts but rather the quantity.
    Shorty and yourself are both very interesting members and I think this is a case of the typewritten word not coming over as the spoken word would.
    We get this very often on the forum and we usually 'shake hands' and have done with it.
    I look forward to your future posts,Alberta.
  16. Shortie

    Shortie master brummie

    Well, Striver, I certainly did not mean to sound irritable and overbearing - perhaps you should look at Astonion's post following mine, and then you will see. I had to disagree because, frankly, I was right. Let me explain - but first, I have no problem with anyone being from Smethwick - it has nothing to do with that, my knowledge arose because some years ago, (thanks to a long conversation with Carl Chinn) I set up the Friends of Key Hill Cemetery. A lot of the owners of these businesses were dissenters and therefore were buried at Key Hill. I got to know a massive amount of stuff - some due to others' research, some due to my own - and I simply wanted to set you straight. That is what this forum is all about. There have been times in the past that I have got things wrong and others have very kindly put me right. If you feel bruised, then I apologise, but no offence was meant, I can assure you. As for me being a Brummie - some might disagree with that as I moved out of Birmingham close on 40 years ago!
  17. Bill Parker

    Bill Parker master brummie

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2011
  18. Bill Parker

    Bill Parker master brummie

  19. Smethwick Striver

    Smethwick Striver master brummie

    Good afternoon, Shorty!

    I'm puffing on that peace-pipe you sent me. Thank you - very nice.
    No bruises on my calloused, wizened old hide either, horny-handed son of toil that I am.

    But I'm a little confused. What exactly are you convinced you are right about?

    Perhaps we are approaching this from different premises?

    Best wishes,


    P.S. The Smethwick v Birmingham bit was no more than joshing - a tease. Goodness, I haven't lived there for over 44 years, even longer than you've been away from Birmingham!
  20. Lloyd

    Lloyd master brummie

    I was brought up on the western end of Hagley Road, and our local shopping area was Bearwood - in Smethwick, as was the local green areas, Lightwoods Park and Warley Woods, so I'm almost as much a 'Smerrick' lad as I am a 'Burningham' one.

    Yes I remember the Radio Rentals shop in Waterloo Rd - my Aunt and Uncle who had a draper's shop in Shireland Rd (right on the boundary where it changed to Portland Rd), had an RR radio and later a TV from them too.

    I also remember hearing loud explosions in the distance from our house, and my dad telling me it was the blast furnaces at Smethwick being lit - possibly at the Qualcast (pictured above) or the Midland Motor Cylinder works.

    I was dismayed when half of Smethwick's main street was swept away in preparation for the new by-pass road, but at least the other side remains, including the Red Cow and Blue Gates pubs and the Princes cinema. There's enough left to imagine how it used to be, and the present (largely historically immigrant) population seem to have developed enough pride in the area to ensure it remains so for some time to come.

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