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Stratford Road

history_fan

Brummie babby
Hello,

I'm working on a HLF funded project called My Route and we are looking for any information about the history Stratford Road (Sparkbrook to Hall Green) from the 1940s onwards. The kinds of subjects we will be covering include entertainment e.g. cinemas, pubs, dance halls; shops/businesses/industry; parks; World War II experiences and memories of residents throughout the years.

If anyone can help us with providing information, photos or just taking an interest in the project, we would be very grateful if you could get in touch and reply below.

At the moment we are trying to find out about the army barracks near where Wickes was in Hall Green.

Thank you!
 
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pjmburns

master brummie
I know that my parents (in their "courting" days) spent many nights dancing at the Cateswell barracks and then walking back home to Shirley as the last bus had gone by the time the dance finished. My Mom is 93 and her memory is not what it was but I will see what she can tell me and try to write it down. Don't think there are any photos though.

Janice
 

Phil

Retired Layabout
Hi

I can't tell you much about Hall Green, other than Cateswell House opposite Cateswell Rd on Stratford Road became a TA barracks for a while.
 

history_fan

Brummie babby
I know that my parents (in their "courting" days) spent many nights dancing at the Cateswell barracks and then walking back home to Shirley as the last bus had gone by the time the dance finished. My Mom is 93 and her memory is not what it was but I will see what she can tell me and try to write it down. Don't think there are any photos though.

Janice
Thanks so much for your reply, that would be fantastic if you could! We are very keen to know about the dances and events that happened at the Cateswell barracks.
 

Shawcross

master brummie
I was brought up in Sparkhill from 1936 until I left in 1958 and so the area you mention was very familiar to me before, during and after the war. I'm just going away for long week-end. Will help all I can next week. Will rack my geriatric brain in between!!!! Shawcross
 

Astonian

gone but not forgotten
what i can say to you is that the stratford rd from camp hill right through along the stratford road passing the police station
there was loads of pubs and that was an complete Irish comunity and a very good high shoping place for bargains in brum from all those years
and slowly up to thelate sixty -seventy it slowly changed completely and now its a asian comunity that as taken over
and the top end from camp hill to stoney lane was bed sit accomodations with large house and that was another part of the irish comunetity
stratford road was the best part of brum to do you your bargain hunt for any think and there was one or two irish owned tea tooms which serverd
Irish food [ tradional ]well kept and tradionional furnishing inside ;you name it you could get it from wall paper and paints ; clothes and shoes etc
and of course the irish pubs ; great for singing and and music ;and to top it off was the liquid gold guiness best wishes Astonian ;;;;
 

caggyken

master brummie
I lived in Sparkhill 1935-1961,Saturday night was always a good night in the 50s at Catswell barracks. Like many of the dance halls at that time the night always ended with a good old rough and tumble. Not to violent but always over a young lady. No drink was served in the dances those days, you had to get a pass out and walk up the road to the Tree Horse Shoes pub.The Picadilly cinema was also a meeting place for the young on a Sunday night. On some special nights dancing was held at the Mermaid pub.Icould name loads of the shops along the Stratford Rd,but the one i used if i could afford it was Eric Willmots the sports shop on the corner of Green Rd just along from the Rialto cinema. You could get the used tennis balls they used at Wimbledon for 6d each. Icould go on but i will close now and see what others come up with but i may be back latter.
 

caggyken

master brummie
On a journey from Camp Hill to Hall Green in the 40s if i remember correct these are some of the places you would have passed, there would have been a lot more so i leave them to others. The cafe the bus crews filled thier Billy cans, i think it was called Jones,s???.Vale on Slow with the Black Horse pub on the other corner of Kyotts Lake Rd. Smiths coaches, i can not remember the school opposite. The Angel pub, very popular with the Irish people, many a good scrap there. Stratford RD school, also a good place on Rock and Roll night should you want a fight. Merrick and Heath ,plumbers merchants. At Stoney Lane there was Greens record shop, Dyson Richards funeral directors, Bata shoe shop, Foster Brothers and Gould the tailors opposite the Piccadilly. Up the hill you had The Mermaid ,Shirley and David the hair dressers, and Wrights cake shop. There was Sparkhill Methodist church Sparkhill Commercal school, Woolworths , Essex ironmongers, Westwoods greengrocers,Burtons with the snooker and dance rooms above,The Salvation Army citidal, the Bear pub, Parish and Millard furnishers, and Atwells the grocers, we were rationed there for our groceries in the war.Farther down were English Marters school the baths and St Johns school. Opposite the school there was a medical supply shop and a fish shop. At the bottom of the hill was the park ,the Bear pub, Levins furniture shop , Greens the record shop and across the road was McGaulies cycle shop. Darrells the decorators shop was on the corner of Formans Rd and Poultons the greengrocers on the corner of Oakwood Rd.Further along was Holtoms bread shop and om the other side was a shop that sold items for the garden and pet supplies. the only others i can remember then untill we get to C, the barracks ,ollege Rd School are the post office the school clinic and the Springfield cinama reopened after the bombing in the war.We are now at the College Arms pub after passing the methodist church. Up the hill to the Rialto and Eric Willmots and the Co- Op dairy the barracks the Three Horse Shoes pub and Priory Cycles shop. Further along was the Brittanic Assurence offices and the Bulls Head pub. The last place i can remember from the old times was the Robin Hood Cinama. I know that there were more from the 40s that i have missed , please try and name the ones i have missed.
Ken
 

norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
Corner of Henley Street/Stratford Road was the Shakespear/ Pub. Opposite, corner of Auckland Road/Stratford Road was the Co-Op and hall above it. Corner of Kyotts Lake Road/Stratford Road was the Black Horse. Corner Farm Road/Stratfrod Road was Smiths Imperial Coaches. School opposite was Christ Church School. Corner Main Street/Stratford Road was a bank, and also in that small group of shops was a post office. Corner of Long Street/Stratford Road was, I believe, a S/H car lot. Next to Stratford Road school was St Magdalene Church, on corner of Mole Street. Also a church on the corner of Palmerstone Road/Stratford Road - Christ Church? Burtons, the tailors, with a functions hall above it, was just past the Piccadilly cinema. The Antelope was corner of Baker Street/Stratford Road. The Mermaid Hotel was used for ballroom dancing and private functions. I played in the resident band in the early 50's. On the corner of Walford Road/ Stratford Road was another S/H car lot. The Police station, Library and Baths were on the right before Sparkhill Park. Much more detail of shops and business' in this area can be found in the SHOPS thread on this website. I left Brum over 60 years ago so hope that the above helps, and as far as I can recall, is hopefully accurate.
 

farmerdave

master brummie
Concentrating on Hall Green Parade on the Stratford Road in the 1950s, there was a Freeman, Hardy and Willis shoe shop, Wrensons general provisions, Mayfair sweet shop, Skidmores the butchers, Wimbushes cakes, Boots the Chemists with an Octagon Library, Cookery Nook café, and a clothes shop which I think was Ewens or McEwens. Plenty of other shops as well, including one that sold replacement radio valves. The short run of shops near the approach to Hall Green Station had the post office, launderette, and Bernard Cooper mens clothes shop (For men who wear good clothes). May think of other shops or establishments in due course.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
My recollections, such as they are, relate to the ten year period 1944 until 1954. They are from the eyes of what was, at the time, a young boy so the memories are only of prominent or noteable places. They are not strictly in any relevant order of travel.

From Camp Hill travelling south took you beneath the large railway arch (LMS?). Vale-Onslow motor cycles then followed. Smiths Coaches depot, a used car lot (post 1948?). The whole road to Hall Green was populated by many shops with accommodation above. Some were privately own, other areas had major retailers. Bata (shoes) comes to mind near Stoney Lane. Stoney Lane/Formans Road junction ws a busy place. The Inner Circle 8 route crossed here and the Warstock 24 and 13A routes joined Stratford Road. Bus routes to Acocks Green 44/44A and the 30/31A and 32 ran out from the city as far as The Mermaid then followed the Warwick Road. The 37 route ran up to the city boundary; the 29 left Stratford Road turning into Highfield Road, the 29A had already taken a separate route following Springfield Road. The Midland Red had good services:150/153/154/179 and some others on the Warwick Road. A couple of churches, at least, (mentioned in the Forum), The Mermaid Hotel (already mentioned), Sparkhill Baths, a park adjacent to the baths, Rialto Cinema, Spring Road GWR railway station, the very large Fox Hollies roundabout with Co-Operative shops (BCS).
Being young shops were of passing interest but a bakers, opposite the Mermaid Hotel, is remembered : was it Hardings? It had a distinctive Hovis advert on the wall.
During WW2, but I am not sure how frequent this occurred, vehicles were stopped and bus passengers checked and had to show identity cards to the police at the Robin Hood roundabout when entering the city boundary. Once over the city boundary there was a short run of fields until the Solihull district of Shirley was entered.



I remember queuing, at Christmastide, at a Wine and Spirit shop close to the Robin Hood island. Queuing, was of course, a necessity for most housewives, during those difficult times of shortages.
 

Shawcross

master brummie
Hi Radiorails...many of your recollections of the area are similar to mine...though I must correct one little memory lapse (don't worry, I get'em myself all the time...!). The road almost opposite Stoney Lane where the No.8 'bus route crossed, was Walford Road (home of the Embassy roller skating rink, remember?). Formans Road, with its Lucas factory, which much further along, towards another Lucas factory in Shaftmoor Lane. Memories, eh?


Shawcross.
 

Shawcross

master brummie
...can't believe how good all your memories are, naming so many shops so I won't attempt to compete. A few recollections, though. I lived a short walk from the Piccadilly cinema when I was a lad during the war years and after. My brother and myself tried to go to every change of film. If it was an 'A' picture, and we were too young to go in on our own, we used to get an adult to 'take us in'. When inside we'd scoot off and sit somewhere else. As a baby-face 14 year old I once tried putting a trilby hat on my head, a white silk scarf draped around my neck and a fag hanging loosely out of my mouth and attempted to pass myself off as being 16. The cashier wasn't having it though. All she saw was a five-foot-nothing,
baby-faced 14 year old looking silly in a trilby hat...

A relative of ours (the Woodcock family) kept the first shop next to Sparkhill park. They sold mirrors and picture frames, that sort of thing. Some sort of device went off nearby during the blitz, I can't remember if it was a bomb, and the blast shattered their shop window and I suppose every piece of glassware in the place. They had to close the business and went to live in nearby Oakwood Road.

In my teens I used to go dancing at the Springfield Ballroom and at Cateswell Barracks. I have also a hazy memory of the terrible cold winter (was it 1946?) when everyone ran out of coal, which was rationed, but there was a wharf or some such on Stratford Road, somewhere near the Robin Hood pub. As kids we helped our mother push an old pram from Ansell Road (between Golden Hillock Road and Barrows Road), fill it with as much coal as we could have (or afford) and push it home, some five miles I guess, on icebound roads and below freezing temperatures just so that we could have a fire. Those were the days, eh?

Talking of the Robin Hood pub, to us and our mum and dad, that was a posh place almost out in the country and with big grounds where parents could take the kids. It was a real treat for Tony, my brother, and I, to be taken on a Saturday evening in the summer to play 'Cowbags and Indybugs' with our toy pistols and with a glass of pop and a packet of Smith's Crisps, (blue bag of salt inside), to refresh ourselves between sorties. Then Mr Hitler decided it would be a good idea to drop bombs on us and our place was right near the BSA, a nightly target for the Luftwaffe...but that's another story....All that area between Camp Hill (where I went to school after Golden Hillock Road) and Sparkhill Park is now known round the world as The Balti Belt, of course. Won't bore you any longer with geriatric ramblings....

Shawcross
 

sospiri

Ex-pat Brummie
I lived in Knowle Road, behind the Springfield Cinema and Springfield Ballroom from 1941 to 1950. During most of that time, the Cinema, devoid of its seats, was used for storing white sugar by the Ministry of Food. And Henry Goodall and his Orchestra performed at the Ballroom. I was at College Infants & later Junior School (Headmaster Mr Shakespeare) until 1947 and then moved to Moseley Grammar School (Headmaster Mr Ernest H. Robinson). My "playground" was either the allotments, which ran from Knowle Road to Foremans Road, or the banks of the River Cole from Stratford Road bridge to Green Lane ford, with occasional excursions to either the brickworks in Greet or the aqueduct. We walked pretty well everywhere!

Maurice
 

history_fan

Brummie babby
what i can say to you is that the stratford rd from camp hill right through along the stratford road passing the police station
there was loads of pubs and that was an complete Irish comunity and a very good high shoping place for bargains in brum from all those years
and slowly up to thelate sixty -seventy it slowly changed completely and now its a asian comunity that as taken over
and the top end from camp hill to stoney lane was bed sit accomodations with large house and that was another part of the irish comunetity
stratford road was the best part of brum to do you your bargain hunt for any think and there was one or two irish owned tea tooms which serverd
Irish food [ tradional ]well kept and tradionional furnishing inside ;you name it you could get it from wall paper and paints ; clothes and shoes etc
and of course the irish pubs ; great for singing and and music ;and to top it off was the liquid gold guiness best wishes Astonian ;;;;
Can you explain what the irish tea rooms looked like a bit more? They sound fascinating - a shame they have all gone now! Did you have a favourite pub?
 

history_fan

Brummie babby
Fascinating! What type of music did they play at catswell barracks? I know my dad used to dread going to dances until one of his female friends finally taught him some basic moves to the lindy hop, were gentlemen expected to be good dancers or could you get away with the manly sway?
 

history_fan

Brummie babby
That's an impressive memory! Thanks so much for these, it really helps when we have named shops. As we get more information through I'll start posting anything else we find out!!
 

norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
The bands would play quicksteps, fox trots, waltzes, tangos, sambas, rhumbas, beguines, gay gordons,( it meant a different thing in the 1940's ), Military two Step and everyone would join in for the palais glide. If the man could dance well, the girls would say "watch him- he's a smoothly" The best move was to pick out the girl you really fancied, and if you could not dance well, you would pick a nice slow waltz or slow foxtrot, ask her to dance, and chat to her. The main thing was to make sure that you danced with her for the last waltz of the evening, because then it was "now or never" Although I never played at the Springfield Ballroom, I did play at the Mermaid Hotel and Cateswell Barracks with Alf Bevins and his Band, and also at Stoney Lane Barracks with Alf. There were also, in the middle 1940's, dances above Burtons Tailors near the Piccadilly Cinema. In the 1940's and early 50's "jitterbugging and Jiving" were frowned upon by the establishment. Certainly at the Springfield Ballroom. If you tried to do these dances, you were politely told to leave the dance floor. Sorry that I have gone off thread, but I am trying to answer a question.
 
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