Goosemoor Lane History
(Unofficial history page for Goosemoor Lane, Short Heath, Erdington, Birmingham, B23, United Kingdom)
Monday 4th May 2009 Edition
Stone Age - Dwarf Holes
We do know people lived in this area in ancient times. These partly man-made stone-age caves were in Gravelly Hill and are mentioned in 1490 AD written records in fact. Locals used them in WWII as air-raid shelters. They were demolished to make way for Spaghetti Junction. A stone-age implement was dug up from a garden in Court Lane a few years back.
Domesday Book - 1086
Erdington (from Hardintone) is mentioned. Part of the listing (translated from the original Latin) is now engraved around the Village Green;
"There is a mill of three shillings (a year) and five acres of meadow. A wood one leuua long and half a leuua broad but is held by the King. Severality it was worth 20 shillings now 30 shillings. Earl Edwin held it. Peter Holds of Wilhem 3 hides in Hardintone. There is arable land for 60 ploughs. In the Demesno there is one plough and two serfs. There are nine villeins and three borders with four ploughs."
(A leuua is roughly 1.5 miles today).
The book is online, translated into English. www.domesdaybook.co.uk
The earliest references to Goosemoor Lane, from Erdington Library;
"1655 Gosmore Heath; from the common lands called Goosemoor. This could reasonably be Gorsemoor, as there was a field of this name".
So nothing to do with Geese! Gorse is a type of yellow spiny shrub of the genus Ulex (grows in the Anstey near what is today Enstone Road).
The English Civil War
(Courtesy of the Sutton Observer). It's believed by some that Oliver Cromwell and King Charles I spent time in what is today north-east Birmingham during the war (though this is disputed). Cromwell stayed at the Three Tuns Inn in Sutton Coldfield. At another point in the war King Charles tried to rally his troops with a rousing speech in our area but wasn't tall enough to make an impact. His troops had to dig a mound for him to stand on - king standing - Kingstanding. So the story goes.
The Erdington library info goes on about Goosemoor Lane;
"The 1801 enclosures entirely altered the course of this road which originally entered Chester Road and not Court Lane.
In 1760: nearly on the corner of Gravelly Lane was William Wilkinson's farmhouse, while common land extended on the right hand to the parish boundary. Several cottages and gardens stood on the left side. Gravelly Lane Farm (William Dutton) stood by the old path over what are now allotments, and lasted until the 1930's, the path is still in use. The hedges and ditches of the allotments seem to cover fields once called Rough Close, Square Close, Fordrove Close, Well Leasow, Jobs Leasow and Great Leasow".
I've looked and none of these seem to live on in the names of anything around Jarvis Road, Short Heath Park or Top Croft etc. A revelation is that the little alley next to what is now the Church Of Christ (hardly used) is so old. It goes on;
"Just past Dutton's farm was Job Poston's cottage (hence Job's Leasow) then came another belonging to Widow Tail, and lastly William Well's cottage (it could be that Well Leasow is named after him). From here onward was common land as far as the Coldfield. Behind the cottages were also several fields called Baldmoor Closes".
Enstone Road etc was the common land up to Chester Road. Cookes Furniture and the allotments behind were the Gravelly Lane Farm. Leasow might be related to the word `lease' perhaps. In Scotland a croft is a farm but in England it's just an enclosed piece of land, so Top Croft is presumably from the 1801 enclosures mentioned.
"The lane then shot off direct to Chester Road which it met at Baldmoor Lake: after 1801 it turned left into Court Lane".
Baldmoor Lake was roughly where the (derelict) Fosseway Estate is now (the estate at the Court Lane/Chester Road junction). So Lakehouse Road (off Chester Road) is probably where any lakehouse would have been, it's name origin obvious in that case. So too the origin of the name of the tower block called Lakehouse Court once on the Fosseway Estate (the land is still slightly bowl-shaped there today).
Baldmoor - Boldmere
Nobody knows for sure but it may be that Boldmere was named after the lake too. It may seem obvious when you think about it but there is a debate. (A mere is a lake. A bold was a house or palace).
1760 Ordnance Survey Map (Birmingham Central
When you see this it becomes a lot clearer and the Erdington Library info is wrong in places. Fordrove Close today is much of Short Heath Park along the Court Lane side. William Dutton's divided areas of land were also much of what is now Jerrys Lane etc. Baldmoor Lake is on this map. The area today that is the Top Croft Estate was called Baldmoor Croft. Today if you said Baldmoor Lake Road was named after a lake where Fosseway Drive now is it wouldn't seem right, until you realise originally nothing was between the lake and what was Baldmoor Croft (the road was then named after that). What else could local people have decided to call the croft? Nothing was there.
1783 - Will Hutton Visits The Area
This Birmingham historian visited the area at this time. He found Baldmoor Lake was called Bowen Pool. In 1802 it was called Bowmore Lake and Chester Road went through it! So it was two lakes then. By 1810 it was called Baldmoor Lake.
Ordinance - Ordnance
The things you realise when researching, these two words got confused long ago. An Ordinance is a religious ruling, Ordnance is a military one or the word for mounted cannon (also now used, sometimes as "newspeak", for all weapons). The maps of the UK are "Ordnance Survey" maps because of their original military purpose (against a possible invasion, I think by Napoleon) but the error occurs everywhere it seems, in records, conversations etc. It may even be that both are now accepted when referring to the maps.
Ordnance Survey maps of the area are not always right however. For years until Kirkwood was built the Birmingham A-Z (which uses such maps) said what is now Kirkwood was a sports-ground, it never was (was a sand-pit). The current A-Z has Top Croft Road and Hawthorn Close directly opposite each other and the same with Goosemoor Lane and Somerton Drive. Wrong on both counts. Also map descriptions by a local are far better than any library description of a map (probably from an official who didn't visit the area then or now). This becomes clear when you see the maps for yourself.
(Click here to see photo)
This wealthy 17th Century family owned much of what is now the Pype Hayes area. Their name around here seems to live on only with The Bagot pub at the junction of Eachelhurst Road (formerly Terrys Lane) and Chester Road. In Staffordshire their name lives on too as they owned much land there. A plaque in St Barnabas Church on the High Street remembers them. Sounds French so they may have been Hugenots (many were persecuted in France so fled to England). Or maybe descended from Norman nobles.
1813 Ordnance Survey Map (Birmingham Central
Some of the other major land-owners are named on the land they owned; Isaac Spooner, he also owned Rookery House, still in Rookery Park, and was the father-in-law of William Wilberforce, who abolished slavery in the British Empire. (Ironically Rookery House is now planned to be a centre for Afro-Caribbean art). On the map mentioned too are Thomas Greensill etc, also something called Butler's Trust (no modern things named after them in the area that I can find). Goosemoor Lane has no name and is just marked "Private Road". The bend from 1801 is there now as Erdington Library said. What is now Jerrys Lane was Turfpits Lane (it was a right-angled road off Witton Lodge Road). A road corresponding to Kirkwood Avenue today existed and is marked "Private Road", runs to Chester Road (so this road ceased to exist). There is still a large gap in the houses on Chester Road today between houses 444 and 446 so that may have been where it came out. Gosmore Field was where the Rose And Crown and Enstone Road are today. No Sycamore Road or Beech Road.
Birmingham To Sutton Coldfield Railway Completed -
This was built with the main idea of enabling Birmingham workers to enjoy Sutton Park, but in fact it led to Sutton people becoming commuters to work in Birmingham instead! An earlier 1853 plan for the line was scuppered by the Crimean War starting (1853-6) and the resulting forecasted tax-hikes deterring investors. In 1858 Henry Columbus-Hurry surveyed the area and planned the route. This was mainly what was used but small changes were made. e.g. it was planned to go through Wylde Green School playground but the road Green Lanes was altered instead (it met Chester Road further up towards Boldmere before). A station called Vauxhall was along the line before. Duddeston is used now and is almost in the same place.
Antrobus Road/Fernwood Road/Fernwood Close
This is from 19th century jeweller Alfred Antrobus who built the mansion Fernwood Grange (where the Fosseway Estate now is). The small bungalow still at the junction of Fernwood Road and Chester Road nearest Church Road is the old lodge. Alfred Antrobus fell into personal and financial disrepute and subsequently lost the mansion (he tried to fix a horse race but the jockeys got lost in fog!)
1870 Map Of Goosemoor Lane Area
Somebody describes an 1870 Ordnance Survey map they have;
"3 large houses on one side of Goosemoor Lane from the corner of Gravelly Lane to where Cookes are now. There is one small house on the corner. There are 2 medium houses opposite each other where the Anstey is now and a small house on the corner of Court Lane. Apart from the sand-pit there is nothing else along the road. Goosemoor Lane was exactly as it is now but with no roads off. Along Chester Road there are no roads off between Gravelly Lane and College Road except Court Lane".
The sand-pit is now Kirkwood Avenue etc. Very few houses, backing up the info about most houses being from 1922 (see below). So the Anstey did have housing at one point. No Sycamore, Beech Road or Top Croft (Bowling Green Close dates from about 1978 and was a sports ground entrance before that. Hawthorn Close is nothing to do with the Baggies (!) so probably trees and is of course less than 5 years old (see Inset Was A Farm - below). The new road off Chester Road (Cherry Lane) is of course even "younger" than Hawthorn Close.
First World War
Local Soldiers Of World War I
These men from nearby streets APPLIED to join The City Of Birmingham Battalion in August 1914. It's not known if those not chosen joined other regiments (e.g. The Royal Warwickshire) but it's assumed nearly all did. So far I only know the exact fates of those from the CoBB but it seems, cross-referencing from all those killed listed as being from Erdington, most were lucky, or a few may have been classed as unfit etc;
Allen E., 5 Norfolk Road
Berry H.J., 351 Gravelly Lane
Bloomer S., Green Lanes
Bourne F., "Glencoe", Court Lane
Buy H.L., 351 Gravelly Lane, 2nd City Of Birmingham Battalion, wounded
Cartwright A.G., "Glenholme", Chester Road
Child W.H., 27 Chester Road, 1st City Of Birmingham Battalion, killed 23/7/1916
Claybrook WJ, 76 Court Lane
Dale H., 30 Green Lanes
Elwell B.T., 57 Norfolk Road
Eyre A.W., 34 Anderson Road
Fisher N.H., "Caldene" Green Lanes
Goldstraw E.W., "Haughmond", Chester Road, 1st CoBB then Warks Regiment, died of wounds
Grees J.H., 31 Green Lanes
Holdcroft H.J.S., "Rostrevor", Boldmere Road, 1st City Of Birmingham Battalion, wounded
Horsburgh J.E., "Eskdale", Chester Road, 1st City Of Birmingham Battalion, discharged
Lucas A., 18 Anderson Road, 3rd City Of Birmingham Battalion, survived
Martin J.W., 144 Gravelly Lane
Mavitta L.W., "Pinehurst" Court Lane
Meech F.R., 126 Gravelly Lane
Osborn H., 70 Green Lanes
Rogers H., 64 Sycamore Road, 2nd City Of Birmingham Battalion, survived
Rrad W.N., 59 Church Road
Sharp A.B., 80 Chester Road
Spencer L.R., "The Laurels", Chester Road
Tippins J.A., "Fairview", Sheffield Road
Weeks J., 117 Gravelly Lane
Whitehead A.P., Station House, Chester Road, 1st City Of Birmingham Battalion, survived
Willets W.H., 59 Norfolk Road, 3rd City Of Birmingham Battalion, survived
Wood T.L., "Kingswood" Chester Road, 2nd City Of Birmingham Battalion, died of wounds 8/7/1916
Soldier W.H. Child of 27 Chester Road above who died 23/7/1916: When you see the big lists that date appears again and again, that's the time of the Battle(s) Of The Somme ....
It is known that A.W. Eyre took part in a raiding party on a German trench on 22/5/1916. They were cut down by machine-gun fire etc and he and the survivors were forced to retreat.
Sometimes friends would list the same house, hence some appeared to live together but didn't really. As you can see some gave only the name of the house not the number, any idea what number they are let me know. Sometimes a soldier was discharged if it was later found he had lied about his age, however sometimes when that became known they were still kept in.
Lists like this are more clues to which houses existed at that time, as you can see no-one from Goosemoor Lane. However some ex-soldiers formed reunion clubs after the war;
2nd City Of Birmingham Battalion C Company Club 1922
Barker G., 75 Gravelly Lane
Benn J., 34 Station Road
3rd City Of Birmingham Battalion Club 1927
Cooper F. (corporal), 112 Goosemoor Lane
Cutts H.E. (CSM), 78 Norfolk Road (DCM)
May G.P. (private), 108 Church Road
and Goosemoor Lane has now appeared.
The City Of Birmingham Battalions of the First World War did their basic training in Sutton Park and a plaque still lies near Town Gate (it's not in a very good state if you've seen it). A flag-pole stuck in a (now very tall) tree by a New Zealand regiment is somewhere near Town Gate too but I don't know exactly where.
The Birmingham Western Front Association will know more. Another site is www.hellfire-corner.demon.co.uk/erdington.htm
Mason's Church, Station Road, early 20th Century/late 19th
(Click here to see photo)
1914 Ordnance Survey Map (Central Library ref
The lake has gone. The Rose And Crown was on the opposite side of Gravelly Lane and a bit further up! I've heard of drunks coming out of a pub and staggering across a road but the pub itself crossing the road? Virtually no nearby houses on Goosemoor and Somerton Drive etc has none. A theory I have is that the Goosemoor houses were built first, the brewery moved the pub for better trade. The Somerton houses etc came after, not enough to make the pub move back. Enstone Road still isn't there yet but a field is there called The Shrubberies (gorse is a shrub).
1914 Ordnance Survey Map (Central Library ref
(This shows Goosemoor better than D7 above as the whole road can be seen). The even-side of Goosemoor is all allotments and only a few houses lie at the Court Lane junction. No Witton Lodge Road now but a Witton Lodge Farm house is roughly where the circle is today. The Spinney is there (7 bus terminus today). Jerrys Lane is spelt Jerry's Lane, suggesting it was named after somebody's Christian name.
Highfield Drive's name origin is clear from this map, the field in that area was called Highfield. So it's slope is historic. The cricket ground still in use today was there, the Goosemoor entrance to it too (now Bowling Green Close). Some houses are on both sides of this entrance on the odd-side. A gravel-pit where Kirkwood is, still saying a football ground further down towards the Anstey (which was also then a playing-field). Sycamore and Beech Road have appeared now with housing too, still no Top Croft or Baldmoor Lake Road at all.
They built houses out from the High Street (Somerset Road, Norfolk Road, Dean Road, Oliver Road and Johnson Road etc are as today) not out from Birmingham centre (no Witton Lodge Road or houses on Jerrys Lane etc). Looks like the old shop I heard about (below) from a resident where the woodyard is today is on this map, only a small building there anyway.
For info on Gay's Store and Percy W. Cox Sand-Pits - click here
Erdington:From Country Village to City Suburb
This article by Laura Macklin was in the Sutton Observer (23/11/2001). I've lifted the first few paragraphs.
"At the beginning of the 20th Century there was probably little evidence of the vast changes which were soon to transform Erdington from the role of an agricutural village to that of the thriving and largely industrialised suburb we know today.
In 1894, having acheived the status of an urban district council, it obtained independence from Aston. But there were already indications of future changes. Erdington depended on Birmingham for it's gas and water supply and, after 1907, it's tramway system, and it was not wholly surprising when the village was absorbed by Birmingham in 1911.
The motor-car was a rarity in those days and horse-traffic predominated on the roads, many of them just dirt tracks. As late as 1922 an old man usd to sit at the roadside in Court Lane, opposite the Greyhound, whose job it was to break up stones with a long-handled hammer to make flints for the roads. The stones were brought to him in carts drawn by horses".
A large grass-verge is opposite the Greyhound now, no trace of the stone mason's workplace. It goes on to mention The Pavilion cinema (see below), Spaghetti Junction, and that the trams ran along High Street until 1938, along Sutton New Road after that (the tracks now replaced by the long free-parking area). We'll forgive the error that Spaghetti Junction lies at the Erdington/Sutton border (Erdington/Aston of course).
This article is more explanation of building out from the High Street, Erdington was once self-contained. Some elderly people still call Erdington High Street "The Village".
Gym/Bowling Alley/Cinema On Gravelly Lane
About the gym on Gravelly Lane by Chester Road being a bowling-alley before, from a resident;
"The Gym takes up only part of the car park of the Bowling Alley, which was located right on the corner of Chester and Gravelly. The Bowling Alley was formally a picture house known as the Odeon. In the early sixties the Odoen was purchased by 'movie icon' Douglas Fairbanks and he turned it into a bowling alley".
The cinema was actually called the Pavilion (opened in 1931). The housing complex there today is called Pavilion Housing.
From a Canadian emigre;
"The Pavilion, Wylde Green, was this cinema's official name. As far as I remember it was never an Odeon Cinema. I went to the films there for a few years before it was turned into a bowling alley owned by the Brunswick Corporation. I also went there. It was the first Bowling Alley in Erdington for Ten-Pin Bowling, with approx l0 lanes.
It was licensed and had a very nice bar upstairs. I had my first alcohol drink in there on my l8th birthday ..... rum if I remember rightly".
(Click here to see photo)
The 1922 Houses
A resident reckons most of our houses were built around 1922 (earlier than I thought) and the Top Croft Estate was built in the late 1960's (that seems about right looking at it's buildings). Though of course various new buildings have been put up along Goosemoor and Top Croft right up to the present.
Station Road, 4th
(Click here to see photo)
bend 14th April 1931
(Click here to see photo)
bend 29th August 1932
(Click here to see photo)
Lane/Court Lane junction 14th April 1931
(Click here to see photo)
Lane/Court Lane junction 29th August 1932
(Click here to see photo)
(Greyhound Pub), 1933
(Click here to see photo)
Inset Was A Farm
At some stage from 1937 the "Inset" part of Goosemoor Lane near the junction with Sycamore Road was a small farm. This part of Goosemoor just opposite the park now has housing dating from the late 1980's and a house named Park View was there covering part of it before that.
Kellys "Census" 1938
Click here for the list of local rate-paying residents from 1938, road by road.
Second World War
After much researching I have resolved the issue of wartime secrecy over Birmingham air-raids. Other online sites deal in greater detail with the wider city bombing;
Click for Birmingham Air Raids Remembrance Association (BARRA)
Birmingham was bombed very heavily, this began on the night of August 8th/9th 1940 (and indeed the first bomb to hit a building fell on Enstone Road, numbers 18 and 16). An 18 year-old cinema-projectionist called Jimmy Fry in Montague Road (off Tyburn Road) was killed in that first raid, so the plane was flying from here down to there.
From E. Wilkes in Brummagem magazine;
"The second bomb fell in the back garden of a detached villa-type residence in Gravelly Lane, opposite the end of Goosemoor Lane. It created a small crater in the soft earth and shattered the glass of a greenhouse on the allotments that existed between the house and Oliver Road ........ I believe the third and fourth bombs fell in the Church Road/Western Road area of Erdington. I saw fireman draping tarpaulin over the roof of a house in Erdington Hall Road between Alleyne Road and Croydon Road. I was told another bomb had landed in Montague Road but as it was downhill I didn't go to see it. It was the unheralded arrival of the aircraft that awoke me at about half past one in the morning."
(Ironically five years to the day after - 9th August 1945 - Nagasaki was bombed, ending the war).
House Hit By Barrage Balloon
It seems the first house in the road damaged in the war was number 123 (on the bend) which was hit by a barrage balloon cable! One had escaped from Pype Hayes Park not long after war was declared in 1939 and drifted up to here and it's steel cable hit and damaged that house before coming down over Sutton. I've had a look and any repaired damaged is not obvious.
Court Farm School/Court Farm road air raid details, 1940, click here;
Birmingham Mail Newspaper - August 24th 1940
"The most prolonged attack was over the Midlands where high explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped".
(On the 25th it seems an unexploded bomb which fell on Welvyndale Road (by Orphanage Road) exploded, many deaths. It seems residents, soldiers and ARP Wardens etc who had all gathered round were unaware of the serious danger that early in the war. Though the authorities may have been digging down to it, causing them to be gathered round).
A City At War - Birmingham Museum And Art Gallery -
"The first enemy raid on Birmingham took place on the night of August 8/9 1940, when a lone bomber, probably unsuccessfully searching for Fort Dunlop or the Castle Bromwich aeroplane factory, released it's bombs over suburban Erdington before heading for home. The first attack was followed for nearly three weeks by a series of small raids, again concentrating on the east of the city. However on the night of 25/26 the bombers changed their tactics and raided the City Centre".
Birmingham Mail Newspaper - 26th October 1940
"A town in the West Midlands had another experience of Nazi frightfulness on Saturday night .... On Friday night a cinema received a direct hit and a number of casualties, some of them fatal, were caused".
This was the Carlton Cinema (the movie Typhoon playing) - a memorial garden was opened on the old site in 2007.
From the Acocks Green History Society website - a diary entry by a resident;
It is stated that in last night’s raid a cinema had a direct hit while the show was in progress. People killed and injured (Carlton Cinema). Many fires in Birmingham. The two houses at an angle facing the old village centre at the end of Dudley Park Road were very badly damaged by a direct hit. Dorothy and I had often admired the charm of these two houses, with their carefully tended gardens and neatly cut dwarf hedges. Oxford Road had a bomb and quite thirty houses had windows broken.
He came early tonight, 5 past 7, and big fires were started immediately. From 7 to 11 guns and bombs and noises of planes were about continuous. The glare from fires in town was terrific. We came into the house from the shelter at 1 a.m., but the all clear had not gone then."
Slade Road was hit in the raid of 24-25/10/1940 too, much loss of life.
On Hailsham Road (bottom of Court Lane) one house had a well and when all the water mains were hit in the area the resident would make this source available to all free. Will try to find exactly where it was. Sycamore Road had a standpipe when the water was off, just up towards Chester Road from what is now the Littlecote Drive junction and on that side.
Birmingham was fire-bombed on the night of April 9th 1941 (this raid and secondary ones on following nights caused many deaths on Goosemoor Lane, click the bomb-map below for the list).
From Churchill's Memoirs
"These new bombing tactics (the attacks on Centres Of Production) began with the blitz of Coventry on the night on November 14th. London seemed too large and vague a target for decisive results, but Goering hoped that provincial cities or ammunition centres might be effectively obliterated.
On November 15th the enemy switched back to London, with a very heavy raid in full moonlight. Much damage was done, especially to churches and other monuments. The next target was Birmingham, and three successive raids from the 19th to the 22nd November inflicted much destruction and loss of life. Nearly eight hundred people were killed and near to two thousand injured; but the life and spirit of Birmingham survived the ordeal.
When I visited the city a day or two later to inspect the factories, and see for myself what had happened, an incident, to me charming, occurred, it was the dinner hour and a very pretty young girl ran up to the car and threw a box of cigars into it. I stopped at once and she said `I won the prize this week for the highest output, I only heard you were coming an hour ago'. The gift must have cost her two or three pounds. I was very glad (in my official capacity) to give her a kiss.
I then went on to the long mass grave in which so many citizens and their children had been newly buried. The spirit of Birmingham shone brightly, and it's million inhabitants, highly organised, conscientious and comprehending, rode high above their physical suffering".
(Click here to see photo)
Map Of WWII
Bombing In Goosemoor Lane Area
(Click here to see map)
Luftwaffe reconnaissance photos of the area can be bought at www.njcpublications.demon.co.uk/photos.htm
In Brummagen magazine about a raid on Glendon Road;
"One bomb landed in Glendon Road smack in the middle of the road between the houses built about 1925 and the house added in about 1937 .... next to no 42. Two, possibly three bombs were dropped at the same time in what were the playing fields in Short Heath Road."
So where did people go during air-raids? I'm told Anderson Shelters down the back garden. A scary thought (Dwarf Holes caves in Gravelly Hill was used by some). The Jerrys Lane houses next to the Leopard acted as a fire-station and had an air-raid siren.
A resident from down near Cookes has emailed;
"We've still got the Anderson shelter in our back garden! We've been told that the house was owned from new by the same family who obviously put the Anderson in during WW2. The plot of land with the garage on at the back still shows signs of having been an allotment to grow fruit and veg during the war and perhaps after, but is now home to foxes. We were also told that the husband of the family was killed during one bombing raid and certainly all the back windows blown out as from ours down to Cookes are different to those of our neighbour (which would make sense from the bombing raid which took out houses opposite Cookes). We were shown a photo of the houses from pre-War and the windows are all leaded front and back. The Anderson must have been dug up afterwards and kept as a shed".
You were supposed to give the Anderson Shelter back after the war or buy it for £3. I'm told old Anderson Shelters can be seen on allotments along the Cross-City Line.
The V Weapons
No V weapons fell on Birmingham or were aimed at it. The accepted wisdom you often hear is,"out of range". This doesn't alone explain things however. Principally, how come Manchester was attacked? The answer;
If ground-launched from France etc (most were - and aimed at Southern England initially and parts of liberated Europe later), the V1 (Doodlebug) couldn't reach Birmingham. However Manchester was attacked by Heinkel 111 planes firing V1's (so if Manchester was in range that way so was Birmingham of course). One big raid took place (60 planes - 24th December 1944).
It was assumed by the Nazis there wouldn't be many defences in the path of Manchester if the Heinkels fired off the Skegness coast (such was Allied air-superiority over British skies in late 1944 they couldn't risk going too far in). Many went off course once fired, landing in Oldham etc. Some were shot down, one reached Manchester's outskirts. In fact the attack was so scattered it was only when the Nazis later broadcast that Manchester was the target did the Allies know!
The heavy Suffolk/Norfolk etc anti-V1 coastal defences there mainly to protect Southern and Eastern England but also blocking the path to here meant Birmingham wasn't picked as the "experiment" for this aeroplane method of firing V1's, which was abandoned after the Manchester raid due to lack of Heinkel fuel.
No V2's (the missile) were plane-launched, like the V1 it couldn't reach Birmingham when launched from the ground in Europe.
Oscott RC College own this I'm told! It was designated as "consecrated ground" apparently. The railings should be kept in good repair by the Council at all times it was agreed. In the 1930's the ground was flat! Covered in bluebells in Summer. Vandalism has been cited solely for the changes, kids had a spate of frantic digging in the 1960's. In WWII (1941) when railings were taken from the area the Spinney's were not. In fact the taking of railings nationwide was simply a civilian morale exercise in the end. Turned out the types of metal used for railings were all useless for recycling into weapons (bell metals were ok though). The railings were all dumped, thousands of tons, up by the Scottish border. They still lie there, rusting away.
An Italian POW camp lay at the junction of Jerrys Lane and Flackwell Road opposite the Leopard (now maisonettes, bunglalows and a sub-station). No remains of this I can find. Presumably it shut when Italy surrendered in September 1943, however I'm told many of the Italians stayed on after the war. Somebody emailed about the work they did;
"An Italian prisoner of war camp was set up to provide labour for harvesting the crops from the cornfields between Witton Lodge Road and Perry Common Road. Of course they were used on other things out of season".
This became a childrens' nursery after the war.
Fire Station Near Star Cars
Where Star Cars now park their vehicles near the Yenton was a war-time fire station, though it was kept open until the late 1950's, using much older equipment than the one on Orphanage Road! That one was intended to be permanent of course.
Piles Of Logs In The Park
During the war 3 tall log piles were in the park though nobody knows why. Tank-traps were suggested but those who saw them say they wouldn't have stopped a tank, it would have simply drove around them! Also assuming the invasion would have come from the south they were useless, placed in the wrong part of the park! A trap for Nazi paratroopers has been suggested, it would only have hampered a few though, and would have given some cover for them to fire from in fact. Anti-invasion measures were a bit make-shift nationally though so it might be that.
Loudspeakers In The Trees
The rumour about loud-speakers in the trees was confirmed, part of the VE Day celebrations, though it was just one large gramophone-speaker in one tree, the one still on the pavement outside 146. No ladder was needed as that tree was very small in 1945!
The War Experience website has personal stories from WWII; www.warexperience.org
The Action Reconciliation Service For Peace is run by Germans, they do a lot of work in Coventry. www.asf-ev.de
An ex-pat from Australia;
"My family moved from South Yardley to 308 Court Lane in 1947 (previously owned by Hastilows who moved to a large house on the other side of Court Lane opposite the Spinney). I was 7 years of age and used to play in the Spinney (as it was known then). If my memory serves me right there were a lot of horse chestnut and sycamore trees in it. It was also the terminus for the 5A bus. I used to go to Tedbury Crescent School and later King Edwards VI Aston in Frederick Road. In 1951 .... we moved to 26 Somerset Road. It was a very quiet street, and I used to attend St Margaret's Church in Somerset Road, I remember the curate was Rev. Hugh Joseph. Even though it was a long time ago ...... I have many happy memories of the area."
(Gravelly Lane end), 1948
(Click here to see photo)
Message From An Emigre To Canada
Bryan Timms now lives in Canada but found the site. He emailed;
"I came across your site the other day and it brought back some memories. I wonder if you can help with one of them. I lived for a while during the war as a child with my aunt and uncle in Madehurst Road. We visited after the war and I remember standing in Short Heath Park listening to a chuch in the distance where they were change ringing. From what I remember it was coming from the direction of Sutton Coldfield. Do you recall this?
Are they still change ringing somewhere in the vicinity? Whenever I hear change ringing it always takes me back to that time. Sad to say there is no change ringing here apart from one or two isolated pockets. In North America they prefer carillons. So I had to write a change ringing program for the PC and with it playing quietly it takes me back to being a child in Short Heath Park".
I emailed back explaining about St Michael's Church bells on Church Road, Boldmere, and asking what change and carillion meant and he responded;
"I always wondered where the bells were coming from. As a child I used to think they were in West Bromwich but I doubt if you could hear them from that distance. Change ringing is where the bells are rung with ropes and the ringers play a sequence where 2 bells change at a time. With 8 bells you can get a sequence of factorial 8 or 40320 changes though most sequences are shorter than that.
A carillon has a keyboard rather like a large piano and one guy plays tunes on it by thumping it with his fists. I don't think my aunt is alive any more. My uncle died many years ago as did my aunt and uncle in Tedbury Crescent. I had several cousins in the area but I haven't seen any of that side of the family for nearly 50 years so I don't know where any of them are now".
St Margaret's Church Was On Somerset Road
Today of course it is on Jarvis Road and an alleyway still runs to Somerset Road, an email;
"St Margaret's was in Somerset Road when I attended it in the late l950's."
This explains why it's on old maps but Jarvis Road isn't.
(Jerrys Lane junction), 1948
(Click here to see photo)
(Click here to see photo)
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Coronation Day (2nd June 1953)
(Click here to see photo)
Church Party, Coronation Day
(Click here to see photo)
Method In Their Madness
Bowling Green Close was originally part of a Methodist sports-ground. (The cricket-field and bowling green are still there and still used. So that's how it got it's name of course). Another bowling-green at the back of The Greyhound pub dates from 1935. It seems there were two cricket fields where Bowling Green Close etc now is. The "missing" one was built by Aston Unity CC after the war but they later moved to Bassett's Pole. Rutherford Road and The Pollards (both off Court Lane) now stand on it, the entrance was from Court Lane.
Closed For The Duration
The grocery shop at the junction of Beech Road and Sycamore Road was open in the 1950's at least. It opened and closed periodically in the 1970's and 80's but has been shut now for about ten years.
Short Heath Park
I've been told about a putting green, tennis courts and pavillion being in Short Heath Park. The pavillion was a large open fronted building built log-cabin style and had wooden seating. It was near Jerrys Lane, where the land is raised on two sides. The putting-green was next to it nearer the Spinney. Pre-fab housing ran along the Goosemoor and Court Lane side of the park from the 1950's (went about 1982). Pre-fab building developed after the war thanks to Herr Hitler and his Luftwaffe meaning a housing shortage nationally. Gates were in the 2 bits nearest Sycamore Road and Jarvis Road. All else was railings (they went in WWII - see Spinney below). The Jarvis Road corner had a fountain. A path ran round the park.
A 1960's Chipstead Road resident now in Goosemoor Lane has emailed more about the fountain;
"As a lad when I lived in Chipstead Road I used to go into Short Heath Park to play. I remember the prefabs that fronted onto Court Lane, there used to be quite a good play area too with a see-saw, roundabout and a spider's web (a sort of steel tube roundabout) as well as the swings. At the entrance on Court Lane By the then toilet block there was a drinking fountain made out of stone that was 5-6 foot high it had a metal drinking cup attached by a length of chain!"
Westwood Tennis Club/Stables
Until around about the late 1970's a wooden boarded alleyway ran along the Rose And Crown car-park up to Gravelly Lane on the side nearest Hawthorn Close. Part of the brick wall on that side was originally (before the 1970's) steel mesh with a steel gate (you can see the new brickwork). Two oak bollards were at each end of the alley to stop vehicular traffic. Somebody (who moved away 40 years ago but saw the site) remembers;
"The right of way between Goosemoor and Gravelly Lane had a tennis court for hire until the 1950's, when the bookie who owned the house on Gravelly Lane turned it into a paddock for his daughter's horse".
A current resident has more;
"The stables which are still there were built by the Bookie for his own race horses, although that's not to say his daughter did not have a horse. There are four stables. The tennis courts were then used as the paddock for the horses. The land and stables are still there".
8ft steel mesh ran along it's length, the entrance gate had massive padlocks on. Like Fort Knox someone says! So over that wall is the old stables previously Westwood Tennis Club. I'll find out if it's linked to Westwood Coppice etc in the Sutton Park area.
Moving up Goosemooor on that same side, the next alley (between 65 and 69) just leads to garages and always did but the end of which was yards from where the first bomb on Birminghm landed in 1940 as it backs onto the back of Enstone Road. Some Goosemoor residents remember curiously inspecting the bomb damage from there as youngsters.
The next alley up is covered below;
Vono Removal Vans
Vono removal company had large pantechnicon vans which operated out of the bigger alley between the Rose and Crown car-park and what is now Hawthorn Close in the 1970's. Somebody remembers more
" ... Was a removal company operating from ... (a house in Goosemoor Lane) .. and was actually called Gordons Removals and later Burtons who eventually moved to the bookies in Gravelly Lane, and is still occupied by Mr Gordon, although a member still lives at .. (the house) .... A company, called Bells Of Erdington, and the son of ... (the person on Goosemoor) ... is now the owner of both Gordons & Burtons Removals. His registered office is ... (on) .. Goosemoor Lane, another property of the family, although he trades from Chudleigh Road".
I remember geese being kept up there in the 1970's (and wrongly at the time thinking that was somehow linked to the road's name) and indeed somebody confirmed this was also by Gordons. The garages up there are still rented out.
Somebody has sent in that Kevin (the big Irish bloke who ran the Top Croft junction corner shop with wife Kitty in the 1970's) is now a Class 1 football referee in the Festival League.
He's certainly in the Birmingham Irish Pipes And Drums - http://www.birminghamirishpipesanddrums.co.uk/new%20personnel.html
The previous owners of the Top Croft shop before Big Kevin were Jarrett, Pimley and before them Webb. "Sallys" was the name it had after Kittys (from the Christian name of the hindu woman).
The old country house on Short Heath Road at the Camberley Grove junction - was a nursing home at one point in the 1980's - 1990's. Demolished in late 2007. From a 2007 Sutton Observer article;
'Edwardian House Has Been Stripped', was the headline that caught the eye of Observer reader, Pamela Davis, last month. A familiar story of plans to demolish yet another historic building to make way for a new apartment blocks followed. But when Boldmere resident, Pamela, read the news, it really did hit home because she believes the distinguished turn-of-the-century building once belonged to her family.
"I have been told that 157 Short Heath Road belonged to my great-great grandparents," said Pamela, aged 39. And while she does not have concrete evidence of the facts, she says her late mother and grandmother led her to believe 'Leaholme' as they referred to it, was designed and built for the Sanders family.
"They ran a business in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham," said Pamela. "It was called 'Steve Sanders and Sons' in Vyse Street.
"They were dealers in diamonds, pearls and precious stones which would have been used to make necklaces, rings and earrings."
But, Pamela says, it was around the time of the Second World War that the Sanders fell on hard times.
"I don't know what happened," she says. "It could have been because of the war that people stopped buying jewellery but they lost their money and the family had to move out of the house."
Shortly after the death of her mother, in 1997, Pamela's grandmother moved into a nursing home. It was when she was helping to clear her grandmother's house that Pamela discovered these old photographs of 'Leaholme'.
"I found them by chance," she said. "They were in a box in my grandmother's house.
"I thought the house had been demolished but I showed them to my friend who was helping me and he recognised it as a nursing home on Short Heath Road. He was a postman and said he delivered there," she added.
Intrigued by the discovery, Pamela visited the home to help piece together what scant details she had of her family history.
"I don't have any other relatives I can ask," she explained. "I am an only child, as my mother was and I understand it was her great-grandparents' house."
Looking round the converted nursing home, Pamela says was a 'moving experience'.
"It was strange to think this was somewhere my grandfather would have visited as a child. I don't think he was born there but he would have visited."
But since the home was sold to developers it has sadly been left to rack and ruin.
On January 19, the Observer reported local residents' anger at plans to demolish the house to make way for flats. Erdington councillor, Robert Alden, said he is backing their campaign.
"The previous owner was given permission to build flats within the house about a year and a half ago," he said. "But he has since let the building fall into such disrepair, it looks like it will fall down by itself."
The current application, from United Care Developments, is to demolish the building and build 21 apartments housed within a three-storey block.
"I feel incredibly sad that it is in such an appalling state and if I had the money I would love to try to restore it," said Pamela.
"But I think seeing it in this state is even worse than if it wasn't there at all."
When the house was first sold, Pamela was given the Servants Bell the occupants would have rung when they needed assistance. But from her photographs she has also noticed an interesting plaque above the front door which she believes may have some significance to her family. The plaque dates the building to 1894 but it is the pattern between the figures eight and nine, resembling an 's' shape which has triggered her curiosity.
"If anyone could enlighten me as to the meaning of the symbol above the door I would be interested to hear from them because it may reveal something interesting about my ancestors," she said.
And Pamela is hoping to be able to hold on to this small piece of her family's history should the house be pulled down.
Sheila Appleby, a Short Heath Road resident who is campaigning to save the building told the Observer: "The house has been stripped of all its assets right down to the supporting wooden beams, which have been sold off."
Pamela said: "It is distressing to think all the fixtures and fittings have been stripped out.
"But if the house is to be demolished I would love to be able to keep the plaque, or even just a brick," She added: "Regardless of whether my understanding as to the origins of the house is correct, I would still be very sorry to see Leaholme reduced to rubble and I give my full support to any campaign to save it or at least to ensure that any future development is sympathetic to the surrounding vicinity."
What's In A Name?
Court Lane (and Court Farm Road) got their names from Court Farm, which was off Court Lane down by Anderson Road. Don't know how Kirkwood Avenue got it's name (no trees along Kirkwood so that's an error anyway). Goosemoor Lane has sycamore and beech trees on it's pavement but Sycamore Road and Beech Road don't, yet the names of the last two are from those trees of course. They are also so narrow they may never have had trees (the Sycamore Road houses date from 1907/8 I'm told). Sycamore trees are in some gardens on that road.
This cul-de-sac off Court Lane is from Hawthornbrook Farm, which lay there. Oscott College is built on that old farmland too.
The Wrigley's chewing-gum machine outside the end shop was there in the 1950's. However this stood outside the shop and the one I remember in the 1970's, which was there until about 1980, was on the wall by the old 28 bus stop and took 5p (therefore an old shilling would have fitted too but a shilling for gum in the 1950's? Obviously different machines at different times).
In the 1950's I'm told by a former resident the 28 route was from the City Centre to Alum Rock and then the Fox and Goose. Along Coleshill Road (Castle Vale) to Gravelly Lane. Up to Station Road but along Short Heath Road, Perry Common Road, Hawthorn Road to Kingstanding. This isn't substantially different from today but it no longer goes to the City Centre or along Gravelly Lane. I'm told there was a campaign to keep it going along Gravelly Lane but it failed. I reckon the end of subsidies in 1985 led to WM Travel needing to find a more profitable route, up to serve the High Street.
I contacted WM Travel about the 28's history and they sent more info:
"5th February 1930 New Service 22 City
Centre to Oldknow Road replacing Tram 22.
19th November 1930 New Service 21 Crossways via Perry Common Road, Bleak Hill Road, Marsh Lane, Station Road, Sutton Road, Chester Road to Tyburn Road.
13th January 1932 Service 21 extended from Tyburn House via Chester Road, Newport Road and Coleshill Road to Fox & Goose and diverted from Perry Common Road via Short Heath Road to Station Road.
15th August 1932 Service 21 extended from Fox & Goose via Alum Rock Road and Belchers Lane to Bordesley Green East.
2nd October 1935 New service 28 Station Street City Centre via service 22 then St Benedicts Road, Hobmoor Road, Yardley Green Road, Belchers Lane then via 21 service to Kingstanding Road.
23rd September 1940 Wartime restrictions 28 operates through service dawn - dusk only. At other times City to Newport Road and Kingstanding to Chester Road then via Sutton Road, Holly Lane and Kingsbury Road.
16th October 1944 Wartime restrictions withdrawn, use of service numbers 21 & 22 discontinued.
3rd May 1948 Extended via Dyas Road to Glenmead Road as 28A.
13th February 1958 28A renumbered 28.
This is the history of the service under Birmingham City Transport, my detailed records do not go any further but the service has been subsequently altered as follows:
City terminus altered to Birmingham Bull Ring Bus Station, then to New Street and then curtailed to Small Heath as at present. Service extended from Glenmead Road to Scott Arms then to Perry Barr One Stop, Alteration of route to serve Erdington Six Ways".
A broad history of the 5/5A, 6, 7 and 65 bus services compiled from present and former residents; In the 1950's the 5 went from Town to Witton Lodge Circle, the 5A from Town to Court Lane. By around 1971 these two services were merged as the 5 only. The 6 originally ran from Sandon Road in Bearwood to Town, by the 70's running across the city to Court Lane along the 5 route. These all dissappeared in the mid-1980's (the numbers 5 and 6 now exist again but serve other areas. They run from the City along Stratford Road). The 7 followed the same route from Court Lane but didn't stop at the Town Hall, carrying on up Broad Street, Hagley Road and Portland Road to Smethwick. By the late 80's it stopped in Town. The 65 ran from Town to Streetly Road only (which in the evenings and on Sundays it still does) and was extended in the mid-1980's to Court Lane.
A Midland Red service ran along Goosemoor Lane after the war at some point, though it had stopped by the 1970's.
Got this response about that;
"The Midland Red bus was the S75, these was also an S76 that ran up Court Lane too, both were replaced in 1969/70 by the 42."
Unsure of the exact service number (2?) but this and the 78 ran from Steelhouse Lane (City Centre) along Lichfield Road to Salford Park. The 2 continued up Gravelly Hill and Sutton New Road to the Yenton (there was an island at the junction of Birmingham Road and Chester Road but the trams ran through it not round it like the other traffic had to!) The 78 went along Slade Road and Streetly Road to the terminus at Short Heath Road. Tram 1 definitely ran from Salford Bridge to Wylde Green in 1907. So the old 2 tram is like the Sunday 65 bus and the 78 like the 104 bus (or rather the 64 which stopped at the Yenton if you remember that before the annexation of Sutton). Sutton Coldfield Borough Council voted not to have trams through Sutton, hence the Wylde Green terminus. The 3X tram ran from Steelhouse Lane to Witton, 69 to Pype Hayes.
Strange why they didn't just use the same numbers for the buses, perhaps those bus numbers already existed. The 78 was the last tram to run in Birmingham (last one was on the 4th July 1953. The overhead lines were down by the 9th). One is preserved in the Science Museum (now at Millenium Point).
A site that has pics of trams in the city, including the Erdington one that ran last in 1953;
There is a tram-museum in what was Colmore Cars in Aston, in fact the old Witton Tram Depot. Near the junction of Witton Lane and Witton Road. Just down from Villa Park but on the opposite side of Witton Lane. www.amrtm.org
Erdington/Sutton Coldfield Border Markings
Before Birmingham's annexation of Sutton Coldfield the border area was signalled by different coloured lamp-posts/various signs etc. Along Birmingham Road by Wylde Green the border signs became a local issue some years back. A little old white stone post with engraving still lies on Knipersley Road (near Chester Road Station) marking the old border on that road, about four houses up from the alley that leads to Bretby Grove (Knipersley Road dates from 1933). A rusty iron border post lies at the Sycamore Road bend on the bungalow front-garden wall there, on Beech Road it's marked by the road narrowing a bit on each side very near to what is now the Littlecote Drive junction. The post and narrowing road both mark the ends of what was the old garden of 26 Beech Road (which was on the Sutton side) before parts were sold to developers. That house dates from 1869 in deeds. Highfield Drive seems to be one of the few roads along the border never cut in two by the border. The border has shifted about over the years, Goosemoor Lane though still lies entirely in Erdington. I think the gap in housing on Kirkwood Avenue about three houses up when the estate was built in the mid-1980's was to allow the border to be marked easier. Cherry Lane is Sutton. Then Knipersley Road is all Erdington. However some residents there have told me that road is all Sutton! They say the border was moved down, to the Bretby Grove alley (not moved up to Chester Road).
Scrap Yard On Sheddington Road/Black
I was curious how Birmingham's ethnic community would have been viewed by the contemporaries of many of these photos and it bought this;
"I lived in Chipstead Road from about 1953. At the junction of Jerrys Lane and Sheddington Road there was a house by a scrap yard, even then there was a gentleman of about 60 that lived there who was Afro/Caribbean, he was not considered to be unusual!"
I'm researching how old Chester Road is but I reckon people from all corners of the world have been going up and down it over the centuries given that Britain and Rome (if it is Roman) had large empires that brought people from the colonies on political, military or financial business. Also the Crusades may have led to friendly Turks (or slaves from the Middle East) being in Britain and roaming about. The inner city of course was where most members of the old British Empire originally settled in the 1940's-50's.
Another email on this;
"The first coloured people I can remember were the Baragwanaths (Indians). they lived in a house on the corner of Jerrys Lane and what is now Streetly Road. This was in 1941and Streetly Road ended just past Ilford Road, it was only joined to Jerrys Lane after the war".
More on this from the Birmingham Black History site at www.birminghamblackhistory.com
Large Green Pole
Another mystery solved. I mentioned the odd-looking green "lamp-post" by the Woodyard a few feet from the Sycamore Road junction that disappeared in the early 1980's and wondered what it was. It was much taller than the standard ones (about telegraph pole height) had no light and a weird "fire" type logo on it and was flared at the top, sort of like a bird's nest or a steam-engine. Here's the answer from a resident;
"This was a pole to which many were placed at various locations around Birmingham and they allowed gases from sewage pipes to escape into the atmoshere. They were known as `Stink Poles' for obvious reasons".
Stench Poles somebody else insists!
Name Origins Of The Top Croft Estate/Jarvis Road Tower
Cranleigh House, Repton House, the blocks on Jarvis Road and the name Cayton Grove seem to be from old towers/castles around England. Some may be the names of old airfields too but I think that's co-incidence, named after towers makes more sense. These are not the names of previous land-owners or areas from the old maps either. (I'm told over the years lots of "gesture politics" often at the Council when naming things but that doesn't seem to have applied here).
Cayton, North Yorkshire
(On Jarvis Road)
Arundel, West Sussex
(Alnwick in Northumberland is pronounced "annick" by the locals up north I'm told).
Cayton Grove (Off Baldmoor Lake Road)
This road was built after the main Top Croft Estate which it abuts (I seem to remember the late 1970's). I can only assume they followed the castle/tower-naming convention because Cranleigh House and Repton House were already there and right next to it. This is a road not a tower-block though of course so a little strange.
A little away from us but somebody asked how this pub at the busy junction of Chester Road, Kings Road and Jockey Road got it's name. The way I heard it St Mary's training college, which was previously a monastery, long ago used to offer the homeless lodgings for the night. A tramp was trying to make his way there one night but got caught up in a blizzard. He tried to struggle on but, not knowing he was so close, decided to shelter in a bush there and died from the cold. This area lay between two parishes and there was a dispute over which paid for the Pauper's Funeral. Another legend is a beggar was buried there and the bush marked the site.
The Father Of Jeremy Paxman Did Not Live In Goosemoor
Joseph Ablott Phillips, 1881, Ipswich. This distiguished historical citizen (some major guy to do with universities) has had his family tree researched and is related it was suggested to Jeremy Paxman by Hector Paxman (said to be Jeremy's father). A genealogy site threw this up;
Notes for HECTOR PAXMAN:
After 1948, lived at 52 Goosemoor Lane,
Married to Jeanne?
Brothers Jack,& Charlie and May (Gray) Agnes had a daughter died of Meningitis in 1935.
Agnes married Lambton.
After divorce he lived at 52 Goosemoor Lane, Erdington, Birmingham.
Re-married a lady called Jeanne.
Some suggestion he may be the father of Jeremy Paxman, well known broadcaster and journalist.
That last bit is unfounded, confirmed by Jeremy Paxman himself;
"Afraid my father was called Keith. And I don't think he'd been to Birmingham until the 1960's. Certainly he was in the navy from 1939".
The distinguished Rollason family have the road near Rookery Park named after them and a plaque inside St Barnabas Church on High Street.
Map 1 - 1940's-60's
(Click here to see)
Map 2 - 1940's-60's
(Click here to see )
Circle, circa 1960
(Click here to see photo)
Somerton Drive (off Gravelly Lane) was built in the mid to late 1960's on allotments and the play area that was opposite the Goosemoor/Gravelly junction was put in, but it's use trailed off so was replaced by housing a few years back. I used to play there in the 1970's and many others did. Perhaps computer-games and stranger-danger etc killed it off in the 1980's. The play area on Top Croft by the tower-blocks seemed to have suffered from the same indifference leading to it's removal too.
Huge Fosseway Tree
The Court Lane/Fosseway Drive corner once had a huge tree. Click here for more details.
The Leopard Pub
The Leopard was completed shortly after the war though it's foundations were laid before, in 1938, presumably delayed by the war.
Someone disagrees however and I'll resolve this in updates;
"The Leopard was definitely open during the war, I remember using the outside toilet several times on my way home from my paper round".
Clark And Co
Where Barrat's are building at the Chester Road/Beech Road junction was a lorry park run by Clark and Co.
Firsholm Close (opposite Highfield Drive) was originally land owned by a nearby monastery.
Blocked Plan For Woodyard Access
I'm told in the 1970's the woodyard (then called Sycamore Sawmills) wanted to build a road (where what is now Littlecote Drive is) round to the back of it's premises for easier lorry access. This was denied planning permission. If you see Littlecote Drive now (which was built around a decade later) and how narrow Beech Road is at that junction it would have been difficult for articulated lorries to get in I reckon! So that may have been why the plan was blocked (remember the big steel gates where Littlecote Drive now is?)
Birmingham Angling Centre On Beech Road
From Terry Eustace;
"I purchased the shop and living accomodation in 1980/81. The previous owner, who only used the dwelling part of the premises for his own use, had previoulsy leased out the retail area to Bob Rose, electrician, who still lives diagonally opposite on the Chester Road in the Boldmere Road direction. Bob sold electrical parts from the premises but had given up the tenancy before I first viewed the shop. The windows of the shop bore the marks of removed signs and whilst the original plaques, or whatever you would describe them as, had long since gone the names (Typhoo, etc) could still be seen quite clearly on the glass. The shop had therefore, at one time been a grocers. Hanging from the ceiling of the shop were very substantial steel hooks. These would obviously be for the supsension of animal carcasses (or tax inspectors, rating officials etc) so, the shop had at one time also been a butchers. The lathe and plaster ceiling seemed to have ben undisturbed for many, many years and since the hooks hung over the first floor joists they might well have been there since the time the building was first constructed."
junction area - circa 1980
(Click here to see photo)
towards the Anstey - circa 1980
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looking from Court Lane - circa 1980
(Click here to see photo)
The Hovel - Now 192 Jerrys Lane
In the 1980's on Jerrys Lane near the junction with Sheddington Road, a Victorian worker's hovel was re-discovered. This small dwelling had been erected without permission so was on no maps. It had lain hidden because the area was completely blocked off to roads and overgrown. It was subsequently turned back into a dwelling by developers and is probably the most famous building in the immediate area.
The Boswell Housing Scandal
Many of these style of houses were in the Perry Common (and Pype Hayes) area from the 1930's but in the 1980's a fundamental design flaw was discovered meaning all had to be demolished. Not much compensation was paid to those who had bought them. This largely explains the re-generation of Perry Common.
On Gravelly Lane - The Coffee House And Mellors The
This sent in;
"On Gravelly Lane, the Coffee House and Mellors the butchers - this was called Bett's Café. I understand that Bet won a medal for bravery when she rescued a small child from a fire."
Coin From 1822 Found On Maxted Road (June
If you have a metal-detector you may want to get it out! A coin dating from 1822 has been found by someone walking on the grass-land on Maxted Road.
That land has never been built on and did belong to Oscott College;
Bears King George IV on it's heads-side with Britannia on the tails-side.
Coin isn't in good condition and has not yet been valued.
Full inscription as can be made out;
Heads - "Georgius IIII DEI GRATIA"
Tails - "Britannar REX FID DEF 1822"
(Seems a commemorative coin rather than currency - possibly celebrating his Coronation. Became king in 1820 having been Regent from 1810).
It happened in 1822;
Iturbide made Emperor of Mexico
Dom Pedro proclaimed Emperor of Brazil - declared an independent Empire.
(Various military anti-colonial movements mainly under Simon Bolivar were ongoing in what is now Latin America - Bolivia is named after him of course).
Novelist Percy Shelley dies.
Italian Sculptor Antonio Canova dies.
Sytner Car Dealership - College Road
Is owned by former 1980's racing-driver Frank Sytner;
The Weird House-Numbering System On Reservoir Road
For some reason they clearly only ever intended building houses on one side of this Erdington road, since the house numbers run consecutively!
e.g. 131, 132, 133, 134, 135 etc, all right nextdoor to each other!
(Normally of course it'd be 130, 132, 134, 136 etc or 131, 133, 135, 137 etc).
You often get roads in Dublin numbered like that too, talk about an Irish house-numbering system!
Can anyone explain why it's like that on Reservoir Road?
This Is As Far Back As I Go - Do You Remember?
Two football pitches in Short Heath Park?
The Rolls-Royce owner at a house between what is now Kirkwood Avenue and the Anstey?
Waking up every Sunday wondering if some other racer had crashed through the Anstey fence? (The traffic-calming measures did at least stop that!)?
The little brick garages along the alley at the back of Goosemoor between about 168 and the shop?
Sycamore Sawmills? (Now Travis Perkins)
Tom, our Co-op milkman? (Who actually lived in the street at one point). Supermarkets have killed off door-step deliveries all but totally. The Co-op really struggle in that market now.
The narrow road at the back of about 158-100 Goosemoor stretching up to the park? There is a lamp in that corner of the park which used to work and in the 1970's you could play football after dark (the area was just grass).
Shops on Beech Road between the new ones presently between the Littlecote Drive junction and Edgewood Cottage?
The path running through the park from the Top Croft Estate and turning sharply into Goosemoor? (One going from the estate to the sub-station may be built, see News page).
Enderby Road? It was opposite Wendover Road (now partly itself renamed Kingfisher Road) off Witton Lodge Circle. Blocked off when the Bosworth Houses in that area were demolished and has since ceased to exist at all.
The Birmingham Angling Centre on Beech Road being a grocery shop?
The home-brew shop on Court Lane? Now one of the terraced homes by the Greyhound.
The giant satellite dish on the roof of one of the bungalows just up from the Beech Road/Chester Road junction? (Long before anyone else had Satellite TV)
Coverdale bookmakers being where the Spar shop on Jerrys Lane now is? Moved to the other end of the block and then later became Williams bookmakers.
The blue clocks that were at every bus terminus? (One was by the Spinney).
The clock on Gravelly Lane in the glass case in the wall that was between 81a and the shops?
Rumours - Do You Have Any Knowledge Of?
A house named Edgewood Cottage lies along Beech Road, clues like this suggest a wood where Kirkwood now is.
Looking at old maps (around 1760-1813) I remember "Wells" being marked on what would today be in/around the back gardens of 112 Goosemoor etc, on the bend. Any idea what happened to those? Or was a Wells the owner of the land there?
There's a little abandoned roofless brick building in the corner of the Fosseway Estate by Lakehouse Drive. Any info on that?
Someone has mentioned a "sacking factory" on Court Lane where 244 and 246 are now. Anyone know more about this?
Someone in Canada called Beryl wanted to know if there was any more information on the Westwood/Anstey property that was just beyond Enstone Road and between the Pavilion Cinema originally. It seems that Beryl's father and his brother actually built the Westwood Dance Hall portion themselves. She would like to learn more about the place as her Aunt and Uncle were managers at one time and she spent many Xmases there.
Birmingham And District Local History Association, www.bdlha.org
Erdington In Pictures - Past And Present
A site with some interesting pictures; www.virtualbrum.co.uk/erdington.htm
National Grid For Learning Local History Trail, www.ngfl.gov.uk/localhistory
Erdington Historical Society
This group meets at Erdington Library on the 2nd Monday of each month, 7.30pm - 9.30pm. 60p members, £1 non-members. Annual membership £4.
Chairman: Donald Billington 0121 747 2139
Secretary: Mike Beard 0121 373 2953
Treasurer: Kay van Kesteren 0121 373 8519
Additions? Comments? Queries? Corrections? email Gary O'Brien at [email protected]