My name’s Tina Brownlove[ph] and today’s date is the third of October 2017. Today I’m talking to Stuart Coyne for Hobmoor Histories, of, for, of the, of the Yardley project. Can you tell me the, your name?
My name is Stuart Coyne.
And the year and where you were born?
I’m… er, 1953 is the year I was born, I was born in Chippenham, in Wiltshire.
Erm, can you tell me about where you lived before you moved to Yardley?
Er, before Yardley, we, had, er, as a family, lived in, two or three different places. Er, originally, my family was from… er, Stockport, Manchester, my father, and my mother from, from, er, Dunblane, in Scotland. And we, er, lived in Manchester for a while, and then we moved, and, went, to, erm, South Africa, erm, when I was a youngster, about three. Er, after being born and living a short while in Chippenham. And then when we came back from South Africa, four years later, erm, we lived, er, back in Manchester, for a short while and then moved… to, London, East London, Leyton. And then from there, in 1966, we moved up to, Yardley, Birmingham.
So, what made you move to Yardley, the family move to Yardley?
It was, er, to do with my… dad’s job, he was a hospital laundry manager, and he moved… fairly frequently [Chuckling] around different positions, er, in, erm, er, i, in his career.
And did he work in Yardley, your father?
He, er, worked, er, in East Birmingham, Hospital, er, as it was called then, and er, which is now called, er, Heartlands, at, they, at the laundry there. He ran the hospital laundry, erm, for doing all the linen and bedsheets and everything else that, that is washed daily there.
So wh, where about did you erm live in Yardley?
We lived in, a road, called Lily Road, number eighty-seven.
And, what was the house like?
It, i… was a Victorian, er, terraced house, er, with a, side passageway, and a long, narrow back garden.
What was it like inside, the house?
Inside, it was… when we first moved in, it had been, er, an elderly lady, I believe, who lived there so, it was quite dated. And, erm, we slowly, erm, erm, mm, updated it and modernised it. But it used to have, still, in, one or two of the rooms, the old, er, gas lamps, er, still, were, on, the, walls, in the bedrooms.
When you moved into the house?
When we moved into the house, I remember that [Chuckling].
And, did they actually work?
No, er, don’t think they did, and I don’t, you know, I don’t think we ever tried to, to, to light them because, er, obv, obviously there was, proper electrics, in the house when we moved in.
And did you leave them or did you take them out?
No, as we refurbished, we took them out.
And wha, what, w, how many, how many rooms d, did you have downstairs?
Downstairs, there was a front room, a, rear, room, and then, er, a long, er, kitchen, er, at the back of the house.
What about bedrooms?
Bedrooms, there were… er, three bedrooms, and a small bathroom.
A bathroom upstairs?
That’s right, yes.
And how many, how many of you d, actually lived in the house?
Er… there, were, there’s my parents, myself, and, my, erm, four sisters.
All in the same… and did, and did they live there very long, your sisters?
Er, varying lengths of time. Er, my, all my sisters, four sisters, had, the, big, front room of the house, and… they had bunk beds, I remember, in there, two up two down for the four of ‘em. And, erm, then, the second bedroom was my parents’ room and I was at the back of the house in the small, box-type room, next to the bathroom.
And how big was the garden, the front, the back garden?
Er, it was, er, it was, er, a long, er, narrow garden, so I would say it was probably, maybe twenty yards, long, but erm, it was only, probably about eight yards wide.
And was your parents interested in doing the garden, was it a nice garden, were they gardeners?
It was, er… when we first moved in there, there was, the first part of the garden was, reasonable but the, top part of the garden was pretty, er, overgrown, and needed attention. And, er, we… in fact, ended up with a, er, large, garage-size shed at the bottom of the garden, because my, dad was quite a collector of [Chuckling], w, h, w, erm, bric-a-brac and [Chuckling], and important, things, he would say. Erm, we’d probably say, er, bit, er, of, er, junk and useless stuff [Chuckling]. But still, that’s the way it was.
And what about the front garden, was the front garden very big?
Front garden was only a postage size and, erm… it was, er… mm, when we had the front wall, redone, etcetera, it was slabbed over basically. So it was just a small, er, area then.
Did you have, like, central heating in the house?
N, there was no central heating in the house originally, but, during the refurbishment, we had, new boiler and, and central heating, which was the first central heating the house had ever had in.
What about windows?
Er, yes, over the years, all the windows were replaced. Erm, er, w, on a room-by-room basis.
Did you have any pets?
We did, yes. We had, er… we brought a cat with us from, London, but unfortunately, it didn’t, erm, survive very long, and it did die, erm, a short while after we came. And then my, er, one of my sisters, who, was a hairdresser, er, and they f, they had found a litter, of, er, cats at the back, of the shop, and she brought one of those home, which was our, erm, erm, replacement cat. And it was r, named, er, Tickey [ph], and that was a, a, basically a thrupenny piece from South Africa, and so, hence, the link, erm, there and the name for the cat. And then we went on to have m, erm, probably three dogs, n, oh, not altogether but one after another, over the, all the years that we, that we were in a house.
And did they all die in the, when, when… over a period of time at the house?
Uh, yes… they did, except for the last one, erm, which, erm, I’d already left, the house then and, er, my mum and dad had a, a, er, a spaniel called, er, Oscar.
How, how long did you actually live in the house?
[Coughs], from 1966 until… [sharp intake of breath] nineteen…eighty…four… was, er, the time that I spent in the house, [clears throat], but my, erm, my parents, carried on, after everybody else had left, all the children had left, until, a…round about, erm, 2000, year 2000. And, erm, my dad, then, wasn’t very mobile, and we convinced ‘em, that, erm, they, it would be best if they moved into a bungalow, which they did, er… in, to Shirley. Erm, because, erm, one thing about the house, in Lily Road was it had lighthouse stairs. So, erm, you couldn’t get a stairlift or anything like that in, in the, er, going up the stairs, for my parents and they were, basically living downstairs with, with bed, a bedroom, erm, or, a bed, downstairs.
What do you mean by lighthouse stairs?
Er, they went round like that, in a spiral… yeah. In fact, that was one of the first problems we had [Chuckling], when we moved into the house. M, erm, my dad hadn’t, thought about that, and when the removal man, er, men came up from London, with all our, erm, furniture, er, a number of bits of furniture, they couldn’t actually get into the house [Chuckling], like wardrobes and a dining table, things like that. And so they ended up, in the back garden for a short while, and then, erm, they were sold to, a, a dealer because, erm, just couldn’t get them in the house.
Oh I see [Chuckling].
Erm, so how, how, how’s the street changed?
Over the years y, you were living there and your parents lived there?
Yes, I suppose, er, over the years there’d, it used to be, erm… I remember, halfway down the, the street, they, did used to be a small shop, er, like a cornershop, er, i, in the centre there that sold, er, general, bits and pieces, erm, erm, a, a general store type thing. Erm, and, but that didn’t, last too long, maybe, five, eight years before that closed down. Er, and then… there was, er, I suppose quite an elderly population, u, up and down both sides of the street. But over the years, of course, as people, either passed away or moved on, then they became, erm… really, erm, erm, starter-level homes, for, for youngsters. And so, there was a lot of y, young people, er, who moved in.
How well did you know your neighbours?
Er, v, I would say, er, very well, in those days. Erm, one…i, er, n, next door to us, was, erm, always very friendly, erm, Jim Marshall [ph]. In fact, when we first came to Birmingham, the first night we arrived, then he, had arranged, er, a meal for us so we all went, next door to his house, and had an evening meal, erm, and, before going off to, to bed in, er, in our new house. So yes, erm, immediate neighbours, erm, knew… very well and then other people, up and down the road, also got to know.
So, you moved to, Lily Road in 1966. What school did you go to?
I went to, er, Sheldon Heath School, as it was called then.
And what was that like?
Very good. It was a comprehensive school, enjoyed that. It was, er, then, I suppose, erm… a reasonable, modern school, about, er… er, ten or, ten years old, there, then, and it had, er, three distinct, areas l, erm, Lower, Middle and Upper School. And you, basically, a, as you progressed dur, over the years then you move, within the whole footprint of the school but into the different blocks.
And you got any good or bad memories of the school?
Erm, yes. It was always, erm… always an interesting school, I think, er, in the sense that there was always plenty to do. Lots of sports if you was i, interested in that, and dramas and things like that, so, erm, yeah, it was a very good school.
Did you join any s, the sports…?
Er, yes, yes, used to play, er, football and, erm, and swimming as well.
Did you have a, part-time job before you left school?
Erm… no, I didn’t, I, well, yes I did, but not, er, away from home [Chuckling]. My part-time job, was that I, used to, originally assist my dad doing jobs, but then went on to, basically, doing a lot on the refurbishment, of the house, erm, for that, then my, dad used to pay me extra pocket money, for doing those jobs.
So that was, so that was what –
So that, so, so that was my, my job rather than, say, doing a paper round or anything like that.
Oh so what … oh right.
Mm. But I d, you know, I did, jobs like, erm… building a garden, wall round the back of the house, erm… putting new windows in, putting new floors in, general decorating and bits and pieces like that. So, yeah.
So what is your earliest memories of Yardley?
Er, I would say, erm, probably… The, er, er, Swan, around The Swan area and the sw, er, er, erm, the Swan, Centre as it was then, because all that was being, er, refurbished, in particular, the, Swan road underpass was being constructed, erm, as we moved in in 1966, and, also, the shopping centre, the old, this is the old Swan Cen, shopping centre, not the current one that’s there. So, erm, they were building, the big block of flats, which is, I think, is it, maybe called Bakeman House?
Erm, that, erm, that was being built, the shopping centre around it was being built, and the underpass that leads down into Birmingham and out, towards Birmingham Airport was being constructed.
So what erm shops were there, did you, can you remember what shops were there before they did the, the, the, the refurbishment?
No, the only thing that was left standing, that I remember from the old Swan, was, erm, the, Lloyds bank, that used to be on the corner, of, erm, Coventry Road and Church Road. And, that was still, actually, left in its old condition while they built, the other bits around it, and then it moved into, one of the new, erm, shops that had been built as it was knocked down, er, and, and, and other shops were put on the corner there. But, erm, erm… I don’t remember, people talk about the old Swan pub. Erm, and I never, I, that wa, that wasn’t, there when, erm, when, erm, we moved in, erm, and, as I say, the, the main construction was already going on with the shop, the Swan shopping centre as it was called then.
Do you know what shops, the new shops, that were actually there?
Erm… there was, quite some, er, big name shops in those days. Er, I can’t remember the name of it now, the big… there’s a big bedding shop on the front, a bit like a DFS but, but it wasn’t, wasn’t called that but that, that type of, er… and then there was a, very big supermarket, again, I can’t remember the name of the supermarket, it wasn’t one of the big four or five. Erm, and that eventually, when the supermarket moved out, became the, erm, the, in, Swan indoor market, where they had little, little, erm… small shops within shop, within the big, footprint of the supermarket. I remember the, erm [Pause] bowling alley, they had a bowling alley there which had, never opened, because it was, erm, vandalised before it was opened. And, er, it was then subsequently, erm, er, stripped out, and it was, erm, made into a, nightclub.
And what was the nightclub called?
Er… that was called Bloomers.
And did you used to go to Bloomers nightclub?
I did, yes, that’s where, in fact, I met my, er, my wife, future wife, Cathy.[ph]
Catherine Love [ph], yes.
So, so what’s, do you remember any, any of the groups that played there, was it, did groups play at the Bloomers?
I… no, I can’t remember the groups now. It was a discotheque then, and there was, guest groups but I can’t remember any of the groups that, names of the groups.
So was there like a, was, was, a [15:42 felt] like, like, a r, a regular DJ there every night, was it on every night?
Er, I think it was on most nights, although we didn’t go every night. We’d probably go more… Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights, the, the weekend nights.
Do you have many memories of the bl, of Bloomers nightclub?
Er, some. Erm… others not so clear [Laughing], depending on h, how, long we had spent at the bar beforehand [Laughing].
Was it just one big dancefloor and a –
Er, I think there was a couple of dancefloors from what I remember, mm… Yeah.
Did you, do you go there with, with y, with your friends?
Yes, yes, I used to go there with, er, school friends, erm, and also, once I started work in 1970, occasionally we used to go there as well.
Do you remember much, can you remember what it, what it was like inside at all, in the…?
Not really, no, I can’t, no.
Where did you meet up with your friends, you know, in the area?
Erm… school friends, mainly, erm, some, there were some, erm, er, friends in the road, but, erm, there wasn’t, many that I recall, that were my sort of age, range. Er, so it was school friends and then when I started work as an apprentice, then, er, it was, erm, erm, er, fellow apprentices that we, we, we’d, er, pal up with and go out.
And where, where were you an apprentice at?
Er, I was an apprentice at, a car component company called Wilmot Breeden, which was, er, in Amington Road. But, er, that’s no longer, erm, around now, it’s, er, it became Rockwell International, and then subsequently taken over, and, erm, it moved out of the, the Tyseley area.
And how did you get to erm work from, from, from home?
Er, originally, it was on a, motorbike. And then, after a while, my, dad, bought me, a, car, which was, er, an Austin A35, for forty-five pounds. And, that used to be, my, vehicle.
And how long did you have that car?
Erm… probably, er, three years, something like that, yeah.
And was there lots of car, was it, was it easy to park in Lily Road at the time?
[Chuckling], yes, it was then, you could park outside your house, lots of neighbours didn’t have cars, and so there was always, er, space available. You know, parking was never a problem, then. Er, of course nowadays, as we know, erm, most households have, you know, two, maybe three, or, or, even more cars than that and so, erm, roadside parking is quite a problem.
Did you play, any sports in the area?
Er… no, I don’t think so. Erm, we used to go over the park for kickabouts, w, which was just across, the road, Church Road, and so we’d, erm, we’d go over there. Er, there were some tennis courts there as well, from what I recall, so, er, y, you could either go in the tennis courts, which I think, that area was owned by, The Birmingham, er… Mail, erm, so, and… And so, erm, you could pay to go in on the tennis courts there or you could just use, the general, park, erm, which, er, when you looked out over the park, you could look down, into Birmingham city centre with the Post Office Tower, and The Rotunda. You could see it very clearly, because Yardley of course is quite high up, and it dips down through Small Heath and then down into Digbeth and, erm, back up to, erm, the cit, the city centre so you had a very clear view of it from there. I used to take the dog over there as well, for his walk.
[Chuckles] Do you remember any special events in the area, like the Silver Jubilee?
Yes, I remember the Silver Jubilee, that was probably, the biggest, er, street event, because of the street being closed off, and having tables and chairs out in the street and… bunting and, games and food and drinks, etcetera, erm, which was organised by, er, er, a couple of, erm, residents, literally across the road from us.
And did you go to the Silver Jubilee party?
Yes, yeah. Mm.
Have you got any other memories of it, like playing any of the games or…?
Yeah… yes, I can remember the games, and we also had a, a, a badge as well, which said, er, ‘Jubilee’ on it, er, that he’d got printed up, er, and ‘Lily Road’ on it, so… I think I’ve still got that around somewhere [Chuckling].
Oh… So what, what, what are the biggest changes that you wistet, witnessed in the area?
I suppose, er, it was, over the years… as I said, 1966, it was all new round The Swan. And like… any place that has been refurbished, for a… many a year after that, it was well looked after and, er, looked the part. But, I suppose, come, thirty years later, then, the general area and the shopping centre, were declining, shops moving out, boarded up, this sort of thing, which eventually led, er, to, it being, erm, re-developed, erm, and, knocked down and built into the new, shopping centre that’s there now, which is mainly, erm, a Tesco store, of course, yeah.
Do you know when Bloomers actually closed down, what took its place?
No… oh, yes, I do, yes. Er, it was, er, changed into a Gala Bingo, yeah, mm.
I never went, to it, ‘cause bingo wasn’t my scene but, er, yes, it was, quite popular, with, erm, with people, er, at, at that time for entertainment, to go out to bingo.
You mentioned that your sister was a hairdresser, was she a hairdresser in Yardley?
Yep, she was. She was a hairdresser… my oldest sister was a hairdresser in Church Road. There was a, hairdressing shop about halfway down. Er, up, similar to where the, er… petrol station is now, because all, that was, a row of terraced houses there as well. Er, and so she ran that, hairdressing shop there.
Did any of your other siblings work in Yardley?
Erm… no. My other, er… my other, er, sisters also became hairdressers, but they worked, I think it was, er, Sheldon, area, erm, with, for, the, the shop that they went to.
Looking back, what are the biggest changes that you’ve seen?
I suppose it’s the fact of, erm… the number of, cars, that are now, in the streets. Erm… w, w, lined e, each side sort of thing. Er, the different, erm, nationalities now that live around that area and, down, in Lily Road, e, etcetera, erm, to when we w, first moved in there.
What’s your most lasting memories of the area?
Erm, it’s always, er, enjoyed, er, living there. Erm, we used to have some good times there. We always had, er, family dos at Christmas and birthdays, so there would always be plenty of people coming round. Er, I remember the big event when, my, eldest sister Pauline got married, then all the, family, from my dad’s side, ‘cause he had, er, erm, er, a brother and, four sisters and all their families all came down in a coach, to, er, her wedding, which was at Yardley, Old Church, and then the reception afterwards was, er, at the pla, bla, Blakesley pub.
And do you have any memories of the, of the reception at the Blakesley pub?
Yes, yeah, I do, there’s still, got some photos of that, er, in particular when the fellas were dre, where… I can’t quite remember the format of it but they were dressing up, er, in w, in w, in women, old women’s clothes, and then there was prizes, etcetera And so there’s some pictures with my, dad with a hat and woman’s coat on, and lipstick on and things like that, as well as, er, some of the, the oth, the other relations from, from Stockport so, yeah.
And did they park the coach in Lily Road?
[Laughing], yeah. Erm… oh, they must’ve done, really. It wasn’t a big, it wasn’t like a fifty-seater, but it was a s, you know, a half-sized coach, sort of, twenty, twenty-five, people in it type of thing.
Any, any other memories of, you’d like to share, of the area?
Things you did, things you saw, persons you met.
Erm, we always had, er, I mentioned about the dogs, that we had. W, er, the first dog we had, was, erm, a cross between, erm, er, Alsatian and la, and a Labrador, and it was very friendly. And so all, the, kids, er, used to, erm, know him. He was called Rover, and, erm, and so they were all very friendly. And he had such a nice temperament that they used to pat him or they used to feed him sweets, er, on their way to school at the end of the road, er, in Church Road. And, erm, he often used to, you know, follow them, knowing that he’d be given sweets and things like this. Erm, but yeah, normally, he’d just turn round at the end of Church Road and, come back, home. Erm, but on one occasion, they must have tempted him a bit further so he went off into, the, playground, erm, with the kids there. Erm, and then one of the teachers, who didn’t, know him too well, er, decided that, erm, er, for safety, that she should lock him up in a classroom. And so, she phoned the local, police, and then, erm, they, er, she didn’t know, w, what, what house he was from and so they, they took him down to Stechford [Chuckling], Stechford Police Station. Erm, and he was put in a cell down there, and then we had, he had an, er, he had a, er, nametag on, with a, with the, erm, with the address. And, er, so a bit later on, we had a policeman come round and said, ‘Well, we’ve got your dog, he’s down the nick’ [Laughing]. ‘Can you come and collect him?’ And, er, explained that he’d gone into the school, and, the teacher had, erm, erm, called the, called the Police and they’d taken him down there, until they could sort it out. And so my sister, my youngest sister went down to collect him and, erm, when she went to collect him, erm, took him out and one of the, policemen said to her, erm, jokingly, er, he said, ‘We’ve had to feed him as well so, it’s gonna th, that, that, that’ll be one pound fifty please’ [Laughing]. To which [Chuckling], my sister [Chuckling], s, er, took, er, umbrage over, and [Chuckling], and, er, and said that she wasn’t gonna, pay that. Er, but, she didn’t realise that, they were just pulling her leg [Laughing]. And, so, of course, after that, he was known as Rover with a police record [Laughing].
[Chuckles] So did he just walk, did he just come, come out the house on his own and walk down to Church Road?
Yeah. Yes, he used to, he was an escape artist, Rover, that, er, he, even if you just let him out in the back garden, he used to, jump over fences. Erm… and because, er, it was I suppose about a metre high, the, the, the fence that went round the back garden. And then of course he could get into the passageway, and get out, er, into the, into the street there. So yes, y, erm… we did have an amusing tale, that we used to, to stop him doing that, we used to have a piece of rope, that was tied to the washing line, and that we used to hook, that onto his collar. And so, he could wander round the garden but he, only the, the length of the, of, of this piece of rope that was tied to the, to the, to, to the washing line. And, erm, we had an amusing story one time, where, erm, he was, er, in the garden and, he’d been hooked up, er, to, to the, to the rope, to er, to the washing line. And, erm, er, he used to, when he was, had enough, he used to start barking or whatever it, whining. And, erm, so went out to see what was going on, and, erm, erm, lo and behold, found that the other end, what, hadn’t been fastened to the washing line, so he just had this rope around [Chuckling], round his neck [Chuckling], and, in the direction of the washing line but he could’ve scarpered at any time, but he just sat there thinking that he was still tied [Chuckling] to the washing line post. So, that was, er, another amusing incident with him.
You got any incidents with, with your sisters, anything…? Did you used to play together or whatever [28:45 IA]
Yes, generally we did, yes. Erm, yeah. Erm… obviously there was different, age range. My… younger sister was three years younger than me, my twin sisters were three years older than me and my oldest sister was six years older. And so, they had different friends and, and, and different, erm, activities that they would get up to anyway.
What games did you play, can you remember?
Er, we used to play, er, board games and things like that, especially at, er, family events where we’d, play, erm, er, Snakes and Ladders or, Snap and things like this.
What sort of thing did you do at the family events, did… was there a sing-song or…?
Erm… yes, often, or, erm, it would be, putting some music on, or, the da, you know, wh, er, er, I can remember they had a dance mat. They used to have a dance mat out that you folded out and you could, er, jump on the different squares. Erm, so… I forget what those were called, now, but they were quite popular at the time, so… yeah.
Is there anything else you’d like to add, any other memories?
No, always fond memories, really, of, of, of Yardley. It’s a nice aree, area, and good f, facilities, around there, because you were on the Coventry Road almost. So, plenty, erm, on bus routes there. Erm, erm, but you still had a, a mixture of the old and the new there, so I always enjoyed it in Yardley and, thought it was a nice area.
Did you ever go to The Swan, pub, or the –
Yes, yes, that’s true, yes, I did, actually, and that was, as we know, at one time, the biggest pub in Europe, wasn’t it, with the most number of rooms. Yeah, yeah.
Did you go there quite a lot, do you have any memories of The Swan?
Erm… er, I, I can remember going there at Christmas time, to Christmas dos which were basically works dos, and then they’d have a, you know, hire one of the function rooms. Erm, but of course, because it had, lots of different bars in there, you could, you know, go out of the function rooms into different, public bars, that were, er, i, in the area there, yeah.
Did you go to the sort of discotheques at the, at The Swan or anything?
Er, I think there was, er, actually, you know, in the function rooms but I don’t know whether there was a separate, like named disco, like Bloomers or anything like that, I don’t really remember that. But erm, it was a popular pub in its day.
Do you have any memories of the, of the Yew Tree at Yardley?
Er, yes, yeah. Used to go to the Yew Tree pub, which I think, is now a… supermarket, is it, or a…?
Called The Clumsy Swan.
Oh yeah, OK. Yeah, so, erm, that was, erm, Yew Tree pub and I used to go there, erm, probably once a week, with… a, school friend. Erm, well, I say school friend, he, er, I met him at school but, later on this was, because he used to play football for the Yew Tree Football Club. And so, erm, on one of the days, we would go, and, erm, er, one of the evenings I should say, we’d go down there and he’d do, they’d do the football totes and things like this and we’d have a, couple a beers and, he played in the team on the weekend, on the Sunday. So yes, remember that.
And as this all goes to the archive, is there anything else you’d like to say, to end the interview or anything else you wanted to add?
Er, just really fond memories of the area, of the Yardley e, area and, er, erm, it was a good home, erm, and… nice house, erm… that we had there, even though it was a small, and, oldish house, being Victorian house, but it had, erm, good family times there, which you always remember, of course. And so, erm, now, of course, I live in Solihull but I’ll always, have, er, fond memories, of, Yardley, South Yardley, and that area, and of course, erm, it was, in, actual fact, the, place where, we had stayed, the longest at that time. Because u, prior to that, my dad moved, as I said, a number of times with his job. But that was, erm, the last time we moved with his job and, er, he did in fact retire, from East Birmingham Hospital, erm, erm… and so, erm, it was the longest …time we spent there, and very enjoyable too.
Thank you, Stuart. That’s really kind of you, thank you.
OK. That’s no problem.
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