“I had birthday parties, and like [Laughs] in the pictures there’s me, my brother, and all the children in the road and everybody, we used to just, play with each other”
Transcript of Kathleen Broadfield Recording
Good afternoon. My name is Deborah Norrey and I’m recording for the History at Hobsmoor Project. Today’s date is Wednesday the twenty-fourth of January 2018 and I’m here with Kathy. Kathy, can I please ask you to give us your name, your date of birth and where you were born please?
My name is Kathleen Yvonne Broadfield, but I started off as Kathleen Yvonne Allen. I was born in Montserrat on the sixth of July 1954 and I am 63 years of age now.
And can you share with me one of your early childhood memories please?
I c, my first memory, I remember … coming to, in Gladys Road and we were outside with mum and I’d got erm, I think we’d just come from church or somewhere because I’d got my Sunday best on, my hair in ribbons, and three ladies over the road, I can’t remember their names, but they sort of said, ‘Hello, you look very pretty in your dress. Erm, how old are you?’ And I remember [Chuckling] saying, ‘I’m two-and-a-half.’ So, my earliest memories of being in Gladys Road was being in a, my Sunday best at two-and-a-half. Erm … when we, when we grew up, wer, it, it was [swallow] g, g, loads of children, loads of kids, no cars, so we were able to sort of just play in the street. We’d play you know, erm, ring, erm with a tin can throwing ca, erm tin cans, [1:48] trays, everything. But the children, it was really funny because we’d play in the streets and then sometimes we’d say, ‘D’you want to come and play in the back garden?’ And they’d say, ‘No,’ and at the time we didn’t realise why they said no, erm … and we’d sort of say, ‘Can we come and play in your garden?’ and they’d say, ‘No.’ We could play in the street, but not in each other’s back gardens. But as I grew older I sort of realised why that was. Erm, because bit by bit sometimes the children would come and they’d play in the back garden with us and we’d say, ‘Do you want something to eat?’ and they’d [Chuckles] say, ‘No’. And we’d go, ‘Oh, alright then.’ And we’d go and play in their back gardens sometimes, and … parents would say, ‘D’you want something to eat and drink?’ and we’d say, ‘yes,’ we’d have a biscuit and have a, juice. And bit by bit, and then we’d sort of say, ‘D’you want to come into the house?’ and people would say no. But I’ve, looking back I know, because we were di, because we were the only black family in the road, so … people were a bit sort of wary of not know, it was the not knowing. So I think children were told, ‘You can play with them, but don’t go in the back garden.’ Erm, but we didn’t realise this because we, w, er, you know, this is just the other side, erm. So, but as they got to know us and realised that we were … all just the same, we just wanted to play the same games, people would come in and we became really good friends. I had birthday parties, and like [Laughs] in the pictures there’s me, my brother, and all the children in the road and everybody, we used to just, play with each other. And erm … we used to get sort of name-called a bit by people that didn’t really know us, but I always found that, our friends that actually knew us were very, very protective, so when there was any name calling to do with colour, they would sort of, stand up for us and sort of you know, we’d have fights with people from the other roads and everything. Erm, but, so, I always knew where I fitted in with my friends in the road, but in the wider world it was sort of slightly, different. But I remember, I was very happy at school, used to, used to go up, mum was always here baking cakes and cooking food. We’d eat [Laughs] that was the other thing. We used to eat erm, West Indian food, so we’d eat sort of [draws breath] rice and erm sweet potato and dumpling and plantain and stuff like that. And, when children at school would say, ‘What did you have for Sunday dinner’ we’d say, ‘Chicken, rice and peas.’ They’d go, ‘Eaow [ph]!’ So then because people used to sort of go ‘eaow’ … we used to s, I used to say, at, when they’d say, ‘What did you have for dinner’ I’d say, ‘Roast chicken and potatoes’ and I used to just [Laughing] make it up! Erm …
What school did you go to?
Went to [Clears throat], went to Redhill Primary, and, loved it! Er … I was a tomboy, so erm, I used to sort of, play football with the boys. I used to, always want to wear trousers because I wanted to be [Laughing] a boy. Erm … and we just … played football and played games and everything. Erm, I was the only, to begin with the only black girl in the class, and again in the playground there used to be a lot of sort of name calling and erm … and stuff. Which wasn’t nice but … we’d come home and we’d sort of tell mum and dad, and they’d just sort of say, ‘Just take no notice. Just they’re ignorant.’ So we’d just sort of, go with the flow as it were really.
Erm … then as we got older er … yeah, my erm, I joined the Brownies and … used to enjoy that, but it was all sort of girly stuff, so erm when my brother was old enough, he joined the Cubs, so I said to them at Cubs [Pause] ‘Mum says I’ve got to stay with my brother and look after him.’ So for six weeks I was a Cub and I really thought I was going to join the Cubs and … they would erm do all the … erm … the ceremonies, you know, where you have to sort of swear in, so for s, I’d go along and I’d join in with pape [ph]… British Bulldogs and football and all sorts of like rough and tumble. I loved it! And on the day when my brother was going to be signed in and get his woggle or whatever [Laughing] it is you get, they told me that I couldn’t join and I’d learnt everything! [Laughing] I really thought I was going to be a Cub. So I carried on being the Brownies and doing the sewing and girly stuff.
Erm [Laughing] … then I always remember my … mum and dad always used to say like, ‘Work hard and,’ you know, to get on, you’ve gotta work harder and you’ve gotta be better erm to achieve, because erm, with being sort of c, erm black, it was always harder because they’d sort of struggled to, you know, find work or to sort of fit in. So it was always you had to be, we were always sort of told you’ve gotta be better, not the same, gotta be better, so … and because dad was school teacher he used to erm, er, help me with my s, home, you know, school work, and I used to remember [Laughing] we used to have such erm … discussions, arguments, he, I’d say, ‘The teacher says you do it this way’ and he’d go, ‘No, you do it this way’ and, and erm I used to get a bit confused with adding up and subtraction and stuff, because he would be telling me one way but we were doing it a different way at school. [Draws breath]
Anyhow, I always remember my dad always used to, you used to have to erm, earn things, so if at home we had h, housework to do, so we’d have to like tidy our bedrooms and clean up, and we used to get pocket money and the pocket money was we got erm … something like sixpence or something like that, I can’t remember, but the Adelphi Cinema at the top of erm, on the Coventry Road, just over the road, where they had Saturday morning erm pictures, we used to have our money and we used to sort of, a Saturday morning we’d be polishing everywhere so we could get our pocket money and then go to the pictures. but we alw, you know, if we hadn’t … w, erm, done the washing up properly or what have you, we got less pocket money, so you know, we’d always sort of try really hard. Erm, [Tut], one of, I, I, I, I, although, m, I was ten when my father died, but I just remembered some of the va, you know, the values of working hard, erm and being better was good. But one of the other things that I always remember, erm, was he always used to say treat people the same. Erm, he said because you could be talking to a king or you could be talking erm a vagabond, he said, but show them respect. You don’t know. And I always sort of, I, reflect back to, on that, because I think … for me to sort of, remember that when I was o, and he died when I was sort of ten, there must have been things that he’d … erm, that happened that made me sort of think that. So he must [Draws breath], I can’t remember any specific instances, but I know that that’s what he thought and I remember [Draws breath] mum says about erm Mrs Kemble [ph] next-door, how she was a lovely lady. Well we used to, we used to think she was an old battle-axe, [Laughing] because we used to play with the, in the garden, playing football and the, of course the ball would always go over or the ball would be banging the fence and she’d be shouting across, ‘Stop playing with that ball! It’s, m, m, erm, it’s making, giving me a headache!’ And we’d try and be quiet but we’d always like end up you know being nosier. And again because children were coming and playing, the ball was always going over, and she wouldn’t throw it back so we’d climb over, and if she caught us she’d tell us off, and she always threatened to put a red-hot poker in erm, in the football, and one day she did [Laughing], ‘cause she burst the ball! [Draws breath] and she, we’d erm tell Dad and he used to say, ‘But sh, you know, respect, she’s an old lady. Respect.’ And we used to think, ‘No, she’s just miserable! [Laughing] But there was er, erm, a few doors away, next-door but two, Mr and Mrs Stanley, they were very elderly and they couldn’t get out and they loved their fish and chips so I used to go and run errands for them. And on a Friday they’d give me the money and I’d go and get fish and chips and scratchings in the newspaper, and … when I c, came back, they’d give me thruppence for going. And I used to think, ‘Well great!’ Well, when my father found out, he went absolutely mad. He marched me round, I remember, he marched me round and he said, ‘Do not give Kathleen any money for running errands.’ And they said, ‘Yes, but we’re really appreciative!’ And he said, ‘No. She does it because it’s the right thing to do and she wants to do it.’ And they said, ‘No, but we must pay her.’ And he said [Chuckles], ‘If you give her any more money she’s not coming round to do any more errands for you again.’ So … she said, so … that was it. I used to go and do the errands and not get it. And I always remember Bonfire Night, you know, when you … erm, penny for the guy? We used to, b, because in those days you used to build a proper Guy Faw… you know, sew it, stuff it with straw and everything, do the face, and it’d, be, hours of … labour, you know, everybody on the street would all be having penny for the guy. Dad, ‘No, you’re not, it’s begging.’ He would not let us beg. He said, ‘If you want p, fireworks, you earn the money, you, or what have you. We’ll give you the money, earn jobs, but you’re not begging.’ [Laughing] So we wor, we’d build the Guy Fawk [ph] but we weren’t allowed to put it on the barrow and go around and beg. Erm … the homework obviously paid off, sort of help er with dad, because I actually passed the Eleven Plus and went to erm, Waverley Grammar School, which was really good. Mum and Dad were just so proud because erm it, it felt like, I mean I just thought well, I’ve passed, ph, the Elven Plus. But, it was a big thing. All my aunts and uncles sort of, thought it was sort of fantastic. My uncle, my mum’s brother, [Laughing], Uncle Eric [ph], he used to call me [Laughing] ‘The Professor!’ And I used to think, ‘I’m not that good.’ Erm, but again at Waverley erm … [Tut] there were a few … two or three black boys higher up in the school and in my year there was one other black girl and we were in different classes so we never actually were friends. Which I look back and I think now, nowadays if that had happened they’d probably put, people together, you know, so that you’ve got a bit of support. And again, because I was sporty and she wasn’t, we didn’t really have anything in common, so we didn’t actually erm stay friends. Loved school, played in all the teams, erm … and … at one time erm, my mum, my dad’s sister came over, Auntie May, that was erm, trained to be a midwife, and she joined the army, she was a midwife and I, she was my favourite aunt. I loved her [Clears throat] and her daughter. So when I, I wanted to be a midwife when I grew up, and I wanted to join the forces, but … I decided I wanted to join the, the navy because the uniform [Chuckles] looked better. But when erm, I enquired about it, to join the navy in those days you had to have been … English. You couldn’t, I could have joined the army, but I couldn’t join the navy, so erm I thought oh, I’ll join the army, but I, went for work experience at … East Birmingham Hospit … a, u, ah, erm hospital, which is Heartlands now, and I thought that you c, you just learnt to be a midwife, you just sort of learnt about … um, giving erm …
Birthing babies. But you have to do general, so they put me on a ward, erm, of old people, and … it was just sort of bedpans and everything, and it put me off completely! I decided [Laughs] I did not want to be a nurse. And erm [Pause] I’d been really good at sport and you know, careers advice they always sort of said, ‘Ooh, go into an office’ or you, they sort of pushed me, were sort of saying be a nurse, be a nurse, but I decided I didn’t really want to be a nurse now. Erm … and one PE teacher said, ‘Why don’t you be a PE teacher’ and I, said, I just kept thinking no, no … and the only reason w, why I actually felt that, I wasn’t allowed to be a PE teacher, because I’d never seen a black teacher. On the television all the erm presenters and everything were all, all white, so I thought … it wasn’t that anyone said, ‘You can’t be, you are not allowed’. It was just because there was nothing visual there, I just thought, well, you’re silly, how can you be telling me? And she sort of, she got the, forms and everything and made me fill in, and I kept thinking … there’s no way I can be a teacher! Erm, but I went to [Laughs] to the interviews and what have you and got in. And I got in at erm, Bishop Lonsdale College in Derby, and bec, and trained as a, PE teacher. But, it was just this one, PE teacher that came … she was only there a year and erm she just sort of, she didn’t actually sort of think … w, why not? And I couldn’t tell her that I, didn’t think I was able to be … a teacher. [Laughs] So I ended, I fell into teaching, sort of accidentally really! [Sniffs] Erm, so … yeah.
I’ve been rambling a lot, and I think [Laughing] I talked a load of rubbish! [Laughs]
Well let’s go back then, just a little bit to primary school, which was Redhill.
Can you just describe that school to us?
Oh, it, we always used to erm, in the morning you used to erm have to line up and then they rang the bell and you went in, and we always used to sing a, hymn in the morning, erm, Morning Has Broken, erm, in assembly. And then you always had like a prayer and a reading, erm, and then they’d sort of er, you’d go into your classes. The teachers erm, oh, the teacher in the erm, Mrs Cranston, in the … secondary, in the … which would be year, third year now, but it was, sh, it would be year five nowadays, erm, she was lovely. She used to tell us stories of er erm … her children and her twins, and she was really, really good. [Draws breath] I remember … ch, erm … being the only, up until b, b, top two years of junior, being the only black girl in my class, and then three black boys came like later on, so there were four of us, in the class. And then I remember … in the last year of school a, an Asian girl came … I’ll always remember her name, Ashma [ph] Begum, because she had erm, she had erm, wore the full erm Asian sort of dress, and … oppph, I remember … people used to say that they didn’t want to sit by her because she smelt. And … she, Ashma [ph] kept getting moved, a different erm seat all the time, and I used to feel sorry for her, but … in a way it was almost like, all the attention’s on her and people aren’t, having a go at, you know, picking on me or making comments to me, so [Draws breath] it was a, a double-edged sword really, because … I was thinking oh… I’ve got a bit of relief, but … mm, I did feel sorry for her. And I remember erm … she’d sort of get, moved all the time, because people would sort of say she smelt, and then one time the teacher said, that Ashma [ph] had to sit next to me, and I said [Laughs] I’m not sitting next to her ‘cause she smells. And I remem, and I didn’t actually think she did, but … I didn’t want everybody to think I was the same as her, because I wasn’t the same, but people … looked at us and said, because we were r, both had the same colour, we were the same, and I’d be thinking I don’t, I’m not the same as her. I don’t wear funny clothes! Do you know, and you know, this is sort of … children erm really. And erm, but I always remember Mrs Cranston was really good, very fair. And the one time, Ashma [ph], went up, erm, to read, and Mrs Cranston, she must have been in a bad mood, she said, ‘Go away from me. You, you’ve been eating that smelly garlic stuff,’ and wouldn’t listen to her read. [Laughs] And I remember as a child thinking, ‘Ooh, that’s not right.’ But … again, she probably didn’t really mean anything by it, but [Laughs] it, when you think it, today, it was like outrageous really! But then … you know, things that happened sort of then were sort of like more acceptable, but now … when you know what you know, it, it isn’t acceptable. So the world has, changed quite a lot really. Erm …
What was the school building like? Was it a new building, an old building?
Oh, it, oh, old building, crumbling, and it’s still crumbling now.
And in fact erm, I went, when I went to teacher … training college, I could have, had a job in Nottingham but I came back, erm, I, signed on to the Birmingham pool, which meant w, you got interviewed and then you were guaranteed, a job. So … the … er, oh,erm, I’d got a job and I didn’t erm… August I kept ringing up the office, Margaret Street, f got a job, and they said, ‘No, but we’ll give you a placement,’ and on, I think it was the first of September they said, ‘You’ve been placed at Golden Hillock,’ so erm I w, I taught at Golden Hillock for a time and [Draws breath] taught at erm Ladywood and that was knocked down, then went to St John Wall, and then erm … had my children and had … Joseph and Leah [ph] so didn’t work, and the job came up at … Waverley, a part-time, erm, PE job. It was, they wanted someone one-and-a-half days a week, so I went along and another woman went along at the same time as me, and [Pause] when we went for the interview the PE woman had li, er, had left, so there was five days so they wanted someone full-time, so I actually ended up working two days a week at Waverley and my friend worked three days a week and erm … I worked there for sort of twenty-four years till I retired. But, over the y, erm, in, during the years there erm … they wanted sports coordinators to go out to the primary schools, so I went to, Redhill, Hobmoor and Blakesley, so I’d do like an afternoon at the different ones. So it just seemed really funny that I’d started off Redhill as my primary school, went to Waverley as my senior school and then sort of towards the end of my career, ended up finishing at Waverley and finishing, you know, at Redh, erm, at Redhill, so it was like [Chuckles] come back home again.
But the building, it’s sort of erm … I remember w, w, when I was sort of teaching there they’ve been putting scaffolding up and doing works in, it’s crum, you know, it’s crumbling, the ceiling’s falling down, so erm … they’d spent money building, rebuilding Waverley … which was built in 1965, erm … and Redhill that was probably built in like about 1800s is erm, crumbling. In fact, that was a s, erm … when I went to Waverley I was the first year intake of the new building in 1965. And I always remember mum … t, erm, came with me to school and er, walked and she said, ‘Will you be alright now?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I will be fine’ and I … skipped in, on my own … I think she walked me to the erm … where the bikesheds were now but it’s all sort of changed, well … it’s no long, well, it’s a different building now. I’m rambling again! [Laughs]
So what was your, can you describe your street as you were growing up?
There were no car, there were no cars in the street, erm … there was just one car at the top of the road, the Pinfields [ph], they’d got one of these erm, I can’t remember but you used to have to wind them up, to undo the bot, wind them up at the front.
Crank, crank them, that’s right [Laughs] to start them. So we used to sort of play football and like the Coventry Road you’d have to erm be careful, you’d sort of play in the middle of the road, because the Coventry Road the ball could sort of go out onto the Coventry Road, but it wasn’t that busy then, so it didn’t matter. And at the top of the road there was erm, wasteland, so we’d often sometimes go across the Coventry Road, and erm … s, er, they’d got the, r, ropes and swing on the ropes that you know, you would throw a rope over a tree and swing about, and we’d often go to the Oaklands Park as well because … I think er, erm we used to call it the Dell, there was a big dip at the bottom, er, by Wash Lane, where the community centre is now, and it was like erm, they said that it was a bomb had like dropped there and like made a, crater, so we’d often, you know, we’d walk up there and play on the swings and everything. But the … the road was like completely clear, clean, there were always erm … a, again there were always people out … sweeping the steps and, and erm … everybody kept their own front clean and tidy and like it was always sort of flowers and erm, even washing the steps of, like all the, [Chuckles] the women [Laughs], the women would be out scrubbing the steps and, and keeping it really clean and tidy and obviously the milkman would come round, delivering the milk. The pop man would come round with the er, Tizer pop, oh and the [Laughs] the erm, the van, the Davenport, I remember my dad used to erm, what was that advert on the tele? ‘Beer at home means Davenport.’ And he used to have his bottle of stout. Dad used to like er, a bottle of stout and we used to have like … erm fizzy pop, I can’t even remember … can’t remember er the name.
Corona! That’s right, yeah. Corona. That was a treat, we’d sort of like once a week, erm … but … again y, erm, when … the neighbours, we were, o, a, really g, y, when dad, died … erm … the vicar that came, a new vicar came, Mr Fennell, and like he was absolutely fantastic. He took over the parish at St Cyprians and in fact his … son… was David Fennell, who was David Jarvis in Crossroads, with er, Meg Richards and what have you. And the dog in erm, in that, Portia the dog on Crossroads, was the vicar’s dog! And I remember Da, erm, er, David was like a real heartthrob and the vicar invited us up to, for tea, and David, I had a picture of David signed above my bed so all my friends used to go, ‘[Gasps] You’ve had David above your bed!’ [Laughs] But erm … yeah, the r, road, it was just completely, completely different, completely different, tidy, erm … everybody looked after … thing. And everybody knew each other as well. That was, erm [Pause] I could name all the sort of families and the children and that, and again oh, obviously I s, grew up, married, and moved away, but erm, one of the things mum sort of said that it’s changed is that … different fam, families used to come in and stay for a, years and years and years. Whereas, there seems to be a big turnover now, erm, families come and er, quite a few of them are rent, are rented and when, I think it was all … erm, owner occupied er, everybody owned their own house when we moved in. But now, I would think … well, I wouldn’t know what percentage but quite a few, quite a number of the erm houses are, rented and we’ve had erm, there’s erm, different nationalities. I mean next-door, erm, there have been Asian families, Pakistan, we’ve had Romanians, erm … I think there’s Polish as well have lived there. But it’s rented. Mrs Campbell’s [ph] house is now a rented house, so there have been so many different families there. On the other side, next-door erm … there’s been the same erm person that’s lived there, since my father died, and he’s a very good neighbour with mum. You know, he helps with the shopping and takes her to church and, stuff. So that’s stayed the same, but … most of the other houses, erm … there’s just one person, erm, Mrs Doody [ph] over the road, that erm, was here when we moved in. Think she’s probably about the only one. Because when we had the house fire, myself and my cousin stayed with Mrs Doody overnight, my brother … and one of my sisters stayed next-door and then mum … and my other sister went into Deakins Road, stayed overnight. Er … and I always remember my dad, when, he, he, the last thing he said, the last words, he was, he didn’t wanna go into the ambulance, he said, ‘I’ll be fine’ and they insisted that he went in. And one of the last things he said to us was erm, erm … ‘Be good and say your prayers.’ So erm … that was it. [Gulps] Never saw him again. Er … but I always remember as well growing up … e, e, the family, when they used to get together, because there was always, they said that my, dad died of erm [Pause] they started the inquest saying he didn’t die of toxid [ph] fumes, what did he die of? And then they couldn’t find out what he died of, and then on his erm … death certificate it’s, it says, ‘Toxic fumes’. [Laughs] So … I remember growing up, all the family always used to sort of say, ‘It was that injection that did it.’ And you know, ph, you know, accidents and mistakes happen and what have you and [Laughs] I always remember, one of my aunts used to say, ‘[Draws breath], well …’ she was gonna do the pools every week because when she won the pools she was gonna dig his body up and found out wha, h, find out what he [Laughs] died of. That was her, I just remember they would always be sort of talking about it. Because something went wrong somewhere, because … he went in like sort of healthy and … what have you, and then … just died the next day. But mum, it was erm … she used to sort of go out and do work, erm … cleaning, and I just … all sort of different jobs, but oof, she was always like here at home. And in fact we used to come home for lunch, from Redhill we used to always come home at lunchtime for lunch, but when Dad died erm … erm, we, were put on free school meals then so then, we’d have erm school food. And in fact, that’s when we sort of er, erm, learnt what sort of English people ate, because we’d sort of like you know, shepherd’s pie and, erm liver and onions and erm, stuff erm… in, you know, English food, so we’d come home and say, ‘[Gasps], we’ve had English food today! And we’d sort of tell her and she’d go, ‘What’s that, what’s that?’ [Laughs] And we’d tell her. [Laughs] So yeah. It was quite good. Quite good.
What was the shopping areas like when, for you growing up?
Erm … we used, there used to be like supermarkets, I c, erm, down in Hay Mills because I remember, we used, obviously, w, mum didn’t drive, erm … so when we used to go shopping, my brother and myself and mum or me and mum would go and we’d always like have carrier bags, so you could get like, there’d be like a … [Tut] grocers and erm, but, Tays [ph] the butchers, used to go to Tays [ph] the butchers. Erm, just down in Hay Mills, greengrocers, Linguard’s [ph] on the corner, of Deakins Road, so you used to just go to the, various shop … and erm, get your shopping. And then I think, sometimes we’d … catch the bus and go down to Small Heath, to a supermarket down there, erm … and then once a week we’d go into the market, ny, erm, in town, fish market, meat market, ra … oh gosh, the rag market, [Gasps], I used to hate going to the rag market. Mum used to love it because she’d meet all her friends, and everything, in the rag market [Laughing] and they’d [33:40 IA] and I’m thinking I wanna go home! They’re stood chatting and I’m getting all the erm, veg and you know, erm, stuff, but oh, I didn’t like … I mean o, I go there now, as a grownup but [Draws breath] I didn’t like it at all as a child ‘cause it was just mum tw, chatting to all her friends.
[Pause] So when you grew up and you was, became a teenager or an older teenager, what, what, how did you used to socialise? Where did you used to go?
Oh, we used to erm, we used to go erm, [Clears throat] up the, [Swallows] on a Sunday at the, er where the optician’s are now, the erm … [Tut] … ah, oh …
Hollan… erm … [Pause], what’s it called now, the opticians?
Dolland and Ash, Aitchison.
Holland and Aitchinson, yeah, but it’s Boot’s now, isn’t it? That’s right. That used to be, that used to be a pub, erm, that was the … the bull. And we used to go erm there, and sometimes we’d go under age, you know. [Laughs] And then on a Sunday there’d be a disco and that’d be really good because, it was funny because they used to play, on Sunday night it was reggae night, so there’d be … m, me, my brother and like a couple of other … erm, erm friend, black friends, and then … the Skinheads! [Laughs] And we’d like have danceoffs and that, but it was all like good humoured. It was like, really good. And then the erm police station, which is now the erm, [Tut] The O, The Old Bill, the Bill and Bull, yeah, that’s right, because there was the erm, the Bull was on the corner, and then the … police station, but then … it’s now, the police station, because they used to, er, have living quarters above, didn’t they, in the police station? And like, but now it’s called the er, Old Bill and Bull. So we used to go in there. And then, the Swan, we used to go, there used to be a pub at the Swan, used to go there, and then up town we used to go to the Rainbow Suite, that was like erm [Pause] on a Thursday night, and the Mayfair, Suite. That was, where TK Maxx is now. I think. By the, train station. But we [Laughs] we used to, and we used to go to the Locarno and eh, we, i, I, mum used to, mum used to, we used to sort of say erm ‘Can we go, erm, we go out the Locarno?’ and she’d go, ‘Yes, so long as you’re back by eleven o’clock.’ So we’d sort of go and then we’d sort of push the boundaries a bit, and then … there used to be erm, down in Small Heath, sort of blues parties, which was like West Indian parties where you’d sort of, they’d be all-night things where you’d, erm, everything was a pound. Like you could have curry goat and rice, a pound, erm … can of beer, a pound, coke, beer. So we used to say to, mum, ‘Can we go up to the Locarno?’ and she’d say, ‘Yes,’ and then as we got older it would be, we could be back at midnight. But we’d be going and we’d be going to blues really! [Laughs] It would be sort of [Laughing] we used to, thought we were really er, big, sneaking out there. But … we used to erm … socialise, sometimes, with m, with mum and my uncles and that, because the erm … [Tut] oooh, what’s it in Edgbaston? What’s it called that place there?
The Tower Ballroom, we used to go there on bank holidays, and like er mum and like aunts and uncles and me and my friends, and [37:15] that used to be sort of, quite good, quite interesting. Used to be good fun.
[Pause] But yeah, we used to erm … [Gasps] I remember, I was at college when the erm … when the … bombings, happened, because, I used to, on a Thursday night sometimes we used to go out erm … with, b, some of my school friends, and we used to go to the Beer Keller, drinking, and we used to go the erm Mulberry Bush, so …[Draws breath] and I remember, when we heard about the bombings, because, on a Thursday n, it was on a Thursday night because on a Thursday, sometimes I’d be with my brother and … w, b, s, certain friends at the Rainbow, but … other weeks I’d be with my, school friends, erm … i, i, at the Ivy Bush and, and places, and I remember we couldn’t erm … the tr, all the phone lines were down. We tried to ring, we didn’t have a phone but next-door had a phone, so I was ringing to try and find out but you couldn’t get through because of, bombing. ‘cause, all, I just kept thinking like my brother and like m, m, my friends would be out on that night, and all my school friends, and I d, erm, [Draws breath] my school friends were out that night and one of them ended up … she had a, she had a leather, coat on, blown off, and became deaf in her ear. But she, that, w, I, I didn’t know anyone that had died or, or anything like that. And I remember when I … erm … first started teaching, my first month’s … salary, I erm bought a tel, bought the telephone, installed a telephone here, ‘cause I, just always remember that … you know, I couldn’t ring, I would have to ring nec, as I say next-door, so we couldn’t, when I was away at college I didn’t, really make contact with mum. Erm … ‘cause you didn’t have mobile phones and stuff, then, so … you know.
Did they have a Jubilee Party at, on the street?
Oh yes! I’d forgotten! Erm, which year was the Jubilee. Erm …
1977. The year [chuckles] that I got married. Yes, that’s right. We had it, because I got married in … 1977, erm … it was yeah, it was just before, but … where my husband, lived, we had a Jubilee party there, but you had a Jubilee Party, here, didn’t you? Erm, the street, you had all the ta… in fact there are p, erm somewhere I think we’ve got paper c, erm cuttings. They had like trestle tables out … erm, we all, we were eating jelly and ice cream and cake and … balloons and Union Jacks. It’s lovely because erm… u, u, u, my, er, we’re, we’ve sort of roy, mum and I are royalists, aren’t we mum? We love the Queen and like … but [Laughs] my youngest sister is not a royalist! [Laughs] And her middle name is Elizabeth, after the Queen, and I always sort of say to mum, ‘Why didn’t I have the name Elizabeth?’ ‘cause my sister goes, ‘Oh, I don’t like that name, Elizabeth! Because I don’t want to be the queen!’ [Laughs] And when you erm … at the nursery as well, didn’t you, didn’t you have a party … at the nursery, where you used to work, at the Oaklands?
Yeah, and they had a … party there. ‘cause there was a, a … [Pause] was there not, there was, oh, erm, one of the Royal Weddings was it erm [Pause] oh, I’m getting muddled up now. Wasn’t there a party with one of the weddings as well, one of the Royal Weddings? [Pause] Oh, I’m talking rubbish. I’m getting muddled up. [Laughs]
So coming back to Yardley, what do you think are the biggest changes in the area that, since when you were small?
Well, obviously the traf, you know, traffic, the erm, all the roads have sort of been [41:31] off, erm, the erm … the, the racial mix of the community has changed. When we moved in it was all, w, we were the only black family in the road and, not many, there was only one other black family in Deakins Road, and then er, two in Deakins Road after a few years. So … now it’s sort of erm, there are not as many white people … in the area, it’s mainly Asian, few West Indian but not that many. Traffic, loads more traffic, erm … [Pause] a m, ay, ah, more sort of … fast food sort of shops, erm, the, erm mobile phone f, shops and … stuff. Whereas before it used to be, as I say, the butcher’s, the greengrocer’s, fishmonger’s, specific shops, but it’s all like fast foods and … quick sort of supermarkets and … stuff. Second-hand shops. [Laughs]
So you would have lived here when they actually widened the road on the Coventry road?
Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
What sort of affect did that have on, on the street and the … neighbourhood?
Well I think it just erm … to be quite honest I think it was m, erm, people thought oh, driving, you know, like to drive in, it was just more, y, it’s like longer to drive in, but there was a lot of disruption but … having said that I can’t remember which year was it that it was actually widened? Because I probably … wasn’t actually living here, here.
Yeah, I think it was, originally done in the sixties.
In the sixties? I think they, they did a little bit.
But then, but then er …
But then, e, you could still drive in at the top, because I remember …
The re-widened it again in the eighties.
That’s right, yeah. So the, a, I think the, initially [Draws breath] it didn’t … it just meant that we, it was more … difficult crossing over the road, erm … to get to like the p er … the Adelphi, erm, the cinema. But … I don’t know. I c, I can’t really sort of say that I can remember that much really of like it being a massive … impact, at all. [Pause] Can’t think.
So touching on the Swan pub that you used to, attend occasionally? [Chuckles]
Was that the, old black and white pub or was it the newer build?[Pause] With the longest bar in Europe?
Oooph! I think it was [Pause] it was the black and white … no, no, no, hang on. [Pause] [Sighs] [Pause] Do you know? I ca, [Laughs], I’m, useless! Erm … because it was a pub and then they did … it was rebuilt, wasn’t it? A new building? [Pause] I think … when was it re, when was it rebuilt?
[Sighs] Probably when they widened the road in the sixties. [Pause] So that would have made it …
Yeah, because like, again, in the sixties I was like il, eh, I mean … sixty-five I was … eleven, so sixty-nine, you know, I, it was probably … six, fifteen, sixteen was when I was sort of starting to go out erm, to go out. But yeah, I sort of … was it like the, erm, black and white like erm … thinking of Blakeseley, I’m getting muddled up, Blakeseley Hall now. [Pause] Erm, beams … [Pause]
It used to be a black and white building.
Yeah, I remember it, but I’m just trying to think. I can’t remember what, if I actually … used to go in it when it was black and white building or when it [Chuckles] was like the new. I think I went in it when it was like, the new building, but I remember … the black and white building, next to Painter’s, the erm … funeral, William Painter’s. N, by the library here.
Well, [Coughs] can I touch on the, is it the Bull’s Head, that you used to go to over the road?
Yeah, on a Sunday night, yeah, upstairs, yeah.
That, that building no longer exists at all.
Could you actually describe that building to us?
It was like a erm … ooch! It was a bit like the Redhill, of the erm red brick sort of, building. Remember it had like a … a tower, it was sort of like a dome sort of, tower bit. Erm, because … it was sort of like round … you sort of … coming up the road, it was sort of, at an ang, it was like at an angle, to the road. Oh gosh, my memory’s sort of going. I can’t think [Laughs]. I can sort of visualise it. It was at an angle, like that, and it was like a, quite a prominent building in fact. There was a buil, erm [Tut], down where St Cyprian’s Church is, there were two other pubs [Pause] either side of the road, as well. One er, erm … on the same side as Bedder’s [ph] but erm, there. And then where erm, the Kentucky place is and all that, there was ano, there were, two, but I can’t remember the names, but, I remember because we used to get erm midnight communion and people used to come out of the, [Laughing] two pubs and come down, for midnight communion. So yeah, there were quite a lot of pubs actually. ‘cause then there was the Redhill Pub, erm … when I was at erm, primary school, one of the er … eh, I can’t remember her name, her dad owned the pub, ‘cause I remember going to her birthday, er, birthday party or a tenth birthday party there in the pub. Erm, at the Redhill. ‘cause that’s black and white, isn’t it, building?
[Pause] So, what would you say were your fondest memories of growing up in Yardley?
Just being sort of free and being able to just like, go out, I mean, we could just sort of … go out, we’d erm … play, as long as you were in before it was dark, erm … it was fine. Erm … we didn’t sort of worry about erm, [Tut], sort of … getting kidnapped or, getting run over or, or anyth, we just sort of, we were able to just sort of … go out on our own, go up the park, go to the pictures. We used to go swimming. Erm … we used to just all, get on and be, happy and just, play … erm …
What swimming baths did you used to go to?
Oh, gree, erm, we used to go to Green Lane Swimming Baths. A, again that was erm … [sighs] and on the corner it was Wimbush, the er [Sighs] bread place, and in fact when I erm… before I went way to college … I erm, had a … got a job in the summer holidays before I went away to, teacher training college, at Rowbirch [ph], the sausage factory, so I worked [Chuckling] in the sausage factory, down there. I some, we’d sometimes used to go to Stechford Baths when, when it was hot, because of the Lido, the outdoor erm swimming pool, but erm … yeah. It was just, it was just sort of ha, happy, happy days like that. I mean although … as I say, there was a lot of erm name calling, but you just sort of … y, you just sort of like had a, tougher, skin I think really. You just sort of … you just accepted it as like that’s what happened. And as I say, our own friends, we used to just sort of … play. We used to erm, [Tut] [Pause] make, make things and build erm … have like stalls we used to erm … get sweets together and like ha, make up like little games and charge people a penny, to erm … you know, roll this down here and win this and that, and [Laughs] and, and everything. We used to make go-karts, er, go round scavenging for like wheels and like erm the old crates, soap box, i, and the, fruit boxes, and like … have races down the road with the erm, go-karts. I c, er, what else did we used to do? We, och… used to, you know, bikes, we used to be on bikes and if you didn’t have a bike you sat on somebody else’s bike. And we used to sort of go up to our, d, ride bikes up to Elmdon Park and catch erm [Laughs], catch sticklebacks [Laughs] in the erm, thing, and then, we’d nab a basin, an old sink, erm… and erm bring ‘em home, and of course they’d always die, the fish, because [Laughs] it was like not running water!
[Pause] So can I just ask you, again Kathy … we’re sitting in the home that you grew up in, your earliest memories come here, from here, because you don’t remember coming over from Montserrat. Has your house changed at all over the years?
No, not really. It’s just had more licks of paint on it but erm … er … when, aft, well, yes it has er changed actually because I remember when, before we had the fire we didn’t have a, erm, we had a bathroom but there was no toilet upstairs, so erm … we used to have a potty under the bed. Erm, and then obviously erm in the morning, bring it to the erm, outside toilet, erm, and empty it. And then I rememb, after we had the fire, we had an upst, erm, a toilet put in upstairs, erm [Pause]. When er, er, one of the jobs that my dad had I, erm, I remember as well, ‘cause he did have like erm a, a number of jobs, he was actually a coalman, I don’t know how long for but erm he used to sort of deliver … erm, coal, but I think it was only probably for a few weeks, but again I real, I, uh, uh, uh, I remember … coalmen used to come and deliver sacks of coal in the sack … erm, they’d come … and, and the outhouse is still there, the coalhouse. ‘cause a lot of the houses, have probably built extensions and that, but in, in mum’s house it hasn’t. The only th, as I say, the only change is we’ve got … a toilet upstairs in the bathroom, but the outside toilet’s still there and the, w, we still call it the coal shed but it’s sort of, just stores stuff, but, erm … the coal shed.
I remember as well, erm, again dad coming from, coming from the West Indies, and his dad had land and they used to erm keep animals, so I don’t know whether that was part of it, but I remember at Christmas, we used to erm, have a, a live turkey in the coal shed [Laughing] and at Christmas… erm … it, he killed the turkey for Christmas dinner. Erm, I’ve just remembered that, yeah. I remember we used to have a [Laughs] turkey, trotting around. I don’t know what erm, I remember it once. I don’t know whether it was like every year or what have you, but I do remember … one time having a turkey! [Laughs] That was [Laughs] running around one day and no more the next! [Laughs]
So how many bedrooms is the house?
It’s got three bedrooms, so erm, what happened, my mum and dad used to be in the, upstairs front bedroom, and then … m, my sister erm, my, me and my two sisters used to be in the middle bedroom, and that’s another thi, ‘nother story I remember. Erm … my da, erm, I always used to, I … shared a bread, bed with my sister and I wanted a bed of my own, and I wanted bunkbeds, and I kept saying, ‘Can I have … a bunk bed?’ And my dad said, ‘If you pass the eleven plus you can have bunk beds.’ S, erm, so … [Pause] when erm … I took the elven pl, ‘cause you used to take it over two, we, it was like erm, one week it was like maths and then the other week was English and what have you, and took it. And I remember my dad said, ‘How d’you get on? How d’you get on?’ And I said, ‘Think I did alright on … you know, I, I, I, I found it OK. Don’t know.’ And I kept saying, ‘Can I have the bunk beds?’ He said, ‘When, if, if you pass the eleven plus you can have bunk beds.’ Well … he, what happened, we had the fire, he died … so he didn’t actually know that I’d actually passed for the elven plus, but we had bunk beds, but erm … mum said that he’d already ordered ‘em. Now I … I like to think that it was because erm, he thought that … I was going to … pass and so he was getting them. But the practical side of me, because you always had to earn things, I think it was more of … it was a, a good idea to have, bunk beds, ‘cause it just meant there was like more, more room. And those bunk beds, I mean they were erm … big metal, things, and he r, I mean … I just loved, I mean when I got married and … moved, I had, we lived in a maisonette and I took those bunk beds [Chuckles] with me, and even in the h, I live in erm Hall Green now and we moved there in the early eighties, took the bunk beds with me and I had them, and when I had … Joseph, my erm … he slept in erm one of the bunk b, ‘cause we had them separate, we didn’t have them as bunk beds … he slept, you know, when he was sort of three, four, that was his first bed and my daughter’s first bed, but … I had to like let go of it, eventually, because it, it’s, it, just wasn’t practical, but it, it, I, I did, it was the only thing that I’d got of my dad’s that I remembered, erm, so I was really sad to get rid of that. But … it, they had to go.
[Pause] So … did you stay in, in Gladys Road until you got married?
Yes. I erm … I … stayed here, ‘cause I, got a job in 1975 at Golden Hillock and lived at home, till … 1977 when I, I met my husband at Golden Hillock where I, erm, first started teaching, and then he’d got a maisonette over in Major’s Green, so … we moved, that’s in erm Hereford and Worcester. It’s just … off Hasluck’s Green Road, over sort of Shir, it’s Shirley way really, but it’s Major’s Green. Erm … so I moved out and we lived in a maisonette and then … we bought a h, house in … erm Scribers Lane … 1980/81, erm, and then that’s where I … I had J, Joe was born in erm … Solihull Hospital and then my daughter, Leah [ph] was also born in Solihull Hospital and we’ve lived there, we’ve s … lived there ever, since. So … m, my son and daughter grew up in Hall Green.
Because you moved away from the area, Kathy, and I know you come back regular to see your mum, but do you notice the changes to the area more than … d’you think, your mum may?
Probably, yes. Erm, in that like I suppose dri, you know, driving here it’s sort of erm, it used to be just straight down the Coventry Road and … come in at the top and it’s like a long way erm round to drive. And up just park, you know, just … finding somewhere to park, erm in … you know, families know everybody, [Clears throat], you know, children have, you know, it’s not just like maybe one car in the family, it’s sort of mum’s got a car, dad’s got a p, car, and all the children have got a car. So erm … yeah, it’s just … more traffic, more cars, more extensions, people are like … erm … building mansions and … palaces! [Laughs] Taking er, erm, you know, got erm, gardens, you see again people used to have like lovely gardens and plants but erm … people are either sort of slabbing them over because they can’t … erm, they haven’t got the time to maintain them or they’re not interested, or … they’re m, making extra buildings for the extended family, y, erm, more people are probably living in the houses. I think … when we grew up m, e, each family it was just sort of your mum and dad and children, whereas now I mean sometimes I think there’s, in-laws and grandparents and … what have you. Having said that, when… mum and dad, came here, because we’d, they’d got a house, a lot of mum erm, dad’s brothers and sisters when they came over, they all, lots of our aunts and uncles came and stayed here, for er erm few weeks, few months, till they got themselves on their feet and … moved off. In fact erm … again, going back to the tomboy theme, I was a, a tomboy and w, always just wanted to go out and play, and all my aunts and uncles decided erm … er, when they got married, and because I was such a cute-looking little thing, I was a bridesmaid erm … eight times, seven or eight times, ‘cause it was always, ‘Oh, we’ll have Kathleen as a bridesmaid.’ So I’d spend hours, like one aunt was erm … used to make the bridesmaids’ dresses, so I’d have to stand and like … pah, get fitted for dresses and hem … taken up and all the net used to scratch my legs. I used to hate it! [Chuckles] Then I’d have to have my hair done, and I’m just thinking, ‘I don’t want this!’ Erm, so yeah, that l … erm, again people, families helped, e, you know, like as I say mum’s … family and stuff, they helped each other, they’d come and stay and then move off. And in fact … even now erm, lots of the aunts and uncles and cousins, even though we all sort of like have got our own sort of families and that … most of them come back here to mum’s because it was sort of like the main base that people came to before … they branched off. Erm … loads, weren’t there, loads of aunts and uncles have stopped here over the years. You know.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us, Kathy?
I can’t think anything. I feel as if I’ve sort of gabbled a lot about [Laughs] nothing! Erm … er … I can’t think of anything. If I think of anything I’ll let you know!
Oh well that’s, that’s fantastic. So thank you very much for taking part. I might be coming back to re-do you then!
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