Deborah Norrey: Good morning, my name’s Deborah Norrey, I’m here today recording for the History at Hobsmoor project. Um, today’s date is Monday the 30th of October 2017. I’m here with George [Linden 0:15] who is going to be recording Katrina.
George Linden: Hello Katrina.
Katrina Stanley: Hello George.
GL: Er, I’m going to interview you, I’m going to start you off at your earliest memorable record. And we’d like your… date of birth.
KS: It was the… the 22nd of the eighth 1950.
GL: Is that OK?
DN: And Katrina, can you just give us your full name and also where you were born please?
KS: My name is Katrina Elizabeth Stanley and I was born at 93 Little Green Lane in Small Heath.
GL: OK, Katrina,. I’ll start you off at your very earliest childhood memories.
KS: The earliest childhood memory, as far as I know, is re, I always remember helping my mother with the youngest children.
GL: Oh I see. And at that time what was your… sort of a road did you live in?
KS: It was, er, back-to-backs and, er, little villa type houses, er, close together. It went up to the yards. There was all r, also, um, a… a bombed building site which we used to play on. I suppose during the war it got bombed and the houses were there but it was just like a derelict wasteland which we enjoyed and played.
GL: And how, how old would you have been at that particular…?
KS: I should say about, er… seven, eight, nine.
KS: And we didn’t leave… we didn’t leave Small Heath until I was, er, fourteen years old, as it was a slum clearance and they were clearing everyone out.
GL: What was the name of the road?
KS: Little Green Lane.
GL: Little Green Lane. [Pause]
And when you got to school age, which school did you attend in that area?
KS: It was… it was just about ten, fifteen minutes up the road at Wyndcliff Road Infants and Juniors. And in the back playground I remember that it was an imaginary line and we never overstepped it and at the bottom of the very playground at the back… which came into Bordesley Green area, I think, it was, um, a disabled school. And there was all, um… there was disabled children there. And they used to come out sometimes in the playtime and we’d wave to them and, er, they’d go in for their dinner, I suppose, and we were left out playing. Whether they did it on a rota so we weren’t all out there together… probably that’s why we didn’t see very much of them.
DN: What was the name of that school you were at Katrina?
KS: I was at Wyndcliff Road Infants and Junior School.
DN: And can you describe what the school itself was like for us please?
KS: Um, very much a very old school, I should say. I can remember like the red brick building and, er, high wall, high railings. Erm… the metal… old metal gates used to go through. Caretaker’s, um, house was in the grounds. Er, the infants school, the little classrooms and, er, the hall. And then the junior section we had, er, downstairs and upstairs and, er, an upstairs hall. And I remember going up the big concrete steps and, er, the Headmaster was Mr Barnes. He was a very nice and el, elderly man but very nice. Very nice headmaster. And we, well I enjoyed it.
GL: And that school, assuming is long gone?
KS: It’s still there.
GL: It’s still there.
KS: But they’ve… As far as I, I know, I’ve never been back but they’ve extended it since I’ve been. And, um, where we lived up the yard was, I should say it would have been in the sixties so I’d have been about ten, and there was, um, a Jamaican family moved in. We’d never seen Jamaicans ever before and I think it was when they all came over, to help out during… they was put in hospitals, on the trains, they were… put on the buses. I remember somebody told me they was a conductress and that. And the Mrs Senior, her name was, and she came and knocked the side… the gates at the door on the entry and, um, she knocked the door and mum went to the door and she wanted me to take, asked my mother what school we went to. And, um, I told her the, the school that I, we, we went to and she said to me mum, she’s, ‘Would your daughter take my George and Lorraine?’ Er, I don’t know what the ages were, they were younger than me. Er, when I took my brothers and sisters up to Wyndcliff Road School of a morning, ‘can you knock me door and take George and Lorraine?’ And, and that’s what we did.
GL: What sort of, er… games at that time were played in … the, the playground?
KS: Um… well if you could, if you get a [Laughing] skipping rope…
KS: … or you had a piece of line [Laughing] you’d make, er, skipping rope games. There’d be ball games. Um… you know, tig [ph], I-spy and, um… hopscotch and, er, little games like that. Or racing or statues in the playground, I remember playing statues… And, um… famous film stars, it was their initials –
KS: – of their names, er, you had to guess it. And, um, What’s the Time, Mr Wolf, that was another old game I remember.
GL: And er of course you had the, er, coming up, the winter of 1947 which was very…
KS: Well, I wasn’t born until ’50.
KS: But I do know there were hard winters.
KS: Where you had to, um, go through the snowdrifts.
KS: People having to go out and try and get the snow from the door, before they could get outside. Frozen pipes. Outside toilets, you had to put a little candle in to keep the, the pipes, from freezing. Um… oh the net, the net sticking on the windows…
GL: [7:33 IA].
KS: On the inside of the windows when it used to be freezing. [Draws breath] And mum used to take a brick out the, the fire, wrap it in a bit of rag and that was your hot water bottle.
GL: Hot water bottle, yes, yes. So, ho… how many more years did you spend there before you came to… here, to Yardley?
KS: We, I, I left, we left, I was about fourteen so that’d be ’64.
DN: And where did you go to when they did the slum clearance?
KS: Acocks Green… in, er, Severne Road.
DN: So, before we move on to that section can you just describe, actually describe, the inside of your house, um, in Small Heath?
KS: It was two up, two down and you had a cellar. You went down the cellar, and down the cellar is where the, er, gas and electric meter was, and you used to have to put your coins in and turn… you had to turn, the… it was like a, a wheel, like a cog but you had to listen for the penny or whatever to drop because if you didn’t it meant it was either stuck and the electric wouldn’t come on so you had to just tap it. And, um… that’s… I remember the, the cellar. Dad used to have his nails and, he used to, er… repair shoe, if our shoes went you could buy the… the rubber and that and dad used to try and mend our shoes, you know, if the holes, and he had all his tools in the cellar. The coal used to be dropped down the cellar and, er, we used to have to go down for the coal, but there was nice but sometimes… we weren’t too bad but mum… sometimes when it was damp you had black beetles come in, in on the lino in the living room. And somebody said to mum, ‘Put some, erm, slices of cucumber round. It’ll keep them at bay.’ But then …you, there was a thing called out and it was called DDT. And what it was, it was a little puffer that you puffed this white powder under the lino and it kept all the bugs away. Well, some people had cockroaches so we were luckier than others. But the cockroaches only come out when it was damp and it was dark of an evening. But anyway, um, going back to this DDT, anyway it did keep the bugs at bay but the thing was they took it off the market because it was so… it was dangerous to human beings, to their health.
GL: Mm, Yes.
KS: It was the dust, there was something in the dust.
GL: Yes, the pollutants or the…
KS: Yes, and I do remember that. Er, we had a coal fire, er, you had a little rug round the fire, you had a bow so nobody fell on the fire. Er, we had a little scrub table and dad made a bench, so we all, all could sit down at the square table and the bench. So we all sat down for meals. People I’ve heard with larger families, used the stairs. If there was m, many… if there was too many children for that table they used to sit them on the stairs and they used to have meals on their laps, but we were, we weren’t too bad, we was managed to sit round the table.
DN: How many of you were in the house?
KS: Er, there was five us… five of us and mum and dad. Erm, and then mum had another one, that was six, and then when we moved mum was expecting, she had my brother Edward, but she had him in Acocks Green and that was the last child, there was the seven of us and I was the eldest.
GL: And when did you first have television?
KS: Oh… a long, long time ago. Um…
GL: Was it for the coronation?[11:52].
KS: I remember my dad, I don’t know whether he built this set, and he used, said he used to go into Bradford Street and get his, I think, are they called condensers? Something like that?
GL: Yes, that could well…could well …
KS: And it used to be… they used… it used… they used to put them back, was it the valves or something?
GL: Yeah, it was all valves … yes.
KS: Yes, and anyway, um, they …saw the coronation and then that’s it, I don’t remember that because I would’ve been about three.
GL: Three, yeah.
KS: Er, I don’t remember us having a television.
KS: Because, um … it was just a luxury then, wasn’t it?
GL: Not until probably when you moved to Acocks Green from…
KS: Yes, we had one when we moved to Acocks Green.
KS: Yes. Which I was older then.
DN: So going back to your house, did you… you obviously didn’t have a bathroom in there ‘cause you had outside toilets?
KS: Oh no, there was one outside toilet and that was shared with three families. We… there was a lady, that was called the dolls’ house, she lived in the entry and she had one up and one down, little kitchen, she shared the toilet. Was our family and the family next door to us, she had two children and they shared the toilet too. Um, it was always clean so it must have been on a rota when they cleaned it; they even shared the washing line. There was one losh, washing line, er, in the yard and I think the three families shared that too. And then round the corner in the yard was another two families and they shared the one line, round the corner in that part of the yard. There was a brew-house in the corner in the yard at the top… and that used to be for boiling clothes, washing day. And, in the winter it was worse because you had to just dry it the best way you could, and in them days… babies, there was no pampers, it was just terry towelling that had to be dried and aired, and sheets and towels, all the heavy stuff. It must have been awful to try and dry it and… for the next week or next couple of days’ time.
GL: And when you had a bath did you have one of those big galvanised tubs that you had to…
KS: Yes, the tin bath.
GL: In front of the fire and things.
KS: That’s right.
GL: [Laughing] In the living room.
KS: Boiling the kettles on the ga, old gas stove.
GL: Mm. Yeah, right.
KS: And, um… you was… you was hot one side and cold the other [laughing].
GL: Yeah, yeah.
KS: And then the towels and, um… using… the bath water, it was just topped up again just to heat it for the next one in there. And it was… it was nice when you all sat there all lovely and clean [Laughing].
KS: With all this water, well it wasn’t a lot of water … But my daughter even said, ‘I can always remember when you used to put us in the bath we never had much water.’
KS: I said, ‘No,’ I said, ‘Never had much water myself.’ [Laughing] And I remember the, er, the little, the younger ones, I’ve done it here, when they were little we could wash them in the sink, which was easier than getting the big bath out, ‘cause they got more muckier than the older ones, you see. They was always scrabbling all over the floor or something.
GL: And did you have, er… a record player, in, in your house where you could play…?
KS: No. We had a… a big wireless.
KS: No. We had a big wireless.
KS: [Laughing] But I do remember the one, bonfire night there was an old chap, he died, in the entry and, er, they were burning all the old bits of furniture, clearing his house out, and there was, um, er, a wind-up gramophone. So what few records was there we, we wind up the gramophone and we had that playing.
KS: But it was the same…
GL: [16:04 IA].
KS: You might know, it was the same [laughing] same record.
GL: Yeah. Some of them had a horn on…
KS: That’s right.
GL: Others were, it was in a box.
KS: And they had the little needle on the handle, yes, and you had to be g, very careful because you could scratch the, er, record. But anyway I think that ended up getting burnt in the end on the bonfire. But, er, we had a bit of fun with it.
GL: Yeah? [Pause] That probably concludes, er… Small Heath then.
GL: We now move to Acocks Green.
GL: So, er, what are your recollections of that?
KS: We moved to A…
GL: How old was you at the time when you… moved to Acocks Green, do you know?
KS: I was fourteen, yes. And we moved to Acocks Green and we thought we was, um… oh we thought we was ever so rich. We had a bathroom, we had a toilet, our own toilet, nobody had to share it. We had a garden, we had grass beneath our feet. Erm, and it was lovely. We had a front and a back garden …and …dad put a gate at the bottom of the garden, it came on to, er, Fox Hollies Park.
GL: Oh yes, yes.
KS: So it was lovely and you looked out the back bedroom window and it was beautiful. Any season you looked across that park it was lovely. There was a fishing pond there, there was a little river that we used to go and, catch sticklebacks in. And we thought it was lovely. We was never in because we was always out in the park or the garden, enjoying ourselves in the… whatever weather it was. And we was out of mum’s way. [Laughing]
GL: As a, as a teenager, what was the first places you started to go to?
KS: Er… teenage?… um… I used to go out with my friends and we used to go sometimes to the, er… there was the big, er, places in town – there was the Locarno and there was the, the Night Out … um… There was Bloomers, there was the Dolce Vita, er, the Tower Ballroom and, er, it was quite nice. And you used to go to the theatre, I used to like going to the musicals and hearing the, er, stars singing there. Used to get a couple of tickets and me and my sister used to go to the theatres. And, um, we used to make our own dresses to go, it was cheaper. Going to the town and the market, even now, and get some lovely material and make whatever dress you wanted; you could have it long, short. We used to go, um… and I reme, I do remember once going dancing in a pair of hot pants.
GL: Oh goodness [laughing].
KS: And we all went out one… the once. There was five of us, five girls, and we all went in our hot pants to the, um… I don’t know which, er [Pause] which dancehall we went to but I do know we went and we had, um… we had some nice times. It was, er… well, it was, quite safe then, I thought, it was nice anyway.
GL: And do… when you made your own dresses did you have the, er, the patterns, the… er…
KS: Yes. We were…
GL: Thin paper patterns which you…
KS: That’s right. Er, and I’ve still got some now. And you could always alter them to…
GL: So you had your own…
KS: You know, you could take a skirt off one dress or a top off another dress and you could put it and marry it up the way you wanted it.
KS: And, er, you could always go out and… you know, buy what material that you pick, whatever you wanted, whatever colour and, um, it was… As I say, we were quite lucky really in Birmingham.
GL: You had a sew, a Singer sewing machine was it?
KS: I had electric one.
KS: My father bought it me when I was fourteen.
KS: At fourteen we all had a gift and, er, I wanted, um, a sewing machine.
KS: So I’ve always done… erm, even now I’ve, I’ve still… make dresses, I’ve done all me own sheets, curtains. I’ve done everything myself.
So if I see any cheap material I think, ‘Ooh,’ you know, if need, if something needs… if I think, ‘Ooh, I need a new pair of curtains for this’ or ‘I need something covering’ or, er, a bedcover or pillowcases to match I go out and buy the material and do it myself and I find it far cheaper.
GL: Mm. And what sort of house was it that you’d moved to? What was it, er…
KS: It was…
GL: … in looks, what type of…?
KS: It was, um, a semi-detached.
KS: It was, er, three bedrooms, two… two main rooms and box room and upstairs was the bathroom and toilet combined. Then you’d got the landing, stairwell, the bottom there was a pantry, er, next to the front door. And they came in and it was, um, a front room and, er, the back room… and a small kitchen, which over the years dad altered because being such a big family, you know, you needed somewhere to sit and eat properly. So we altered the back kitchen, he knocked it into the, the back room so it was a bigger kitchen and somewhere to sit, er, and us have a meal together.
GL: Yeah. And, er, would dispensed with the cellar and probably coal by that time because you, it was all –
KS: Oh yes, it was, um, a gas fire.
GL: – electric or gas.
KS: Yeah, gas fires and, er… it was immersion heater. [Pause] So you had to, er, heat the water, er, for the bath and that, erm, through the immersion heater. But the, the heat in the house was, er, gas fire.
GL: Gas fire. Mm. So you used to go out to places like the Locarno, is it, at…?
Where did you meet your husband?
KS: I met my husband at a wedding. It was somebody was getting married where we worked and I went along and met him at the wedding. He’s… he sat opposite me at this table and, er, we started talking and he asked me and he got, we got, I got up and had a dance with him and, um… and then a week later he asked me to go out with him.
DN: Er, can we ask you where you worked, Katrina?
KS: I worked at Wilmot and Breedon’s in Amington Road.
DN: And what did they do?
KS: Oh it was car assembly. It was, um… assembling handles. They done bumpers, they done, um, all the name, [23:25 dri [ph]] names and that. Er, it was all car parts. It was a big factory, at one time it used to take the whole length of Amington Road. Used to have the Speedwell, the pub at the corner, and then down from there and on the back there was the canal. But, um, yes, it was, um, I worked there since I was fifteen. Then I worked there, after… I think I broke my service and, but I did go back. Then I… then I, from there I got married, I got married in ’79.
DN: And Amington Road, can I just clarify, that’s in Tysley isn’t it?
KS: Yes. Yes, Tysley, off the Stockfield Road.
GL: What sort of work did your husband, do at, at that time?
KS: He was, um… I think he was a setter at, er, [utilities 24:28]. A tool maker.
GL: Tool setter.
GL: Yeah, tool making, tool setting. It was, er… a…. a big job at the time.
KS: He worked there for, er, quite some years and then they… they folded up and he left and then he went on to, um… Prescott and Powell’s. [Pause] But anyway, that’s…
GL: That… er, yes, that’s…
DN: So can you tell us about your moving to Yardley then, Katrina, please?
KS: Yes. Er… well we decided to get married eventually and, er, we was looking for a house, and we went down to estate agents in Acocks Green and we seen a house in Hall Green, on, Baldwins Lane…We went to see the house, we liked it, we put our offer in, we went back the following day and they said, ‘Oh, sorry,’ you know, ‘You’ve been gazumped.’ Gazumped meant somebody else had put a higher offer in, so that meant we, again, had got nowhere to go. We was getting married in the July… so we looked around again and we found there was another house and it was here in Yardley. We went back to the estate agents, we seen the house, came to the house, we seen the man here at the house and I said to him, I said, you know, I explained what had happened previous and he said, ‘If you’re willing to take the house,’ he said, ‘We’ll shake on it now and I won’t go back on my word. I’ll phone the estate agents in the morning and I shall tell them that you’re coming down, you’re having… you’re… you’re going to put the offer in… and that you’ll … that I’ve accepted the offer.’ So anyway, we shook on it, we went down to the estate agent in Acocks Green, which was Shipways at the time … and he kept his word and we p, we started to pursue that we main, we had the house, put the offer in and he accepted it and we thought, ‘Thank goodness, we’ve got somewhere now to live.’
And that, we’d done… we did that in the May, as we got married in the July. We still lived at home, we didn’t live here. We didn’t live here ‘til the day we got… well, when we got married. Went away on honeymoon.
KS: We went to the Isle of Man for a week, and then we came back. and bit by bit we was, putting everything into the house. And, um, my mother brought the, er, the wedding cake back and we cut a piece up, er, for all the neighbours, because only six houses in the road, and they all thanked us for that. And I had some lovely, er, letters off them, cards, welcoming us to Willard Road and, er, wishing us well in our marriage. Which I thought that was lovely.
GL: Very nice.
KS: We used to have… next door used to have Bert Chance… and Chance, you know Chance Glass?
He was a relative of them. So he was a widower, er, no, sorry, he was a bachelor, he never married. And then next, the other side, there was Hilda, and her husband was a footballer and he played for some well-known, I don’t know what the name of the team was, but I remember she always kept a little photograph on her television and, er, he’s shaking the king’s hand. And I don’t know, he was a very well-known player but in them days football, they just dud it, did it for like their sport, didn’t they? They didn’t get paid very much.
GL: It wasn’t, er… what it is now.
KS: No, and, um, he won some lovely cups but it’s a shame she never had any children. So eventually she did sell the cups on, and I think she went on holiday and that which… I don’t blame her, she had nothing, no-one to leave her money to, so…
KS: And then, er… at the end there was Miss Sanders and her brother, she was a headmistress. And over the road there was, er, um… Pat and Edith. Pat was a [29:32 bioscience] at… the Rover. [Pause] Um, I think I’ve got that wrong. It’s… I know he’s something to do with the technic… um… And… [Pause] Anyway, he was, um… he was like a… not a biochemist, it was something like that, something to…
GL: To do with chemists.
KS: To do with chemistry at the Rover, I know he, he had a very good job there, um. And Edith used to help his brother at the Post Office, in Hay Mills. And then next door to them was, um… Jean and Bernard and they were a very lovely couple. They were nice too. And they had a son, Edward. So, you know, it was to ni, it was a nice little, well, it still is a nice little road really. And then over the road used to be the [Sheldon 30:35] Sorting Office, the post office sorting office. And it was… I don’t know how I ever got used to the noise of the vans coming in at four o’clock in the morning because we sleep in the front bedroom and used to hear them coming in and then the wag, opening up the doors and getting all the mail, throwing it in the vans and then going off, you know, to wherever they had to go. And Hilda used to have a coal fire and during the winter she used to keep the er, ash, you know, the ash from the fire, and she used to, er, take it over to them and if they got stuck coming in and out during the gates and the road she used to give them the ash so they could throw it down on the, um, on the roadway or …round the back in the yard so they wouldn’t be slipping everywhere in the vans. I remember she used to do that.
DN: Can you describe, um, this is a small road, as you said, there’s only six houses in it?
DN: Um, but can you describe the, what it was like on the Coventry Road when you moved here?
KS: On the Coventry Road, round the corner there used to… ach [ph], I’m sure it was something to do… You know the one-armed bandit machines, he used to repair them. Then there was the, er, a newsagents… um… I know the end one, he… it was an office of some sort, um, I think his name was Richard Hill. I can’t remember what was next to him before the hairdresser’s … um… And then the other side there was the, the Swan office block which was there and, Hilda told me this, that was built ten storeys but it’s eleven storeys if you count the ground, that should have only been five storeys high. And Bryant’s, in their wisdom, went ten. I don’t know how they got away with it because I don’t think it’s very fair on the flats opposite because, um, they’re very close, you know, for privacy. But anyway.
And then round the corner, there used to be a little second hand shop. There used to be a little shop and she used to do sandwiches and it was little shop where she, she’d do them there and then while you waited and her husband used to help out. And that had all the old sweet jars. And there was a few shops but I can’t remember exactly what was there, but at further down it was the front of the shop, she used to do alterations and she used to, um… do a lot of sewing, like tailoring all the alterations. But she only had the front of the house, the back of the house I do know the lady who worked with me at, at Wilmot and Breedon’s, she lived in the back and she had two children. So she had the upstairs and just the back part of the house. But I can’t remember, I know there was the little sweet… She was a sweet shop but she also did, er, sa, fresh sandwiches and that and sold cheese and that, in there. That’s when I, as far as I can remember, when I can remember moving in here.
GL: Did you have to do much to this house when you first moved in?
KS: Um, we did it bit by bit, George. We… we decorated it. We, we left, first of all we left the bedrooms, um, but we concentrated more on the kitchen first and then, er, my husband got all… It used to have the old tiles on, so my husband took all the old tiles off because if you tiled on top of the old tiles…
GL: They’d all –
KS: … it would have meant a good gap, you know what I mean. But anyhow, they were white tiles, the big white tiles, um, and we took them all off which was very hard because it was the very hard and old cement. Er, we had a quarry floor and we took that up and retiled it. Um, we extended it …and, er, we eventually, er, redecorated and John put, er, fitted wardrobes in the bedrooms. And then, um, one day we were sitting in the garden, at the bottom there on the bench, and I looked up and I thought, ‘Do you know what? We’ve extended that kitchen, why didn’t we go above it?’ And my husband looked at me, and so the old kitchen came down and we went up. So we extended the box… the, the back room was the bathroom. We had a separate toilet.
KS: So we… we moved… John moved the bathroom, piped it to the front box room, and when we come to measure it, the old bathroom and the box room were exactly the same size. So what we did… John extend… he… ext… put the bathroom in the box room, er, the toilet we left where it was. So what we did, we extended up across, er, the kitchen roof, which was a flat roof, so we extended it up. So it made the box room into a better, bigger bedroom. So they’re good size, three good size bedrooms.
GL: So good size.
KS: Yes. And then the children all decided to leave. So we ended up with the house, mind you it’s come in handy for the grandchildren [laughing].
GL: Yes. How many children…?
KS: I’ve got two children.
GL: Two children.
KS: I’ve got a boy and a daughter, er, a son and a daughter.
GL: Yeah. Ah.
KS: My son’s got, er, a boy and a girl and my daughter’s got two girls. They love coming to staying over to Nanny’s because Nanny spoils them. Um, and when they come and they say to them, ‘Have they behaved?’ and I’m going, ‘Yes, they’ve been as good as gold.’ And if they play up I just tell them off and that’s it, forget it. It’s not worth them saying anything to mum and dad when they come, it’s forgotten, isn’t it?
So they enjoy staying at Nan’s and it’s lovely to have them ‘cause they’re all starting… well, the youngest will be starting nursery s, er, January so I won’t be seeing them so much. So I love to see them if they come over weekends or, say… or stay over. And we come in handy, especially when… their parents have got work to do on their house, ‘Oh, you can stay at Nan’s,’ you know, out the dust, ‘You’re out me way.’ [Laughing]
GL: Mm. [Pause] That’s very good.
DN: So, Katrina, what do you think have been the biggest changes in, in the area since you’ve moved in?
KS: Er… Tesco’s is the, er, a major one because it’s took a lot of… Yardley’s land. But we could, it would have been worse, I think, if, er, looking back at Sainsbury’s had took it, they would have took more. Um, I know we’ve got the money from the land to plough back into Yardley. They’re ploughing a, now, a lot into the Oaklands… um, which I’m glad because, the Oaklands, when I moved here they had a tennis court, cricket pitch. They had, er… a park-keeper on the site. They had changing rooms, they had good football pitches. They had, erm… they had like a little putting green, if I remember, when we first moved in, but eventually over the years, you know, vandals have broken it up and it’s a shame. But now they’re… putting it back, trying to put it back how it should be. And, er… improving it even more, I hope. But I think that’s the biggest change I’ve seen. Um… other than that the roads… I remember them widening the roads, and where the blood clinic is, just along the Coventry Road, past the shops, there used to be two little cottages there. And unknownst to the poor people that lived there, I think they were elderly, I think somebody in their wisdom got it wrong with the subway, this is what I was told. They was going to put the subway back there… because there’s… there was, um, a cut-out. And then it came to planning that it was wrong and they brought the subway further down here where it is now. But the poor people that lived in the cottages, they got them out and I don’t know where they moved them to but the cottages were pulled down. And I do know that the back of the cottages there used to be fruit trees, but now it’s, um… I think something to do with the blood clinic, which is still there at the moment. But, um…
DN: Is that down past the old Bill and Bull?
KS: It’s… before. It’s just round past these few shops, and it’s the next building after the passageway. You’ve got the driveway where it comes round the back of the shops and it’s there, that building right next to it. And, er, I don’t know what they do there, it’s something to do with the blood, I know.
GL: So you remember it before the, the big Swan Island was put in and the road system round?
KS: Er, we… we moved in ’79. I… I rem… I used to visit a friend that lived on Hay Mills Hill, at the bottom, the bottom of the hill. And I used to walk up here to catch the eleven to Acocks Green. I remember the office block being built, and I remember there was a lot of, um… a lot of building going on in that area at the time, which… which was the Swan Island. But… did, little did I realise where, that I would be living this side at the time. Because where Farmfoods is now, that used to be a car… car showroom, er, used to sell cars there. Then that changed to B&Q, and then from B&Q I think it went to Farmfoods. Oh yes, Staples, that’s right. It was B&Q, Staples, then Farmfoods.
GL: Of course there was a petrol station over there as well, wasn’t there, in the very first…?
KS: Was there?
KS: I remember the cars.
GL: And on the same side of the road if you went down there was a place that sold masonry, drainpipes and huge…
KS: That’s right. That’s right. It’s still got a little bit on that corner.
GL: On the other side of Churchill’s, as it was then, which became…
KS: I know where you… yes. Church…
GL: Dollond and Aitchison.
KS: That’s right. Yes.
GL: I don’t know what happened to it now.
KS: It might be the one on the Yardley Road, ‘cause there’s one on the corner.
DN: Didn’t they then re… um, in the early… early… eighties was it? Late eighties, early nineties, they re-widened the Coventry Road again? Put the three lanes in?
KS; They could have done because they did go from… they went from two to three, didn’t they? And now it’s… is it four? It’s four now, is it four? Yeah? It’s two each…
DN: At places.
KS: Yeah, two each side… Yes, that’s right. I’m not sure on the actual dates, um, of that road being widened. But it might, you might find that out in the planning department. But it’s… I don’t know when that… was it the sixties the Swan went up?
KS: And I think in the… you know in the doctor’s, there’s a plaque on the wall. I don’t know if it was the ninety-something and, um, Estelle Morris opened it but there’s a plaque to commemorate when it was actually opened. And then… the, I think the chemist then came. Then the, the chemist was put in on the corner.
DN: So what was there previous to that?
KS: All that was the, er, er, Sheldon Sorting Office. At the very front on the main Coventry Road, where the window of the chemist is, do you remember you could get the stamps, the little brass plaque? And you put your money in and you get the stamps out.
KS: That… there used to be two of them on the front there. It was all blocked in and I think there was windows at the top but at the bottom there was these… they was like little, um… like a little plate and you put your money in and you, and you lifted up the little hinge and the stamps come out the bottom. And I remember them being on the front and I don’t have… I don’t know whatever happened to them, because that’s something that you don’t see now.
GL: I remember those.
KS: And the, er, they took the, um… phone boxes. There was like two phone boxes, as well, on the corner and they took them down. Whether it’s because everybody now’s got their own phone, I don’t know, but they did eventually… not, not that long, a couple of years ago they were being taken down and then they re-slabbed the corner. But the post box is still there, I see.
DN: Did you, um, do you use the Yew Tree Shopping Centre as well, Katrina?
KS: Yes, I have been down there.
DN: And have you noticed, er, changes in that area as well over the years?
KS: Yes, there’s, um, a lot of, um… charity shops come in and also fast food shops. Um… the fast… I mean, you know, if, if, each to their own, they like fast food. But I do find there’s a… tends to be a lot of rubbish where the fast food shops are. You know, if… they should be made to… be made… accountable really, to go out and pick the rubbish up or make… have the bin inside the place or something where they can say, ‘Well,’ you know, ‘Put your rubbish in there,’ so it don’t look so unsightly. Because it’s a shame then, then, course the rubbish thing. You collect, um…vermin.
GL: So do you think Yardley has altered quite a lot then, over… since you…?
KS: Er… yes. The shops.
GL: Not necessarily for the best.
KS: Er… it depends. I think for shopping, elderly people’ll, come along, you know. Um… I think it’s great for people that can’t get about, shops are on their doorstep.
KS: Depending what age you are. Um… people in wheelchairs or scooters, they’ve made more amenities, I think, for them sort of people than what there were when we were young.
Um… you know, people that couldn’t get out their house, you went for their errands, you know, you were asked as a child, you know, you can go, go to see Mrs So-and-so, she’s not very well, go and ask her if she wants any errands fetching or anything, you know. And you weren’t allowed to have any money off them because you’d be told off, you know, you’d given a, ‘They can’t afford this and that.’ Um, so I think some… things like… you know, things like that for elderly people, um… people that, as I say, can’t get out. But, um… some things are for the good and some are not, you know. As I say, some of the fast… there’s an awful lot of fast food shops and, um, it’s a shame really. Er, and eating as, as a family, I think, is nice when you can all sit down at the table. I always made my children sit down and if the grandchildren come they sit at the table. It’s not sitting in front of the telly, they have to sit in front of the table. And even granddad’s made to sit at the table by the grandchildren. ‘You’ve got to sit there, granddad. Come and sit at the table.’ And he does it for them. [Laughing]
DN: Just going back to the Yew Tree and the fast food shops, Katrina, what was there previously to the growing of the fast food and the charity shops?
KS: Um… well I know there was a wool shop, there was a butcher’s, there was, er, the plant shop’s still there. There was Broderick’s, that used to be a hardware store. And, um, I think there was the Yew Tree… the Yew Tree pub had, er, its own bowling green which that’s gone now and all the shops round the back have taken that. There used to be, um… a little fish shop, there was a little butcher’s, home-made butcher’s. Er, there was the betting shop. There was the Woolworth’s, I remember Woolworth’s. Um… there was… I remember years ago on the corner there was the, um… was it the air… It was an electrical, great big electrical store. I don’t… EM… IMB or EMB or something like that. It was an electrical store and they sold, I remember they sold all electrical gadgets underneath but upstairs it was where they used to demonstrate… er, food and that. And I remember [laughing] when I lived in Acocks Green I went to school in Hall Green and they sent us all, on, by bus, to the Yew Tree, why the Yew Tree I don’t know. Anyway, we came all on the bus to the Yew Tree and upstairs they did us a cookery demonstrate, er, demonstration. And, er, we all had to sit there and I remember going home with loads of leaflets on different things they’d got displayed there. But, er, she showed us how, er… I mean, you know, we never had, um, a food mixer, we never had, um, a shredder or, you know, all these, um, mechanical, electrical things. We never had none of that at home. So it was lovely to just go along and for them to demonstrate on how they were used and what they used them for. And it was lovely to see that.
But I remember all them years ago and it was at the… this cor… on the corner and it’s where, um, Domino’s is now, it was above there. But they had the whole of that corner. The bank’s always been there, which was, er, the TSB, now it’s Lloyds. There used to be, um… building societies up there, a… er, estate agents and, oh, and a travel agents which was very good and everybody was so upset when that tr… er, closed down because, er, there isn’t, um, a travel agents up there now.
KS: I think the nearest one to us, er, is Acocks Green. So it was a shame, really, for the… for local people, you know, they, er… what they missed out on.
GL: Do you remember the, er… the centre next to the library, a garden centre which sold plants, I think?
KS: Er… Preston?
KS: Yes, I remember the flower… the flower seller, the Preston’s, yes. I, um… when I was twenty-one I ordered, um, a bouquet, of flowers, for me mum and dad and I had them sent to their… well, I lived, still lived at home then, and had them sent to the house from Preston’s because I think that was the major… er, florist in the area then. So, um, yes, I remember Preston’s very well.
DN: Right, Katrina I’d like to touch on the fact that you’re very big in the community and you get involved in a lot of community activities.
DN: Um, can you, you, you tell us a little bit about the community activities you’re involved in but also how the community has changed also over the years?
KS: I first started, um… with Partnership Works, and it was a charity that put on charity events within the area. We put, er… a great… er, Christmas fair on at, er, Blakesley School, that was well attended. Er… it was well attended by the parents and the children. Um, we had a… a Father Christmas, er, his name was David, he lived …in Graham Road, he’s since passed away but he was very good and he loved it. And he always used to come with Mrs Christmas and, er, they all paid a pound and they had, um… er, gift… er, gift pack, er, er, like a selection box, I should say. And then there was craft groups going on in the, er, on the day and it was… it went really well. There was other things we’ve done within the community. Um… I’ve also… now, I am now… I, I used to be on the Yardley …Forum, I used to help out at the library there taking the names, putting the posters out, putting the flyers out. Um, I’m also in, um… Arts in the Yard now. I do, er… events, charity events throughout the year. We’ve done one every month, I think, except May. Um, I went to the AGM Meeting, we’ve done very well. We’ve also… we’ll be doing something at Cedars at the old Cottesbrooke School in December. Um… we’ve done, er, an event, um… with, um… Tea and Sympathy in town, September, Birmingham Weekender. We’ve done, er… so many events, I can’t remember them all. We did one at the, um… it’s the private school, it used to be, er, Eastbourne House on the Yardley Road. We done an event there, I think it was, er, October, may have been early October, and we done something there and we put on, um, an event for everyone there, they all come along and enjoyed it. And all the money that’s gathered, it goes in the pot for the next event to be put on.
Um, I’ve also… from… my daughter came with a knitting pattern for teddy bears and I’ve done ten of them and sent them on to All Saints at, er… I think it’s Sutton Coldfield. And it’s for the prisoners’ children, HMS prisoners’ children. I don’t know… they’ll probably be distributed, I don’t know, but I am going along to the, um… New Year’s… er, sorry, Christmas Eve event. I shall be going along to see them and ask where they actually are going. I’ve also asked for seeds for Chernobyl, er, for some children there, at the local church, they’re going to give me some. And for wool for, um, a project for the area for pom-poms for Kelly, she’s works in Arts in the Yard. And, um… all these things are all put on, I help out at the local church. I help… I’ll be helping with the Christmas event, I help with the spring event, I help… do the flowers at the, um… church if any events come along. And, er, I just help wherever I can, if I’m needed, if I’m available at the time.
KS: Um… I think some people, er… get more involved, I think, with events going on, er… especially if it’s in, within their area. If they know what it’s for, you know, they’ll come along and help. Some people don’t even know what events are out there, you know, or what charity work goes on. But I did say to one of the… the, er… councillors once, if it wasn’t for the volunteers I think we’d come to a standstill, because there’s an awful lot of volunteers that do far more than I do, although I do try to help out everywhere where I go.
KS: So, um… the, er, seeds for the Chernobyl children, they get sent over. We had, er… had a lovely, er… my daughter had a lovely card and she had a lovely picture of the two little girls, um, that asked for the seeds ‘cause they came over for a visit. So I’ve asked the, our church and she’s put it out on the notices on Sunday and I said when the seeds and that come along I said I shall… we’ll go out and buy some. My daughter and her chap goes out and buys some. And, er, they’re sent over… well they’re sent over, I think, through this lady that works at the church, so whether she sends them all together I don’t know. So that’s something that I will… I’ll ask and find out exactly what happens to them.
GL: When did you first get into all that?
KS: Ooh, I’ve been in, er… I think I’ve been… in charity events even when I was working part-time, at the school and that, because they used to have evening meetings which I could fit in. If I was working in the day I could fit them in in the evening and then if it was the weekend was the, and the event was put on then I used to, um… you know, I could go along and help and put my input in then. You know. But it’s lovely because you meet people from all walks of life, you know, and you hear from different areas, you know, they’ve come, how they’ve got involved. You know, they’ve heard it through the grapevine and it’s, it’s nice, you know, you hear a lot.
DN: And do you find that the community in Yardley’s changing now?
KS: [Draws breath] Um… I… I couldn’t really say as I d… I… I go alone to the events I do and I know some of them that live in Yardley do their own little thing … you know, privately and then bring it into the community. But, um… I don’t… I can’t really say, other than, er… they used to have one at Sheldon, I don’t know if that’s still going. There used to be a community there. Um… I’m not sure if there’s one at Stechford, I’m not sure if there’s one there.
KS: But… the Arts in the Yard mentioned Stechford so whether we’re going to combine with them, I don’t know. I’ve got to find… I will find out at the next meeting.
DN: And you also mentioned your church, Katrina, what, what Katr, what church is it you attend?
KS: It’s, er, Yardley Methodist Church, which is at Broadyates Road.
DN: Um, and has, has that… have you noticed any differences at the church over the years since you’ve been attending there?
KS: Well, I used to work at the church. I used to run a playgroup from the church for nineteen years, so all the children in the area I’ve seen them grow and them have their children growing and they’re parents, you know. And it was lovely because that’s why I think we’ve never moved, we always know somebody out there. Um… there’s a lot more events going on in the church, which is nice. Er… I take my granddaughter to the, um… the playgroup over there of a Wednesday; they run of a Wednesday and a Friday. We used to do two mornings and the other group used to do two mornings but they do, um, Girls’ Brigade; they used to do Boys’ Brigade but that folded up but they do a Girls’ Brigade. They, um, hire the hall a lot out. Oh, of a Tuesday you can go over there and have a meal, cooked meal. They o, open it up for people who can’t afford a meal or are on benefits, you could walk in and have a meal, you’d be welcome. Um, that’s all freshly done there. Er, the local supermer, markets donate the food. They have, um… various events going on. Um, I know they do, um… it’s, er, martial arts they do there, I don’t know what day they do that, it’s martial arts. But, er, yes, it’s, um… it’s a shame the church is not very well attended, I’m afraid, when you go to the Sunday services. It’d be nice to see some of the younger ones go, as they used to. But, um, oh yes and they do the golden oldies and that’s very well attended. You can have tea and cake and listen to all the e, er, different music that go on. And they have a, I think they have a game of bingo and, um, it’s, um, does well. It’s nice to see it’s open and well used.
DN: Right, Katrina, that’s been absolutely fantastic. Can we just ask you before, um, we finish today is there anything you’d like to add to what you’ve said? Any memory you’d like to share that we haven’t touched upon?
KS: I don’t think so [laughing]. I can’t, um… Recalling back I… that’s all I can remember. It’s a shame I can’t remember the shops round the corner, not all of them. At the time we moved in, but, er… as you know Church Road was only a very tiny little road. There used to be the little church, was on the Causeway. I remember somebody lived up the Causeway.
Um… I have asked, I went to… we went to tea… we went to a tea and cake, at the Ivy League on last Tuesday and there was a lady sitting opposite me and her name was Gwen and she remembered the little church. So if I see her again I’ll ask her if she’s got any photographs of it, because nobody seems to have a photograph of it.
KS: But John used to go to that church and pray. And all round the top there used to be the flags of the Derringtons inside. And it had a little stage, it was only a little, er… tin, like a tin shelter, tin hut thing, and you went inside and at the back there was a, a little stage. And I remember somebody saying to me, ‘Oh, I, I had, er, me mum’s, er, sixtieth birthday party there.’ So if I see this lady I’ll ask her. So that was something else that came up.
DN: Can we just elaborate for us on the Derringtons?
KS: The Derringtons built these houses, and he built them for his family and, um… he was well-known in the area, I think he was a builder, and he was well-known in this area. And there used to be the little tap, water fountain at the front of the park and it’s now been took down, I don’t know where that’s gone. And on the back of the tap on the, in the actual marble that was… from Derringtons to the people of Yardley. [Pause] But now they’ve took the wall down and the, the little tap’s gone. And that inscription was in that, at the bottom of the tap.
GL: Was their builder’s yard in Small Heath? They had a yard, didn’t they, where you could go and purchase? I do believe, years ago, Derringtons.
KS: I don’t know. I’m not sure about the… I only knew the Derringtons family when I moved up here. [Pause] I remember the wood yard, that was, um, at the top end of Green Lane.
DN: Well, apparently they named all the roads after his children.
KS: That’s right.
DN: Or family members.
KS: That’s right. But Willard… Willard… he picked the name of Willard, he used, he went to, um, America and he seen a preacher and the name was Willard. And that’s why he brought that name back. Because I didn’t know… I… I always thought Willard was a man’s name, so whether it’s a woman’s name, I don’t know. But apparently it… they… this preacher they had, but she was a woman. But whether her name, last name, was Willard I’m not sure. Because you’ve got Henry and Howard and Holder, haven’t you? And then you’ve got all girls’ name going down, going down Hay Mills to the, down the hill … But there’s a piece, um… Mike Byrne knows about Willard.
And in the park, from our bedroom window when you looked in the bay, on the right hand… on the right hand side the back of Donov… er… Donovan… er, the, the doctor’s, there was, um… a stone built… chimney, brick chimney breast. And I called Hilda in one day and I took her upstairs and I said to Hilda, ‘Can you tell me what that is there?’ And she said, ‘I didn’t even know it was there.’ And what it was, in the park… I, we think it was the, um… the park keeper’s house… And it was, um… it was a brick building, it was a house, a little house, but you had to go at the… you had to go to the park, you had to go through Boughton Road, through the gate and do a left and go straight up and right in the little corner on the left, that’s where it was. And one… one day it was… we hadn’t long moved here, had we, and John and I went to… into the park, we walked round, and it was this, um… brick, little brick house. And there was a cherry tree at the side… and we… we wanted to know who it was or, you know, was it available for sale and that. And, er, by the time… we… tried to find out, and we never found out whose it was or what it was, but it was a house, and it was in the park in the corner. And, um… the vandals got in and it burnt, burnt it all, all the, roof went. And eventually it was just knocked down… But it was right in the corner. But you could just… As you looked across there, right at the back you could just see the stone, chimney breast, in the corner. And Hilda had never kno, known. Because she hadn’t got no children… so I suppose she never had any reason to go into the park. You know… But whether Ted’d know that… about that, I don’t know… Because his parents lived in the corner so they would have backed, their garden would have backed on to it. So that’s something I do remember but it’s not there now. And the poor cherry tree got, chopped down. And you… you could go up and have the cherries off the tree… But there again I think… the vandals hit that and it was chopped down.
DN: That’s lovely, Katrina.
GL: That’s lovely.
DN: We’d like to, um, thank you very much for taking part… in this recording. And er… we’ll finish that now and say thank you again. Thank you.
KS: Thank you.
GL: Yes, thank you Katrina, that was [Pause] great.
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