Debbie Norrey

My name’s Oliver Scott and I’m interviewing you Debbie er on the Tuesday the 15th of May 2018 for the Histories at Hob Moor Project and it would be great if you could just start by introducing your full name and your date of birth.
Yes, my name is Deborah Norrey and my date of birth is er 19th of January 1966 and I was born in [0:23], Birmingham.
OK, great. So this project, Debbie, is all about Yardley, as you know. Erm … so I wonder if I could take you back to maybe your earliest memories and your earliest connections with Yardley?
OK. Well my connections with Yardley didn’t start till, I was probably in my twenties really, which is when I moved into Stuarts Road, erm … yeah, 1993. Moved into Stuarts Road, which is just right on the borders of Yardley and Stechford. Erm, that was with erm … my three children and my husband. Erm … but I had, I, I’d known, known about Yardley previously to that because I grew up in Stechford, so probably my earliest memory of Yardley is … hmm, I was probably about 10 and my dad took myself and my friend to Blakesley Hall museum. Erm … this was previous to, to the house being set up as erm, as yeoman’s house as it is now, so it was literally just a museum. So when you walked in it was erm … just things like cases with artefacts in them and a suit of armour. Erm … [pause] so it, it had no relevance to, to, to what it does now really. Don’t remember much about it. I do remember being in the garden and they had some bee hives … and bee hive boxes and they erm, um, we had a photo took by that, so that’s probably my earliest memory of Yardley, but then we moved in … erm … and the children were smaller so er we used to just go and do some shopping up at The Yew Tree … erm …

But then when, when my youngest son started school … I went to college for a couple of years I did a erm … [tut] er, Leisure and Tourism course, er, and when I f, completed that I actually managed to get a job at Blakesley Hall. Erm …
So it’s a sort of full circle.
[Laughs] Yeah, suppose it was really. Erm … which was very handy ‘cause it was only a two-minute walk round the corner from where I lived, erm … [tut] … it’s, it was er, only afternoons for two till five, it wasn’t open any other time, er, but it was open ser, seven days a week …
So how old were you when you started working at er, or what year was it when you, when you started working in Blakesley Hall?
Er, 1999.
OK, so quite a long time … a long time after.
Yes, oh yes, yes,. Yeah. And of course in the er 1980s, they’d er, did erm an excavation on Blakesley Hall and so they went in and they did some archaeological work, where it, they discovered like shoes and bone … like animal bones and stuff in the garden, and they also found what, what is now erm … the toilet in there. Erm, and then they, they, so they changed the whole setting to the house and they actually … re-laid it out as an, an actual house, so how it woulda looked … roughly when it was built in 1590, er, going into the 1600s. [Draws breath] erm, so when I started there, we, it was, the title was a Costumed Interpreter, so erm, [tut] we had to dress up in costume. And of course we weren’t allowed to be the ladies of the house, we had to be the servants. [Laughs] So we had these erm … [tut] Yeah, so you had like an, an under … er shirt, you know, like this loose white undershirt that come to about your knees, and then erm … there was a .. ‘nother skirt over the, the skirt over the top of that and then another skirt over the top of that, and then we had these bodices as well, what we used to have to strap each other into, and, and these little caps and then you’d have a belt … that would have things like your prayer mat hanging off it and a … pomander? You know, the oranges with the things in that used to smell nice? Apparently the year before they’d done fresh ones so you … quite nice scent around it, but they didn’t bother this year [Laughs] so we had like dead oranges hanging off us! Erm, yeah, it was a nice job. We had a lot of fun. The erm … [Pause] museum was due to close for a, like a refit, they, they, when they put a new visitor centre on, so it had been planned to close actually after the 1998 erm … so it was supposed to be shutting 1999 but I don’t know, the funding hadn’t come through or something, I don’t know, so they actually re-opened it again in 1999, so although we weren’t, overly busy, well, you know, we were fairly busy but we weren’t overly busy, ‘cause a lot of people actually thought, that it was shut. Erm [Pause] but we had, yeah, we had some laughs. Erm … very interesting. Interesting place to work, you had to learn a lot about it. A lot about the family and the, and … how it was set out and that sort of thing.
So you jumped sort of quite forwards there, ‘cause we’ve sort of, you were ten and took your first visit forwards and kind of came forward so later on when you started to work at Blakesley Hall. So when, when, when … so you had some early childhood visits to Yardley and the area that your family took you on –
Well … not really, ‘cause we grew up in Stechford so what I used to, we used to do as teenagers though actually is we used to go up to Queens Park [Pause] so we used to walk from the Glebe at Stechford and we used to walk down Church Road and then cross over and just go along to the park. I’m not really sure why we did that. I think it was just somewhere different to go ‘cause we had a big, big park on, just on the back of the house I grew up in. Erm … but it was a nice park, it was pretty.
Can you describe it to me… what it was like back then?
Erm, well it was … pretty much as, as you see it now ‘cause it’s the old Yardley village where there was St Edburgha’s Church, so, or what is known to the locals as Yardley Old Church, erm … so it’s very much erm … as it was really. It’s quite a little time capsule up there. Er, nice little houses, like it is a little village erm with a b, beautiful church, but when we used to go up, erm, you used to have erm … the church obviously hasn’t changed but, but you, you had the … gravestones in the church, so you had the graveyard around it, and then as you walked further on you’d got the flower garden, erm and at the centre of the flower garden was the fountain, erm, so it … beautiful in the summer. The flowers were all out, you, s, it smelt lovely, and you’d cut through the back. I think there used to be a tennis court there as well. Erm, and then it, it was just like a big green park, but it was just a really nice place just to go, very tranquil. When we used to go there, you used the cars still, you used to go through the village erm, they’ve stopped that now. So they’ve blocked it off so you can’t actually drive through the village now which is a, a good idea, ‘cause it preserves things. And they’ve also taken out the grave stones as well. Not, I don’t know why they did that. Erm …[Pause] the graves are still there obviously but they took the gravestones out. Shame. I think it takes away the erm … [Pause] the feel, a bit of, a bit of the feel of the church really by doing that. Still beautiful place. Erm … but I do think … it seemed like a bigger area then, like the whole thing was a bit more … you know, now it’s, it sort of feels like a little v, enclosed area, and it’s not as … not as pretty as it was. It’s not as well maintained as it was. The church is. I don’t think the gardens are particularly. But yeah, we used to go up there, I think it was more, more than anything to meet new boys, but … [Pause] Yeah. Can’t remember really! [Laughs] So, so yeah, we used to do that when we were teenagers. But my, as I say, my youth I, w, you know, we … very rarely went up to the Old Swan because it wasn’t really, you know, our remit and me mum didn’t drive … erm, so that would be just very occasionally. So I don’t really remember much about The Swan Centre other than, when I … I moved over to the Library and, and that was around then. I do remember there being a fire though in the eighties, hearing about the fire there. Erm [Pause] and then they had to sort of rebuild it. But no …
So The Swan is a shopping centre in that, in that er area of Yardley that’s kind of quite a landmark isn’t it? So you visited that as a child or with your parents occa, very occasionally you’re saying?
Well very occasionally, I mean I don’t really have any memories of that really.
So you first moved really sort of felt like you considered yourself to be moved or living in Yardley, when was that?
That was when I moved in in 1993. Erm … we moved onto Stuarts Road, we’d lived in, in Bordesley Green, and we’d sort of moved down the road, so we’d been at the top, [10:14 inaud] Street, top of, of Small Heath, and Whitehall Road. Then we moved down to the …erm Broadway at Repton Road and then we moved … onto Stuarts Road.
And can you remember what it was like w, r, you know, moving to Stuart Road, Stuarts Road [10:28 inaud]?
Oh, I loved moving to Stuarts Road because it had erm [Pause] we were moved out of the house in Whitehall because it was a council house and, it, it, it was under a lease and the lease was up. Erm and so they, moved us into this other house and I didn’t, I didn’t like the other house, erm … it was very small in comparison to the one I’d been in. So when we … we moved into Stuarts we’d got erm [Pause] er, we’d gone, we went back to two living rooms, three bedroom, nice size house, very small kitchen. Very small kitchen. Erm, you couldn’t swing a cat in it. Em but I had an … I had them out and they put an extension on the back of the house to make me kitchen bigger, erm, which was much, because you couldn’t, there was nothing in the, you could only, you had a sink … sink, all you could get in there was there was a sink unit, your cooker and one single unit and that was it. You couldn’t get anything else in there. So I had my … my washing machine under the stairs plumbed into the bathroom and then my fridge-freezer was in the other cupboard in the hall as well. Erm, which er, so, w, vit, it was really very small, but I loved the house, I loved it. Nice big garden, lovely area, very green, nice neighbours, park on the back of the house … erm … [Pause] but yeah, we had a butcher’s round the corner, erm … butchers, the chemist, the … the Crusty Cob like bread shop, supermarket, fish shop, erm … actually there was the video shop over the road as well when we moved in. So, so there wasn’t that many shops there but then you were in range of as I say, in range of walking up to The Yew Tree, you could walk up to The Yew Tree, or up to the, a, get the bus up to the [12:20 inaud], [12:21 inaud] had a good shopping centre then as well. Erm … and I was there for, er, thirteen years I think. thirteen years at Stuarts. And as I say, I went, while I was there I went to work at Blakesley and then … erm … I worked in another couple of museums in Birmingham and then I moved to the library, erm, just over the road from The Swan Centre, South Yardley Library, which then was dead ‘andy ‘cause I could just walk there as well. Erm –
What was your community like along Stuarts Road? You were there quite a long time, thirteen years you say. Did you get to know your neighbours much? Was it, was it a cohesive community?
Yeah yeah.
Was it …
Yeah well it was, g, erm [Pause] it’s a fairly long road really, Stuarts, ‘cause it sort of went … we’ve got the Bordesley Green Road in the middle and, and Stuarts sort of crossed both of those, so, so you had the one side of Stuarts and the big dual carriageway and then, our side. And then as you go up you go onto Clements Road, so that’s … and that’s just one continuous road, so though it’s two separate roads it actually … if you walk straight up to it, it will take you to erm, the Oasis Park. Erm Hob Moor Park. [Pause] [Draws breath] and as you walk down [Coughs] it actually went back onto a green, so in front of my house was a big green. So it was sort of shaped like erm horse shoe, so you went round and my house, house was on the green. So when, and the house next-door, ‘cause it was semi-detached, that was flats, so they’d converted that house into flats. Now when I moved in there was … John [ph] was upstairs in the flat next-door, and there was an old guy downstairs … [Pause] don’t really remember him. Don’t ever actually remember seeing him. Erm, and he was there for a, a good few years after I moved in but … don’t ever really remember seeing him. [Draws breath]. Next-door was Hayden, not quite sure what went on there ‘cause he, he, it was just him in this big, three-bedroomed house, erm, but barely saw him, barely saw him. And then … erm, there was anoth, another fam, another couple of families … oh yeah, there was Mary and Dan, yeah. So there was another family next-door to Hayden but I didn’t really know them. Next door to them was Mary and Dan who had four children, then there was erm … the old guy, I can’t remember his name. Then there was Yvonne and Glenn on the other corner and then there was Sandra and her family on the other corner, so it was a nice little, little group of people. And because they all had children, erm … or Mary and Dan and … e, Mary, Dan, Yvonne, Glenn and Sandra, they all had children same age as my, my lads. Erm, so they all used to play together, and then as you went further down towards Bordesley Green Road, there was erm the Coopers and, Debbie and her family. Erm … Bob. And they, and there was a few others up the road as well but I didn’t seem to know more, other than erm Shivaun [ph], on, on the other end, didn’t tend to go further because I didn’t tend to go up that way as much. I mean … sort of near, near the others. But no, they, they were nice. Remember going round to Sandra’s at Christmas, having pigs in blanket… [15:41 inaud] going round to watch the World [Laughs] one of the World football cup things [Laughs] at Glenn’s. Glenn and Yvonne’s. I, I hate football! She said, if you’re coming round, she says, ‘You’re gonna have to cheer on with everybody else!’ [Laughs] And of course m, you know, it was just, it was more of an event just to go round, you know, have a bit of a barbeque and that sort of thing. Oh gawd [ph], it was an England match obviously. [Tut] Yeah. That was funny. And then erm … Dan and, Dan and Mary moved out, that er, Dan was … Dan was a teacher and Mary was a doctor. Erm … but they moved out … and Lloyd and his wife moved in, and then the family next-to them moved out and Emma and her family moved in. And then Hayden moved out [Pause] er to go and live with Helen, and he lived on Richmond Road.
So how, where ,what, about what sort of time w, was that when people started moving?
[Sighs] I don’t know really. [Pause] I think I think Dan and Mary must have moved out about three years after I moved in. The other family …I , I, I don’t really remember when they moved out. House had to be adapted because Emma’s son has er disabilities, so the house was adapted so that, so it was empty for quite a while. Then Glenn and erm … [Tut] Glenn and Yvonne moved to Worcester.
So late nineties, that sort of time? After you [17:23 inaud]
Probably yeah, about –
After, after you worked for, after you started work at Blakesley Hall or –
Nah. No, I think it was before. It was before. [Pause] Erm, yes it was definitely before, ‘cause I remember going to Worcester to see Yvonne, staying with Yvonne and Glen with the kids, and I don’t think Charlie was at school then, so it must have been before … And Hayden, Hayden was probably there about five years … oh, actually he might have been there a bit longer. [Pause] Es, I don’t know what happened to him. Yeah, he was probably there about seven years actually but as I say, I barely saw him. Erm, and then when he moved out they came in and they did all that house out as well ‘cause that was a council house, and then we had the family from hell move in next-door. And that’s when you sort of start to notice that it, just sort of started to go downhill a bit really.
So about that sort of time, the council started moving different sorts of tenants into their properties?
Yeah. Er, it, but at the bottom of the road there used to be this big … well they looked like blocks of flats but they weren’t actually blocks of flats, they were bedsits, it’s three storey high but they were just bedsits. Purposely built bedsits so they weren’t houses converted. They pulled all those down and they built some houses on that site. They looked quite nice houses actually. Erm, but they made … they just moved problem families in there as well. And [Pause] the area started to look tatty. The gr, the grass at the front used to be really nice and green and … I remember Dave being out there and he always used to sweep around …the, the path, not just do outside his, he’d do the whole green, he’d go out, you know, sweep all around it. We used to, everybody cut the hedges, look after the gardens, well apart from Hayden. Erm [Pause] and it used to be nice and friendly. And you know, you’d stand and … have a natter. Pretty much like it was when I grew up myself. You know, you’d walk up the road, run into somebody, stand there and have a natter. I remember me mum doing that when I was young. And thinking oh, please hurry up, ‘cause I’m bored! [Laughs] So my children were probably feeling the same.
Then the shops started to close as well, the butcher’s went, erm [Pause] yeah. And then it just started to look tatty and then when Lloyd moved in he erm … [Pause] [Tut] [Pause] he, he cleared all his front garden out and he made it, so he could get his car on the front of the house, erm so you … he got permission off the council to put a drive through, right through of the middle of the green. And it just … just looked a mess really. Better than driving over the dirt obviously but I never fully understood why he needed to do that ‘cause we didn’t really have any problems and everybody else just used to park their cars on, the r, it’s right outside your house. It was just … on the road. [Pause] Yeah. So … but you know, you just … you … yeah. So other families started moving out, other families started moving in, they weren’t all problem families but I did have a, a problem with the next-door neighbour, so it was a bit of a nightmare really. [Pause] Erm … but that’s life, ain’t it?
Mm. So what were you… so you, you said the local shops starts to close a bit, so what were your sort of habits were your, kind of for going out and shopping and those sort of [21:04 inaud]because that, that’s not, wasn’t long after around that sort of time that, The Swan started to get redeveloped as well, wasn’t it?
No, no, it was a while after that. Erm, we [Pause] no … I used to, when I used, ‘cause I used to take my children to school further down, so erm … before I went back to college I used to come down and I, just up on the Bordesley Green Road was an Aldi, so I used to pop in there and do some shopping, or I’d get, I’d jump the bus to the Pool Way, because it was a lot easier for me just to jump on the bus, go up to the Pool Way, do my shopping, ‘cause there was a Kwik Save up there, and a Co-Op and a couple of butchers, erm, up there. So it was just easier ‘cause it was one straight road, on the bus, doing the shopping, back on the bus and home. Erm … s, occasionally as I say we’d go down to The Yew Tree. I took the, the lads down to The Yew Tree and we’d sort of shop and wouldn’t really venture up to The Swan. In fact didn’t really s, venture up to The Swan until, I started the library. Erm, I think we went up a couple of times and [Pause] erm … but not … not that often really. They did have a nice cake shop though down at the erm, Yew Tree. We used to go down there … so we used to walk up Clements and then walk down The Yew Tree and there used to be a nice cake shop, and they used to do erm … [tut] chocolate concrete. So I used to buy some of that. And we used to … have it with custard after dinner occasionally. Yeah. And before, ‘cause you had the old Yew Tree pub then as well so we’d, n, the erm [Pause] the new pub and, where Boots is an the KFC, that wasn’t there then. So none, none of that was there, it was just er, so you had that row of shops, then you had the pub, then you had your other sh, sh, shops and then The Yew Treem, erm … and then your ones just heading down Stoney Lane, and then they pulled the pub down, and they, they built … er this [Pause] … retail park do they call them, I don’t know? But it’s not a fat lot there. Boots, and Indian restaurant, KFC and Co-Op, and …the new pub, which they did call The Yew Tree originally but is now called the Clumsy Swan. …Erm …
So did you go out to The Yew Tree when it was, was the old pub?
No. I went there occasionally when I was erm a teenager with my sister, ‘cause they had a big, big room on the back of the pub called the Rio Grande and on erm, well, I used to go down on a Sunday occasionally with my sister, it was a heavy rock night, erm, so they used to erm [Pause] have like a heavy rock disco thing in there. Not really my thing … but she used to take me when her friend wasn’t going or something like that. Erm … yeah, a lot of head banging went on in there! [Laughs] It was just sort of like [Draws breath] OK! [Laughs] So yeah, that was interesting. They used to have a bowling green on the back of there as well. From what I remember it was a nice, nice pub. Did used to go up to the Ring of Bells as well sometimes, when we were teenagers, and that was just on Church Road, er, just again just up by Queen’s Park. Beautiful old, old pub that was. Lovely pub. Old black and white building, huge. Nice little rooms off it. Erm [Pause] yeah, and they pulled that down as well. That, but that’s recent, that wasn’t actually that long ago. They closed it and then it stood empty for about two years before they actually pulled it down. Er, shame, nice pub. Nice pub.
So when you were going out with your sister, what was your … you know, did you have a going out ritual, things you got together when you went out?
No, like I said –
Did you – what was the fashion, what were the fashions like?
Oh well my god, my fashion was just [Pause] ridiculous! I could have only been about fifteen then, when she used to drag me up there. Erm [Pause] so fifteen, I don’t know. Obviously if I was going there with her it would be a pair of jeans and a t-shirt because you wouldn’t be going in anything else, with it being a rock thing. They all had long hair as well. I didn’t have long hair at that time. Er … yeah, a lot of head banging going on. But my whole pff [ph] I was very much into erm, the, the, 1960s music, so I went very much into the mod, mod, there was a big mod revival thing in the eighties as well, so … I used to go … well we used to go to, to the Macademe [ph] when I was about 15, on a, a Wednesday and a Friday ‘cause they used to have a disco in there. And that was all like you know, your 1980s stuff, so it was er, Adam and the Ants and, ABC and anything that was in the charts, erm [Pause]. That, that was a good night. Then I was sixteen, I started going up to the Fox and Goose and the Hunters Moon, and the Hunters Moon used to have a sixties night on, on a … Thursday I think, Tuesday or a Thursday, I can’t remember, and that was a good night. A very much … I was very much into the sixties music, so then we started … going a bit more into town. There was the Barrel Organ, that was a big erm [tut] Mod place, and then the Outrigger, which er, again is no longer there. But that was another Mod place as well. That was a pub. That was in erm, town. And it sat on stilts! So the room was on these stilts and you used to have to go up the stairs … and we had some laughs in there as well. Erm, and then I’d had friends who had scooters who you’d go out on the, the main, er, you know, the Vespas or … Lambrettas, Vespas were always better. So, so that … d, yeah. Erm and then … when I got to about 17 or 18 I changed tack and started going clubbing in town and ended up at Steptoe’s which was the big punk venue. So I went off and was a punk for a bit as well. And as I say … but they changed. Steptoe’s closed [Pause] and we started doing the Kipper Club on Bradford Street… and that was f… yeah, we had some good times in there. It used to, it’s also known as the er Tin Can, Tin Can used to have a lot of bands on. Erm, so it had two floors to it, er, erm, there was a smaller room downstairs and then the upstairs was a bigger room with a balcony around it and stage, and erm, they used to have bands on there, but we used to go down on, on the Saturday erm … originally he called it the Come [ph] Club and then he changed it to the Kipper Club, [Pause] and, when we first went the, we had like the room downstairs, was just a small room, some leather couches around, a bit seedy really. Well, it was also strip, strip [Laughs] place as well! [Laughs]
So while we were downstairs the strippers were upstairs. [Pause] Erm, but then it started to fill up as the weeks went on, it, it started to fill up, so they swapped over, so we moved upstairs and … erm, the strippers moved downstairs! [Laughs]
But he used to do er cabarets, John [ph] used to do cabarets in there. Erm, so we, there’d be a part of the evening when … erm … there’d be a little cabaret show that he would put on, and used to be in erm, this er thing called Gay John and the Doggets [ph], so they were quite popular at the time, but they were just like a cabaret show sort of thing, so they used to do shows at the er [Pause] oh er, Power House, which used to be the Rockano [ph] …erm, and o, around Birmingham, so he used to put shows on there and then I got roped into a few of those and er, d, doing these Grease version and all sorts of stuff, that was quite funny. And John [ph] was actually godfather of one of my, my children as well. But yeah … yeah. Yeah, that was a bit of a crazy time really. We used to come out the club and we’d go and sit in Pigeon Park. Do you know Pigeon Park? I don’t know if you know P… no? You know St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham? Well that’s known as Pigeon Park locally, erm, and there used to be a meat van just down the road, so you’d go and get your meat pie and then you’d wait for your night service bus home, and it just used to be full of … w, punks and alternatives and, and all this, and like, yeah, we had some good times. We used to go to Power House on a Wednesday [Pause] ‘cause that was the, the er, like alternative punky night as well. 50p in, 80p a pint. Couldn’t grumble at that. [Pause] Yeah, yeah we had some good times. So yes, so that was that and then [Pause] yeah, then I met me first husband when I was 19, I met him through that scene obviously. [Pause] Er … and then we got married and I had the children and … then when I moved into Stuarts we split up not long after we’d moved in there. So I was pretty much at Stuarts on my own with just the lads for a while. But yeah … yeah, it was great, yeah, funny. We had some good times. Crazy times. Mm … yeah. But then I had to become a respectable mother [Laughs] and I’m not sure that worked either! [Laughs]
Oh … yeah. So … yeah.
So how did you find, erm, Yardley sites to change, you know, ‘cause you said you’re, y, sort of bring you back, you know … talked about how the area that you moved into in Stuarts Road started to change and, and you moved out. When did you move out from Stuarts Road?
Hmm. [Pause] Erm [Pause] ninety-s, er, 2006 I think. Yeah, I was there thirteen years. And just, I’m just, err… yes, 2006. Yeah. Erm … well … I don’t know, it just sort of ss, as I said the community started to change. When Yvonne and Glenn moved out, erm, another family moved in, got a couple of children, but I don’t think in all the time that they were there, and they must have been there, about nine/ten years while I was there, I ever spoke to them. They very much kept themselves to thereselves, which is fine, but … they, e, not even a hello nor anything. Erm … then … and … the, the old guy next to Lloyd, and I can’t remember his name, I know his daughter, Pam, really well. He died. [Pause] Erm, and his son moved in. His son moved in with his, two of his children [Pause]. I think there was four children there originally, I can’t really remember. [Pause] I don’t, yeah, there was all sorts of stuff going on there, I’m not quite sure of what … what was happening there. Erm … so I used to speak to him [Pause] but not like, you know, just a general ‘How are you,’ that sort of thing. Erm, community started to change … it was just, it just, I dunno, it just started to look a bit run down and a bit neglected, and you get people moving in, not taking care of stuff anymore, it’s amazing how quickly it does fall apart really. The guy next-door to me in the flat at the bottom, as I say, he … he … he was there I think a couple of years, two/three years and he died. [Laughs] You know … ah, funny … and they had to fumigate the flat! They actually went in, I, I know the, I, I actually went in and had a look and it was disgusting… absolutely disgusting, and they had to go in, in their white suits and the masks and all the rest to clean that flat out … and then John [ph] upstairs was erm … [Laughs] god bless him! He had mental health problems. Erm, so he spent … times when he was in and out of hospital, erm … I’ll never remember, er forget me, [33:48 inaud.] me door went and I opened it and he says, ‘Er, oh, is the lady of the house around?’ I says, ‘I am the lady of the house!’ [Laughs] ‘cause I had an, an exchange you see, so I, n, I exchanged into that property, so he obviously meant Karen [ph] who lived there before me. Erm … and he … ah, he was one strange man, John [ph]. But actually he was a very good friend of mine and we … we used to go out and have a drink together and what have you and, you know, he’d, he’d take us out sometimes with the kids so we’d … go off to like Drayton Manor or places like that. He was very good to us. Erm [Pause] he was a really nice guy actually. But he’d … he was … [Laughs] he did some very strange things. But … but you know, but I used to take care of him as well when he wasn’t well. Erm [Pause] I think he, I think he had schizophrenia, and it, when he was on his meds he was fine but when he came off ‘em it did create … you know, not major, major issues, he was never dangerous or, you know, nasty or anything like that, but he definitely struggled with it. Erm … he was, he was a good guy. He was a good guy. He died not long after I moved out. Er, shame really. He wasn’t particularly old. But er yeah, so [Pause] And then I had another guy, Glyn [ph], move in down stairs, after they’d cleaned all that flat out. But he wasn’t there very long. Erm, and he … he went somewhere else and then a, girl called Karen [ph] moved in and, and that was strange because we, I, ah, so she was a drunk. She was alright, she weren’t a problem, but she was a drunk. Erm, but we used to have, k, yeah, I’d go out and have a drink with her occasionally and we’d have a chat. [35:43 inaud] she was funny actually, we used to have a laugh, but it turns out that we were actually at the same junior school together. [Tut] Yeah. Yeah, that was, that was er funny that. Erm, but as I say, just … and then like my neighbours the other side moved in and she’d, was just like … er, v, had all these kids and they were just … they were always arguing and slamming doors and, up half the night and then he’d, be there, then he wouldn’t be there, and … then this family moved in down the road where they built those new houses and they were obviously pretty similar to them, so I remember though, being up at four o’clock one morning while all the kids are running up and down the street. And it wasn’t, it wasn’t particularly good … great. I mean she was er, you know, she was nice enough woman and all the rest, but it wasn’t really pleasant to live next door to her. [Pause] Erm, yeah, we had a few run-ins to be honest but then I had a few run-ins with a few people on that street … mainly over the kids. But you do, don’t you? Er [Pause] no, yeah. So yeah, I mean I was happy enough there, don’t get me wrong, but I was getting the s, the stage where I was thinking I’m not sure I wanna be here anymore, and that’s a shame because I … really loved it when I moved in. [Pause] Erm, but as I say, with the people moving out, the kids were growing up, their friends were moving on …erm [Pause] it just started to look rundown … We had a nice chippy round the corner, which closed, and then it’s just those fast food things. The, the hairdresser’s still there. Oh that’s … no, no, we had the chippy over the road, that’s right, and then we had the butcher’s round the corner, and when the butcher’s closed … [Pause] erm … that’s, they changed that into another chippy type thing. Erm … and the guy, the, the butcher there, I [ph] used to live at the top, erm … on Whitehall Road, up by [37:44 inaud] Street and that area, at the very top of B, Bordesley Green, and there used to be a butcher’s there … and I always used to go in, into that butchers. I can’t remember the guy’s name now. Erm [Pause] and it turned out that, the guy I used to go to the butcher’s there, it was his dad’s shop, it was the one round the corner from me on Stuarts Road, and I remember first g, going in there and it was like ooh, ‘cause they were … y, identical! [Laughs] He was just like a younger version of his dad. I says, ‘Are you so-and-so’s dad?’ I couldn’t … it’s like yeah, yeah, but he closed that. They, they were both his shops apparently and the son ran the one and he did the other one, but they closed it, closed the one at the top first. Erm, and he, his son went to work at Land Rover. And then I remember going round at Christmas and his son was in there helping out, erm, can’t remember the names, and he was there probably about three or four years after I moved in. But then that clo, like, like a lot of butchers. Just went. Shame.
So what do you think the changes were to Yardley when The Swan Centre opened. I mean does it, was that about the same sort of time these shops were closing? What, how?
Oh no, this was previous to that. When I started at the library, which was [Pause] er, hold on, I was there ninety-nine … 2010… so I started at the library in 2010, erm [Pause] and The Swan C, well, The Swan Centre was, the old Swan Centre.
What was it like?
Erm [Pause] concrete jungle. Like most sixties buildings. Erm … so [Pause] if you were on the Coventry Road heading towards erm … Sheldon, er, they’re like a little, there was a Farm Foods on, on the front, so you had your Farm Foods on the front, the Coventry Road was there, there’s Farm Foods, then there was a little cut through there. Or you could walk, round the other side, of Farm Foods, erm, and get into it either way that way. [Coughs] So if you came under the underpass, if you went to the right you were walking down the Coventry Road, that was Farm Foods, and if you went to the left, and went round the other way where there was the, the, they had the chemist on the corner … so you had the chemist on the corner, next to the chemist was the [40:15 inaud] Catering, erm which used to do all sandwiches and everything in there, and … n, next … next to that might have been the butcher’s … or there might have been a shop in between that and the butcher’s, I can’t really remember. Then there was the café, and then there was the green grocer’s on the corner. But then I always get a big confused ‘cause I’m not r, sure if the green grocer’s were on the other corner, maybe just two green grocers. So you, then you’d go down, then you’d have the in shops there, so you’d go in, into the in shops. Now I do actually remember going to those, it must have been in the eighties, erm, when it … apparently, now I don’t know this but apparently what I was told, when they first built The Swan Centre there was a supermarket there, erm … and then that closed and that’s when they opened up this little market area. [Draws breath] and I do remember going then. It must have been in the eighties [Pause] and it had these stalls in there but all along the back … was erm food outlets. [Pause] So they had little food out, outlets. So I remember going … when I started at the library, thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll go in there for some lunch, ‘cause they’ve got these food outlets.’ … ‘cause I w, I remembered that they were there. So I went over and I went into the market and all the food outlets had gone, there was nothing there. All those had gone. It was just other stalls. Erm … they had a butcher’s in there, there was a butcher’s in the market, there was erm, a shoe place. [Draws breath] there was the key cutting guy, the, there was a jewellery person, there was a woman who sold all wool and that sort of thing, erm … I think there was … like, like, you know, somebody selling mobile phone covers and that, erm [Pause] I think there was a handbag stall in there as well. [Pause] So, so all that was still open when I started working there, and you’d come out, there was a spiral staircase that took you upstairs to the car park, and then there was erm, there, there was the card shop out there, so o, on the square, so you, you’d sort of come down in, in a … g, like an L shape, and as you went down there the card shop was down there … and there was a big, big shop on the corner … it, sort of like [Pause] ah, w, w, like a warehouse thing, so you’d go in and it’d sell kettles and, sheets and … you know, like a big warehouse thing on the corner there. Oh, there used to be a like a Radio Rentals on the front as well ‘cause I got my telly from there, [Pause] but that was before I was even working, working that was. And yes, so the, but that had gone. That had gone. Oh, no, it was Heron, Heron, yes. So where Celebrate [ph], that’s right, so you had the chemist, Celebrate [ph], a chemist, then there was Heron, the other erm [Pause] … oh what they called, d’you know? Iceland-y type place … erm, Farm Food type place. Freezer Place, that was it, had … really cheap in there, really cheap, did some nice stuff as well. Then it was the butcher’s, then it was the thing, that’s right, yes. Yes, so the, yes so the, green grocer’s was the opposite side.
So how was it laid out inside?
Inside the market?
[Pause] Mah, you went through the doors and it was like any market. [44:01 inaud] all to your left, all to your right, all in front o’ ya, you know, so you’d have stalls up against the walls.
In a grid.
And then you’d have stalls … er, e, in between. So you’d just sort of walk round it like you would at like the Bullring market. Erm, we used to go over … to the key cutter when we needed new keys for the library, somebody started and they needed keys or something, they used to go over to the key cutter, get our keys cut there. Erm [Pause] oh you’d take your shoes to be repaired there. … So it was, I mean it was South Africa big space. I don’t remember everything that was in there. And then over time, a lot of stalls started to close, ‘cause obviously they were talking about this redevelopment and all the rest and then they gave a closing date for the market, not the shops but for the market, so eventually they closed the market, so that was gone. Erm, and three of them from the market, which was the key cutting guy, the wool lady and the jewellery lady … took on one of the shops in the precinct, erm, called themselves The Swan Trio, so they opened in there. The card shop was still there. So the shops on the outside were still there, it was just the market, and then they started going on again … [Tut] about erm … you know, they were getting ready to close. [Sniffs] Well I’d moved out of Stuarts, I moved out of Stuarts in 2006 and I went to Solihull. [Draws breath] and I was in Solihull for about nine months, erm, we were buying a house [Pause] but we didn’t have enough erm … well, yeah, we won’t go into that. It ended up we had to take some temporary accommodation for about seven weeks before we could move in here. And we actually took a house over the road from The Swan. Erm, can’t remember the name of the road. You’ve got [Pause] err, literally by the New Inns Pub, just at the side of the New Inns Pub, which would have been great for work … if the library hadn’t been shut. [Laughs]
[Pause] So you … we used to come off the road and there was a big, horrible, nasty underpass underneath that used to take you up, but I remember going over there. [Draws breath] Now I hadn’t been around The Swan for a while because the library had closed, for the roof repairs, erm, so I’d been working … I’d worked in Sheldon for a bit and then I was down at Acocks Green, so I hadn’t been over to The Swan, so I remember going, eh, oh, I’ll go over The Swan, and, there was next-to-nothing there! A lot of the shops had closed. Erm … I think the butcher’s had gone … Heron had gone, Farm Foods I think had moved over the road by then, erm … I, I, erm, Swan Trio was still there, and the card shop, I think the butcher’s had gone. There was next to nothing there. The last standing shop was the chemist. The chemist was the last one to close. … Erm … yeah, it was like a ghost town. Yeah. Shame really, it was a thriving little, little place. Erm [Pause] yeah, so then the, as I say they closed that … off, chemist was the last one to go… And then it was, all redeveloped. And then new Swan Centre was built, people still, some people call it the Tesco’s ‘cause the Tesco’s is there but majority, e, l, everybody will still call it The Swan, it’s always been The Swan. Erm … I didn’t go over for months after that opened. I’d got into the habit of taking my own lunch, I didn’t need to over for, the road for anything… erm, and I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t interested. I just thought it’s not gonna be the same, it won’t have the same feel about it, and yeah, it was a concrete jungle but it did feel like a community. You know, I remember walking through there and y, you’d always see the, see them sitting outside the caff with the cup o’ teas and the bacon sandwiches and that, and you could tell they were like regulars who’d probably go down there once, twice a week or something, you know. The chemist new everybody, you’d go in there and have a natter, erm … so it was, it … j, like a proper community and you’re sort of thinking it’s not gonna, and it, it doesn’t feel the same. And you know, people do say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s still a community’ and that. I don’t think … you get a lot more people through there now than you used to obviously, erm, but, the community feel’s not the same because it was a local community shopping, area, and now it’s a wider community shopping area, so, so … you know, you’ll get people [Pause] they’ve got no little cosy place to sit neither. You know, they’ve got … Subway and Costa, which a lot of people use, but it’s not like sitting … at the Costa down at the Green for example, where … that’s like a little community hub, you know, people there every day will use you know … erm, it’ll be the same more or less, same people every day and they’ll sit outside … and they’ll chat to people. It’s a community hub. Mm, I don’t think, I don’t think, it’s, it’s a nice enough shopping area … erm … but I don’t think it’s the, got, the same community feel as it had before. And I do think it’s had a knock-on effect on The Yew Tree as well. … Erm … ‘s been a lot of changes at Yew Tree, lot of changes … erm, shop-wise. It’s, t, just, t … [50:04 inaud] it’s not really a shopping area anymore. [Tut] It’s … Greg’s has gone ‘cause that moved up to The Swan. Erm [Pause] Woolworth’s obviously went, that changed into a pub. It’s a lot of erm, again, a few fast food outlets, those rent … houses to rent, or estate agents [Pause] erm … one butcher’s left, there used to be three down there. Only one left now. The chemist that, from The, The Swan has moved down to The Yew Tree. Erm [Pause] and the shop on the corner where the, y, the greengrocer’s and the flower shop, that’s been there for years and years and the pet shop over the road’s been, y, there for years, but they’ve been took over as well so that’s not the same neither. Erm, so the shopping, you used to have [Pause] the Greg’s, you used to have erm [Pause] HC [ph] Value, AC [ph] Value? Which was like a pound-shoppy thing, erm [Pause] Woolworth’s, I can’t remember what Iceland was before it was Iceland, but I think there was a couple of shops there and I think they had the two shops and made it bigger, but I can’t remember what was there. Erm [Pause] now it’s just charity shops and, over the road used to be Bowen’s [ph], the travel, years that was there. Absolutely years, that was there. People were so gutted when that went ‘cause they used to book their holidays through it. And you could go in and obviously do your day trips s well ‘cause Bowen [ph] coaches used to do like day trips out. I, I mean I re…member people absolutely com … so upset when that closed, ‘cause they always used to book their holidays through it. There used to be a travel agent at The Swan as well. Yeah, there was. There used to be a travel agent at The Swan as well. Erm [Pause]
How have you seen the community change from that period?
Mmmm, well I’ve s –
The population?
Well the community … yeah. [Pause] Oh, the community erm, the community is changing in Yardley. When I moved into … when I moved into Stuarts Road there was … er … trying to think … um … [52:46 inaud] majority white, was, majority white, white people there, erm, there was Sandra and her mum on the corner, who were a black, they were a black family, but they’d been there, I think Sandra was [Pause] brought up there and she’s the same age as me! And she still lives there now! Erm [Pause] when Lloyd and his, his wife moved, I can’t remember her name, they were mi – well Lloyd was black, she was white. Erm … but no, it was majority white. Then as I was sort of moving … not long before I moved out, you know, you sort of notice the, s, a couple more Asian families started to move in. I noticed it a lot more down the Beardsley Green Road, to, to be honest with you, because of me moving down that way over the years. [Tut] and I lived in, in erm Whitehall Road at the top of Bordesley Green, the road was very mixed, so it was very erm, very mixed between erm Asian and white families … [Tut] erm, and then when o, b, o, I moved down t, to the Broadway, erm it was, again majority, it was white, white area, majority white area. Erm [Pause] but the school was mixed. It was really mixed black, Asian, white children. [Tut] Erm, and then w, I was only there eighteen months before I moved up to Stuarts but I left the children in the same school. Erm [Pause] so over the years I noticed it become more of an Asian community, erm, so obviously by the time I left Stuarts … e, th, that community had moved right up that road and had started to move e, in further up again… And when I started at the library [Pause] erm [Pause] it was, pretty mixed community. I would say it was more of a white community but there were … erm, but it was mixed. We did have Asians coming in as well. Er, now it’s … majority Asian. So that community sort of came, sort of come up from all sides really. So they’re coming down from Small Heath, Bordesley Green, and moving more into the Yardley area e, as well. Erm, but I think, I think Yardley is still very mixed area. I think it’s changing, erm… but I do still feel it’s a very mixed area, whereas where I was previously, not at all. You know, I remember erm, I had a friend who, who lived … not far from me when I was living on Repton. And … I think she was th, I’m not sure if she’s still there actually, I haven’t seen her for a while, I think she was the only white family left. … That’s er … yes. And that’s how Yardley’s changing as well. It’s becoming very mixed, and I don’t think it’s because erm The Swan area is oh, bringing in people from outside. I just think that, that’s the community’s changing. Erm … [Pause] yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a changing community. There’s nothing wrong with that. You know, it’s just altering. Mm.
How do you feel about that?
[Draws breath] aeoh [ph] phh [ph], hmm … [Draws breath] I, I, I’m not a big lover of erm … personally I’m not a big lover of … having … w, one community, you know, I’d like a mixed community. I think … which, whichever community group, black, Asian, white or whatever, I’d prefer a mixed community, I think it works much better than one community because then it all becomes a bit sort of … one-sided, sort of thing. So I, I’m ,I’m more for a mixed community but it, it, it, d, you know, Birmingham is, is erm … a big multicultural city [Pause] erm … but I think community … other communities are growing bigger than what used to be previously seen as a white community and the other communities are growing up and I do think that the white community is moving out. [Tut] Erm [Pause] and I think it, uh, I think it’s a shame [Chuckles] because I think it, you know, people need to integrate and I think they need to mix, and I think you know, but we’d all live a lot more peacefully if people actually did that. But other than that it is what it is, so you just get on with it, don’t you? You know. You get difficult people in whatever [Laughs] race, culture or creed they are, so people are people, it’s not y, it’s not your erm … it’s not your religion or, or … you know, your colour or what have you, it’s people. People are the problem, not anything else really. So yeah, no, it’s fine. It is what it is. Yeah. But yeah … yeah.
And then of course we had the, the changes in the library as well because we, as I say, we had to close for a while. That was quite funny. We’d had problems with the roof for a while leaking and [Pause] they came out and did some investigation work and they put this tower up behind the erm enquiry desk, erm, so that they could test the roof. Er, so they put the tower up and then refused to take it back down again because it was erm [Pause] said it was too dangerous, the roof was about to give in. So that sat there for about three or four months I think, when they said that they were gonna come back in and, and … do some more … erm discovery work, have a look at it, testing it and that. So they said we’d, they’d have to close us for two days. They closed us for two days so that they could carry out these tests, erm … so they, they closed us, so we closed for the two days, but we actually didn’t then re-open for eighteen months, ‘cause it was just that bad, it was er completely unsafe. So then there was discussions about whether or not … they would move the library. They, there was talk about moving it into the new Swan Centre when The Swan Centre was completed, but that didn’t happen. Erm [Pause] so eventually they put a new roof on. Erm, and we moved back in. A lot of work to get back up and ready for open, opening. Erm, and we, yeah, we had erm … [Tut] the mobile library on Friday. So for the whole time we were closed every Friday we’d have the mobile library outside, erm, which was a good thing really because it meant people who couldn’t get to other libraries could at least come in and use that. Erm, so we used to take it in turns to do that. Erm … but then when, when [Pause] before we reopened, Eileen [ph] wanted it all rejigged and what have you, so we, had all these presses down the library and she had two taken out. Erm, so it opened up this whole space in the library where she made a, nice seating area, there’s nice sofas, table, nice reading table and that. Erm, was very nice but … it, it, again to me it’s taken away the essence of the library. Erm, because they took the other press out to make room for more computers, erm [Pause] so er, our stock wasn’t reduced as such, but we lost a lot of space. Erm, which you still struggle to find space now ‘cause, then they had the bright idea [Laughs] of putting these front-facing press things on some of the shelfs. So, so like as a display, a book display thing, which, looked very nice … but then just takes up … you can’t get any books on the [Laughs] and you’ve got no room to put anything, so we just ended up with trolley-loads of overflowing books and what have you. Erm, and they’re still in place and I mean they do look nice, don’t get me wrong, but, it is sort of like you’ve took all this space and … you know, we got rid of a lot of books, we did get rid of a lot of books, erm … we used to, you, libraries used to have a erm special section each, each library. So Acocks Green down here was known as like, the railway book collection, ‘cause they, they had just thousands and thousands and thousands, it was very well known, and ours was music score. So we had shelves with just music scores on them … [Tut] Well when, when the library closed … they’ve got next to nothing there, which is a shame really. Erm [Pause] so yeah, we lost a lot of, lot of that stuff and actually Acocks Green have got rid of a lot of their … their railway books as well. … Erm … but that’s how things change, isn’t it? But … yeah, yeah, it was alright. And as I say, we watched the, the development of The Swan over, over the time. Erm [Pause] but it’s a busy little library. Very busy and very good community hub as well. And but we put a lot of effort and time into that to allow that to become that. Erm … because of where it’s situated as well, it’s not ideal and like Acocks Green which is on the street, you know, with the big ey, erm Swan Island being there, and being away from the centre, and next-door to the undertakers! [Laughs] It’s erm, you know, you have to sort of want to make people come there. So … and I think they’ve been very successful at doing that. They’ve got some great little clubs up there. You know, the coffee morning does really well and they do a dance class, and they’ve got the erm … Crafternoon, and they’re coming doing knitting and lacemaking and all that sort of stuff. There’s a local history group. Erm, the reading group … erm, and we, we had other groups as well. Erm, we used to have the speakers group … but then you find that when one goes something else comes in. So it is a very busy little library and it’s, its’ a good community hub, it really is. Erm, s, we had the Cygnet Club, you know, do a lot of work with the schools, they do a lot of work with the schools and that. So … erm, yeah. Yeah, I think it’s a thriving little place. Does really well. [Pause] Mm.
[ 63:28]
Great. Well Debbie, so erm that’s been a great interview, thank you very much to all the f, stuff you’ve been to a-b – me about. Erm, is there anything else you’d like to add or talk about today?
[Pause] Erm … oh, I will just tell you a little story about Blakesley hall, ‘cause it makes me laugh.
[Pause] [Draws breath] We had a living history weekend on. D’you know what? Yeah? Alright. Erm –
Can you just describe what a living history weekend is?
So a living history weekend is when we have er erm, a bunch of people come in who dress up in er period costumes, and they basically … not re-enact things but they, they erm … they were the family of the day, so they were pretending to be like the Smallbrokes, erm and they’d sort of do everything in the first person, and they’d do all the old talking in the old language er and, and this that [Laughs] and the other. So they’ve got the wigs and all the clothes and they strolled around and, erm, they have a story behind it, so the Smallbrokes were having a visitor and they were preparing for the visitor to come and [64:32 inaud]. Beautiful weekend, weather was gorgeous. Erm, and it was the only time Sam and I didn’t have to wear costumes ourselves ‘cause they didn’t want us to get confused with us actually being involved in this, you know, talking as they would have spoken then … erm, sort of thing, ‘cause Sam and I used to themed talks as well, erm, so I used to do er the, the clothes, and … architecture [Laughs], and Sam used to do the history of the families that lived at Blakesley Hall and the garden, ‘cause they’ve got a herb garden there. So anyway, these, these clothes that we wore erm, Eileen [ph] wasn’t, Eileen [ph] wasn’t too happy, she was going, y, w, you know, ‘You need some new bodices, these don’t fit you properly’ and all this, blah blah blah. So [Laughs] so ‘I’m gonna get you new bodices made.’ Erm, well one of the ladies that was doing the living, er, w, er, b, [Laughs] Living History Weekend was the lady that was making the bodice. She was going, ‘Oh, well that’s really good because when I come over,’ you know, ‘oh, I’ll measure you properly’ and all this, that and the other, so we says, ‘Oh, OK then’ so they, they came over and erm … we were chatting to the lady and she says, ‘Oh, come up to the attics in ten minutes’ she says, ‘and then I’ll measure yous up for your bodices.’ So we were like, ‘OK,’ and we were having a really good [65:49 inaud] [Pause] erm, [Pause] and it, it hadn’t opened yet, so this was before like the day it, they opened, so I says, ‘Oh, come no then, let’s go upstairs and get measured for these bodices’ so we went bounding, literally bounding up these attic stairs, went running into the attic, I don’t know why we were so happy, to be met by a bunch of men in their underpants! [Laughs]
It was hilarious! [Laughs] It just, we both stopped dead still like [Laughs] ‘cause they were all getting changed, but nobody seemed to care! [Laughs] We were just like, oh, where do you look? [Laughs] Where do we look? [Laughs] So we got measured for these bodices … oh it did, it just tickles me, this story. Erm so we got measured at the weekend … a couple of weeks later these bodices come through, don’t bloody fit us! [Laughs] Don’t know what she’d been doing! [Laughs] It was just … we managed to get away with ‘em, but there were some strange … oh good gawd [ph]. And they’d got these like little pointy things here, so you’ve got little slit up like this, and then it does sort of come down a little bit. Well Sam’s was right down here! It was like [Laughs] what is that, what is that? [Laughs] [67:05 inaud] with that? [Laughs] Oh we did have, we, yeah, yeah, we had some laughs. I have to say we did have some laughs. And there was another time I showed up, ‘cause you used to have a day off … and they used to send somebody over from erm Aston Hall, so Bernie [ph] used to come when Sam’s day was off, so it would be me and Bernie. Anyway, this one day she didn’t show up, so they, I don’t know what had happened so there was just me, and Steve, who was …erm, like the Senior Museum Assistant there, it was his day off as well, so I had [67:37 inaud] with me. Erm … so there was only me and [67:39 inaud] in the house, and it was dead. You know, and I was oh well, it’s only three hours and all this, and all of a sudden this coach shows up. They had this forty-five-seat coach. And these people just start piling off it! And I’m just like [Laughs] [67:57 inaud]. Now they’re saying they booked. They couldn’t have booked. So I ended up … trying to show forty-five people round the house [Laughs] on my own. [Laughs] I gave up in the end. I went, ‘Go and have a look. Any questions, come and ask me! [Laughs] Because I couldn’t get ‘em all in the great parlour to explain this, that and the other. The hall was OK but the rest of it, ‘cause not a huge house …erm, just like ‘Any questions? Just come and ask me.’ That was funny! That was funny. We did, we did, we’d had, we had some good times, we did. I, I like Blakesley. I, oh, yeah, w, I did, and, and this again was all before we had the visitor centre and everything you see. So erm … [Pause] yeah. And then when we were closed at the library as well … erm, Eileen [ph] said, ‘Oh, I might just go out and do summer sessions’ erm … so we, we had to, we … and … because I, I had connections at Blakesley it was quite, quite handy actually, so we had to go up to erm Stechford Swimming Baths and do something there on a Thursday afternoon, I can’t remember what, erm, but then we used to do these sessions as well. Erm … that I’d arrange, we’d arrange with Blakesley that we could actually do an, our sessions there, which was really good of them because they did their own summer sessions as well. But I used to run the History Group at the erm … the library, and I’d, we’d only took it over in the January so we t, er took it over and just sort of started to develop it when the library closed in the October I think it was. … Erm so I spoke to erm, I spoke to them at Blakesley and I said, ‘Look, is there any chance that I can y, can run my sessions down there?’ And they were shut Wedn, Mondays, which is when I used to meet on a Monday, so very, very kindly let me use Blakesley, erm, to hold my li, my history sessions there. So we used to do it in the caff, k, but then because it, I er, actually had new people joining while we were at Blakesley so they moved us into their exhibition area and we used to the talk, talks in there. Very good to us, very good actually. And that worked really well. Worked really well. And that’s erm … and actually the library still has a good connection with Blakesley Hall. Erm… they w, they worked, in partnership a couple of times and what have you. So, but that’s what community to me is about. Helping each other out in your time of need. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah. Yardley’s for me [ph], and I’ve got some fond memories. I have… and some not so. [Laughs]
Well thanks very much Debbie.
You’re welcome.

[time e.g. 5:22 inaud] = inaudible word or few words at this time
[word 5:22 inaud] = best guess at word

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