” it was like erm a community centre more or less because you’d got the café and the people used to sit outside, there was a bingo hall, and er it, it was, and then the indoor market and then the outdoor shops and it was so, it was so busy, so bustling. I mean you’d go in the market and you’d be walking along the aisle and say you’re four deep”
Transcript of recording
… if you must [ph], show me, show me what’s it. [Sniffs] That’s it. [Chuckles] [Sniffs]
Right, good morning, my name’s Deborah Norrey and I’m working for the History at Hobsmoor Project. Today’s date is Monday…
… the twelfth of March 2018. And I’m here with?
Pauline. Pauline, can I ask you your full name please and your date of birth and where you were born?
Er Pauline Ward, er… twelfth of August 1940. And I was born in Sorrento nursing home in Moseley.
But you’ve actually grown up and lived most your life in Yardley, is that –
– correct, Pauline?
Yes, it is.
And so can you tell me what road you live on?
And how long have you lived on Stoney Lane, Pauline?
So what’s the road l, wh, what was the road like when you moved onto Stoney Lane?
It was a lane [chuckles] which is, and it’s now quite busy. Erm [Tut] lots of, er lots of motorcars o, of course, you know, compared to what there used to be. Er but it’s very busy indeed, lots of er holdups, erm… lots of garage forecourts now. No gardens. [Tut] er… what else can I say about it? My, my bugbear is the er, the way the grass verges are treated [Tut], but apart from that it’s quite nice to live down there.
So when you first moved into Stoney Lane was it, I take it the r, roads were a lot quieter then?
Yes, yes, yes.
Not so many cars?
No, no, no. Erm we now have erm, just down the road from where I live, we now have a, er an old folks er residential area which is very nice, it’s, comes onto er Marlborough Cricket, Ground…erm, that’s really nice, that, that’s, but that doesn’t cause any, ‘cause no, you know hardly anybody up there has got cars. I mean I’m not against cars at all but… you know it’s, it’s so q, q, noisy. Police cars tearing up all day, all night, ambulances, it’s, but apart from that. I don’t suppose I shall live anywhere else except Stoney Lane. [Chuckles]
And you’ve also live, worked at The Yew Tree for a long time as well.
So where did you first start working at The Yew Tree?
Er I started work er in, ah 1980, ur, eh, er it was called Yew Tree Pharmacy, Allsop & Burley. Er I started there as erm [Tut] just part time in the evenings, six o’clock till seven [chuckles] and er Wednesdays it was four-thirty till seven. And er I was just, er there was a, like there was a, a pharmacy and the drugs counter and then there was the er other till that, which was by the door, as you walked in by the door; we s, sold all the sundries and all the hair and products and deodorants. And I worked on that till for a while and then I worked myself up to a dispensing assistant. [Tut] Yes. And I left there in 2002, I retired, ‘cause I was sixty-two then. And then, I went, I went to work for this pharmacy four years later, in 2006 to do er a maternity cover for a lady that works here with me now. And er I stayed there, er after that and then in er 2009 we were in The Swan, we were in The Swan Centre then and then er I had to er, we had to go because, they were doing the rebuilding. But we were the only shop left, the only chemist left because of the, the flats, nearly everybody in the block of flats there came to us, so we stayed open. But outside the door we had a big wall erected, like erm [Tut] corrugated fence, so we had to keep the door locked and there was just myself and the pharmacist there and then, eventually we had to go and we got the shop down here in 2009, and we’ve been here ever since.
So you were the last shop at The Swan Centre?
Yes, we were the last man and lady standing. [Laughs] Oh dear.
How long were you there on your own for?
Er… not long, not long, no not long. The one lady erm… who lu, who worked with me, she er, she left and then we were due to leave anyway, due to come out of the shop. She didn’t want to come down here ‘cause she lived a way away so she didn’t wanna come.
How did you feel about them, redeveloping the S, Swan Centre?
Oh I think they should’ve just… made it better than it was ‘cause it was, it was, it was like erm a community centre more or less because you’d got the café and the people used to sit outside, there was a bingo hall, and er it, it was, and then the indoor market and then the outdoor shops and it was so, it was so busy, so bustling. I mean you’d go in the market and you’d be walking along the aisle and say you’re four deep and you’d be… you know, just trudging along because there were so many people in there. [Tut] And then course it, it ee er it hit a lot of problems with the er development, they had to do the, the, one of the things in the contract was that the, all the flats had to be er re-done, er all double glazed, everything had to be done and so it was a long, long time. I mean it was, I don’t know uh ooh, I can’t remember how many, uh ooh it was, b, nearly two years before, before erm [Tut] we came down h, you know when it opened, we came down here. Mm [Tut] yeah.
Did you hope to go back to The Swan when it was redeveloped or were you happy here?
Er, well I don’t know whether he, he wanted to or not because I think if he’d, if he’d ha, if he’d of, been, worked up there, he, he would, er like there’s a pharmacy in erm Tesco, he would’ve had to work for… excuse me, he’d have had to work for erm Tesco but, he got this shop and… you know, [Tut] yeah. It used to be a hardware shop. [Laughs] Yes, I used to come in here quite often [chuckles] [draws breath] yeah.
So can you tell us some, about some memories of The Yew Tree when you first moved to the area, what the –
– shopping area was like itself?
Yeah, you could buy anything, anything at all. There was a big er, m, er, it used to be called the er Midlands Electricity Board, great big shop ov, over the road. There was, e, there wasn’t anything you couldn’t buy. Nothing at all. Shoes… which you don’t get, er ladies, drapers, er a wool shop that sold all st, er, s, er hosiery and, er l, ladies undergarments. Er… there was one, two chemists, there was ourselves down there and Boots over the road and now Boots is in the precinct. Erm… but there w, there, it was, there was about four, four green grocers, [Tut]… er it was absolutely… a Woolworths, of course. Yes Woolworths. And now we’ve lost Crash Bang Wallop. Do you know Crash Bang Wallop? We’ve lost that and I really miss that shop. It’s, you know it was er, it’s a shame that was. [Tut] Yes… yeah. And I’ve got a picture in my, house, of here and that tree is a sapling. [Chuckles] Yeah, that tree, it, it’s a sapling. It’s, it’s an old p, photograph because you know it’s the old, the ol, the really old shops that used to be and, it’s er, yeah. [Tut] But apart from that it’s changed a lot. It’s dirty. Very dirty. Y, you walk up the road on a, well I’ve just come up the road and it’sss a disgrace! It’sss, we don’t get anybody collecting, paper at all. No. So if you don’t go out and collect your own you’re, looking out at a mess all the time.
So over the years obviously the shops have changed –
… how do you feel about The Yew Tree now and what you can buy here?
Well uh the shops are closing, rapidly. Erm we’ve got lots of charity shops here now. Er… we don’t have a green grocers, oh we have the one on the corner of course, yes a big one on the corner. [Draws breath] But erm… [whistles] we, you know we, we can’t get, we’ve got Iceland and the Co-Op… er what else have we got? We used to have a Greggs, we haven’t got that, that’s opened up as a convenience store. Er, used to have a dry cleaners, a laundrette… yeah, shoe shop, big shoe shop. [Tut] yeah.
Just one butchers left now.
Yes, oh yes I forgot the butchers, yes, yeah.
So what do you think the biggest change is that, that you’ve seen in the area are, Pauline?
E, erm… just the closing of the shops, and, the dirt.
And what about the community, how has that changed over the years?
M, erm, we’ve er, well over the last 20 years I suppose, erm, I don’t know. It’s, it’s, very difficult. Er you don’t seem to, eh it’s a sha, I think it’s a shame for the younger people because when a house comes up for sale they, they just don’t get chance to buy it and then it… it gets m, it gets er, you know, I’m not being, I’m not being racist at all but, a lot of people move in and it’s extended beyond… I mean the house next door to me is, well [sniffs] [let’s out breath] we won’t go into that. [Chuckles]
So there used to be a pub over the road called The Yew Tree Pub.
Did you ever visit that Pauline?
I did, yes, yes. Yeah I did. Not very often. The, the best pub was the Ring O’ Bells, just up Church Road. Oh that was wonderful. You could go in there and it was no music, not, nothing, it was so quiet and the, the er landlord and his wife were lovely and it was a really lovely pub. What else? Where, where else was there? The Yew Tree, that’s all we had, The Yew Tree and er the Ring O’ Bells. Yeah.
There used to be one on Blakesley Road, wasn’t it called The Blakesley Arms?
Oh The Blakesley Arms, yes, yes that’s, that’s yeah Clements and Blakesley, yeah I never went in there. No, I used to go to a quiz at the, er Ring O’ Bells, a Monday night. [Tut] yeah, it was good.
So how did you feel when they pulled down The Yew Tree pub and developed that area just over there?
Er, well, it didn’t really affect me at all, no, no, no. No, it, it was ni, nice to have another little shopping centre, you know? There’s a, a, and a restaurant and a KFC and… er Boots is there. It’s very quiet round there in the daytime, yeah.
Do you think there’s, the re-development of The Swan Cer, Centre has had an impact on The Yew Tree area?
Erm… yes, yes, although I do use it myself, I will say that. [Draws breath] Because er the Co-Op is quite expensive [Tut] er, but then you’ve got to shop around for what you want at the cheapest, place, you know? Er, I mean you go into places and you see something and you think, ooh I can get that for such and such a price at so and so and… yeah.
So can you share some of your fondest memories of, of the Yardley area?
[Pause] Mm, mm no, just had a good social life down here and, er… I’ve got relatives in the area, well, I did have relatives in the area, and er, yeah it was, it was good, nice [Tut] yeah, that’s it.
That’s lovely Pauline. Well, thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
Righteo, thank you.
Really appreciate it, thank you.
[End of Track 1]
File name: pauline ward cont
So Pauline, can I just ask you about the, the old Co-Op shops on the top of Stoney Lane?
Oh yes that’s very good shopping. Er there was the, the green grocers who sold er vegetables and fruit and fresh fish, then there was the er grocery sto, shop, then there was the butchers with Alf the butcher, and then there was a dry cleaning shop, and up above it they had a, a, er a community hall. Erm and I actually went there er in, January seventy-five, er my sister who lived in South Africa had come over and we had a big family party up there, mm yes. Yes but it was a really good er little shopping centre there, Co-Op.
Is it a good space above there, the shopping centre?
Y, oh yes, yes it was er, you know, dance floor and stage and, yeah yes it was good, yes mm.
A, and those shops, they were well used?
Oh yes, yes. Yes because we didn’t er, we didn’t have any other supermarket at all round here besides the Co-Op, erm.
So when did tho, those shops close, can you remember?
Ooh no, no my mum was still alive and she died in 1988, so it was before then, yeah. It was probably mid-eighties, mm.
And how did people in the area feel about the Co-Op shops closing?
Well it was a bit of a blow because er we didn’t, as I say, I we didn’t have any other er, er supermarket until the one which is now Iceland, er that was, I think it was called Fine Fare, that opened, and that was OK. But of course we had… when we had the er, the Co-Op shops, you, you couldn’t get fresh fish anywhere else and er there was no dry cleaners, not until, 1990s I think when one opened but that’s now closed as well.
Can you describe what the shops looked like for me please?
Er well it was very er… er, what’s the word I’m looking for? Er… very ancient building sort of thing like erm, [Tut]… it, it wasn’t like a square, building, it was an old building and er, the shops were nice little indi, individual shops. And along there as well there was a, there was a ladies, a ladies shop, there and, a gents hairdressers, of course. And then we came to the er Hobmoor School, er which my son went to er from seventy-five to eight-four was it? eighty… yes. [Tut] And erm… so you know it, it was a real blow when they went actually. Mm yes.
And can you remember what replaced the Co-Op shops?
Er, well we’ve got a, a plumbers and er a bathroom shop and a kitchen shop. Erm, but also, erm… we ha, we also had a, a big garage, Yew Tree Garage, which er, was turned into a tapas bar, but it’s now erm an Irish pub. Er but er, I don’t know but I, I’ve got an idea that that might be closing in twelve months. Er… but I don’t know about that, I, that’s, the, the rumours you hear, you know they, they change and I have heard that it was, it will be closing for… in twelve months’ time but I don’t know. [Tut] Yes. I, I’ve heard a, heard rumours that it could be a, er a hotel, or it could be er… er, flats.
[Whispers] I’ve hear, so somebody else has told me something as well ..
[Talking in the background]
Oh and apparently the erm, the big building at The Swan, so I was told the other day, the big office block it, that’s going to be turned into er, flats, luxury apartments with er two, erm… penthouse suites on the top. But, it may be a rumour, it’s just what you hear, you know… going down the line like, cha, things change as one person tells another person. So I don’t know.
A bit like Chinese whispers.
That’s it, that’s the word I’m looking for, yes, yeah, yeah.
That’s lovely, thank you Pauline.
OK. Actually –
[End of Track 2]
[time e.g. 5:22 inaud.] = inaudible word at this time
[word 5:22 inaud.] = best guess at word