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Forum Home > Memorabilia From the past. > A Walk round Lye, 1940s style.

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Before I start this post, I have to thank Colin Wooldridge, the archivist for the " Lye and Wollescote Historical Society ", for the permission to reproduce the memories of his mother Winifred, which were first published in 2004. She was a resident of Elizabeth House, Pedmore Road, Lye, and although over 90 years old, had a memory as sharp as a pin. Sadly, she is no longer here, and neither is the Magazine, " The Elizabethan ", in which some of the posts to follow appeared. Not just a post then, but a little memorial to all those who are willing to share their lives, be it but briefly, with the rest of us.


" I have heard remarks just lately about Lye High Street. People are asking what has happened to to all the nice shops we used to have. In earlier days, it was a treat to go into the High Street. We had a shop to cater for everything we needed, and they were all very nicely kept. With the exception of about four shops, they were all owned and managed by families who lived in Lye. Unfortunately, as the families have died out, there has been no-one to replace them. Come with me down memory lane as we lok at the High Street as it was in the 1940s.


Starting at the corner of Vicarage Road, there was the Church Hall, now occupied by the Salvation Army. We cross over the road and come to the Clifton Cinema, and a small Hairdresser's owned by Miss White. Next door was the Post Office, with a large red piller box outside that still exists today. Then there was Barlow's Grocers, Roberts, the Bakers and confectioners, and Rowley's Haberdashery shop where you could ask for  anything from Cotton wool to a new coat. Then there was Mrs Pimlott's 'top shop', so called because she had  another shop, lower down the High Street, and Freeman's Phamacy, where, if you had an ailment, one could go to instead of the Doctor, for treatment and advice. Next door was Mis Hienz's shoe shop, then an impressive old building which was a Solicitors Office and Municipal Building. We then come to the Parish Church, whose frontage was so different from today; there was no War Memorial, but a large graveyard with many old gravestones dating back many years. Today, all the gravestones have been removed, and slabs and grass laid. At the side of the Church was an allyway leading to the Conservative Club, ( now a carpark ) then there was Gordon's, Gents Tailors, a Corn Merchant, Jenkin's Confectioners, Parkes' gents outfitters, and Cartwrights shoe shop, where I started my working life, and remained  for quite a number of years. Now we come to Mrs Pimlott's 'bottom shop', another Ladies Clothiers specialising in Corsetry, then Lloyds Bank, Broughton's Bakery, and Chance's Butchers. We then come to another allyway, down which were some slaughter houses used for killing pigs, etc. Oh, the smell !. It was known as " Pig Stink Alley ", but is now called Clinc Drive.

                      Next we have Watkins' Butchers, then a confectioners, and another shoe shop, owned by Mrs Cox. Then came Beeton's Newsagentsand Moyle and Adam's grocers, where as children, we would go in and buy a pennyworth of Coconut which was put into a cone shaped bag and would last quite a long time. Further along there was Foster and Pearson's Saddlers, Worton's gents outfitters, a China shop, Marsh and Baxter's Butchers. a Hairdresser, run by Mr. and Mrs Watkins, Pugh's Jewellers, and George Mason the Grocer. Then there was another little alleyway leading to Orchard Lane, then known as the ' Big Hill' and now called Jackson Street, on the corner of which was Morton's Clothes shop. They also ran an agency for the Stourbridge Model Laundry. Then there was another Baker's and Southall's gents outfitters, a very interesting shop called Zuxy, which sold baby clothes, Moyle and Adams bottom shop, the Institute, which was well attended by the men of Lye, where they played Snooker and Billiards, a Cobblers, a Delicatessen, another Corn Merchant and a Tobacconist. On the corner of Dudley Road, was a large Public House known as the Mercia Bar; one feature of this building was a thick brass rail which was polished every day. Next time, we will cross the road and see what awaits on the other side.


At this point, Winifred would have needed to keep her eyes skinned, for the Trams coming down the High Street didn't always stick to the speed limit. She continues " We now cross over the road with the Tram lines ruuning down the middle, and start on our return journey from a Public House known as " Polly Brocks ". She also owned a  large Green Grocers shop next door, and as children, we would go into the shop for three pennyworth of ' specked ' friuit, which would last us all week. ( Specked was a term used for unsold, marked, or slightly damaged goods ) Next door was a Wet Fish shop, where fresh fish was bought in every morning. We move on to the Mitre Public house, Lavenders Tailors shop, which specialised in riding outfits, and good quality suits; Wooldridge's Ladies Clothiers, managed by Mr Allport, who later became the owner of the business, Greenwood's Chemist and Pharmacy, a Ladies Millinery shop, and " The Vic ", which used to show silent films and later became a Music Hall. At the side of the Vic, was a cul-de-sac leading to the Labour Club, then there was Worton's Ladies Clothiers. Almost opposite the one they owned on the other side of the road. We then had the Congregational Church, an Ironmongers, a Milliners, owned by Miss Tallis and her sister, and a Pork Butchers. They used to cook Chitterlings and Tripe, and also specialised in home fed Pork, lard, and Beef Dripping. On again, and to Lamont's China and Glass shop, Bullock's Bakery, Bromley's Electrical and Paint shop, and the Danic Dairy. One feature of this shop, was that they sold a lot of dairy products and used to pack their own Butter. Next door was a very good Drug Store, and if you had a cough or bronchitis they would mix you some brown medicine, and within a few days the cough would get better. You could also get Liquorice Sticks for a penny. ( real wood as well ) A photographer, ( I presume this was Harts ) who was well known and respected, lived in a house next door, and had his studio at the back of the premises. One other large store followed the Co-op, which sold Groceries downstairs, and Clothes above. We are coming to end of the journey now, and we reach the very old buildings where Doctor Darby practiced for many years, then there was a small wooden building which housed the Towns Fire Engine, a small vehicle with a big bell on the front. The fireman in those days wore large polished steel helmets. We now cross over the bottom of Chapel Street. to two Edwardian houses on the corner, one of which was a Solicitor's office, and the other a Dentist, Mr. Archie Pardoe. And at last, our journey is completed with a well known family butcher's, Pharoah Adams. On Saturday afternoons. at about 4 o'clock, they would auction the joints of meat at much reduced prices. The assistants in all the shops must have been very satisfied with their jobs, as there were very few changes of staff. I hope you have enjoyed our little trip through Lye as it used to be in days gone by, a lovely Town to be proud of ". And there's no doubt, that Winnie was indeed, very proud of her birth place.


Eleanor Winifred Wooldridge. 1914 - 2005.


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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

April 29, 2013 at 4:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Winifred Wooldridge mentions a local Butcher, on her walk back in time. one with the unusual name of Pharaoh Adams. Now his father, who also bore a biblical name, Isaac, must have had high hopes for the youngster, giving him a name like that. He must have had a religious vision, for it would have taken a lot of foresight to see what was coming, and Winnie would surely have had a much bigger story if she known Pharoahs history.


He was born at 98, Halesowen Street, Blackheath, the son of a Butcher, in 1870. Evidently, his father did not do well at the trade, and opted instead to go into Shoemaking. This is the first trade that the young Pharaoh learnt, but butchering must have lingered in the blood, for he soon reverted back to his fathers profession. In  1889. in Saint John the Baptist, Halesowen, he married Hannah Hadley, who was born not far away from where he lived, in late 1869. Her father was also named Isaac, a Nail forger of  15, Gorsty Hill, Halesowen. The first butchers shop they opened, was at 62-63, Garratts Lane Old Hill, which did well, enabling them to move to a busier area at 135, High Street, Cradley Heath. He must have rather good at the trade, for by 1910, he had a shop in Netherton, 4, St John Street, and another one at 137, Brettall Lane, Amblecote.  As far as I can tell, the next shop was in Worcester Street, Stourbridge, followed by another one listed in 1915, and the one Winnie remembered, 165, High Street Lye. I have attached a photgraph in the " Old Faces " Album in the Gallery.




The Photograph was taken in 1916, and Pharaoh Adams must have had several shops all running at the same time. In the picture, the portly figure of Pharaoh, with his trademark hat, stands next to his wife Hannah, and shop girl Emily. They had two sons, Bert and Clarence Adams, and that maybe them standing on the left and right. As Winnie pointed out, they slaughtered their own animals, and when at this location, Pharaoh employed Howard Harris, a local man, to wield the hammer and knife. Thats certainly a fine display of meat, they were either very greedy in Lye, or else they had plenty to spend on a quality roast. Winnie also mentions another butchers, opposite this one, and the story goes, that when selling off the meat on a Saturday, both butchers would stand by a block on the pavement, and wave meat cleavers at one another, often resorting to some fruity language as well, in order to sell their products. Pharaoh Adams, who it was said, quickly tired of the game, would snatch a joint from his block, and hurl it into the gathered crowd, ending the game, but selling his meat quicker. Well it may have not been in ancient Egypt, but there was no doubt who was the boss in Lye.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

May 1, 2013 at 3:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

In Winifred Wooldridge's later contributions to the " The Elizabethan ", she wrote about some of her early life in Lye. Compared to today, it was much safer to play in the streets, and a whole range of games and pastimes were played by children, far removed from our highly electronified age. And I should add, a damn sight cheaper as well.


" Do you remember some of the games we used we to play. I do, and it was during the 1920s and 30s. There was Jack upon the Mopstick, Kick the Can, Shine a Light, Swinging  on the bars of the old fashioned Gas Lamps, Skipping ropes, Spinning Tops, and there was the Iron Bowl or Hoop, as some folk said it. This game was known around Lye as " a bummer ". The bowls were made by the local Blacksmith, complete with a handle attached with which to propel it down the road. In later years, these could be purchased for a few pennies, but they were made of wood, and required a short stick to " bowl them along ". For a Skipping rope, we would go the Greengrocers and ask for an orange rope, this was used to tie up the orange boxes when they were delivered, and would otherwise have thrown away. All you needed, was a bit of cheek, some good  old fashioned manners, which made all the difference to how people responded. We were also lucky as we had a field to play in, and as long as we behaved, no one worried about us. Saturday afternoons were reserved for the Cinema, which required an old Penny for the entrance fee, plus a half penny for some sweets to chew while avidly watching the silent film. Somes a comedy, with Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, or sometimes a cowboy film, with William S Hart, Some of the simpler things in life can bring much happiness, and I do think that if children can make more entertainment themselve, the world would be a happier place.


Winnie went on to relate about the changing fashions as well, and if you look at old photographs, you will see, that almost everyone back then, men and women, always wore a Hat.


I have a photograph of a Sunday School outing, with about 20 ladies, who all had on very large hats, all decorated with Silk Flowers, and Cherries and Fruit. They all looked a bit top heavy. The first hat I remember having myself, was a black beret. I was only a teenager in those days, so as berets were the fashion, I had to have one. At one time of day, you wouldn't have dreamt of entering a Church without a hat, but all that seems to be forgotten now. I remember the plain felt hats worn by the Land Army girls, and the hats that the WRVS, Saint John Ambulance, the Fire Brigade, and the big Bonnets worn by the Salvation Army girls, with a huge bow of ribbon fastened at the side. Today, the Ladies seem to spend so much money on hairdo's, and seem to be more comfortable without a hat. How times have changed.


Winnie had an interest in flowers, and in 1981, she enrolled in a class at Foley College. This led to a surprising little episode in her life, which she revealed in this next piece she submitted to the magazine.


In 1982, the Pope paid a visit to Coventry Airport, and I was asked if I would help with the flower arrangements. On the Friday previous to the visit on the Sunday, we met at the Airport and encountered a little problem. No one knew where we had to go. Eventually we found the organiser in a large Marquee, and soon we were all busy with hanging baskets, pedestals, and large arrangements. There were Marquee's all around the field, and we went into the main one. It was lined with cream and lemon satin drapes, huge cahndeliers, and elaborate tables for the VIPs. Around the huge poles holding the marquee up, we put hanging baskets, and moved in the pedestals as well. It was hard but enjoyable work. From 10am to 5pm on the Friday, we prepared all the containers, then on Saturday, filled them all with some wnderful flowers. Some time later, we all received a Certificate from the Holy father, signed by the  Archbishops, Bishops of Birmingham, Clfton, Shrewsbury, Nottingham, and Northampton, thanking us for our devoted work.That was a surprise, as I am not of the Catholic faith. I shall never forget the experience of working with so many flowers.


Now I suppose that goes to show, just what we can all achieve, if only we work together. I doubt if Winnie ever gave a thought to what denomination she did the work for, she had been a devout Christian all her life, and it would have just seemed the right thing to do.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 5, 2013 at 11:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Winnifred Wooldridge would have seen many things in her long life, but there's something about Carnival  time that stays with many of us. There were dozens of these, all across the Black Country, at different times of the year, all of them well supported by the many, and varied, Churches and Chapels. Both of these pictures have been donated by Colin Wooldrige, and show the enthusiasm put into it by the Chapel families of Lye.



The first one depicted is a bit of a mystery, for it's unclear just what the float represents, although one character in the middle of the front row is wearing a Frog outfit. Interestingly, ( the woman standing 4th from the right, in the other picture, below, and wearing a headband ) is Mrs Jones, the wife of a man well known about Lye and Wollescote. He was the owner of the Pikelet Factory, which had it's business in Cemetery Road, and whose products, graced the afternoon tables of many in the district. Not a word you hear so much today, for more common is the name " Crumpets " .



The second picture is far easier, for the Chapel dressed up some of younger members, in the national dress of Countries of the World, complete with lettered sash. Both of Colins great Aunts are in this photograph, Lily Lucas, ( 4th from the right, standing ) and Ruth Lucas, ( 4th from the left, middle row, seated. )  Two more windows to look through then, at the old Lye of the past, and a chance to reflect on why we no longer bother to celebrate our Church and Chapel festivities.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

June 21, 2014 at 3:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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