Some history on Monument Road in Ladywood at Birmingham in the County of Warwickshire
The southern section of Monument Road forms part of Edgbaston, starting from Hagley Road in a north-easterly direction through Ladywood and finishing at Spring Hill and Summer Hill Road in Brookfields. For those looking back at the history of Monument Road it can be a little confusing. The reason for this is that the section from Hagley Road to the area of Ladywood Road, or Ladywood Lane as it was then known, and Reservoir Road was once known as Monument Lane. The road to the north of this was formerly known as Icknield Street West. The name of this section seems to have changed from Icknield Street West to Monument Road during the winter of 1877-8. The road's name commemorates the so-called Perrott's Folly in Waterworks Road, a thoroughfare leading off Monument Road.
When I took this photograph in 2002 Perrot's Folly, also known as The Monument, was occasionally open to the public but it was closed soon afterwards as the structure was deemed unsafe. Thankfully, the quirky tower has been restored. It was built by the wealthy John Perrot in 1758 and has been the subject of much conjecture regarding his motives for erecting such a building. Some believe that, combined with the nearby tower of Edgbaston Waterworks, it was the inspiration for the two towers in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Certainly, he lived nearby when a small child so perhaps there is some logic in this but nobody has managed to discover the truth behind the legend.
I have a fair collection of images of Monument Road that enables a mini-tour of the thoroughfare. There are plenty of other images dotted around the Internet so you will be able to form a fairly good idea of how it once looked. Much of the road has been documented. Sadly, many of these images are from the years prior to the bulldozers clearing the land for the ring-road and modern housing development, some of which has had to be replaced again! Most of the old road sort of follows the route of the Ladywood Middleway, with a few surviving stubs where some old housing has survived. However, the vast majority of the views on this page have completely vanished. At one time, local residents did not have to bother making the short trip into town because most goods and services, including health provision, was available on Monument Road.
The first view [above] was taken by a photographer stood in Hagley Road and pointing the lens along Monument Road. The direction of the road at this point is north-northeasterly until the junction of Ladywood Road when it bends to the right in a north-easterly direction. Just out of shot on the right of this photograph was the Ivy Bush public-house fronting Hagley Road. This is the one section of Monument Road where almost all of the properties have survived.
Birmingham once had some lovely art deco buildings and shop frontages, most of which have vanished. This example was on the corner of Monument Road and Parker Street. The building still stands but sadly there is not trace of the delightful inter-war frontage. This was one of the furniture emporiums of P. Cave and Son Limited. A couple have seemingly taken a shine to a piece of furniture on display. At least they do not appear to be the sort to smash the window and help themselves to the goods. That is what 20-year-old Nicholas Nelson did in 1969 in order to steal an ornamental brass cannon. He claimed that he had been dared to do it after drinking with friends. He was subsequently convicted and put on probation for two years. As can be seen in the advertisement below, the company offered credit and also accepted old furniture in part exchange.
The advertisement also shows that Cave's had other branches at Harborne, Handsworth and Perry Barr. The latter premises occupied a sweets and ice cream shop once run by the Whitehouse family. The neon sign on the first floor of this building states that the firm was established in 1890. It is interesting to note that there was a furniture repository operated by Cave's on Moseley Street and operating in the 1880s - perhaps a part of the same family? Not too far way in Lower Essex Street lived three brothers, John, Samuel and Aaron Cave, who, along with their sister Sarah, were working as tailors. All four originated from Poland. It was Samuel, or Philiip Samuel Cave, who went into furniture retailing. He married Lithuanian-born Phoebe Davis in January 1909, the couple settling at 371 Coventry Road where he opened a furniture shop. The business expanded into neighbouring premises. Their son, Harold, was born in 1904. He would succeed his father in 1920 and seemingly developed the firm into quite a successful enterprise. These premises were occupied around 1937 and the shop front almost certainly dates from this time.
In later years the Edgbaston Cinema was erected on a site between Parker Street and Bellis Street. I only have this photograph showing part of the building in 1964, some four years before it ceased to show films. Perhaps it was little wonder that the place was put out of its misery given the offering advertised here - "The Rape of the Sabine Women" and "Bad Girl," one of a number of dodgy movies starring b-league screen siren Nan Peterson. With such dire double-bills and a dwindling audience, the doors of the cinema were padlocked in 1968. Typical of the times, a bingo hall opened in the former cinema but this failed. In the early 1970s there was a effort to launch an Old Time Music Hall in the venue. It was only 40p to gain entrance to an Edwardian Valentine's Night in 1972. The Music Hall was another doomed project. The building has since been demolished, the site, in more recent years, being occupied by the Karis Neighbour Scheme and the Londonderry Baptist Church.
Designed by the locally-based architect Harold Seymore Scott, "The Edgbaston" was built by Thomas Elvins & Sons of the Naden Works based at Soho Hill. Harold Seymore Scott was a noted cinema architect and this edifice was praised for its bold design. The main colour scheme of the sumptuous interior was blue, gold and stone with the spacious seating in a rich, warm brown. The walls were of stone but featured two extensive panels of Grecian landscapes, painted on canvas, on both sides of the auditorium. The ceiling was mottled blue with amber tints, in what was said to be a realistic imitation of the sky. The central point featured a lamp of exceptional design, conveying the impress of a burst of sunshine.
A contemporary report also commented on the stage curtain which was of deep blue edged with gold, embroidered in gold, with dragons, and the screen curtain matched the brown upholstery of the seating. All woodwork was of mahogany. The decorators of the cinema were Birmingham-based Fleetwood, Fowden-Simpson and Co.
The leaded windows of the cinema had centre panels of stained-glass of cloudy blue with an amber strip above and borders of brown. These were lit by trough lights by which the direct source of light was concealed. These were installed by the Birmingham electrical contractors Baxter and Impey.
It would seem that no expense was spared with the cinema's organ. It was something entirely new, a Compton, all British, with a two manual console operated by a hydraulic lift which raised the organist above the orchestra level when recitals were played. The organ pipes were concealed behind lofts on both sides with honeycomb grills for the emitting sound. The resident organist was Mr. H. Vere Gladwell, F.R.C.O.
The latest projectors were installed at The Edgbaston. They were of the Ross pattern, with high intensity carbon arcs, providing the clearest pictures for the period.
Assuming that everything went according to plan, the pre-publicity stated that the cinema was to open at 3 p.m. on Monday 24th December 1928. There was an opening ceremony performed by Sir Percival Bower, Chairman of the Birmingham Municipal Bank who had served as Lord Mayor of Birmingham a few years earlier. It was hoped that the Danish film actor and singer Carl Brisson would attend the ceremony. For the opening, Kieran, the famous violinist, directed the orchestra of fifteen. He remained at the cinema for some weeks.
I believe that the construction project was initiated by the Edgbaston Picture House Ltd. but, by the time of opening, The Edgbaston had become the property of Associated British Cinemas Limited who appointed S. H. Hope as resident manager and licensee. All of the staff were decked out in uniforms made by Messrs. Stevens of Paradise Street. Cadbury's secured the contract to supply all chocolates and confections sold in the cinema. The role of manager was changed soon after the opening when Emanuel Bernard Gold, better known as Manny Gold, took over. He had earlier managed the Astoria Cinema at Aston Cross and later moved to The Forum on New Street.
The main feature for the opening was "The Gaucho," an adventure film set in Argentina starring Douglas Fairbanks and Lupe Vélez. The supporting film was "The Gay Defender," another 1927 adventure movie directed by Gregory La Cava and starring Richard Dix.
One of the advantages of only having half of the cinema frontage in the photograph is that it is possible to see the adjoining buildings at Nos.237-9. Oh, and part of the exterior wall of the row that included the Roebuck Inn, which has a large painted sign for Ansell's Beers. The buildings here had served the same role since before World War 2. In the late 1930s No.238 was occupied by Pietro Ltd. Motor Garage. Next door at No.239 was the flooring specialists Jaconello Ltd. The company's name can be seen painted on the first floor which also boasted of branches in London, Manchester, Cardiff and Reading. In the same period No.237 was occupied by the plumber William Breeden. Between the garage forecourt and the Roebuck Inn there were two shops. In the late 1930s the first retail unit was operated by the bakers A. Perkins and Son. Between this and the pub was the tobacconist Harold Tipper.
Before displaying the next photograph I thought it might be a good idea to show a map to help those not familiar with this area. I have marked three locations that can be seen in the 1960s images but overlaid on an older map. However, much of the buildings on Monument Road shown on this map extract did survive until the 1960s so, visually speaking, it remains fairly relevant.
In this image the photographer was stood near the junction of Plough and Harrow Road, opposite the junction of Waterworks Road, and aiming the camera back towards Hagley Road. In the distance is the aforementioned Cave's Furniture Store. Closer to the camera but still a little distance away is the junction of Bellis Street, on the corner of which stood the Roebuck Inn. Beyond the saloon car is a row of small houses, small for this part of Edgbaston that is! In 1912 these dwellings were occupied [from the far end] by Caroline Groom, Elizabeth Colesby and John Vallance, all tenants of Joseph Allday. Located on the southern corner of Waterworks Road, the building on the right was the premises of Benjamin Whitehouse and Sons Limited, a building firm founded in the 1870s. Born in West Bromwich, Benjamin Whitehouse grew up in Ashted from where his father worked as a toll clerk. In his early career Benjamin worked as a railway carriage body builder but his family influences from his hometown resulted in him starting a business as a builder and contractor. He and his wife Rebecca moved from Belmont Row and set up home in nearby Hyde Road. Their son, William, probably worked in the business at this time as he was recorded as a joiner. He would succeed his father who had built up a very profitable company. William Whitehouse, a resident of Carisbrooke Road, retired to Temple Balsall where he lived for 16 years before returning to Harborne where he died in February 1936. The firm, which also operated a gravel pit at Acock's Green, operated from this location until the redevelopment of Monument Road.
Although published in 1890, this map extract dates from a survey undertaken between 1885-7 and shows large residences on both sides of Waterworks Road. The functional factory-like building later housing Benjamin Whitehouse and Son Ltd. looks to be a different structure than the one drawn on the map, a building with an adjoining glass building. I have marked the tower known as Perrot's Folly on the map. There is a boundary between this structure and the large house on the north corner of Waterworks Road, suggesting it was not part of the grounds of this residence. A later map, dated 1913, shows that the house had been demolished and around a dozen small properties occupying the corner site.
This photograph is just over the old boundary between Edgbaston and Ladywood. This is where Ladywood Road and Alston Road converged to form a complicated junction on Monument Road, further convoluted by Reservoir Road being almost opposite. Here Monument Road is to the left of the photograph and Alston Road is heading off to the right in a north-easterly direction. The retail premises was at the pointy southern end of a triangle, a late 19th century development formed by these two roads and Darnley Road.
Here is a close-up of the chemist's shop on the corner of Alston Road. Clutching a doll in her arm, a young girl is window-shopping or simply waiting for her mother. There were not too many exciting things to see in the window for a young girl. For example, the right-hand window has a display of thermos flasks. The manager of the shop at this time was Edward James Toy. His name can be seen above the front door in which it states he was licensed to sell wine to be consumed off the premises.
The chemist's shop was operated by Bannister & Thatcher Ltd., a company founded in June 1923 with its registered office in Coventry. They took over these premises which had housed a chemist's shop for several decades. Derbyshire-born Henry Critchlow, along with his wife Hannah, may have been the first occupants of the premises rented from Julia P. George who was the owner of a row of nine properties. The couple were certainly in residence in 1891. Although moving to 30 Reservoir Road, Henry and Hannah Critchlow were still running the business in their 80s. He died in July 1944. His wife, originally from Doncaster, died three years later.
This newsagent's shop adjoined the chemist's shop and was Number 160 Monument Road. The name of George E. Jones can be seen above the front door. He kept the shop with his wife Gladys. The couple had not long taken over from George Henry Gurley who had run the shop since the beginning of World War 2. Born in 1904, he had grown up in a number of public-houses kept by his parents Percy and Alice. He married Bertha Edith Walters in July 1928.
Like the adjoining chemist's shop these premises were dedicated to the same type of business over the generations. A host of people sold newspapers, stationery, tobacco and sweets to the locals. However, it would seem that it was a private house when built. Mary Janney was an early occupant of the property. Born near Boston in Lincolnshire, she was the mother of Hannah, wife of the aforementioned chemist Henry Critchlow. Mary Janney had kept a refreshment house when living at Doncaster where her daughter had worked as a school teacher. Mary Janney lived next to her daughter for some years before moving in with her and her husband. Whether this created tension is not clear but, as an elderly woman, she later moved to Oliver Road and Summerfield Crescent.
At the end of the Victorian era No.160 was home to the shoemaker William Louch and his wife Harriet. Their son, Arthur, worked as a photographer. Now there is a pile of negatives most folks in Ladywood would have an interest in! I do not know if Arthur continued to find work as a photographer but it was him, along with his wife Florence, who converted the house into a newsagent's and stationery shop.
Courtesy of David Hughes, this photograph shows Arthur Louch in an image probably captured on his wedding day in July 1907. He tied the knot with Florence Josephine Blunn at King's Norton. Being as he was a photographer, he probably would have liked to take a selfie, if only it was possible in those days! Florence grew up at Rednal and went into service at a young age. Somehow, the paths of these two crossed and love blossomed. There were plenty of little feet in the house over the next few years before Arthur Louch served in the Royal Air Force during World War One.
Florence Louch was only 50 when she died in April 1929. Arthur re-married to Agnes Gwynne, the couple living at Longbridge Lane. He was working as a labourer in an iron foundry when war broke out in 1939 and he would be called up as a reservist in the R.A.F.
In the 1930s the newsagent's shop was run by William France and George Arch before the arrival of George Gurley.
I have slotted in another map extract for those unfamiliar with the old layout of Monument Road. I have marked the locations of the last few photographs and also those featured in the following images.
This photograph of the Church of Saint John the Evangelist was taken in Darnley Road, though the building was always listed in Monument Road. Shops facing the church can also be seen. These were between Hyde Road and Icknield Port Road.
With the population of the district at 4,000 and growing rapidly, a church was proposed around 1850 and by May 1851 a committee had been formed with the Rev. John Garbett as Chairman. He was a Rural Dean and a Governor of King Edward's School. No doubt he swung things in order to get the other governor's to provide the site for a new church and parsonage. I have read that the site was formerly known as Ladywood Green and a burial ground for victims of the bubonic plague of the 17th century. The committee settled on the dedication to Saint John the Evangelist at preliminary meetings.
The foundation stone of the church was laid in September 1852 by Lord Calthorpe. The assembled dignitaries got soaked in the heavy rain as the ceremony was undertaken. Many of the children of Christ Church and the Blue Coat Schools also had to endure the weather in which John O. Bacchus presented Lord Calthorpe with a silver trowel to slap some cement on the foundation stone. The trowel was manufactured by Samuel Keeley of New Street, and bore the inscription: "With this Trowel was laid the foundation stone of St. John's Church, Ladywood, Birmingham, by the Right Hon. Frederick Lord Calthorpe, September 28th, 1852."
The church was the work of Samuel Sanders Teulon, the English Gothic Revivalist, and built by John Hardwick and Son at a cost of £5,000 with a further £1,260 spent of the parsonage, erected for the incumbent, the Rev. Francis Morse. The consecration by Henry Pepys, the Lord Bishop of Worcester took place on March 15th, 1854.
With the population of the parish reaching around 15,000 people, the church had to be enlarged in the early 1880s. In May 1881 another foundation stone was laid by Mrs. J. S. Hopkins for a new and enlarged chancel with the provision of a chancel aisle to contain the organ, which was also enlarged and renovated. The original structure was criticised by many and the "somewhat unsightly and inconvenient galleries" were removed. The alterations were carried out from the designs by Julius Alfred Chatwin and undertaken by Mr. W. Robinson [successor to Messrs. Cresswell and Sons], and the organ work was undertaken by Messrs. Bevington and Sons, the original builders.
In this photograph taken around 1917, the person holding the camera was stood near the junction of Darnley Road and captured a view of Monument Road towards the junction of Icknield Port Road. The buildings to the right of the image are in Wood Street. The tall tower in the distance is that of the Corporation Baths. Here one can see a tram on the 33 Route about to turn left into Icknield Port Road. The sun canopies of the shops facing the Church of Saint the Evangelist reveal that they were occupied by the shopkeeper Harriet Appleton [No.292], the confectioner John William Groves [No.293], the milliner Eliza Lavers [No.294], and the newsagent George Wynde [No.295]. Of these it was the latter who would remain for many years.
These properties, along with four cottages to the rear, were put on the market in December 1917. The remaining part of a 99-year lease that commenced in September 1851, probably the year the properties were constructed, was offered at an auction held at the Grand Hotel on Colmore Row. The winning bidder would be subject to an annual ground rent of £17. 10s. The rents being charged to the retailers was around £30 per shop with the cottages generating rents of £52. 13s. per annum. With buyers seeking to earn around ten per cent on their investment, it is therefore possible to calculate how much prospective bidders were willing to pay in order to become landlord. At the time of the auction the cottages were occupied by Messrs. Feeney, Galagan, Edwards, and Jennings.
The sign on the first floor brickwork next to the Nag's Head is for Alfred George Darbyshire & Co., the picture frame makers. On the opposite side of Icknield Port Road, is a branch of the Birmingham Municipal Bank. These premises had been used for retail purposes up until the First World War. This dates the image to post-September 29th, 1916 when the bank was started with headquarters on Broad Street.
This view was captured slightly further back from the last image. The shop of the left is on the corner of Hyde Road. Note that the row of shops seen in the previous image have mostly vanished. It was perhaps unusual for these properties to be singled out for demolition before the rest. Initially I thought this may have been a legacy of WW2 bomb damage but, on looking at directories, I note that the properties were occupied and trading in the late 1950s. No.292 was The Jewel Box, No.293 was occupied by the cooked meat dealer Cyril Halbeard. Next door was the circulating library of J.H.L.B. Limited and No.295 was the premises of the stationers T. W. Atkin & Sons.
Here in 1968 the shop on the corner of Hyde Road is the grocery store of George Smith. As can be seen from the poster in the window of Carpet Stores, the business was holding a demolition sale. It would not be long before the whole row vanished forever. The first five properties were possibly private houses when built but the frontages were extended when converted into retail premises. Dee was the trading name of a ladies' hairdresser. In the previous decade the business was the same but traded as Mitzi. That was in a period when the adjoining shop occupied by the draper Cecilia Dent. A sign can be seen further along the road which was mounted on the premises of Cetomatic Plumbers.
Dating from August 1959, this photograph was taken from the junction of Monument Road and Wood Street. The shop on the corner was operated by Pearks Dairies Limited though, as can be seen from the painted sign on the brickwork, this was once the premises of the grocer Charles Woodward. Originally from King's Heath, he operated this shop from Edwardian times with his wife Bessie. In addition to groceries, the shop was licensed to sell wines and spirits. Prior to this Charles and Bessie Woodward running the business, the premises had been occupied for many years by Frederick Hobday.
Bessie Woodward died in April 1933 and, following the death of Charles Woodward in April 1943, the premises were sold at auction in August of that year.
At the time of this photograph the shop next door at No.142 Monument Road was trading as Bryan's Radio, a small business that also undertook "buy, sell and exchange" wheeler-dealing. Next to Bryan's was a branch of George Hipkiss Ltd., pork butchers.
I have dropped another map here to help with identifying the locations of the following images. Again, it is an old map being deployed for more recent images but much of what is seen in the map extract remained on the ground - apart from the baths, but we will come to that in a bit.
Taken in August 1961, this photograph shows the Chemist's Shop of George Knowles at No.305 Monument Road. He had operated his business from these premises prior to World War 2, though his residence was in Summerfield Crescent. Note the entry to the right of the shop. This led to a small house to the rear which, around the time of this photograph, was occupied by William and Ruby Child.
In the 1920s Thomas Arnold traded from these premises as a baker. The same bakery business was here during World War One and operated by George Harding. Along with his wife Sarah, he had traded from here since Edwardian times. Both originated from Gloucestershire.
It is not that often that the photographer is stood directly in front of the shop door so this photograph allows us to have a mooch inside. Indeed, the detail within this photograph shows that the sun canopy-blind was manufactured by Mills & Neal of Hall Green. Most things were made locally in those days! A teenager is discussing something with either an assistant or her mother whilst the woman behind the counter is scratching her head. I hope she hasn't caught the nits off a customer! The shelves are certainly well-stocked with all manner of treatments for ailing Ladywood folk. For those who simply want to chill out in the tub, there is a pile of Radox boxes on the counter. Anyway, the main reason for the inclusion of this shot is just in case somebody out there recognises a face - you never know!
Now that's what you call a proper boingy pram, the sort that later got relegated to the pram race at a village fête or survived in the attic to be unleased onto the retro market in the 21st century. This image allows us to browse some of the products on display inside the chemist's shop. Actually, a lot of it is booze. Well, they did prescribe brandy for most ailments in the old days. The glass shelf has bottles of Captain Morgan, VAT 69 and Johnnie Walker. The lower shelves feature soft drinks and cordials. Once again, the key reason for including this image is that next door at No.304 there is a glimpse of the fruiterer Alfred Hickman re-stocking his punnets and apple boxes. The latter originated from Jeftomson, a company established in 1949 by Geoffrey Thompson in Australia. It is likely that this is Alfred Jr., son of Alfred and Irene Hickman who once operated a fruit and fish outlet in Rann Street.
In the Victorian and Edwardian eras the fruit shop was home to beer retailers. In the Edwardian period it was run by Alfred and Lily Mayner. Their full names were Alfred Edward and Lilian Doris Mayner. I initially thought this was an outdoor but the census of 1911 records Alfred as a "beer and wine retailer on the premises." Indeed, he and Lily employed William Burston as a waiter and bartender. The couple also employed Florence Walker as a general servant.
Dating from May 1885, this advertisement for a general servant states that the premises was a "respectable public-house." Although they are few and far between, I have come across a few places in Birmingham that had no inn sign and it would appear that I have stumbled on another here at 304 Monument Road.
In September 1878 James William Riley was successful in his application for a new indoor beer and wine licence for 304 Monument Road. In Kelly's Directory for Birmingham, published two years later, the premises were described as a luncheon bar. These establishments tended to have an air of respectability and were places in which women could feel more comfortable or at least not be judged by a patriarchal society.
Former grocer James William Riley hailed from Kenilworth. He and his wife Margaret ran the luncheon bar before moving to Reservoir Road. James Riley continued to work as a waiter in a private house until a ripe old age. If this seems like a lowly position, think again. When he died in July 1924 he left a considerable sum in his will.
Frederick Moxon kept the luncheon bar for a period in the 1890s before moving to the Station Inn on Grosvenor Street West. He had a little excitement in September 1891 when 27 year-old John Watkins, a fitter living in Richard Street, was caught trying to rob the place. John Watkins attempted to escape through the yard but was found hiding and handed over to the police. He was subsequently sentenced to one month's imprisonment, with hard labour.
There is quite an interesting back-story to Alfred and Lily Mayner. Whilst they were running the luncheon bar Alfred Mayner held a considerable number of shares in Heath's Garage Ltd. It was the start of an alternative career in which he became one of the best-known members of motor transport in Birmingham. Indeed, he had been identified with the transport business all his life and was decribed as a pioneer. His father was recognised as the first man to run a motor-omnibus in Birmingham, and the publican is thought to be the first person to introduce motor-coaches in the city.
Seemingly determined to pursue his motor-garage business, Alfred Mayner gave instructions to sell all the household furniture and effects at No.304 Monument Road in February 1915. Unless the house was the Edgbaston Luncheon Bar referred for compensation in August 1913? Either way, Alfred and his wife Lily moved to a residence on Hagley Road and he became the proprietor of Wells and Mayner Ltd., garage and coach proprietors, of Ladywell Walk. New showrooms for the firm were purpose-built on Hurst Street, the upper floor of which survives near Kent Street.
In later years Alfred Mayner had ambitions to become a hotelier. At the Birmingham Licensing Sessions in March 1933, he successfully applied for a licence for the Hotel Cecil which he proposed to erect on the corner of Suffolk Street and Severn Street. The hotel was to have 120 bedrooms, a ballroom to accommodate 500 dancers, billiards room, smoke-room and restaurant. There was also to be a garage at the rear of the ground floor with room for 250 cars. A novelty of the proposed building was a planned flat roof from which people would be able to sit and enjoy a bird's-eye view of the city. The construction project faced opposition and subsequent delays during which Alfred Mayner's health deteriorated. When the final order was due to be applied two years after the initial provisional grant no appearance was made, and the provisional grant lapsed. Alfred Mayner died in a care home in May 1939. His son, recorded as a garage proprietor, died in the following year.
Well, after that digression we are back in Monument Road where a woman is waiting for a bus at the stop outside Knowles the Chemist. Two young boys, of whom is holding a small dog, are determined to be remembered on film - and here I am uploading the photograph in the 21st century hoping that some identification can be made. As I type, these lads would be about 70 years of age. Does anybody recognise them? I wonder if that is their mother waiting for the bus or if it is the other woman window shopping behind them? Possibly the former as, despite it being August, they are all out in coats. This side of the shop display has cameras and hair products to tempt any passing pedestrian.
The bus-stop can be seen outside Knowles can be seen in this photograph that shows the row of shops from the junction of Icknield Port Road. Next to the chemist's shop is the draper's shop of May Woodward. In the late 1930s this was a ladies' outfitters run by Clarice Evelyn Phipps. She had taken over the premises from Bessie A. Darby who operated a similar business. The shop had a long history of being a draper's store. Next door to May Woodward was a shop operated by Wheatcroft's [Smart Shoes] Ltd. As something of a cycling nut, I would like to see an inter-war photograph of this shop when it was occupied by the cycle dealer William Faulkner. At that time the shop in the foreground, seen here as Quality Cleaners Ltd., was the premises of the tailoring firms of Isaac Myers & Co. Next to this is the entrance to the yard of the builder W. R. Hudson.
This photograph shows either Lilian Smith or a shop assistant peering out of the window of the shop at 312 Monument Road. The photograph is undated but I would nip into a bookies to lay a bet on it being January 1938. The bill poster to the right of the shop has a notice for a Community Carol Singing and Gift Service at Five Ways Community Church held on the evening of Sunday December 19th 1937. I would imagine that the poster board is awaiting a new notice and has been left up, the reasoning being that Lilian Smith has her 'Sale' notices on display. Most retailers in days of old waited until after Christmas before having a sale to clear overstocks and unwanted items. I am concerned that the woman is busy peering out of the window rather than dealing with a rush of customers! In a bid to tempt the women of Ladywood, she has a fine display of hats in the window displays.
The Carol Singing was staged at Islington Methodist Church and was led by Mr. T. F. Ratcliff, famous leader of community singing and a well-known figure at Cup Finals and Tattoos. The Birmingham Daily Gazette reported that "Loudspeakers of extraordinary powerfulness carried the sound of the carol singing over nearly a quarter-mile radius, and many motorists pulled up to listen. Before the service began the Rev. C. Sydney Hunt received toys from the members of the congregation and placed them at the foot of a huge gaily-illuminated Christmas tree which stood by the pulpit." The toys were distributed in the run-up to Christmas by Birmingham Citizens' Society. Also in attendance at the service were the St. Martin's handbell ringers rendering selections.
Lilian Smith lived on the premises with her elderly stepmother, Alice. Lilian was listed as a millinery maker so some of the products in the shop were from her own work. She was assisted in the shop by Violet Wright who also lived above the shop. She was born at a similar period in the late Victorian period so I am not sure who can be seen in the photograph. Lilian Smith was born Harriet Lilian May Smith in December 1892 at Wolverhampton. Her father, a brass engineer and widower with two children, moved to Birmingham at the fag end of Queen Victoria's reign. Lilian lived a long life, being four years short of becoming a Centenarian.
At the end of the Edwardian perod, these premises were occupied the hosiers A. & B. Cock.
With a growing population in Ladywood and the surrounding districts, the Corporation were increasingly obliged to build public baths. A decade passed from the earliest meetings discussing the need for bathing facilities and the acquisition of a site here on Monument Road in 1877. However, it was not until February 1881 that Councillor Whitfield read a report of the Baths and Parks Committee, which stated, that "the Committee had authorised Messrs. Martin and Chamberlain to prepare plans for public baths in Monument Road, at an estimated cost of £22,000."
The committee had received tenders from several building contractors and decided to award the contract to John Bowen of Balsall Heath who submitted an estimate of £15,519, which, with fittings etc., would bring the cost up to £20,251. This was not received favourably by all committee members. Councillor Thomason thought that the sum asked was "most exorbitant." Alderman Avery suggested reviewing the expenditure and referring it back to the committee. However, Councillor Williams said "the cost of the baths, thrown over 60 years, would only be £960, and he believed the income would be equal to the expenditure." A chief influence on the outcome was Alderman Kendrick who "did not see on what grounds of equity and fairness the Council could refuse to the inhabitants of the Ladywood quarter of the town what had been granted to the other three quarters of the town." He further remarked that "The committee had considered the matter for several years, and he could not see the necessity of referring it back to them." The amendment proposed by Alderman Avery was defeated by a vote of 43 to 8 and the report was subsequently adopted.
With the plans of Messrs. Martin and Chamberlain passed, the men employed by John Bowen cracked on and slowly the imposing edifice arose on Monument Road. When the building was completed early in 1883 a journalist on the Birmingham Daily Post stated that "the elevation of the buildings is in the Gothic style. The materials employed are red brick with stone and terracotta dressings, the general effect of which is striking and pleasing." The most decorative terracotta work was around the entrances where carved water lilies were deployed, illuminated with leafy lanterns.
Inside the building there were two large swimming baths, the first class one being 80 feet long by 32 feet 6 inches wide, and the average depth about 4 feet. This contained 72,000 gallons of water heated to a temperature of 76 degrees. Around it there was a wide promenade with fifty private dressing rooms. The second class swimming bath was 68 feet long by 32½ feet broad, the average depth being 4 feet, and a capacity of 62,000 gallons of water. Notably the temperature of this pool was some 6 degrees lower! Along the promenade divided dressings seats were fitted for up to 250 bathers. Both baths were described as light, airy, and commodious, and in their construction white glazed bricks had been freely used, and ornamental cast-iron ribs and girders employed for supporting the roofs.
There were sixteen first-class private baths, with two extra baths, having special dressing rooms attached. There were also sixteen second-class baths. The Turkish baths were divided into first and second class departments. In the first there was a cooling, with cold plunge bath; two heated rooms, one having a temperature of 140 and the other 200 degrees; and attached was a shampooing room, fitted up with the 'latest' appliances. The second-class department consisted of dressing-boxes and two hot-air lavatories, each fitted up with a shower bath. The women's department consisted of four first-class and the same number of second-class private baths.
The Corporation Baths were formally opened by William White, Lord Mayor of Birmingham, on Tuesday February 27th, 1883. A slap-up breakfast was enjoyed by the Town Council and others in the first-class swimming bath, decorated under the direction of Mr. A. Rodway, superintendent of the parks. Music was supplied by the police band. With members of the public admitted for the speeches the Mayor remarked that "the baths were founded in the oldest street of Birmingham, the site of Icene." He added that "the Roman legions no doubt had passed up and down the road many a time before the borough of Birmingham was ever dreamt of." His references to the Italian invaders led him to refer to Roman baths and that "they were 2,000 years ahead of us in the matter of bathing and personal cleanliness." During his speech, the architect John Henry Chamberlain remarked "to build some baths was one of the first symptoms of the new municipal life that Birmingham showed. They knew how good thing cleanliness was, and he was sure that no person who had any duties to discharge in connection with the criminal could fail to observe how dirt and criminality went together."
The baths enjoyed some success but the building was criticised for the lack of ventilation, particularly in the second-class baths. There were also complaints of the opening times which did not allow use by those working all day. Quite rightly, women objected to the limited hours they were allowed to use the baths and that they had to queue to await their turn in the restricted space dedicated to them. In 1936, after continual use for fifty-three years, Councillor F. T. Beddoes, acting-chairman of the Baths Committee stated that the two swimming baths were supplied with water from a bore-hole pump on the site which had become only partly efficient, and the supply had to be augmented from the mains. He claimed that "the use of city water was unsafe, because it was difficult to see a person in deep water." He also said that the entire engineering plant was suffering from fatigue and the dressing accommodation was inadequate.
The construction of a new swimming baths at a more central site was mooted but Councillor Beddoes said that the baths were necessary at Monument Road, "owing to the character of the district, which was composed of mid-Victorian houses without baths." It was therefore proposed to demolish the existing baths and erect new baths on the existing site, though set back to a prescribed building line. This is what can be seen here on the building bearing the date of 1940.
The proposed new building was to contain one swimming pool instead of two, measuring seventy-five feet long and thirty-five feet wide. A cubicle and locker system of dressing accommodation would be provided. At the rear of the Victorian baths it was proposed to build thirty-nine washing baths for men and twenty-nine washing baths for women, to be completed before the existing washing baths were discontinued. It was estimated that swimming facilities would be suspended for about a year. An estimate showed the cost of the buildings would be £24,112, engineering works £6,200, and professional charges £1,688.
Following the partial demolition of the Victorian baths, in January 1938 tenders were invited for the demolition of the remainder of the baths and the construction of the new building in accordance with the plans of the architect Henry Walter Simister of Congreve Street.
Due to the war, the opening ceremony on June 27th, 1940, was rather low-key. However, I love the description of the event that was published in the Birmingham Daily Post on the following day. It was stated that "in the basement of the new swimming baths at Monument Road, which were opened by Councillor F. T. Beddoes, chairman of the Baths Committee, yesterday, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, the Lady Mayoress and other visitors gazed through portholes into the greenish depths of the swimming-baths and saw swimmers disporting themselves under the surface like denizens of another world. When times are normal, the underwaters will be illuminated by beams of electric light through a dozen portholes, the overhead lights will be switched off and spectators will look down as into a pool of bright moonshine. This arrangement is but one of the unique features that distinguish the reconstructed Monument Road baths from others in the city, and make of it one of the most up-to-date installations of its kind in the country."
A contemporary description of the interior stated that "the general colour scheme has been designed to give an air of cheerfulness and hygiene, and there are novel lighting effects. The swimming hall is illuminated by parabolic mirror reflectors placed in the roof space. The spacious entrance hall has staircases on either side leading to the café and the dressing-rooms."
The demolition of the Gothic pile may have been a loss but, personally speaking, I love the look of the replacement building of 1940. Of course, this has also been removed from the landscape. A new leisure centre with pool was opened in 2019. This frontage of the 1940 building was faced in brick with stone dressings and copings. The roof over the front block was in red pantiles. Three pairs of swing doors formed the approach to the entrance hall, which had walls finished to dado height in marble of two shades. The ticket office was finished in marble and stainless steel, and the floor with green rubber and terrazzo cove skirtings. I imagine that the couple seen above were managing the baths in 1957.
This building was directly opposite the Corporation Baths. It was originally a New Connexion Methodist Chapel but, following the United Methodist Church Act of 1907, the building became the United Methodist Church.
The foundation stone seen to the left of the main entrance states that it was laid by the Rev. William Baggaly [chairman of the Birmingham district] on Monday 14th July, 1873. As was customary in those days he was presented with a silver trowel for cement slopping. Q: Did dignitaries actually use their shiny trowel for the job or were they sneakily handed a grotty one to undertake the task? The trowel, along with a mahogany mallet, was presented by the Rev. M. J. Birks, the minister of the congregation.
During the ceremony, a bottle was placed in the cavity of the stone containing copies of the Birmingham daily papers, a copy of William Baggaly's "Digest," the names of the members of the building committee for 1873, and a document containing the names of the trustees, building committee, ministers, society stewards, architects, contractors, etc. I wonder if this was retrieved when the building was demolished? The document would have contained the names of the architects, Messrs. Hill and Swain, of Leeds, and the builders, Messrs. Stockton and Son, of Oldbury.
The first Methodist New Connexion congregation was organised in 1855, when the members held their meetings in a small room in Clarke Street. Three years later they removed to the Icknield Port Road. After another two years, when their new schools were built in Icknield Street West, their services were held in that building, and continued until this edifice was completed.
Costing £2,400, the chapel, erected in front of the schools, could accommodate 700 people and was built in the Gothie style featuring a gable with spirets and a traceried window. The ornamental doorway was relieved with Bath stone facings. The interior roof was of open timber work with principals, ornamental carved spandrils and ribs, and Arcade arches with braced spandrils supported by iron columns.
Next door to the Methodist Chapel and also facing the Corporation Baths was the appropriately-named Baths Coffee House. Here was a place where many folk could munch on a bacon butty and slurp some Barbers Tea. Taken in 1957, this photograph is a precious image in that the business seemingly closed soon afterwards. A trade directory published two years later, in 1959, records No.128 occupied by a sewing machine dealer, H. Hedley. The premises had a long history of being a coffee house and is recorded as such in the late 1880s. Back then it was operated by the widow Fanny Race, along with her daughter Matilda. They originated from Eccles and Manchester and gradually drifted south, spending some years in Stoke-on-Trent, possibly as a result of husband/father George Race being an engineer. It was at The Potteries that Matilda married William Edge but she was also a widow when running the coffee house with her mother. She took over the business and traded under her married name in the Edwardian period. Her daughter, Edith, also worked in the coffee house which must have been a busy place as they employed Mabel Lee as an assistant and hired Daisy Gardener as a servant.
In the above photograph the name of G. W. King is painted above the entrance. This must have been hopelessly out-of-date. As far back as 1920 Leah King was living at these premises with Matilda Edge. She would later run the coffee house with her husband George Walter King - the initials above the doorway. However, he died in October 1946, after which Leah continued to run the business with her son Maurice. Born in 1931, he grew up on these premises during the war. He married June Millichamp in October 1953. The electoral roll for 1957, the date of this photograph, shows Maurice and June King living here with Raymond and Gladys Millichamp. They were still here in 1962 but the trade directory of 1959 does suggest that the business had changed. It may have been a lock-up shop with separate living accommodation.
Back across the road, and next to the Corporation Baths, stood the Ladywood Branch of the Birmingham General Dispensary. Branches of this charity organisation appeared in districts of Birmingham during the 19th century. The first of this system of branches was opened at Camp Hill early in 1871. Indeed, that was a trial to see how successful or beneficial such a system could prove. It was opened within a large house formerly occupied by the late Mr. Beilby, on the corner of Stratford Road and Stratford Place. The success of that branch resulted in others being established at other districts. However, it was not until 1880 that donations for the proposed dispensary at Ladywood were received. By the time of the annual meeting held in February 1881 around £3,000 had been received towards the building fund and a site had been presented to the charity by Joseph Nettlefold, chairman and managing director of the famous screw manufacturing company. By the time of the next annual meeting, in February 1883, it was announced that building had commenced on the Ladywood branch designed by Messrs. Payne and Talbot. The contractors for the project were Messrs. Barnsley and Sons. So, the construction project was only a little after that of the Corporation Baths.
Here the Dispensary can be seen out of the shadow of the Gothic giant that was the Corporation Baths. By this time, and for many years, the building had become the Ladywood Community Centre. Before the creation of the National Health Service, which subsequently released this building for other uses, the Ladywood Community Centre Assocation had requested to erect a temporary building in Chamberlain Gardens in October 1947. At the council meeting Ald. Mrs. Hyde, chair of the Parks Committee said that "Chamberlain Gardens were the only blade of grass in Ladywood and it was against the public well-being to allow building there." When Alderman Garnet Benjamin Boughton first stood for election to the city council in 1945 he promised his ward, Ladywood, a community centre. His first speech on the council was to ask the Education Committee for the centre, but not until 1951 was he able to get the Old Dispensary for the purpose. Garnet Boughton would later serve as Lord Mayor of Birmingham. The Ladywood Community Centre was formally opened on September 12th, 1951, by the Lord Mayor at that time, Ralph Cyril Yates.
The Old Dispensary, converted into the Ladywood Community Centre, can just be seen to the left of this photograph showing a Bulmer's Cider Dray delivering to an off-licence at No.318 Monument Road. The first shop, at No.317, was a confectionery shop run by George and Joyce Nicholson. It had been a confectionery shop since Victorian times, though the off-licence was originally a tobacconist's shop. The confectioner in the late Victorian era and early Edwardian period was Edmund Joseph Wyer, the son of a Dublin-born music professor. Also listed as a baker, Edmund and his wife Polly probably made many of the items for sale on the premises. However, in the latter half of the Edwardian period he returned to his old trade of silversmith and jewellery-maker and moved with his family to Lozells.
Note the narrow alley between the shop and the community centre. This was Bath Passage which led to a warren of back-to-back housing. Looking back at newspapers of old, I could fill a web page with stories of criminality by some of those who lived in what were fairly insanitary conditions.
Of course, in days of old people like the Wyer family were cooking up retail pleasures of their own but in this early 1960s photograph of the shop window display at No.317 Monument Road it can be seen that the retailer simply sold products bought in from the wholesalers. I have to be honest ... the Galaxy chocolate bar is older than I imagined it to be. Indeed, on checking, I found that it was launched a year before this photograph was taken in 1961. All those sweet jars meant that this was a haven for any child with a few pennies pocket money. I can almost smell the interior of the shop!
This is a slightly later view of the sweets and fags shop, along with the row of shops between Ladywood Community Centre and Beach Street. The more ornate building on the opposite side of Beach Street had been a branch of Lloyd's Bank. I believe it closed in 1961 and moved to 187 Hagley Road. Offley Wade was probably the first manager of the branch. His staff in the early Edwardian years were W. R. Little and O. A. Garner. Offley Wade was in the service of Lloyd's Bank throughout his business life, and when he retired in 1925 he was joint manager of the bank in New Street. Following his retirement he became actively associated with the work of the Birmingham Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society and the Birmingham Medical Mission in Floodgate Street. For eight years he was a governor of Birmingham Blue Coat School. He later lived at White Cottage at Knowle.
Assuming the clock inside the off-licence is correct, this photograph was taken at 11.45 a.m. on Thursday, 10th August, 1961. This beer emporium had formerly been a tobacconist's shop that, in the late 19th century, was owned and run by Henry Hickman. He was listed as such in trade directories up to 1903 before being recorded as a beer retailer in the following year. Better known as Harry, the Brummie kept the shop with his Scottish-born wife Isabella. Oddly, for such a small place, the couple had an assistant, Emily Cockayne. They also employed Emily Summers as a servant. Also living here was their adopted daughter Mabel Heath. By the end of the Edwardian period, the Hickman's had moved to 24 High Park Road at Smethwick where they traded as pawnbrokers. They appear to have moved in 1906 when the off-licence was occupied by Frederick William Howes, a man who also had a saddler's business at No.214.
Note the entry to the side of the shop. This was known as Johnstone Place and featured six small houses. The person holding the camera is stood at the junction of Johnstone Street. This may be a reference to Dr. John Johnstone who lived in the vicinity. He was a physician at the General Hospital in the early 19th century, a position he held for over 30 years. He was the younger brother of Edward Johnstone, who was noted for his research and treatment of fever. His home in Edgbaston was referenced in June 1821 when a robbery of a young lady took place "in the lane leading from the house of Dr. John Johnstone, at Edgbaston, to Birmingham." The woman was shoved in a ditch when the ruffian took her handbag. She cried out and Mr. Davis, a butcher who was passing on horseback, pursued him and, with the assistance of some people, captured the assailant who was committed to the Warwick gaol. In Wrightson's Triennial Directory of Birmingham published in 1823 John Johnstone was listed at Monument House. He resigned from his position at the General Hospital in 1833, and was succeeded by his nephew James Johnstone. He was also a senior physician at the General Hospital for more than thirty years. He married Mary Maria, eldest daughter of Joseph Webster, of Penns. Although he had a large family, none of his sons followed into the medical profession. One achieved considerable distinction as an officer in the India army, and another served in the Royal Navy.
This close-up of No.318 Monument has a couple on details of interest to those who enjoy seeing such old emporiums. The image shows the rudimentary cellar trap beneath the shop window. The manager has installed a spotlight and back-mirror to sex up the products on offer inside. The entrance door features a lovely etched-glass pane installed by Mitchell's and Butler's.
Running the off-licence at this time was Marie Hancocks who lived on the premises with her husband Leslie. Born in December 1919, Marie Holmes, as she was then, was the daughter of a brewery cellar inspector. Consequently, she would have no excuses for not having a spotless cellar in this off-licence. Her father may have gone down the steps to have a look and advise on matters. She was living in Springfield Street when she married Leslie Hancocks in January 1940. He was a sheet metal worker living at Central Avenue at Turves Green.
Further along this row of shops at No.325 was a florist's shop trading as Doris. The same name was applied to a greengrocery two doors away on the corner of Beach Street. Between these two stores was the draper's shop of Dorothy Sharratt, though she seems to have filled the window with advertisements and notices for all manner of things. To the left of the florist's was the ironmongery and hardware shop run by James and Beryl Harvey. The premises seen here selling flowers had a long history of being the shop of bootmakers. In the 1890s Albert Sydney Hawkes was selling his footwear from here, a period when Edward Ingram was also trading next door as a boot and shoe maker.
This 1965 photograph looks back on the shops discussed above. The buildings are nearing the end of their days and Doris has moved out of the florist's shop and also the corner building that sold fresh fish and vegetables. The ghost sign for Barber's Teas on the first floor of the corner reveals that this used to be a grocery store. Frederick Marsh was recorded as a grocer on this corner way back in 1880 and traded for over a decade before the business was taken over by Benjamin Adams. He put in a shift of two decades before handing over to George and Wilfred Marshall. The latter was running the shop with his wife Phyllis during the Second World War. I see that the hardware store was still going here and has stuck to the tradition of such shops to completely fill the pavement and frontage with a range of wares. It must take up to an hour to haul this lot out every morning and pack it away at the end of trading hours.
Taken in April 1960, this photograph shows the premises of Richmond Rubber Co. Ltd. on the corner of Monument Road and Icknield Square. The firm also had premises at The Parade, along with those at Lower Dartmouth Street. Here the business occupied Nos.339-341. In 1880 the premises on the corner was occupied by the draper John Henry Jones. At that time John David Scott was three doors away at No.342 manufacturing sewing machines. By the end of the Edwardian period Nos.339-341 had been combined by the draper's store trading as John Henry Jones and Son. By the time of the First World War they had also taken over No.314. The business continued for several decades.
Moving along a little, this image shows the shops between Icknield Square and Leach Street, a thoroughfare formerly known as Wellington Street. Halfway along, the narrow opening by the lorry, was Linden Terrace. On the left the shop with a sun blind was a butcher's shop run by Margaret Knight. She also operated a pet food shop next door so I will leave you, the reader, to make your own mind up regarding where the meat ended up! The next shop was Reeve Studio, the sign manufacturers. Beyond that, on the corner of Linden Terrace was the hardware dealership of Jacob Jaffa and Sons.
This 1952 photograph shows a hairdresser's at No.356. Part of the Duke of Wellington can be seen to the left. There is no name on the shop but it was the hair-cutting emporium of John Richard Marshall. He had been trading here before the Second World War. It was a lock-up shop as he lived at No.1 Carlyle Road in Edgbaston, a delightful house on the corner of Stirling Road. Part of the living accommodation here was home to George and Lena Challicom. Actually I think that this salon was for both men and women, John Marshall being listed as a master hairdresser. His wife Georgina worked as the proprietor of a boarding house.
This image dates from 1960. I see that John Marshall finally got around to having his name painted on his shop front. Some people are waiting for the inner circle bus, though the driver will have a little difficulty with that motor in the way. Beyond the saloon car the first shop with the sun canopy is Swift's Shoe Shop. This firm also had a branch on School Road at Yardley Wood. Next door is the grocery store of Cyril and Clara Slaughter and beyond that Watty's fishing tackle shop. At the end of the row was a branch of the bakery firm, George Baines.
This photograph was taken near the aforementioned hardware shop and the camera was aimed across the road to the junction of Ledsam Street. The drapery firm of Pearce Brothers occupied three properties to form a large shop in which they specialised in baby clothing and prams. The firm were formerly house furnishers and were located on Great Hampton Street.
By the time of this 1960 photograph these premises formed an extension or annex to Pearce Brothers but they were formerly dining rooms. Winding the clock back to the late 1870s, not long after the building was erected, it was seemingly a private house occupied by S. Gwilliam who sold the entire contents in February 1878. The property was then taken over by the Ladywood Coffee House Co. Ltd. On May Day 1880 the directors of this firm gave a tea party at the newly-opened coffee house to all the workmen who had been engaged in the alteration and decoration of the premises. Indeed, the invitations were extended to the wives of the men, many of whom were present at the bash. About seventy people sat down to a substantial meal under the presidency of the Chairman of the company, Alfred Hill JP. It was reported that it was an extremely pleasant evening enlivened with vocal and instrumental music and some excellent personations. This type of establishment was viewed as a sober place in which people could gather for social and commerce without alcohol. I am not sure how long the Ladywood Coffee House Co. Ltd. lasted but these premises continued to be run as a coffee house. Operated by several individuals the premises were listed as coffee rooms until the end of the Edwardian period at which point trade directories described the business as dining rooms when run by Charles Cooke. Charles E. Percival was in charge of the dining rooms at the outbreak of World War 2.
Though they extended into the former dining rooms in later years, Pearce Brothers mainly operated from Nos.76-77 Monument Road, two properties combined into one retail emporium ...
Full marks for the double-decker fenestration that one generally only saw in High Street locations. This window arrangement was popular with some retailers during the Edwardian period. And it was in those years that the firm moved into the premises. No.77, the right-hand part of the property, was formerly used as a dairy and shop by Alfred Broad. However, as early as 1880 the two shops were combined when occupied by the hatter Alfred Priddis Jr.
Next door, seen to the left of the above photograph, was the local post-office, established in the late 1880s in a former grocery shop. By the end of the Victorian era it was being run by the appropriately-named Annie Stamp! That could only be topped by a woman called Penny. The Belbroughton-born sub-post mistress was here until the First World War.
Continuing north-west from the post-office Monument Road crossed over the Birmingham Canal and railway line which I will cover in more detail when discussing the Station Inn. Just after Oak Place was the City of Birmingham Maternity and Child Welfare Centre. The first building in Birmingham dedicated to ante-natal and post-natal care was opened in December 1930 at Tyburn Road. The council promised others and these appeared in Northfield, Kingstanding, Weoley Castle, Washwood Heath. Work on the centre in Monument Road was undertaken in 1934. It was reported at the time that the city was leading the whole country in terms of child welfare. At the outbreak of World War 2 the superintendent of the centre was Maud Cousins.
A few metres from the Maternity and Child Welfare Centre was Summer Hill Methodist Church. The church was built here in the mid-19th century but, as can be seen, the front of the building is not a Victorian façade.
The origins of the Summer Hill Wesleyan Methodist Society can be traced back to 1836. Two years later a small chapel was opened in Icknield Street East. This was found wanting in 1850 so in the following year the congregation moved to Camden Street. With a growing congregation, this too proved inadequate so they moved to another chapel in King Edward's Road. This was enlarged in 1863 but with a congregation of 175 by 1865 it was decided to build a substantial chapel on the site seen here.
This map extract shows the location of the chapel, along with its predecessor which was subsequently used as a Sunday School. In building the chapel the Wesleyans were assisted by George Hyde who offered the munificent gift of £2,500 on annuity towards the erection of the chapel, the work commencing in January 1866. The memorial stone was laid by the benefactor, after which there was an address delivered by the Rev. Samuel Coley.
The chapel was the work of the Temple Street-based architect John G. Bland, the man probably most famous for the Argent Works in the Jewellery Quarter. The Wesleyan Chapel was described as Venetian-Gothic. A large four-light traceried window was deployed in the frontage and the entrance was by an open porch, from which ran staircases, communicating with the galleries, which ran along the end and the two sides of the building. The interior consisted of nave and aisles and the open-timbered roof rose to a height of 53ft. Opposite the entrance was the rostrum, immediately behind which, over the two vestries, was a gallery for organ and choir. The contractor for the building was William Partridge.
The chapel was used in the original form until August 1933 when it was reconstructed and modernised. I am not sure if parts of the old building were retained but certainly the roof was taken off and the frontage completely updated. Costing some £10,000 the architect for the project was Walter Bond. He presented a key to the building to Mrs. Hadley of Handsworth Wood for the opening ceremony in June 1934. Whilst the work was being undertaken services were held in the Infants Department of Camden Street Council School. It was a bold project considering that the congregation had decreased due to migration to the suburbs. However, it was stated that, as a Mission Hall, it was well supported.
I have not got a photograph of the Summer Hill Methodist Church built in 1866 but, fortunately, an aerial photograph of this section of Monument Road was taken in June 1933 - just two months before the reconstruction work. Consequently, one can see the old building, along with the hangar-like Palais de Danse which I will discuss below.
These shops were a few doors down from the Summer Hill Methodist Church, the junction being with King Edward's Road. The corner property was the premises of the newsagent and stationer Thomas James Dickens. Next door at No.403 was a chemist's shop run by Ronald George Pharo. He had served in the Royal Air Force during World War 2. It was while serving in Kent that he married Mary Buchanan in 1944.
This close-up of the corner shop provides a glimpse into the business of Thomas Dickens. In addition to newspapers and stationery, he was selling all sorts of toys and gifts that made the place attractive for boys to hang out. Dressed in a varied state of scruffiness, they seem to be enjoying a good laugh. The eldest is showing off his wheels, possibly bought from the shop of Reginald Clews on the opposite corner of King Edward's Road. A shop assistant in the chemist's shop is adjusting the window display. For many years the corner shop was used as a chemist's shop and the shop next door was generally described as a fancy repository. For much of the late 19th century the corner chemist's shop was the domain of William Henry Reedman.
Reginald Clews probably enjoyed bumper trade at Christmas time when local residents scraped enough money together to buy a bicycle for their offspring. Or had one on tick. The cycle dealer certainly has a good display of bikes for youngsters. He and his wife Anne lived on the premises at No.405 Monument Road. This was a business with great continuity. As a new-born child, Reginald Clews grew up at No.402 where his father, Henry, made a living as a cycle maker. Reginald married the typist Anne Johnson in December 1934, the couple living here on the corner of King Edward's Road where Reginald was recorded as a garage proprietor and car salesman. The sign on the first floor of the corner shows that they were selling Regent Petrols. The pumps can be seen a little along King Edward's Road.
Reginald and Anne Clews had a fright in April 1936 when a Midland Red van, driven by Norman Stretton, mounted the pavement on this corner, knocked down a fire alarm and crashed through the windows of the cycle shop, smashing two cycles and damaging others.
The redevelopment of Monument Road forced a relocation to Soho Road at Handsworth, though the family home was close to Rotton Park Reservoir in Newnham Road. It was there that he spearheaded a campaign by the Gillott and Rotton Park Residents' Association to prevent Bass-Charrington from building a major distribution depot adjoining the Cape Hill Brewery in 1972. In his later career Reginald Clews was a property agent. The former cycle dealer died at the age of 89 in 1990.
The left-hand side of this photograph shows part of the large hangar-like building that was the Palais de Danse [see also aerial photograph above]. The site of the dancehall was a former sand pit. During the Edwardian period it was used by Frank C. Bostock for his animal productions known as "Bostock's Jungle." Dubbed "The Animal King," he was described as "England's Greatest Showman." "Bostock's Jungle." came directly to Birmingham after famously being part of the Coronation Exhibition at London.
The "Bostock's Jungle." had an extended season at Monument Road. A Birmingham Mail article of February 1912 stated that "a visit to Bostock's Jungle at Monument Road is an enviable event. There is so much to see that the interest never slackens, and even though one may have attended this enjoyable entertainment time and again, there is yet something new to attract and grip the attention. The younger members of the audience still show a keen delight in elephant and camel rides, and the large collection of animals, and also the amusing performances in the arena, are not easily forgotten. Juanita's waltz with the lions is a turn which has a certain flavour of riskiness about it. It is without doubt one of the most popular numbers on the bill - a distinction which it shares with the boxing kangaroo, the Teddy Bears, and the performing elephants." The season came to an end on March 2nd, 1912 and Frank C. Bostock died later that year. Fittingly, there is a lion on his grave at Abney Park Cemetery in London.
The Palais de Danse opened just before Christmas in 1920. The large venue created a real stir, sensational almost, and became a pioneer of the provincial UK jazz scene. The dance hall was modelled on the Hammersmith Palais de Danse opened in the previous year by the U.S. entrepreneurs Howard Booker and Frank Mitchell. Hot on the heels of that success, this was their second venture. The project was not without opposition. In October 1920, when the venue was nearing completion, there was a report published by the Public Works and Town Planning Committee, in which Mr. Tiptaft raised the question of erecting a luxury building when housing was needed. However, work on the building was at such an advanced stage, the hindrance of a Government Appeal Committee was described as a scandalous shame.
In the week leading up to the launch of the venue it was announced that Alderman Sir William Bowater, former Lord Mayor of Birmingham, had agreed to perform the opening ceremony with his wife. The directors of the dancehall had agreed to hand over the entire receipts from the sale of tickets for the opening ball to the Birmingham Mail Christmas Tree Fund, together with the whole of the profits from the sale of refreshments.
There was great excitement ahead of the opening and it was reported that there had been brisk demand for tickets being sold at Messrs. Stockley and Company's booking offices in Colmore Row. In addition to dancing devotees, members of the public were keen to see "the wonders and quite Oriental splendours of this latest and unique addition to the city's institutions." It was stated in the Birmingham Mail that the city was "the first provincial centre to have established in its midst an exact replica of the famous Palais de Danse at Hammersmith."
The directors left no stone unturned to ensure this was no flop. They engaged "a staff of 75 highly-trained and expert ladies and gentlemen to fill the dual role of instructors and partners." This was Strictly on a grand scale and a determined effort to create a dancing craze in the city.
At the opening ceremony Sir William Bowater commented that "the syndicate responsible for this newest addition to Birmingham's sociable rallying-points have worked wonders in the short time at their disposal. It seems only yesterday that the Monument Road building was housing a wild beast show - only the day before that it "functioned" as a skating-rink." "Today," he added, "it is a really gorgeous Temple of Terpsichore, on which the decorator's most ambitious and artistic efforts have been lavished."
A journalist for the Birmingham Mail typed: "All dancing folk from every quarter of suburban Birmingham must been there for the opening ball. The vast maple floor, the thirty-foot promenade, and the encircling gallery alike were thronged with men in evening kit and girls in bewitching frocks all laughing and chattering and swaying to strains of two excellent bands, which kept the dancing going almost without a break on the "turn and turn about" principle."
The two bands were the Frisco Jazz Band and The Rag-Pickers who ensured that dancing continued until the early hours. The revellers tripped the light fantastic under "a multitude of Chinese lanterns suspended under a twinkling forest of steel girders high up in the roof."
The Palais de Danse enjoyed great succes for a couple of decades and many of the jazz greats performed here in Monument Road, including Louis Armstrong. One of the numbers he performed here was "Tiger Rag," appropriate given that many locals, probably to the chagrin of the owners, had dubbed the dancehall "The Jungle," a legacy of the site being used by Frank C. Bostock.
The Palais de Danse closed during World War 2 and was used as warehouse for storing sugar. Inevitably the local rat population took to the dance floor, damaging it to the extent that it was apparently irrepairable. Well, that is one account. However, Bert Thomas, a band pianist at the hall, stated that it was taken over for the war effort in 1943.
"Edward Wood , 73, Peel Street, described on the charge-sheet as a labourer, but who, according to his father, could
never be made to do any work, was charged with stealing a box containing half a pound of cigarettes, valued 4s. 8d., from the tobacconist's shop of Mr. John
Green, 431m Monument Lane. He admitted his guilt, saying that his object was to sell them. It appeared that he was brought up for felony twice during December. The
Stipendiary said be could not let him off this time, and sent him to prison for twenty-one days. The father: "It's the best thing he can do with him,
"An Impudent Theft"
Birmingham Daily Post : January 10th 1900 Page 3
"A sequel to exciting scene at Monument Lane Station, on Saturday night, was presented at the Victoria Courts this morning. Among the
prisoners appearing before the City Stipendiary [Mr. T. Colmore] was a Smethwick man named Robert Burns, who was arrested on various charges arising
out of Saturday night's singular affair. He was then a passenger occupying a first-class carriage on a train from Soho Road to town. On a demand at Monument
Lane Station for the excess fare, Burns became abusive and violent. He is said to have struck the ticket collector, and then, picking up an axe and a knife, which
happened to be lying at hand in the station, he apparently "ran amok." With these formidable weapons in his hand - Superintendent Moore produced the axe
for the inspection of the Court - the man turned on the officials, two of whom he attempted to stab. A porter received a blow from the axe, and a police officer
was also injured. The prisoner was now remanded till Friday."
"The Scene at Monument Lane Station"
Birmingham Mail : January 6th 1902 Page 2
"William Patrick O'Sullivan , of Monument Road, Ladywood, was remanded in custody until Monday when he was
charged at Alcester yesterday with assaulting Mrs. Edna Hallam with intent to ravish at her home in Sambourne Lane, Sambourne. Police Sergeant John Roberts
said O'Sullivan called at Mrs. Hallam's home last Thursday and said his trousers had been torn by an accident on a cycle. He asked for a needle and thread
to sew on some buttons. He suddenly attacked her, the sergeant said, but Mrs. Hallam escaped and the man ran across fields behind her home. Extensive police enquiries
were made. and O'Sullivan was arrested at his home by Detective Sergeant Poole, of the Midland Crime Squad, on Wednesday. At the Birmingham Crime Squad headquarters,
the sergeant said O'Sullivan made no reply when questioned. Later at Stratford-upon-Avon police station he was charged and replied, "I have told you the
truth." Sergeant Roberts said O'Sullivan had made a statement."
"Man Accused of Attack on Woman in her Home"
Birmingham Daily Post : June 10th 1960 Page 30