Denis, Sue and Peter
For the third time I became pregnant, with our second son Peter. At this point, the bed-sitter and small kitchen were no longer adequate for our needs. So it was decided we look for roomier accommodation. The Birmingham Housing Dept did not consider our housing needs to be desperate, and we had not been allotted the necessary number of points to be re-housed. Dear Nanny Mill came to our rescue, she had heard from her relatives, that cousin Sheila and husband Eric Moss, were vacating a large rented Victorian house in Harborne. Cousin Sheila kindly put our name forward to the owners Mr and Mrs Bulman. Mrs Bulman was a very staunch Victorian lady, while her husband had the bearing of a senior army officer. The old couple resided in an old Victorian rambling house, located on Harborne Park Road. Sheila’s husband Eric Moss made the introductions and our application was accepted. Just after moving in, we did have a slight hiccup. Unexpectedly we received a demand for the outstanding balance of the Local Authority rates, which amounted to £17.00 Pounds. Unfortunately we had no liquid assets or money in our bank account. We had spent money on the removals and advance payment for the first two weeks rental. Fortunately help came in the guise of my brother Kevin who loaned us the money, until we were able to pay him back. That is how we came to live at 107 Station Road, which was to become our home for the next forty years.
Bath time at Station Road—the kitchen sink!
It was a large property, comprising two big front rooms, a living room at the rear, a small kitchen, three large bedrooms, a small bedroom and an upstairs bath and toilet. We had brought only a small amount of furniture with us from Monument Road and this was lost in the big house until we had sufficient funds to furnish it properly. Initially, until the children got older, we only used two of the four bedrooms. The property was an old residence and not in a not very good state of repair. The water was heated from a coal fire in the living room, which had a back boiler. All other rooms were equipped with old cast-iron grates, for burning solid fuel. The coal fires were not very clean and when coal became in short supply and Harborne reverted to a smokeless zone, we installed a gas fires in the rooms. This created a further problem, in that there was then no means of heating the water, which in itself was very inconvenient. The solution was to heat the water in a gas boiler, in which I did my weekly wash. To take a bath, the hot water would be carried in buckets, upstairs to the bathroom. The washing water needed in the mornings was heated in a kettle, on the gas stove.
We had moved to Station Road in the August of 1961 and our second son Peter, was born on the 25th of December, Christmas day of that year. At that time we did not have a phone installed and could not announce the good news to anyone, that is until after the Christmas break. Denis and Susan thought that Santa had brought Peter as an extra Christmas present and I might add a big present, as he weighed in at ten pounds. The two children peered into the cot, in the upstairs bedroom, eager to see the new arrival.
My husband had only one suit to wear, but he needed to look presentable in his office job. The trousers would become threadbare, in need of darning in order to keep the suit going. At night, I would often wash his only shirt, so he could wear it the following morning. When the collar became too warn I would use my needle skills to reverse it and to give the shirt a new lease of life. At that time things were not easy, but at least none of our clothes or any of our other possessions ever ended up in the pawnshop, which had been the custom for our own folks. Thank goodness, we never had to buy our food on credit, and settle up at the end of the week (the strap), as did our parents.
Although not conscious of it at the time, I suppose we were experiencing a gradual improved lifestyle, compared with our forebears. Today, fifty years on, in these millennium years, it’s considered quite normal to pay for goods by credit card and weeks later try to clear the debt.