Early adverts for Paynes Coaches of Lower Tower Street in Aston. The company was established by Mary Payne (nee. Finn), my great grandmother’s cousin. The company was also known as Danny Boy Coaches, which has to have been a reference from the Irish song “Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…”
Initially, most of the information that I had about Mary Payne was told to me by Aunty Kath (Kathleen Robinson). In 1998 I made contact with a grandson of Mary Payne, Gerald Payne who lives in Kingstanding, who wrote to me confirming many of the details that Kath had remembered. It turned out that her recall was extremely accurate and Gerald Payne filled me in with a few more interesting facts besides.
Mary Payne (nee. Finn) had six children; Patrick (who was the father of Gerald Payne), Elizabeth (Lizzie), Jane, Fred, and twins Gerald and Theresa who were both blind. Interestingly, Aunty Kath recalled the name of the twin Gerald as Gerard, which also sounds feasible, being a Catholic saint name. In any case, Gerald (or Gerard) was a very good piano player.
Mary’s family was very well off. According to her grandson, Mary herself owned a lot of property in Lower Tower Street, Newtown Row, Albert Road and later in life, a mansion in Shirley. At first the family ran a small company which refurbished flats and other properties around Newtown, Nechells and Aston.
Aunty Kath told me about when she was taken by her granny to visit the Paynes in Aston:
“Because Theresa and Gerard were both blind, it was left to Lizzie to run errands for the family business and to collect rent and payments from customers for her parents. Mary Payne was a very religious woman who bought red carpet for around the altar at St Chad’s Cathedral. But she liked a drop of ale and when I was a girl of about 14, I remember being sent up to the local pub with a jug to fetch beer for Mary Payne”.
Kathleen Robinson also told me that Mary had adopted a little girl named Maureen who had been found abandoned on the steps of St Chad’s. Gerald Payne made no mention of this adopted child or the 2 year old child named Florence recorded in the 1901 census. He did tell me that his own father, Patrick, was born on a ship called the Mauritania in 1902 “on the way back from America”.
Following the success of her property business, Mary Payne went on to set up a coach company called Danny Boy Coaches, based in Pritchard Street. Gerald Payne explained more about this company:
“I don’t know when the company was formed. Mary gave the company to two sons, Patrick and Fred, their garage was in Pritchard Street, Aston. After they married they parted and started separate companies. My father (Patrick) kept Danny Boy Coaches, and Fred went to Vauxhall as far as I know and started up Ashted Coaches. Danny Boy Coaches changed it’s name to Comfort Coaches in 1949 and ended in 1953”.
“I have heard the name Mary Clayton mentioned by my father some years ago, he also mentioned relatives in the U.S.A., who were two doctors, but I don’t know if they are off the Payne or Finn side of the family”.
“I understand that Mary Payne came from Galway, she had a lot of time for St Chad's Cathedral in Bath Street, all our family were married there by her request, she donated sums of money to the church”.
Mary Payne died in about 1938 and, according to her grandson, is buried in St Josephs churchyard in Nechells.
We know that several people from our family travelled to America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Mary Payne was one of them, though in Mary’s case she returned to Birmingham in 1902