Sunday, 28 October 2012

Records for Finn sisters in the 1911 census

I believe that this is the family of Margaret Reeves, nee. Finn who was one of my great grandmother's sisters. I have always been told that Thomas and Margaret Reeves ran a second hand shop in Ladywood. They are listed in Birmingham trade directories in the 1920s with a shop in Icknield Street.  

In this record Margaret is listed as a shop keeper and then also described as a huckster which was a name for someone who bought and sold second hand goods, usually small items that could be sold door-to-door.

Thomas Reeves was 33 years old, married for 12 years, a brass caster worker, born in Birmingham.

Margaret Reeves his wife was also 33 years old (which fits with her being 14 in the 1891 census) and had given birth to 6 children, 1 of whom had died. She was a shopkeeper a huckster and housekeeper. Also born in Birmingham.

Their children included:

Thomas aged 10, at school.
Margaret aged 6, at school.
Annie aged 4, at school.
William aged 2, at school.
Norman aged 4 months. 

All children born in Birmingham.

The Reeves family had two lodgers:

Albert Phillips, aged 21, single, a silver polisher born in London.
Henry Hickman aged 39, single, a plasterers labourer born in Birmingham.

In the same census of 1911 is this record for an address at no.3 back of 53 Buckingham Street showing the family of Annie Green, nee. Finn (or Hannah as she is named here) with her husband William and their 5 daughters. What is also interesting about this record is that it also includes another of the Finn sisters, Julia Finn, who later married Percy Judd though at this point she is unmarried.

The family comprises:

William Green aged 42, a hosue painter,born in Worcestershire.
Hannah Green aged 36, married for 12 years with five children (all survived), born in Birmingham

Hannah E. Green aged 10
Ellen M Green aged 7
Margaret E Green aged 6
Mary G Green aged 3
Catherine M Green aged 1

All of the children born in Birmingham

Finally, Julia Finn, sister-in-law to William Green, single, working as a General Canvassar.
Born in Bimringham.

Some Clayton records for 19th century Willenhall

Willenhall St. Anne’s: Baptisms 1861-1931


CLAYTON Albert John son of William & Harriet 24 Mar 1889 New Railway Street Iron moulder W.Latimer Ward

CLAYTON Florence dau.of John & Sarah Ann 2 Sep 1906 27 St.Anns Road Currycomb maker W.Latimer Ward born 12th August

CLAYTON Gertrude dau.of William & Harriet 14 Sep 1884 New Railway Street Iron moulder W.Latimer Ward born 29/6/1883

CLAYTON Lilian dau.of William & Harriet 31 Jul 1890 New Railway Street Iron caster W.Latimer Ward born 15th July

CLAYTON Mary Helen dau.of William & Harriet 23 Feb 1893 New Railway Street Iron caster W.Latimer Ward born 16th January


Willenhall St. Anne’s: Marriages 1861-1935


CLAYTON Alice Elizabeth 27 s 16 Sep 1916 …… St.Anns Road John Clayton (dec) Iron moulder CRUMP William B

CLAYTON Emma 23 s 30 Jul 1916 …… 27 St.Anns Road John Clayton (dec) Brass caster HADLEY Arthur B

CLAYTON Maud Lingard 26 s 23 Dec 1923 …… St.Anns Road John Clayton (dec) Brass caster BAYLISS John Henry B


Willenhall St. Anne’s: Marriages 1861-1935


CLAYTON William George 23 b 27 Sep 1903 Moulder New Railway Street William Clayton Foreman moulder WOLVERSON Emily Florence B


Willenhall St. Stephen’s: Baptisms 1848-1909


CLAYTON Reuben son of Jacob & Betsy 12 Feb 1888 Willenhall Padlock maker

CLAYTON Violet dau.of Jacob & Betsy 31 Aug 1891 Royal Exchange, W'ton St. Padlock maker

CLAYTON Emma dau.of John & Emma 22 Jan 1893 35 Wolverhampton Street Caster

CLAYTON Maud Lingard dau.of John & Emma 19 May 1896 35 Wolverhampton Street Caster Born 2nd May

CLAYTON George son of John & Sarah Ann 19 Apr 1904 Upper Lichfield Street Brass finisher

CLAYTON Joseph son of Elizabeth 29 Aug 1905 55 New Street, Portobello …… Born 3rd August

CLEATON Elizabeth Florence dau.of Samuel & Anne 8 Jul 1866 Portobello Cas

Willenhall St. Stephen’s: Marriages 1854-1934


CLAYTON Elizabeth 21 s 30 Jun 1907 …… 107 Newhall Street Jacob Clayton Locksmith BLANTON Joseph Thomas B

CLAYTON Sarah Jane 20 s 22 Aug 1892 …… Somerford Place John Clayton Caster GEE James Henry B

CLAYTON Samuel 47 w 22 Jul 1888 Labourer Portobello John Clayton Caster MCNALLY Catherine B

CLAYTON Joseph 24 b 27 Oct 1929 Sheet metal worker 11 Brickiln Street …… …… EDWARDS Ellen B


Wolverhampton & District Churches: Marriages 1834-1903

WORTHINGTON Hannah full s 2 Feb 1841 …… St.Georges district William Clayton Shoemaker CLAYTON Thomas B St.Geo.

CLAYTON Thomas full b 2 Feb 1841 Labourer St.Georges district Joseph Worthington Labourer WORTHINGTON Hannah B St.Geo.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Mckiernan family in the 1911 and 1901 Census

1911 Census

64 Hanley Street, Birmingham

Thomas Mc Kiernan aged 43, warehouse man, born in Dublin 
Annie Mc Kiernan aged 43, born Birmingham, married 18 years, 9 children born, 8 living, 1 died
Thomas William Mc Kiernan, aged 17, tool maker for screw manufacturer
John Henry Mc Kiernan, aged 16, messenger for provision merchant
Edward Mc Kiernan, aged 14, messenger for gold smith
Bernard Mc Kiernan, aged 12
Catherine Mc Kiernan aged 10
Julia Mc Kiernan aged 8
Ann Mc Kiernan aged 4
Ellen Mc Kiernan aged 1

All children born in Birmingham.

The marriage of Thomas McKiernan and Annie Finn took place at St Chads RC Cathedral in Birmingham on 3rd April 1893.

Annie Finn was the daughter of Patrick and Catherine Finn. Patrick was the brother of my great great great grandfather Martin. Annie was born in Birmingham in 1868. Thomas and Annie McKiernan went to live in Cleveland, Ohio along with 3 of her sisters and their partners.

One of their children was the lady who became the nun in Cleveland.

The marriage certificate reads:

3rd April 1892, Thomas McKiernan aged 25 marries Annie Finn, aged 24.
Both single, address given for both is 5 Court, Lancaster Street.
Thomas McKiernan's occupation (looks like) wire worker.
Annie's father is Patrick Finn a labourer and Thomas's father is Thomas McKiernan, a painter.

1901 Census

10 Court 3 Legge Street

Thomas Mckiernan aged 33, warehouse man, born in Ireland, estimated birth year 1868
Annie Mckiernan aged 33, wife born in Birmingham about 1868
Thomas aged 7
John aged 6
Edward aged 4
Bernard aged 2
Kate aged 1

Monday, 22 October 2012


Tuesday 20th November 2012
Keith Geary will speak about

The Warwickshire Religious Census, 1851

Once, and once only in our history, the Government took a census of places of religious worship across the country, seeking information on the size of congregations, the number of services held and, in the case of non-conformist chapels, when they were set up. Keith Geary, who is transcribing the whole of the Warwickshire section of this census for publication by the Dugdale Society, has come up with some surprising facts about church attendance and church practices at the time.
The meeting will begin at 8 p.m., preceded by coffee at 7.30 pm. at the Quaker Meeting House, High Street, Warwick, CV34 4AX and is open to all, though there is a charge of £2.00 for guests - refundable on the night if they join the Society.

Details of this and other Society events are available from Neville Usher, 6, The Fold, Payton Street, Stratford upon Avon, CV37 6NJ  Telephone 01789 205 043,

E mail, or on the Society’s website:


Friday, 19 October 2012

Mr John McDonnell and his election victory

The Blind Advocate - May 1899


We have every reason to feel proud of the result which has been achieved by our esteemed colleague, Mr John McDonnell, in the recent Poor Law Guardians elections of Dublin. The members of the Dublin branch are to be congratulated for the intense zeal and enthusiasm which they infused into the campaign. We desire especially to make honourable mention of the name of Mr Alfred Meledy, who particularly distinguished himself in the canvassing.

We shall watch the administrative career of Mr McDonnell with a lively interest. We believe that his ability will soon win for him the respect of all those who are concerned in the amelioration of the labouring classes. Again we congratulate him, and wish him every success in the new duties to which he has been called. The figures registered at the election will be found in another column.

A Bumper to Dublin

A health to bonny Dublin! Fill your glasses to the brim,
And pledge her Queen of Happy Hope, whose light shall fleer grow dim;
By energetic canvassing and working heart and soul,
She proudly placed her man above all others at the poll.


Then drink to bonny Dublin, lads and shout Hip, Hip, Hurrah
And let us each resolve to move where she has led the way
She won the first bright laurel wreath of which the League can boast;
Then drink to bonny Dublin - bonny Dublin is the toast.

A health to bonny Dublin lads! her vistory is ours,
Inspiring us to organise our yet unmarshall'd powers.
If we with zeal unlagging ever keep the goal in view,
And work as hard as Dublin worked, like her we'll tirumph too.

A health to bonny Dublin! Her achievement will, I'm sure,
New interest in the League arouse and forces new secure;
The flowing tide is with us, and our hearts beat high with hope;
'Tis only alse philosophy with which we have to cope.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Harry, Emily & Edward Robinson

Thank you to Ronnie Watson, one of my Uncle Harry's nephews on the side of his sister Emily and her husband Victor, for sending me a copy of this wonderful photograph of Harry (left) with his sister Emily (Ronnie's mother) and older brother Edward Robinson.

The photograph probably taken in the mid to late 1920s.

The Workhouse Bell

A 1907 map of the North Dublin Union Workhouse. Note the road running right to left at the bottom of the map is North Brunswick Street where our grandfather James Lawlor was born in 1913 and grew up as a child. Its a five minute walk from Bolton Street where the McDonnells and Whelans lived.

The Blind Advocate April 1899 featured this poem written by Thomas Guilfoyle - a blind poet reduced to the North Dublin Workhouse.

The Workhouse Bell
How long and dreary seems the night, 'tis long to wait for Day,
And yet my dreams are full of light, now heart is far away
For thoughts of home and all at once dear come o'er me like a spell
But I awake, alas! to hear the cheerless workhouse bell.
This fortune with a heavy hand , my fondest hopes did blast,
And yet my strength and self command, I bore up to the last
But now in silence I endure that grief no tongue can tell,
I feel the sorrows of the poor, I hear the workhouse bell.
I think of Christmas past and gone, I face the merry chime,
I led the dance - I led the song in happy olden time.
But now the sound that wrings my heart is like a funeral knell,
That tells of those whom death doth part, the dreary work house bell.
No murmur will they hear from me, however hard my fate,
And yet I long for liberty, I crave for freedom sweet.
And should I leave these scenes of woe, in peace once more to dwell,
In fancy still, where-er I go, I'll hear the workhouse bell.

Editorial notes:

The Workhouse Bell.

The author Mr Thomas Guilfoyle is a blind man and at present an inmate of the North Dublin union. We are told that when Mr Guilfoyle was quite a young man he composed many songs and poems suitable for recitation. Through the kindness of a lady sympathizer we have been supplied with the manuscript copy of the poem in the present issue, for which we are extremely obliged. It is a sad sequel to the careers of so many of our capable men and women that in the decline of their years, the time when they need so much care and devotion should be obliged to seek shelter in such places. Oh ye who are endowed with health and strength, set yourselves vigorously to work and obliterate the circumstances which so cramp our social life and render such horrible conditions possible.

The Blind Advocate - June 1899

Some time ago a short poem appeared in the columns of the Blind Advocate entitled "The Workhouse Bell", and written by a Mr Thomas Guilfoyle, who is still an inmate of the North Dublin Union. Accompanied by Mr McDonnell we visited poor old Guilfoyle. From reports we had heard, we fully anticipated that his mental capacity was sadly impaired. We were destined to an agreeable surprise, however, for the intellect of old Thomas is as clear as day. Guilfoyle accorded us an indescribably touching reception, and we soon assured ourselves that even within the gloomy walls of the Union the light and progress of our movement is watched and appreciated by at least one staunch admirer.

Mr Guilfoyle recitded for us selections from his poetical compositions. One set of his verses struck us as a peculiarly graphic description of the vicissitudes of like through which the poet himself has passed. reflections of the Night is certainly a magnificent peice of workmanship and we are pleased to announce that we have we have recieved permission to publish it. As we quitted the side of our friend we could not but feel touched with respect and admiration for Mr McDonnell, as he warmly grasped the hand of the poet and remarked "Never mind old chap, you shall no longer want a friend. I will often come and see you, and do what little I can to make your life and that of your fellows a little brighter and happier".

That if all administrators of the Poor be actuated by such generous impulses, salvation would be well-nigh accomplished.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

McDonnell wins the 1899 Poor Law election for North Dublin

The Blind Advocate April 1899

The Dublin Poor-Law elections will take place this April. We understand that the members of the local branch are making strenuous efforts to secure a seat for Mr John McDonnell. It is said that they are perfectly satisfied with the reception which is being accorded to those who are working in the interest of their candidate. One correspondent believes that Mr McDonnell will head the poll. Again we wish him every success, believing as we do that he is one of the most energetic and capable men in the movement".

The Blind Advocate May 1899

Dublin Poor Law Elections.

The following were the successful candidates in the recent Poor Law Elections.

Poor Law Guardians election for Dublin:

John McDonnell 475,
Timothy Charles Harrington MP 403,
Charles Augustus James 376,
Matthew Farrell 357 ,
Daniel Sullivan 291.

The Dublin election has been a great triumph for us. Mr McDonnell's success should give an impetus to every branch throughout the country.


A letter concerning the work of my g-g-grandfather in 1899

January 1899 - A letter to the Editor of The Blind Advocate citing our g-g-grandfather John McDonnell (grandfather of Nan Lawlor):

Mr J. McDonnell, a basket manufacturer of Dublin, also a member of the local body, is doing good work through the Dublin press in the raising of questions appertaining to the employment of the blind. The present is a very opportune moment for the mooting of such questions, as the Irish Local Government Board Elections are at hand. We believe that much good will result from his efforts and take this opportunity of urging the blind of Belfast and Cork to follow the example of their brethren n Dublin. Let us have a few men who still dare to sacrifice something for their principles; men such as Miller, McDonnell, Churchill, Marks, Rooke and many others whom we could mention ; let us have but a few more of these men and the victory will soon be achieved. But, while we are prepared to lick the dust at the feet of our oppressors, while we are curiously slavish enough to worship those who are living luxuriously upon our afflictions, so long shall we be obliged to live unnatural, stunted and altogether undeveloped lives, without an opportunity even to justify our existence by doing useful work for the society to which we belong".

The Blind Advocate March 1899
Dublin Poor Law Elections

The following address has been issued by Mr John McDonnell to the Poor Law electors of the North City Ward. North City Basket Factory, 78 Chancery Street.

Ladies and Gentleman, There will be five representative put before you for election. I am selected by the National League of the Blind for Dublin, to represent them on the Board of the North Dublin Union. I beg to place myself before you as a candidate to plead the cause of those poor men. For the last 40 years the overtaxed ratepayers had to bear the expense of the training and educating of the blind of Dublin. I see by the yearly returns of 1897 that this has cost the ratepayers over £600 in the North Dublin Union. The National League of the Blind, now in existence over the Three Kingdoms, is agitating for State aid for the blind, as all other European Governments take the blind under their special care. It is on the Poor Law Board that the interest of those poor men and the ratepayers can be best served. We believe if there is proper representation made to Parliament they will legislate upon it this Session. We have the approval of his Grace the Most Rev. Dr Walsh, and of many other eminent men in the city, that the expense of the training of the deaf and dumb and blind should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer. That is now costing the ratepayers of Dublin up to £2,000 a year. As I have been a resident over a quarter of a century in this Ward, most of the inhabitants know me personally. I promise to further their interest in every ease that comes before me. I am, ladies and gentlemen, your obedient servant, JOHN MCDONNELL

Errors, like straw, upon the surface flow;
He who would search for pearls must dive below.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

My dad's memories of St Peter's RC School, Ladywood

St Peter's RC Church, Ladywood
Here are some more of my father's childhood memories which he posted on the Old Ladywood website (see website link below or in side panel):
I have read of a number of Ladywood schools, which have received a mention on the website, so may I add my 'pennorth' regarding St Peters RC, Broad Street, the school at which I received my full time education.

My dad Geoffrey in 1950
Aged 13
By any criteria it was a modest unpretentious little establishment, instructing boys and girls from the age of five to fifteen. There were about a dozen classes accommodating over four hundred children. Infant classes were conducted on the ground floor. The second floor consisted of one long room, which served as a hall for morning assembly and prayers. This room was dissected by a number of sliding partitions which when drawn across, would divide into separate classrooms for junior and senior pupils. During the nineteen forties heating in the building was very sparse, each class was equipped with a cast-iron stove, stoked up with coke. The caretaker Mr. Draper, a dependable man, would regularly tend to this task. In the fifties all stoves were replaced with hot water radiators, which were much cleaner and efficient. Playtime breaks were taken on the small size playground; older members of my family have told me that this land had formally been a graveyard. Nevertheless, every year the annual sports day took place on that minute patch of ground. On those occasions the teachers would provide a variety of homemade cakes, and sweet lemonade, which were much enjoyed.

Head Mistress, Miss S Clements, ran the school in an exemplary manner; discipline was firm but fair. Miss V McIntyre, Head of the infant school, ably supported Miss Clements, and she also taught music to the older children. The regime was not over strict, but I cannot remember any serious disruption in the classrooms, or any exclusion of pupils taking place. No indiscretions ever took place behind the bike shed; there was simply no room for a bike shed.
The altar inside St Peter's
Sporting activity was encouraged. The school boasted an excellent swimming team, a moderate soccer team, and despite the efforts of sports master Mr O’Connor, a pathetic cricket eleven. The girls supported an enthusiastic netball team, presided over by Mrs Lester. During sewing lessons, she also oversaw the design and making of sports attire for the lasses.

The school severely lacked vocational aids, after it became state aided in the early fifties, woodwork lessons were laid on at St Thomas’s school, on Granville Street, and a science class was arranged at nearby Nelson Street school.

The dedication of the masters deserves to be mentioned. Whatever the weather, come rain or snow, they would accompany the lads every week, on the long trek from the school, to the swimming baths in Monument Road.

Those stalwart individuals were: - Messrs. O’Connor, Paddon, Griffin, and Mr Munton. In these millennium years, when sports training in schools is so scarce and competition often discouraged, it does seem strange that in those times a weekly bus was made available by B’ham City Transport, to take the boys for half day sporting activities, at the Metchley Lane playing fields.

St Peters was not noted for its academic achievements, but this was long before such measures as SATS, and OFSTED were introduced. I do remember some of the brighter pupils gaining admission to Aston Commercial School.

A procession at St Peter's RC school in 1952. My dad Geoff is one of the older boys
at the back furthest right helping to carry a statue of the Virgin Mary

In later years I happened to meet one of my old masters, he was almost apologetic regarding teaching levels at the school. Apologies unnecessary Mr ------, in spite of limited funding available and inadequate resource, you instilled the standards and values that matter.

 And so at the age of fifteen years, unsure, unqualified, and without aspirations, we were discharged into the world of industry and commerce. Of course, the Careers Officer interviewed each child with a view to placement, prior to leaving. I recall the most popular job, sought after by my pals, was lorry driver’s mate. I shall always be grateful to the memory of Miss S Clements, who guided me in the direction of an indentured apprenticeship, with a local engineering company. The Head wrote on my leaving certificate “An extremely intelligent boy, who has done well as school Captain”. In retrospect, I feel that with the class of 52, myself included, the teachers had a very lean year.

More history of local pubs from the Old Ladywood website

Here's a little more reminiscising about the old days in Ladywood, Birmingham, with some posts from both me and my father Geoffrey Millington.

Old Ladywood is a fantastic website with many more memories of the area going back into the early 20th century.

Check it out:


The Turf, 434 and 435 Monument Road/Spring Hill. A former Atkinson's pub with distinctive neon sign. There used to be two smoke rooms one in Monument Road and one on Spring Hill. It closed for demolition on 9 January 1967 and Ladywood Middleway replaced this part of Monument Road.

Information and photograph courtesy of Andrew Maxam from "Time Please"

I've only just discovered the website and so am coming to this conversation a bit late, but my parents used to run the Turf Tavern on Spring Hill. They were Arthur and Jose (sometimes known as Joan) Hammond, and we moved there in about 1959 or 1960. Mom used to play the piano for the sing-songs some of you remember - great honky-tonk stuff. And a lot of people complimented Dad on his cellar-work, which helped the taste of the ale, I understand! Mom's still alive, now 87 and living in Harborne, though sadly Dad died a couple of years back. Good old days, eh? Anyone remember Mr and Mrs Millington that lived at the bank in Monument Road, opposite the Turf?


I'm not on the 'net very often, so I've only just seen your posting. Yes, I remember your grandparents well, because they were always very kind to me. They gave me a chocolate bar or a little book at Christmas and on my birthday, and they were well liked by everyone, I think. I remember my parents telling me they'd gone to live in Harborne, because my own grandparents were also still alive and living there at the time. My Mother now lives in Regent Road in Harborne - which you must know well! I was born in Harborne, and lived for a while in Sparkhill, then we moved to the Hydraulic Inn in Lodge Road, before moving to The Turf. I went to All Saints' School, and moved on to George Dixon when I was eleven. Although we lived at The Turf for a few years, most of my friends came from Brookfields, so I didn't know many of the children around Spring Hill. But because most of my pals came from Brookfields, we used to meet halfway, up by the canal - where we were all expressly forbidden to play, of course, and sometimes we'd watch the horses pulling the barges. After we left The Turf, we went on to the Royal Oak in the Lozells Road (which was haunted!), and then on to the Nottingham Arms in the Bristol Road. By then, my parents had had enough of the pub business, and Dad got a job inside at Ansell's Brewery until they closed down.

Of course I remember your mother and father as proprietors, at The Turf Tavern. I was the youngest member of the Millington family. My mom was fascinated with the lovely little girl who lived with her parents, at the Turf, and was always telling us about you. Do you remember the names of any of the good folk, who lived on the opposite side of the road, who I believe patronised, The Turf? The Robinsons, the Heaps, the Parsons, the Pearsall’s, the Quinn’s, and the Starlings. I don't suppose you recall a previous manager at the Turf, a Mr Riley. Like your father, a gentleman, and always impeccably dressed. I believe it was during Mr Riley’s tenure that My dad’s favourite ale was increased, to a shilling and two pence (6 new p) per pint.

I recollect three other businesses, situated between The Turf, and the Palais de Danse. The first being Mrs Mitchell’s florists shop, whose window was always a delight to behold. During the dark war years, she lifted everyone's spirits, by providing a blaze of colour. The second was a Ladies Hair Stylist, famed for its bouffant creations, and winners of many national competitions. The third being the newsagent, Joe and Tom were the proprietors, (I've since forgotten the surname), but during the blitz, Joe kept us entertained with his conjuring tricks, while taking refuge in the underground bomb shelter. The entrance to which was in Summer Hill Road. I don't know if your father used the National Provincial Bank. I do recall the names of some members of the staff; the managers Mr Edwards and Mr Marwick, aided by Mr Bullock and Miss Costello. When the bank closed its doors, and moved to the new premises in Spring Hill, mom was given a group photo of the staff. She kept this on her sideboard, until her death in 1985.

Sorry to have rambled on a little, but we've known the people, and we've known the days.
Best wishes, GEM

I was amazed when I browsed this message board and read your message about The Turf Pub with a reference to my grandparents Bill and Florence Millington who lived over the bank in Monument Road. Sadly they died many years ago, but strangely did moved to High Street, Harborne in the late 1960s, and that's where me and my brothers and sisters grew up in Station Road. I do a lot of genealogy research myself and still keep contact with my dad’s brother Bill and his surviving sister Nance, also his cousins, the Claytons who were all regulars in the Turf. I do hope you reply to this message, as I would love to hear more from you about your memories.


The favourite pub for a lot of people, was The Turf by Springhill, our Mum & Dad sometimes went there on a Saturday night, with our neighbours, we used to live in Shakespeare Road, they used to have a sing song at The Turf. And I think the ale was good too.


The Turf was one of my Dad's favourite watering holes, he was distraught when it was closed as Atkinson's was his favourite ale, also does anyone remember that The Station Pub on the corner of Cope Street, sometimes had the piano out in the street on summer evenings at the weekends for a sing song or was it The Crown on the corner of Springfield Street? the memory plays tricks as you get older!

At the age of 41 I'm actually too young to remember the old pubs of Ladywood, I think a lot of the family were regulars in The Turf but I also know that my uncle Harry's folks ran the Vesper Bell for about 60 years from the early 1900s. It was apparently named that because you hear the Oratory bells from Ledsam Street. The pub was on the corner of Blythe Street; I have a few old photos of the place including a picture from the Birmingham Post of Winston Churchill driving past the pub. My uncle was Harry Robinson, his father was Edwin Robinson and before Edwin the landlord was his father in law Albert Lee. Apparently the Vesper Bell was run on quite strict terms, so it was a bit different from the Turf. I actually have the old clock that hung over the bar of the Vesper and my dad still has the darts board! - Pete Millington


Vesper Bell, 1 Blythe Street/Ledsam Street. A highly unusual name for a pub, for the Greek poet Hesperus, named after Venus, the evening star. Seen here when still an Atkinson's house, it closed a year before the takeover by M &B. During demolition this was the only building left standing on the north side of the street. Blythe Street had been renamed from Chester Street in 1887 and no longer exists today although Rann Close follows part of the course of the old street. this lower part of Ledsam Street has also now gone, and the site of the pub which closed on 29 December 1958 is now contained within the grounds of St. John's Primary School, Its licence went into suspense until a new pub called the Dove cote was open in 1963.

Information courtesy of Andrew Maxam from "Time Please"

We lived at 73 Blythe Street, at the other end from the Vesper. Never did have the chance to get as we left in 1954 when I was 14. Was it an Ansell or M and B pub? - Bob Holmes

Hi, I was born in Blythe Street, Ladywood, and I remember running down the street every Sunday to watch the men coming out of the Vespa, we watched the fighting and that was our entertainment for the Sunday, also old Arold he came down our street every Sunday selling fruit, he had a patch on one eye so when he could not see us we nicked his apples. I lived in Blythe Street.

I believe it was M&B, before that Atkinson’s and before that Peter Walker. I was born in 1961, which was around the time they were pulling it down, so I have no memory of it myself, but my mom and dad went in when they were courting. It's funny, because when I wrote about it in a letter to Carl Chinn's Old Brum magazine, the following edition a lady wrote in reply and was quite critical of the place saying it was too strict and therefore not popular. However, this sparked off an old gent who lived a few doors down from The Vesper to send me a lovely long memoir in defence, saying it was a decent place and implying that the riff raff therefore kept away. So it's horses for courses as they say. I bet though the lady who criticised it for being a bit quiet would choose it over some of the pubs around these days - Pete Millington

My dad's memories of old Ladywood

My father Geoff posted these memories on the Old Ladywood website in 2009.
I remember Lee's bike/record shop, which was located slightly back from the main road, and stood on the Spring Hill. The shop did not retail bicycles, there being limited space available on the premises, but did carry a good range of cycle accessories.

In the late forties, and fifties, and before the advent of vinyl recordings, it was the place to go in the area for those rigid 78 records.

I did buy all my 78's, and boxes of steel gramophone needles from the shop. Whenever the steel spring snapped in my old portable HMV gramophone, I would take it to the shop, my Dad would give me a few pounds, and it would be repaired as good as new. I only ever remember being served by one gentleman; he was of slim build, always neatly dressed in a smart suit, and very pleasant in manner. Nothing was too much trouble for him in locating that obscure disc for his customers. I cannot say if that gentleman’s name was Clifford or Bert, but he did offer a good service.

I believe the little shop narrowly missed being bombed during the war. Certainly bombs fell to the rear, and across the road from that line of shops. I sadly regret that I didn't take any photographs of the shop, or other small businesses at that time, as we were living nearby, in that area. The music has ended, but the memories linger on.

Kind regards,
Geoff Millington

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Birmingham of Yesterday - an old film

Watch this great old cinecamera film make in Birmingham city centre at the turn of the 20th century

Birmingham of Yesterday

Monday, 1 October 2012

Millington family in the 1911 Census

I recently came across this record of the Millngton family in the 1911 Census for Birmingham.

The record shows my great grandparents with four of their children, in my grand father Willam Joseph.

The address is Number 5 Kayles Back of Wheeleys Lane, Birmingham.

The family includes:

Terence Millington, head of household, aged 29, a labourer in brass and copper tubes works, born in Birmingham.

Martha Millington, wife, aged 30

William, son, aged 11

Emily, daughter, aged 8

George, son, aged 7

John, son, aged 2

All 4 children were born in Birmingham. William is the only one listed as being at school.

I find it interested that my great grandmother has given her first name as Martha. Her birth name and the one she used on most other records was Phoebe. I wonder why she chose to use the name Martha just in the 1911 Census?

She is listed as having been married to Terence for 11 years. She has had 5 children and 4 have survived.

It is interesting to consider this information against previous records and anecdote that we have about Terence and Phoebe's children. There are stories in the family that (1) a baby died when it fell from a pram, and (2) Phoebe died in childbirth.

Records I have researched identify a baby named Iris which was born to Phoebe Millington, nee. Adderley in 1911 and what seems likely to be the same child registered as dieing in 1912.

Phoebe (aka Martha) died at the age of just 32 in 1914 at the Workhouse Infirmary at Western Road, Winson Green. The address on the death certificate was given as 5 back of Wheeleys Lane, as above. I have been unable to find a record for another birth to Terence and Phoebe around this time and she died of a burst cyst and ulcer.

Terence remarried Jane Guy in 1921 and they had a daughter named Violet Jane Millington.