Saturday, 6 October 2012

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:

www.oldladywood.co.uk

THE TURF


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?


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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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VESPER BELL

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.

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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

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