356 Soho Road- John's Story - born in Handsworth, Monday July 19th 1938
This is the place where I was born in the flat above the shop just before the outbreak of the second world war, Mom Ethel (Polly) Houghton nee Jones, Dad Robert James Houghton. Not long after I was born we moved my Aunt Nance who lived in Booth Street next door to the Regal cinema got my Mom and Dad a flat at number 20 Booth Street, then Mr Hitler decided to send us an incendiary bomb which meant us being evacuated to a little village in Yorkshire, Milford a nice quiet place with a village pond a cricket team, which I became the mascot of. Mr's Barton was the name of the lady I stayed with Fred her husband was the owner of the farm mainly pigs, fowl and crops, it was a nice place far from the rigours of war torn Birmingham, at this time My Dad had joined the army as a sapper and Mom was on the bus's, a conductress at Hockley depot, things seemed fine for a while but Mr's Barton having no children of her own was making inroads to see if she could adopt me no sooner my Mom found out she was on a train to Milford, gathering up my other two brothers Bob and David back down to Birmingham in a flash my Nan who lived in Parliament Street managed to get Mom a private house 1/15 Parliament Street and there I lived till I got married to June Chapman from Winson Green Saturday June 7th 1958 at Birmingham register office Broad Street. And this is why I have so many roots in Birmingham; perhaps this was the start of the Birmingham webring, this is just a brief introduction to my story more to follow,
My Mom's parents lived in Handsworth ( Newcombe Road ) My Dad's Parents Lived in Aston ( Parliament Street ) this side of my family had lived in Aston and Birmingham as far back as 1796 I am still researching my Mothers side all my aunts and uncles the Jones lived in Handsworth most of them where fish fryers (fish and chip shops) my Aunt Mick sold wet fish to the trade my cousin Trevor worked as a butcher in Soho Road (Roses), my Uncle Ernie was a Birmingham black cab driver operating out of Booth Street.
Both my Mom's parents were black country born and bred my grand dad Edward was a Baggies supporter at one time he worked at the Hawthorns as a groundman
he owned shops next the West Bromwich Albion grounds later the cafe was taken over by Teddy Sandford (my cousin) he played for the Albion, we have close ties with Albion most of my brothers and sister support Aston Villa same as my dad who was born in Aston I remain the only Albion supporter.
as you can see I am torn between Handsworth and Aston I spent more of my life in Parliament Street but the memories of Handsworth remain we spent many happy hours playing in Handsworth visiting all my relations we played on the Oaklands were they had the barrage balloons moored, over the road at the back of the Regal cinema driving the doorman mad he chased us many many times escaping in to my Aunt Nance's back garden which was at the side of the Regal.
Now sad to say all of my Aunt's and Uncles have gone leaving me with many happy memories of the times spent at parties and get togethers singing round the piano all the old songs there seemed to be some think going on most weekends,
one vivid memory was playing on a war time tank at the carriage works in Middlemore lane I wonder what happened to it, broke up for scrap I would think we had many places to play around Handsworth, Woodville park of Ireland road and Handsworth Park, Black Patch Park,
I used to walk from my aunts down Soho road onto Villa cross down Lozells road then at Six Ways on to High street turn down Park Lane to Parliament street I don't thinks kids of today would walk as far as we did I did this walk both ways many time passing all those fabulous shops there must have been hundreds along that route my faviourite shops were second hand shops there was one next to Hawkins in High street just round the corner from Park Lane and the other one in Lozells road just up from Six ways on the left hand side they held me in fascination whith all the different things they had in their windows, Alladins cave to me.
Burlington street infants was my first school I was dragged there kicking and screaming I must have cried for a week then it slowly sank in I was here to stay, Miss Rock was my first teacher she was my most vivid memory of my infant days we went straight in to the juniors till 1949. Then off to the big school Upper Thomas Street senior boys school till 1953, not many good memories of my school days.
Next part of this story is my foray in to the world of working for a living, which meant moving away from Handsworth to work in Aston starting with Hercules Cycles in Rocky Lane, more to follow.
From Hercules Cycles as a case maker, to Ansells working on the bottle conveyors,next Smiths Forgings in the billet cutting shop from here to Jock Leishman's brush making, moving again to Hunt and Turners making jubilee clips next port of call Martindales (Crocodile Works) working on the furnaces to hot so I moved acroo the road to M M Lilley's back into case making I progressed through the works doing all aspects of the Export and Packing business due to a fire the business moved to Aldridge in a purpose built factory, to be continued.