Handsworth Wood by Lynne Evans

Wow! I knew the picture of your auntie May on the website was the same auntie May I used to go and get 3 x 6d chips or roe and chips from. Auntie May had a shock of black hair and the chip shop counter always seemed so high up to a little dot like me. My grandparents in Uplands Road were Albert and Edith Gilbert. I wonder if any of your relatives knew them. I also used to go to the off-licence somewhere in that vicinity to fetch 3 bottles of Brown Ale for my Grandad. They did not mind serving children with drink in those days. My Grandad and his brother, Uncle Les, used to have an allotment at Uplands allotments. They used to have an Old Time dancing evening on a Wednesday. My Nan and I went every week. Over the road near to your auntie's chip shop there was a hairdressers and I knew the owner there to be Auntie Beattie. Along from there on the corner of Aylesford Road was the little Baptist chapel (not that we were Baptists!) where I went every Sunday from when I was 18 months old to age 13 when I fell out with one of the girls and did not go back. We used to get all dressed up in our frilly dresses, hats and gloves for the 'Anniversary' when we would form a choir and sing all the favourite hymns also we had wonderful Harvest festivals. The superintendent was a lovely man called Mr Mason who I think lived in Mervyn Road but I am not certain. There was also a Mrs Dinham and a Mrs Windmill whose daughter was the one I fell out with as she was spoilt and always got the solo! My Sunday school teacher was called Ann Langford. I still have some little books that I had as First Prize for attendance. I remember once going to Rhyl on the Sunday school outing where a hungry seagull took my finger as well as the bread offered! We all had fish and chips in a cafe before coming home.

I went to Rhyl a few times as a friend/relative (?) of my nans; (Auntie Elsie) had a guest house there. One of her daughters, Dorothy, made the costumes for the show on at the Pavilion. All I remember from that show is three girls dressed as chickens singing 'I'm a bow-legged chicken, I'm a knock-kneed hen, never been so happy since I don't know when, I walk with a wiggle and a wiggle and a squawk, doing the Tennessee Wig-Walk!' It has always stuck in my mind for some reason perhaps because I thought it was so funny.

Do you remember Ehrets the grocers on the corner of College Road and Oxhill Road, also the Post Office at the end of College Road was where my mom, Kathleen Walker, worked for a while in the shop part. They had a book lending library in there too. I remember all the shops along there like it was yesterday.

Well enough for today, when I think of some more I will write again. I have to do it as I think it as things just pop in your head don't they?

Hope you remember some of the things that I do.

Regards, Lynne.

Hello, my name is Lynne Evans, my maiden name was Walker. I was born in 1948 at my grandparent’s house at 60 Uplands Road where my parents and I also lived for a while. I think my paternal grandparents lived in Greenhill Road but I did not get to know them very well as my father fell out with them! We then moved to 13 Church Lane which was one of a row of four 200 year old cottages which were almost opposite Grove Road, the Grove pub being on the corner. My mother and I used to go and feed the chickens for the Doctor who had a surgery near to the cottages and to whom I believe, but I am not sure, we paid our rent. I think his name was Forsyth or something like that. I remember that our doctor’s name was Forbes Baird and he lived in one of the big houses down Church Lane but I cannot remember which road his practice was in. The last time I saw him was in 1968 when I took my first born daughter to show him while visiting my grandparents. (I was known as Lynne Knight then having married my first husband in 1967).

I went to Rookery Road School where I remember being the dormouse in a production of Alice in Wonderland. I have a picture somewhere of us all and recall a few names i.e. John Dyson, Mary Rollings, Rita Gascoigne, Janet Worbey and so many more. I wonder if any of them remember me too. I also remember with fondness Mr Burton who was a wonderful teacher and the two Miss North’s', one very thin and one very fat! Miss Swift was very strict and hit pupils on the hands with a ruler and Mr Humphreys was going out with Miss Stratton. Oh! Happy days.

My mother worked at Rabones and they used to give fantastic Christmas parties with cartoon shows, games, balloons, lots of food and presents from Santa. I have photos of that somewhere too!

I passed the 11 plus exam and went on to King Edwards Grammar school for girls in Rosehill Road until I was 15. My father, who had previously worked for Ellington’s, went to work for Mitchell Cotts and we moved to Weston-Super-Mare with a lot of other Brummies. At 15 of course I did not want to move away but I know now it was marvellous for my parents as we went to a brand new council house with a bathroom and hot water which we did not have in the cottage having to use the old tin bath which hung on the coalhouse door.

I only went back to Birmingham a couple of times after that and my grandparents also eventually moved down to Weston.

There is obviously a lot of water gone under the bridge since then and it seems like another life to me now but as I am getting older I just felt a touch nostalgic about my childhood in Handsworth Wood. 

There is so much more, I could go on and on, like going to Nineveh Road Dancing School to learn Ballroom dancing. I think the lady teacher was called Dorothy and there was a Tony but my teacher was called Roy. Funny what comes back to you isn't it? 

Anyway, hope you think some of this was of interest and perhaps someone might get to read it who remembers me back then.

Regards, Lynne Evans