Photo Not By D J Norton


All old pictures on this page from The Geoff Thompson Archive

Note that you can click on the old pictures to see a modern view

648 Bristol Road South - 27/5/59

648 Bristol Road South
Rex Garage was on the eastern side of Bristol Road South (as were all the even numbered properties), almost opposite the junction with Bell Lane that was close to the now demolished Travellers Rest pub.  With that in mind, it's clear that the attractive old cottages were located where the car park of the Grovesnor Shopping Centre now stands.

The small building to the left of the telegraph pole survives to this day and is part of a garage that still occupies the site.

711 Bristol Road South - 10/4/68

711 Bristol Road South
I wasn't sure about including this one as the main subject of the picture, the Launderama at 711 Bristol Road South, is not particularly interesting!  However, I do like W. Nix & Son, the neighbouring newsagent.  It's also interesting to see what is on offer at Munds Bros, Fruiterers and Greengrocers:-

Munds' price list

The Omar Khayam Indian restaurant now occupies 711 Bristol Road South.

774 Bristol Road South - 26/5/64

774 Bristol Road South
Boots chemists has relocated a little closer to Church Road since 1964 as it now at 750-752 Bristol Road South.  The shop on the left is now the home of HSBC bank.  All the buildings to the right of Boots have been demolished.

804 Bristol Road South - 19/8/55

804 Bristol Road South
This picture shows the junction of Rochester Road with Bristol Road South.  The building may have changed but there is still a Lloyds Bank at this junction as there was in 1955 - it was the white building on the left.  The row of shops including John Wones gents and boys outfitters, Harrisons opticians, Lewis newsagent and tobacconist, F. A. Lewis chemist and Dewhurst butchers have all been swept away and replaced by Burtons and the former Woolworths store.

886 Bristol Road South - 9/4/64

886 Bristol Road South
Irene Cafe is the subject of this shot.  There is a claim that it was, "Noted for a cup of good tea".  I wonder if it was...  The cafe also sold fish and chips to take away, hot steak and kidney pies, sandwiches, dinners and grills.  All in all, a lot packed into a small shop!

The building at 886 Bristol Road South survives today but Johnston's Hardware and Candiba at 888 and 890 respectively have been replaced by a modern building that is occupied by a solicitors.  The upper storeys of the building seen on the left are now apartments.

893 Bristol Road South - 24/9/52

893 Bristol Road South
This picture saddened me a little.  It is looking towards where Bristol Road South now joins the Northfield bypass.  All the old shops were swept away and replaced by 1960's style buildings that are already looking well past their best.  Those shops included Jack Smith ladies and gentlemens hairdressers and Music Box, a shop selling instruments and sheet music rather than records as might be expected.

Tram tracks remain in the road as services on Bristol Road had only ceased a few weeks before this picture was taken, on the morning of 6 July 1952.  One of the buses that took over can be seen on the far left.  Also on the far left, a gable end of the truly splendid Black Horse pub constructed by Bromsgrove firm Braziers in 1929 but looking to all the world like it has been on the site for hundreds of years!

947 Bristol Road South - 28/8/59

947 Bristol Road South
This garage was adjacent to the car park of the Black Horse Pub.  Until September 2009 is was the site of ATS Euromaster tyre sales so not too much changed over the years as the unamed garage of 1959 is advertising John Bull and Michelin tyres!  Malcolm got in touch to say that he and his friends always knew the garage as Dirty Dick's but was not sure where that name came from...  Paul, who worked at ATS until it's closure provided the modern view for which I am thankful.  He also said, "I was told that it was dirty dicks when that picture was taken.  I was amazed when I saw what it looked like then and how some of the customers knew it like that.".  Finally, Steve solved the 'Dirty Dick's' mystery with this information:-
"I was born and bred and have lived my life so far in Northfield and to that end I remember "Dirty Dicks" well. His house was the end terrace and had three or four tumbling down workshops where originally would have been the back garden, The front room on the ground floor doubled up as office/reception.  On the front there were 2/3 petrol pumps which if you called in for fuel it was pumped for you by "Dirty Dicks" wife.

Where I believe he got his nickname is the fact on the few times I saw him or his wife they were both absolutely filthy, grime and dirt well spread over the skin that you could see. The clothes they wore had never seen the wash either. I remember my father contemplating whether he had ever had a wash.

I once accompanied my father into the so called office/reception I well recall everywhere was absolutely filthy, oily dirt everywhere, the lino on the floor had probably never been swept or washed since it was laid.

This is why I believe it was called "Dirty Dicks" by the local people, it was a reference to him and the state of his clothes and body."

So now we know!

Nearby was Green's Cafe.  As a sign of the times, this is now a balti house.  Note the lorry with the 'Triple X' signage.  Triplex made safety glass at a factory at nearby Kings Norton.  They were still in business when I was a child but are now part of the Pilkington group.

1 Station Road - 11/6/58

1 Station Road
What an imposing building Coopers tobacconist and confectioners on the corner of Station Road and West Heath Road was!  Steve informs us of the following:-
"The building shown was originally built as the Station Hotel, the entrance to the shop was the way into the hotel reception. I have no idea when it ceased to be a hotel as I remember buying sweets from the shop in the fifties. When it was operating as an hotel I have been told it was a Temperance hotel.

Currently the building houses a chip shop which was Coopers the upper floors houses a private snooker club."

Note the old, narrow bridge over the River Rea that has since been widened.

87 Station Road - 18/5/54

87 Station Road
Here we are at the opposite end of Station Road compared to the picture above.  87 Station Road was another general store of the type that has long since disappeared from our surburban streets.

Taking my modern view proved to be a depressing experience.  This once handsome collection of shops and houses had been ruined over the years with a hotch-potch of windows, rendering and even roofing!