Photo Not By D J Norton

Selly Oak

All old pictures on this page from The Geoff Thompson Archive

Note almost all pictures have an equivalent modern view - move cursor over to see

Bristol Road - 22/8/63

Bristol Road featuring Windridge
This picture was taken at the northern end of the Selly Oak and features part of Bristol Road located between Harrow Road and Dawlish Road.  The site today is completely occupied by Selly Oak Motors.

In April 2005 while taking pictures for my book I was lucky enough to take this picture of the K.A. Windridge store at 524 Bristol Road just prior to demolition.  The old shop sign had caught my attention and finding the picture above in Geoff's archive was a real treat!

Off to the right of the picture is the site of The Brook pub that was demolished in the early noughties and replaced by the inevitable student accomodation for nearby Birmingham University.  However, the addition of a sign from the pub on one of the blocks means it won't quickly be forgotten!

This picture stirred some memories for Andy who was happy to share them with us here:-

"The photographs of Selly Oak are wonderful and I can place them all. The first photograph I saw on your site was the one of University Motors and Windridge’s newsagent shop; it took me right back in time. I was born and bred at 509 Bristol Road, almost opposite University Motors.

As a small boy (born in 1950) I would be sent to Windredge’s to get the newspaper, they had a fantastic array of cigarettes from all around the world, Mom told me that the students were from all around the world and they wanted what they smoked at home.

My home, 509 was next to what used to be Tea Rooms, and next to that was Millton Grove opposite Harrow Road, the tea room became a coffee bar (forgotten the name) where the Teddy Boys would gather and often there would be fights in the road outside. My Mom would walk through the fighting lads and phone the police from the public phone box that was right next to where the lads would be fighting.  One night there was a big fight and when the police came I remember them coming into our house and telling Mom that the lads had taken the shelves out of the freezer (they were all tall freezers then not chest type) and they had locked the manager in the freezer.

The coffee bar became the Chamon Restaurant and that was not with out it’s events.

It all sounds horrendous but it wasn’t really.  The teddy boys were very respectful to my folks and I can’t remember many big fights but the ones that there were, were of course a bit of a highlight in an otherwise quite and peaceful village. Mom was always quick to point out that we were “Bournbrook” not Selly Oak. My Mom was born at 511 Bristol Road  (next door) and moved to 509 when she got married. My parents were on their honeymoon the day that war was declared. The house were I was born, 509, has now been taken over by the Chamon Restaurant.

I’ve attached a photograph that was taken by my Grand Father, William Bick, he was head gardener at Birmingham university (don’t know the dates) and he lived at 511 Bristol Road Bournbrook, that’s the house on the right in the photograph and that’s my Moms house (were she was born.) My home 509, is to the left again and is off the picture. Probably of greater interest to you or your viewers is the property on the left

The National Telephone Company, 513 Bristol Road. I’m sorry I don’t know the age of this picture but Mom told me that her father had taken this picture to send to the landlord to show the dilapidated state of the property. I suspect it’s pre war or around that time.

The National Telephone Company property was taken over by Lewis Wolf who’s main factory was down Milton Grove I don’t know when, I never remember seeing the writing on the window there. When I was a kid the windows were pained over but I do remember seeing through the door and there was a woman operating a fly press, she was stamping holes in the cardboard packing for Lewis Wolf’s 'Griptight' dummies."

74 Dawlish Road - 19/4/66

74 Dawlish Road
Down one of the many residential streets of terraced houses that, even today, are a major feature of Selly Oak were these shops.  As far as I can tell from the picture, the general stores at 70 and 72 were in direct competition to each other.

Visiting the site in November 2009 revealed that although 74 Dawlish Road still stands, the neighbouring shops and terrace of houses seen to the right of the picture above do not.

Colin got in touch to share his fascinating memories of this location:-
"I actually lived with my parents and grandparents in the house on the right in your photograph “74 Dawlish Road”.  It has a pale door which was pale yellow.  That house was number one, Holly Grove, Dawlish Road, which was part of a set of 8 terraced houses set at right angles to the road.  Numbers three to eight were demolished in the late 1960s or early 1970s.  I believe that those houses were owned by a company and rented out to the occupants whereas our house and next door (no. 2) were owned by the occupiers.  I assume that the company sold the six houses to the council for demolition and the other two owners (including my parents/grandparents) did not sell.  However in 1976 the council compulsorily purchased our house and number 2 and that was the end of them all.  At about the same time, no. 70 and 72 Dawlish Road, the two shops, were demolished.  It was deemed that they were becoming “separated” from no. 74 and would have become or were dangerous.  Incidentally, on the far right of the photo and only just seen, are some of the buildings of Dawlish Road school.  These were demolished a year or so later in the late 1970s although the other part of the school in Tiverton Road still stands to this day and is now called an academy apparently.

     You mention that the two shops (70 and 72) looked to be in direct competition with each other.  They were to some extent although  no. 70 was more of a general grocers store where you could buy tea, coffee, bread, milk and tins of produce whereas no. 72 was really a sweet shop.  This latter was run by the Lingard family.  My mother would not let me have any sweets from there because in the late evening she had seen mice running around over the display of sweets in the window! It would not be allowed today.

     No. 74 in the photograph is occupied by a firm called AutoBrakes which was a company which riveted brake linings onto the metal brake shoes.  Prior to that it was owned by a relative of my family and was a tobacconist.  I can just remember that it sold not only cigarettes and tobacco but also pipes including clay ones.

     I understand that the reason behind the demolition of what were perfectly good houses, which were no different in condition or age from others in the neighbourhood, was to eventually provide space for a by-pass for Selly Oak.  In line with the demolished houses two or three streets to the south west were some “bomb sites” which were still devoid of houses which were bombed in the second world war. From the map it was possible to see a straight line pattern developing. Slowly, it seemed that the council was buying properties by compulsory purchase which was difficult or just about impossible to avoid.  Whether or not this is true about the by-pass but over the years, the buying up dried up and then just a few years ago the by-pass appeared on the other side of the Bristol Road.  As your latter  photograph shows, the space of the eight houses comprising Holly Grove (part seen) and the two shops are still a “green space” and have not been developed to this day."

Bristol Road - 11/7/63

Bristol Road (site of Aldi)
Back on the main road, just south of Dale Road were this series of shops.  The shop on the right has signs in the window making it clear that it was the site of a Timothy Whites chemist that had recently closed.  To its left is F. Bowditch (general store), Warwickshire Furnishing Co. and G. Walker (fruit, fish and poultry).  All these shops have gone and this is now the site of an Aldi supermarket.

The white building to the far left survives and is now the Sum Ye Chinese takeaway.  On the very far left you can just see part of 641 Bristol Road, a Birmingham Corporation building that today is known as '641 Youth House' and offers a youth centre, music workshops and IT training.  Being council owned I'm afraid 641, these days, looks a bit run down as this picture shows.  Compare with this picture of its mirror image at 659, now in private ownership.

27 Hubert Road - 11/12/63

27 Hubert Road
Another group of back street shops, this time in Hubert Road.  The subject is the shot is the shop with blacked out windows which was a shoe and boot repairers.  The neighbouring general store is much more attractive!  I wonder if there's a baby in the pram...

John got in touch to say that he lived behind the 27 Hubert Road between 1938 and 1961.  He was kind enough to share these memories with us:-

"The shoe repairing business, "Snob`s shop" in the vernacular, was opened by my grandfather John Thomas Mills c. 1906 and he ran it until his death aged 63 in 1938. His son, my father John Frederick Mills, continued the business until his death aged 52 in 1953.  From 1938 27 Hubert Road was only a depot and dwelling, the main shop moving to 562 Bristol Road opposite the Bournbrook Hotel. From 1953 no.27 was only a dwelling though I believe in more recent years it has housed various short lived businesses.

The General Store next door at 29 Hubert Road was from c.1910 to c.1930 the home of John Thomas Mills` brother my great uncle Joseph Mills, his wife Jane and 8 children (the 3 boys slept in a chalet in the garden!).  Jane, my great aunt Jinny, ran the Store but always said that "tick" ruined it!

Like his brother John Thomas, Joseph was a cobbler (he worked for Treadwell`s, Five Ways) as were Joseph`s 3 sons who were apprenticed to John Thomas. The eldest Joseph junior and youngest Harold went on to have their own shop at Northfield opposite the Traveller`s Rest while "Leslie in the middle" opened a shop in Redditch town centre - a veritable family of Snobs!

Subsequently the Store at 29 had various tenants, most noteably Colonel Charles Eliot Hayward and his niece Miss Truscott (Mrs `aywood !) who ran it succesfully for many years in the middle of the last century.

The properties, indeed the whole terrace, were owned by Miss G. Frazier of Lozells as an investment, a very poor one in the years of Rent Control."

Many thanks to John for helping bring this picture to life!  It's interesting to note that there is still a shoe repair shop at 562 Bristol Road today.

84 Hubert Road - 3/2/56

84 Hubert Road
Another general store in Hubert Road.  This shop was at the junction of Hubert Road and Exeter Road.

Neil got in touch to say, "The shop in your archive, Hubert road/Exeter road, belonged to my grandad William Trueman...better known as Bill.  He lived on School Terrace on Hubert Road.  He was married to Rose Trueman...had a daughter, Sheila, and a son father.  In the early 1970's he had retired...there was a book makers not far from the old shop that my grand father had a little flutter in...".

51 Raddlebarn Road - 15/2/60

51 Raddlebarn Road
This picture is looking south-west down Raddlebarn Road from its junction with Hubert Road.  The lady on the left is about to cross Gristhorpe Road.

I wondered how this picture could show 51 Raddlebarn Road and the picture below also show the same location.  Well, it was the shop on the corner of Raddlebarn and Hubert, seen on the right.  It's also clear that the photographer was having trouble due to the low sun on February afternoon!

51 Raddlebarn Road - 17/11/59

27 Hubert Road
As mentioned above, 51 was the shop on the right of these three and was a general store owned by Bonell.  To its left was B. & H. Sharp.  Not only were they a newsagent but they also sold stationery, toys and fancy goods.  There are several bikes outside to tempt the children and a sign advertising a 'Xmas Club' hangs over the handlebars of one of them.

The rather tatty shop on the left was a shoe repairers owned by James A. Starkey.

654 Bristol Road - 25/11/53

654 Bristol Road
I originally thought that the building containing Selly Oak Radio Supplies had been demolished and rebuilt as student accomodation but I had been tricked by a very thorough modernisation!  However, all the old terraces with small bay windows to the right survive remarkably untouched to this day, many let to students too.

On the far right, almost hidden in the November mist, is a pub on the corner of Heeley Road.  At the time this was known as The Station Inn due to its close proximity to Selly Oak railway station.  Today it is known as The Bristol Pear.

To the right of Selly Oak Radio Supplies was Terry's Cafe advertising hot dogs and 'fresh daily' ham cobs and cheese cobs.  There is also a sign for the nearby Oak Cinema that used to be between Chapel Lane and Harborne Lane.

Just out of shot to the left is the site of the Selly Oak Institute, now known as the Selly Oak Centre.

661 Bristol Road - 21/10/64

661 Bristol Road
A little further out of town from the shop above, and on the opposite side of the road, was Ray's.  Ray seems to have been hedging his bets businesswise as he has both a petrol station and a pet shop!

The building just visible on the far left is Selly Oak Library, built in 1905.  The railway line from Selly Oak to modern day University station can be seen behind the pet store.  The old chap on the right is standing in front of the gates to the splendid, gothic Selly Oak Pumping Station.

159 Heeley Road - 1/4/58

159 Heeley Road
About half way down Heeley Road was this attractive general store.  Sadly, this building has been demolished and replaced with something making more use of the large plot of land.

11 Raddlebarn Road - 13/12/63

11 Raddlebarn Road
The subject of this picture is the shop on the left, the one with the elderly gentleman passing by.  Above the door it says that it belongs to E. D. Harston and it is a Gift Shop.  Outside, however, are bowls, plates and brooms - not the kind of gift I would like to receive!

The two signs attached to No. 13 are for Haze air freshener and for Brasso - "Every corner sunshine bright.  For all your copper and brass".  It's nice that both products can still be bought today.

750 Bristol Road - 1/10/58

750 Bristol Road
Back on the main road again, this rather grubby petrol station could be found close to The Dingle.

The building to the left was the Dog and Patridge pub.  I remember this still being in business in the early 1980's but not looking like the kind of place you'd want to pop into for a nice drink!  This is kind of backed up from this Hansard record where it says that Michael Hickey met James Robinson (both part of the Bridgewater Four) before they went on to perform an armed robbery at Tesco in Northfield!

Lookers Vauxhall occupy this site today as can be seen in the modern view.

Bristol Road - 23/3/56

Bristol Road (Oak pub)
Nearly at the junction with Harborne Lane was Harborne Motor Services, seen on the left of this picture.  The building behind the petrol station was the Oak Inn that was on the corner of Bristol Road and Harborne Lane.

Prominent on the windows of Sam Carpenter are adverts for ITV.  It's hard to believe now but ITV had only started in 1955 and some TV's needed a set-top box to be able to receive it - nothing changes!

Through the archway between these two businesses lay Leeder Engineering Ltd.

Harborne Lane - undated

Harborne Lane
The Reservoir Stores, yet another general store, lay on the corner of Harborne Lane and Reservoir Road.

The small sign affixed to the attractive lamppost says 'Ring Road', obviously referring to the A4040 outer circle.

Oak Tree Lane - 11/11/54

Oak Tree Lane
On the opposite side of Bristol Road from Harborne Lane is Oak Tree Lane.  All these shops survive today.  In 1954 they were (from left to right) Derwent House (confectionery and cooked meats), Vincent C. Williams (optician), Jean Muir (ladies clothes), Alfred Black (gentlemen's outfitters) and Pramland (prams and toys).  I particularly like the rather grand car parked outside Jean Muir.

Pete informs me that Pramland was later bought by his uncle and became Hobday's Record and Music shop in the early 1960's.

835 Bristol Road - 28/8/51

835 Bristol Road
This picture, and the one below, were of particular interest as my father took a colour photo of the same location in 1955.

The garage was The Oak and offered 'Auto-Electric Service'.  This included armature rewinds, something you'd be hard pressed to find today!  The two petrol pumps offered BP and Shell petrol, again something you would not find on the same forecourt today.  Between the pumps is an advert for Roy Dixon, a local photographer.

Note the tram lines and overhead wires.  Trams continued to serve Bristol Road until July 1952.

I think the car on the forecourt is an old Austin Seven, can anyone confirm?

839 Bristol Road - 28/11/49

839 Bristol Road
Looking towards the houses seen to the left of the picture above we can see that there were traffic lights at the junction of Bristol Road and Harborne lane as long ago as 1949!  At this time The Oak offered Power petrol instead of BP but the familiar Shell was still available.

839 is having some roof repairs - note the ladder and the slates propped up outside the house.  If you look closely you can see a man on the roof behind one of the chimneys.

On the far left there is a tram.  Close to the traffic light is a stop for the tram that says, "Cars Stop Here By Request".

The buildings between the tram and the houses were St. Mary's National Schools.

25 Strathdene Road - 6/10/55

25 Strathdene Road
In this final picture we have moved to the later suburban streets populated by between-the-wars semis and here are a group of shops to serve the local community.

I can't make out all the signs here but the central shop was owned by Johnson, next door was TASCOS (the Co-Op) and, to the right, F. Depper.