Continuing with the donations from the wonderfully generous Sir Gerald of Reece, and following some discussion on Facebook over the weekend, here’s a couple of fascinating images from a little-mentioned part of Brownhills: Pike Helve.
Pike Helve was a small community of houses that stood at the end of Pier Street by the canal, just adjacent to the ‘Iron’ pedestrian bridge that was replaced in 2007.
In the days these photos were taken, Silver Street and Pier Street were effectively dead ends to all but pedestrians, and Pike Helve was little more that a hamlet on the footpath from Brownhills High Street to Clayhanger.
Pike Helve was not known for being a particularly well-off neighbourhood, but it did have a pub: The Fortune of War, or Pier Inn.
I suspect these images depict Pike Helve not long before it was demolished, and capture a lost little community – a postman, caught in time chats to two ladies on a sunny morning, their dog wandering towards the photographer. The houses are shabby, but tidy and four-square.
Thanks as ever to Gerald Reece for his lovely donations and to David Evans for his tireless effort in scanning this material – in the face, at the moment,. of a bout of the flu. Get well soon old chap!
If you have anything to add, please do: You can comment here or mail me on BrownhillsBob at Googlemal dot com, or even shout me on the usual social media channels.
I include below an earlier article by Elizabeth Hampton, who grew up in Pike Helve and shared her wonderful, warm memories:
I’ve had a lovely contribution in from reader Elizabeth Hampton, who found Reg ‘Aereg’ Fullelove’s poem about Brownhills High Street in the Rhyme and Season article here last week – this is a wonderful memoir which I’m sure readers will love.
I’ve actually split it into too, as there’s so much lovely material that it’s worth breaking into separate posts. In this one, Elizabeth remember Brownhills in her post-war childhood, and mentions some very familiar names.
Thanks so much to Elizabeth for a wonderful contribution – please do join in; comment here of mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!
I was born in 1938 in South Yardley but moved to Broownhills before I was one and my two brothers born 1940 and 1942 in Brownhills. We also had two elder brothers 10 and 12 years older than me. We lived in the infamous Pier Street just of the High Street, My mother and father doing their very best in the terrible rented terrace house for us to keep us clean, well fed and loved. Against all the problems of no water in the house, only a tap in the yard for all living in the terrace and outside toilets.
My brothers and I remember other shops . At the top of Pier street turn right there on the corner was Kingstons Shoe Shop. (He was also our Landlord) They was also Holmes the Green Grocers (in which the sisters worked) Starbucks the Butchers (son Tommy went to school at the same time as our Tom) I think Caters Electrical shop was there before they moved over the road to the bigger shop. There was also another shoe shop called Kingston One time there was a dentist, (which I had the pleasure of going to) and of course the Co-op, there used to be Smiths (who also sold homemade ice-cream) and I don’t know if it was taken over by the Co-op Butcher shop or whether it was side by side. Selwyn Smith was further down the High Street and I used to go to Junior school at the same time as Joyce Smith his daughter. (As well as Dena Webster, Betty Hampton (funny enough which is now my name).
Across the road just near to Brickiln Street was my favourite Sweet Shop, run by I think Mrs. Shrigley and her husband. We would go in with our sweet coupon and she would make it stretch as best she could. An ounce of this from one jar and ounce of that from another. We had H. Brookes clothes shop which used to belong to the old Kent sisters. My Mom used to buy our clothes from there. Then there was Craddocks. I remember Joes, and of course Mrs. Daft’s fish and chip shop.
I cannot remember now if it was Mrs. Daft who fell into the Canal and my brother Matt got her out. He received a certificate from the Royal Humane Society for doing this. I know he had just had his wages and there were still in his pocket when he jumped in and my Mom hung his pound notes on the line to dry.
Going back to Pier Street, if you turned left there was the
and when I left School the Education Offices,( where I got my first job)
Mount Zion Chapel.
Tomlinsons Paper Shop, where my Dad would go every Saturday to pay for his papers and have a chat and pay on his card for our Christmas presents – books , toys etc.
Ann Seedhouse the Chemists.
The Corn and Seed Shop
The Regent Cinema where I spent many a happy Tuesday and Friday night downstairs could not afford to go upstairs. We use to have two films a week. Mr. Turner was always around and if we left anything like a hat or gloves he would nine times out ten have it there for you.
I remember going to see Victor Mature in Samson and Delilah and the film broke down and he gave us all our money back or we could go another night.
There was also another Fish and Chip Shop near to the Cinema going towards the Station and across the road by Church Road was the Post Office. [Saults? – Bob]
I also remember Princeps and Bradburys with their large windows.
We also had the fair every year on the ground by Silver Street.
I see in the poem he mentions hairdresser Tommy the Black, does he mean the coloured Barber who had his shop further on than the Cinema and was named Mr. Brown. I think his wife was also a ladies hair dresser. My father used to go there for his hair cut for years and when my Dad retired due to ill health this Barber would not take another penny for cutting my Dads hair.
[Bob – I believe Tommy Brown was Tommy the Back as he was then known, he used to work from a shed behind his wife’s shop about where Wilkinson is today. If I’m wrong, please do correct me – Bob]
My two brothers and I when we meet will often go over old times (maybe to the boredom of our families) and wonder whatever happened to some people. For instance there used to be a family called Cresswell who lived in Pier Street, who really were much poorer than us, a lovely family and very intelligent, we can recall Freddie and Winnie. I remember their father dying and their poor Mother being left to brig them up.