I was born in Scunthorpe and spent my young years growing up in the rural North Lincolnshire villages of Scotton and Scotter. Then, in 1976, I came to Birmingham University to study Chemistry. I liked it here so much that I never left. I got a job with a Paint Manufacturer in Bordesley Green in 1979. I lived, for short periods, in bedsits in Sparkbrook and Edgbaston, then I shared houses in Minworth, Hampton-in-Arden and finally Weoley Castle before buying a house in Oxford Street, Stirchley in 1983.
When I moved here I knew virtually nothing about Stirchley and only chose it because of the proximity to Bournville Station, a decision I’ve never regretted. In Part 1 I gave you a tour of the delights available on the Pershore Road. Here in Part 2 I’m going to show you the Stirchley I know best.
I’ll start on Bournville Lane with this picture.
When I first moved in, the shop on the corner was occupied by my solicitor who did the conveyancing for my house. Back then, all of these were thriving shops, but now only the Chip Shop remains. This row of shops were originally built by Cadbury’s in 1899/1900 so that their workers would be able to do their shopping on the way to/from work. To the left of this position is the other part of Bournville Market.
In this block the only retail unit is Hugh’s which is where I go for my haircut every month. When I first moved in, next door was an Asian shop, then there was the newsagent (who, for many years delivered my newspaper!) and further down was another barber. The disappearance of these shops is more due to the closure of the Longbridge car plant and the declining numbers of Cadbury workers than to the rise of the supermarket.
On the other side of the road is where you’ll find me almost every day eating my toasted bacon sandwich in Bournville Café.
Although I’ve only been eating there for the last 12 years it is by far the best café in Stirchley (and the whole of Birmingham!). Derek and Jean run a great café with excellent food and a good level of chat, banter and gossip in very welcoming surroundings – it’s the equivalent of my ‘local’.
Just down the road is Stirchley Library, built in 1905 with money provided by the great philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
I’ve hardly ever set foot inside, but when I moved out of Oxford Street I had loads of books that were surplus to requirements. Initially I was going to take them to a charity shop (with the loads of other stuff I’d accumulated!), but someone gave me the idea of giving them to the library. They were only too happy to have the books and I hope that they’ve given people a great deal of pleasure.
Next door is Stirchley Baths which have been awaiting much needed refurbishment for as many years as I’ve lived here. I didn’t take a picture, though.
My next stop is a place that I’ve frequented on many occasions, but time and change mean that I’ve not been back for over a year.
When I first moved to Stirchley there were no Balti Restaurants. I used to go to a great Balti place in Bearwood with friends who lived over that way, but the food changed (not for the better) when the regular staff moved away. In 1987 a shop that had been closed all the time I’d lived here (I think it had been a dog food shop) was suddenly transformed into Yasser’s Restaurant. I made it a priority to go there as soon as I could. Lo and behold, when I first stepped inside, there were the people from Bearwood! They’d decided to open their own place and the food was just as excellent as it had been in Bearwood.
Well, for over 20 years it was our ‘go-to’ Balti Restaurant and I would have recommended it to anyone. Then, a couple of years ago, the ‘old guard’ retired and a new, youthful regime took over with new ideas and a completely new menu. I did give it several visits, but the new food isn’t to my taste and so haven’t been back for quite a while. I must say, we had a very good run and all good things eventually come to an end. I do hope that Yasser’s continues to be successful, even without me!
Stirchley is also home to one of the best pubs in Birmingham, even though I don’t visit as often as I’d like.
The British Oak is largely unchanged in layout since I moved to Stirchley in 1983! It is split into at least four separate rooms and, in a world where almost all pubs have been knocked into one room beer ‘barns’, the British Oak has retained its character despite having new owners and being refurbished inside. My favourite room is the front ‘snug’ which even now feels like having a drink in your front room with the only access to the bar through the hatch. I also like the small back lounge. The new owners have revitalised what was a slowly dying pub and, even though I don’t visit very often I’m eternally grateful that it is still there.
Before I finish, I’ve got a couple of pictures left to show you. In Part 1 I took you along the Pershore Road, but I omitted to show you this.
And finally…I may have mentioned it before…but I’ve lived in Stirchley for almost 30 years. And yet…I only set foot in Stirchley Park for the first time in December 2012! Amazing, but true!
I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip through this under appreciated corner of Britain’s second city and that it has tempted you to visit and discover some of the delights available here. A great time to visit would be on 14th – 16th February for the Love Stirchley More festival of the arts which will entertain and inform you in equal measure about Stirchley and its past, present and future.