Memories of the "Birch Tree" area,
1940's & 1950's

Ann Truman (nee Cooper)

     I was born in 1936 and lived at 227 Amblecote Road just a short walk from the Birch Tree public house. It was very quiet around that area, just fields opposite our house at that end. I spent a lot of time with my dog walking in those fields. The dog used to wait by our gate for me to return home from school (Mount Pleasant Infant and Junior School, which was quite a way) looking forward to her walk. It is true one remembers the summers as always warm and sunny and I particularly remember the delight of walking down Stamford Road, a rural lane with hawthorn hedges and wild flowers, to visit great-aunt Maud and her daughter, Auntie Winnie, who lived at the bottom end near Bagleys Road. They looked after me whilst mother was out at work during the war.

     Great-aunt Maud (who survived three husbands) and my grandmother Mary were sisters, daughters of John Rollason a clay miner and charter master in the Amblecote area. He was born at Astons Fold in 1846 and married Sarah Ann Mallen of Ravensitch in 1873, a farming family I believe. I have found both families on the censuses from 1851 to 1901.

     Gt Aunt Maud Bache (nee Rollason) 80th birthday party at her house in Stamford Rd, 1955.

     Mallen's moved to Ravensitch from Broom, Worcestershire just prior to 1861. My father told me the house where Aunt Maud lived was built for John & Sarah Ann Rollason who had a large family (see family group record) so it was not surprising that Aunt Maud's house (it seemed to me) was quite big. It had a very large garden in which I loved to play, with apple trees and other delights like the old greenhouse which had an iron stove. My second cousin Tom and I baked potatoes when it was lit. Attached to the house was a brew/washhouse with a coal-fired copper which provided hot water for baths in an old galvanised bathtub. Cooking was done on the black leaded coal fired range in the house. This had ovens and a hook on which hung a dutch oven for bacon.

     At the top end near the Birch Tree there was a triangle of grass where the road split and here there were two or three houses. In one of them lived the Fletcher family who ran a haulage business and garage. Walking down Stamford Road, just past their house, a track went off to the right (the line of the present road). This led to a cricket field and there were horses in a field on the right hand side. Back on the Amblecote Road, if one continued round the bend by the Birch Tree there was another track on the right, which led down to E.J. & J. .Pearson' s brickworks. My friend Margaret lived just a few yards down this track in a large Edwardian house down a long drive.

     1891 British Census

      John ROLLASON         (Head)   Clay Miner    42     Amblecote, Staffs
      Sarah A ROLLASON    {Wife)                                Amblecote, Staffs
      Bertha. ROLLASON     (Daur)    Dom..Serv     16      Amblecote, Staffs
      Arthur ROLLASON      (Son)     Clay Miner    14     Amblecote, Staffs
      Richard ROLLASON     (Son)     Scholar         12     Amblecote, Staffs
      Mary ROLLASON        (Daur)    Scholar         8      Amblecote, Staffs
      Mabel ROLLASON      (Daur)     Scholar         6      Amblecote, Staffs
      Sarah ROLLASON       (Daur)                        4       Amblecote, Staffs
      Daniel T. ROLLASON  (Son)                           1       Amblecote, Staffs

      Her father, Jacob Mole, was the general manager at the brickworks. I often used to play with Margaret in their garden which still had a lawn tennis court and which bounded onto Amblecote Road. A public footpath from Amblecote Road went along the other boundary close to the back of the house, which was largely hidden by a hawthorn hedge. The field there was full of old pit working or dips where the ground had fallen in, but the front of the double fronted house looked over another cricket pitch, belonging (I believe) to the brickworks.

      Opposite the afore-mentioned footpath there was an old house and a narrow track or cutting leading from Amblecote Road down to a farm which we called Wright's farm after the people who lived there. The son, Vincent Wright, had a milk delivery round using his old motorbike and sidecar in which the churns stood. He could be seen any time of day pottering along on this machine. The farm I now believe may have been Mousehall Farm and I wonder if this could be the farm where my Mallen ancestors lived and worked so long ago. I did a sketch of it from my bedroom window when I was about twelve and this I still have.

      At the end of the war and just afterwards Italian and then German P.o.W.'s lived in a camp near the farm. The camp gate was on Woods Lane and as children we often chatted to the prisoners, particularly the Italians. Prisoners were fairly free to wander around but had to wear large circles of a different colour on their jackets. They worked at the brickyards (E.J. & Pearson) and they often passed the time of day as they passed our house.

      Walking back up to Amblecote Road, from the Birch Tree before reaching our house, one had to pass my great-uncle Richard Rollason's house, number 235. He and Aunt Florence were quite jolly and I liked to visit them. They too had a greenhouse and grew lovely tomatoes. Aunt Florrie, as I called her, used to be a teacher at Stambermill (See Black Country Bugle article of 2002).

     

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     ©  M.P.L.H.G.  2012