We came to live in Quarry Bank in the autumn of 1963, a young couple with a baby. Our only reservation in moving here, was the fact that the new house we were buying was 'in the middle of nowhere'. We liked the position, but having to rely on shank's pony or public transport we should have a trek to the shops. Moreover, the poorly lit lanes to the main roads were only dotted with the odd house, not very comforting in the dark winter evenings.
Nevertheless we soon settled in, getting to know the other young families, finding our way to the church and the Co-op in the High Street, and the baby clinic which at that time was in Mount Pleasant School.
They named our street Astons Fold, a bit daft as there was an Astons Fold already! Before long the name changed to Astons Close.
I suppose you could say we started the rot, as we were the first houses to be built in the vicinity for many years (except the bungalows on Woods Lane). And it was not long before plans were afoot to build more.
However, in the early days we were surrounded by fields and took the children on lots of country walks; a favourite was through the end of our cul-de-sac up onto the fields of Ravensitch Farm, up the gullet past the farm house to Amblecote Road and then any way that took our fancy, depending on how long the little legs were!
The brook running down to Bagleys Road and the Stour was a great place for the older ones to play and they frequently assembled at the pear tree which they dared each other to climb.
Down Bagleys Road we spent many a happy hour blackberrying with our neighbours and all the local children, or so it seemed! One day, a horse grazing there pushed our little girl into the brambles. She was tiny and he was enormous and not at all friendly, it was terrifying experience but we escaped with scratches. Ever after we kept our eyes peeled for wandering horses.
A weekly event was taking the children home to Mums' for the day on the train. The guard's van was always full of prams, pushchairs, toddlers on reins and chatting women. New friends were made on the regular journeys, so many young couples had moved from Rowley, Oldbury, Smethwick etc. to set up home in Quarry Bank. Good choice!
We used the park a lot. Walking of course, and using the pram to carry the picnic, the bat and ball and towels for paddling, we'd set off en masse with assorted children. If it was a school holiday it was a much more rowdy affair with the 'big ones' running ahead and urging everyone to hurry. Generally on the way back we'd have an ice cream from the shop in Acres Road and hopefully arrived home without too many moans about being tired.
A close knit community of young families… Dad at work, while Mum stayed at home taking care of the children, doing the housework, having a meal on the table. The roles were much more sharply defined then and in many respects not so stressful. We didn't have a lot of money but certainly enough to get by.
And so the years have rolled by... 35 of them ... and much has changed. But not everything! The views are still there, appreciated more as one gets older, the green of Lye Park and Pedmore, with Clent in the background.
Less than five minutes walk away, the Stour flows by as it has for countless years. Just the other day, taking the dog for a walk I saw a kingfisher skimming the water and a little later I espied a thrush. Pleasures not to be bought!
Mousehall Farm Road pre 1970, when it was a cul-de-sac.
Before Stockwell, the road stopped at No. 71 where the pathway to Thorns School joins the road.
© M.P.L.H.G. 2012