Memories of Fazeley, written by Joseph T. Hunter in August 2008 when he was 88 years old.

The shops of Fazeley

In my day Fazeley had quite a few front room sweet shops which have now all disappeared, some by road widening and demolition. Opposite the Bonehill turn, Mr Tom Pallet had a large shed in his yard from which he sold sweets and home made ice cream. To keep the blocks of ice from melting he would securely wrap them in hessian and bury them in his garden, no fridges for the working class in those days. A family called Watton had a horse and cart and sold blocks of ice in the summer and salt in the winter.

Further down the road was Copeland's front room sweet shop and near the Bonehill Mill is a detached house, now a pet shop, which was a newsagents.  Next door were three houses occupied by Harry and Jack Twomlow, with the middle house becoming a fruit, vegetable and sweet shop. They owned seven ponies and daily put out on the road four pony carts loaded with fruit etc. They must have covered every village in the Tamworth area and it was usually dark when they arrived home. The carts were driven by Cyril Steed of Glascote, Harry and Jack Twomlow, and Jack's son Fred who was a little older than me.

After war service, Fred married and bought Speedwell Farm at Baddesley, his widow aged 93 still resides there. I was talking to their son John recently and he told me that his father was the first person in Fazeley to have a lorry and to get up the hump backed bridge by the chapel, he put the lorry in reverse!

The ponies were kept at times in a field behind the Old Mill. To get there they went down the Manor Drive, past the Swiss Lodge, through a spinney and over the stream by the cascade by means of a small wooden bridge. Kingfishers built in the sandy bank near to the cascade and still build there today.

Just past Broomfield House, in a row of cottages was another sweet shop owned by an elderly couple named Ingley. One day Mr Ingley was sitting outside the shop on a stool when for no apparent reason a car mounted the pavement and killed him. Afterwards the kerb was raised.

Not far away was another sweet and grocery shop owned by Ezekiel Brierley and yet two more owned by Watsons and Lorenzo Brown (a street of sweet shops).

In between was another front room shop which sold crockery, and yet another sweet shop and off licence owned by Mrs Sturgess, right on top of the hump backed bridge. Her daughter had married Bert Fidgeon, the garage owner, whose first wife had died in the great influenza epidemic of 1918.

Over the way by the chapel was a butchery business and abattoir owned by Bert Baylis. His brother Frank kept a butchers shop at Dosthill, another brother Walter was a butcher in Solihull and Bernard had a shop and milk round.

By the Parish Hall Mr Jones kept a shop which sold paint and wallpaper and you could take accumulator batteries there to be charged to run your wireless. I remember seeing my first 'cats whisker' radio in Lawrence's in Market Street, Tamworth.

Tucked away between two houses and Fidgeons garage was the small post office. It only sold stamps, postal orders, pens, pencils, rubbers and postcard views of the village and was kept by Mr Raybould and his sister, both single. A couple named Davis with a son my age moved into the village and Mrs Davis, on a sit up and beg bicycle, would deliver telegrams at a penny a time.

I supported the village football team from school age. They changed at the Three Tuns pub and walked to the football pitch at New Mill Lane. The team sheet appeared mid week in the Post Office window and I noticed that they had a new player called A.N Other. The following week another A.N Other appeared and I thought they were brothers!

By the side of Fidgeons garage is a large door and the premises there used to manufacture cattle cake. It would come out through the entry by the now moved Post Office and there used to be hooks in the ceiling of the entry and also a winch.

Next to the Post office was a grocery shop owned by Mr Lea and in the middle of the long row of houses yet another sweet shop owned by Mr Donnison (now a Coral betting shop). Over the road was a newsagent owned by an old lady named Lavinia Adkins (we bought our fireworks there) and she would come out to the middle of the street with her camera mounted on a tripod and with her head under a cloth, would take photographs of streets, buildings etc, These would later be on sale for tuppence each and are now highly collectable.

In Brook End there were two sweet shops, also three in Mill Lane where George Twomlow had a fruit and veg shop, next door Mrs Barratt had a sweet and grocery shop, both backing on to the canal and Mrs Barratt sold groceries to the boatmen. The last house on the right in Mill Lane Mrs Lakin kept a front room sweet shop , no wonder all us youngsters had decayed teeth ! Our few pence that we had to spend went on sweets.

Lorenzo Brown who used to be a night watchman kept a sweet shop and he would walk from his living room, down the corridor to the shop for halfpennies worth of liquorice allsorts or acid drops. You could hear him coming before you saw him, for he lost a leg in the war and his artificial leg creaked.

There were also other shops. Jack Hollingshead, former valet to Sir Robert Peel had a shoe repairers in Coleshill Street, then there was Billy Deakin's bread and grocery shop, Toon's sweet shop, Tommy Cox the butcher, Police premises and a cell, Milo Turner's chemists, Jack Gardiner's fruit shop, Sigley's fish and chip shop and Smith's fruit and veg. Freestone's cycle shop (still trading under the same name), Frank Cox the butcher and a large grocery and bread shop owned by F. G Allton.

In New Street there was Ikey Wilson's who drove an open sided vehicle. He sold all sorts of items for the home including paraffin, buckets, forks, spades, grate polish, Brasso, brushes and anything else you could think of.

There was also a Barbers shop at the Navigation Inn and Roary Jones had a cycle repair shop near to where I lived.