My Route Oral Histories

My Route leaves a legacy of several permanent resources for future generations, including a new public archive of local memories. On this page you can hear clips and read the transcripts of the oral histories recorded by the project volunteers. Find out more about My Route.

David and Valerie Cross
David and Valerie Cross were married by David’s brother, Father Neville Cross at St Agatha’s Church, Sparkbrook in 1969.

David was a police officer for the Hall Green and Stratford Road area from the 1960s onwards until he retired. He tells stories from his working life as a police officer and describes the Stratford Road area.

Valerie talks about bringing up their family and her involvement with the local church.

David and Valerie Cross image
David talks about a WWII incendiary bomb that was found in a loft (parts 1 & 2)
David talks about rounding up a flock of sheep
Valerie talks about how fewer children came to her local church than they did in the 1980s

Marianne Salmon
Marianne Salmon was born in 1960 shortly after her mother moved to England from St Elizabeth in Jamaica. She lived in various places around Highgate and Small heath, attending the local schools and churches. As she grew older, and after having her first child, she became more involved with the local community, moving to Sparkbrook and becoming a director of a Women’s Group in the area. She eventually became a youth worker, and worked at Concord Youth Center on Claremont Road, which she also attended herself when she was a teenager.

Donald Roswell
Donald Roswell was born in 1931, living on Wake Green Road in Moseley and Ivor Road in Sparkhill. As a boy he was evacuated during WW2 to live with relatives in North Devon, before returning to Birmingham where he attended the Stratford Road Baptist Church. Over the years he has been fully involved in church life and has seen the area change dramatically from the days when horse and carts were used.

Stratford Road Baptist Church
Donald talks about leisure activities he took part in during the 40’s
Donald talks about an incident with two ducks and a tram
Donald talks about ho goods use to be delivered

Lydia Sutton
Lydia’s parents came from the St Vincents in the Caribbean to Birmingham in the early 60’s. They rented a few properties at various places in Sparkbrook, before buying a house on Durham Road in 1964. Lydia was born in 1966 and grew up playing with her neighbors and going to church. She attended Greet School and Golden Hillock School, before eventually enrolling onto a course at Birmingham University. She has lived all over the country since then, and now works for the Arts Council in Birmingham.

Moccasin shoes
Lydia talks about her parents’ journey to the UK
Lydia talks about the difficulties her parents had renting in Sparkbrook
Lydia talks about her Rastafarianism experience at secondary school

Sofia was born in 1976 to a family who had originated in Pakistan and moved to England for better employment opportunities. She lived firstly at Fulham Road in Sparkbrook, before moving to Clarence Road in Sparkhill and Solihull Road also in Sparkhill after she married in 1997. She has been educated in several schools around the Stratford Road, and has many unique memories as a young girl raised in a liberal Islamic household. She recently graduated from BCU as a mature student who studied Visual Communication.

Sparkhill Park
Sofia talks about sleeping arrangements at her house in Fulham Road
Sofia talks about her experience of music
Sofia talks about an incident at Hall Green Secondary School

Fazlwr Begh
Fazlwr Begh was born in 1939 in Assam. He moved to England to further his studies in 1958, living at Farm Road in Sparkbrook. His wife joined him in 1965. He initially worked as a cashier at a restaurant, before working at Aston University and the University of Birmingham in the engineering department. Before retiring, he worked with the Accident research Unit, and he now lives in Northfield.

Fazlwr Begh
Fazlwr talks about his first job at an unique restaurant
Fazlwr talks about changes to Stratford Road

Sylvia Fry
Sylvia Fry was born in 1944 in Winson Green. She trained as a nurse, but left her job when she married her husband Peter Fry. They originally lived in Moseley before moving to and settling in Hall Green. Sylvia raised her two sons in Hall green, then started working as a health visitor at Farm Road in Sparkbrook. In 2000 when she retired, she was the Director of Nursing in Community Services, based in Sparkbrook. She now is school governor at Clifton Primary.

Image of St Peter’s Church in Hall Green by Sjdean
Sylvia talks about life in Hall Green
Sylvia talks about her experiences as a health visitor
Sylvia talks about some of the challenges Clifton Primary face

Umberto Pagliari
Umberto Pagliari was born during WW2 in a small village called Blera in Italy. He moved to Birmingham to keep his brother Renato company (Renato Pagliari was a famous Italian singer who was the first Italian to have a number one hit in the UK). He has worked in the restaurant business since he moved to England, and now runs the Italian Gian Carlos in Hall Green.

Umberto talks about the start of Gian Carlos restaurant
Umberto talks about working at Da Carrado restaurant on Stratford Road

Piali Ray
Piali Ray is the founder and director of Sampad. She was born in Calcutta where she was educated and introduced to the arts from a young age. In 1982 she moved to Birmingham to be with her husband, and started teaching Bharatanatyam dance to local families at the mac and at the adult education centre in Sparkhill. She eventually stopped teaching dance in the 90s to focus on developing a more organised and valuable approach to developing South Asian arts in Birmingham, leading to the creation of Sampad.

Piali dancer
Piali’s Archive 1
Piali’s Archive 2
Piali talks about dance classes at Sparkhill Swimming baths in the 1980’s
Piali talks about students from the family shops on Stratford Road in the 1980’s
Piali Ray talks about how dance classes grew and changed venues in the 1980’s

Film & Photographs by Iconic Productios

Prafullchandra Ambalal Amin
Mr Amin was born in Ahmedabad, India in 1937. After excelling at learning English, he moved to England in 1964 for work and to practice speaking English. He lived shortly in London and then Kent, before undertaking further study in linguistics in Wales for a year. He moved to Sparkbrook in 1972 and has been actively involved in the local community since then.

Film by Idriss Assoumanou

Mr Amin explains why he moved from Kent to Sparkbrook
Mr Amin talks about the Irish discrimination and racism in the area
Mr Amin talks about the opposition to a social club being formed

Emma Wright
Emma Wright is an editor based in Moseley, who has lived within 3 miles of Stratford Road all her life. Born in 1975, she grew up on Swanhurst Lane in Hall Green, going to several of the local schools and pursuing leisure activities based in the area, before moving to Moseley in her mid twenties.

Film by Iconic Productions

Emma talks about her memory of the sports and toy shop Eric Willmont’s, 1980’s
Emma shares her memories of Guides at St Peter’s Church
Emma talks about Hall Green Library

Richard Trengrouse
Richard Trengrouse has undertaken significant research into both Birmingham history and his family ancestry. Both his maternal and paternal ancestors came to Birmingham around the late 1860s/early 1970s, with one side settling in Brighton road in Balsall heath, and the other owning a drinking establishment near Highgate Road.

In this interview Richard shares some stories about his family, who owned several shops on Farm Road until the late 1960’s/early 1970’s, and moved down the Stratford Road towards Hall Green. He also shares his expertise on some of the sites and people who originate from the area.

Will and Dolly’s Wedding
Family Shop
Evelyn Road
Richard talks about the decline of the BSA factory
Richard shares a memory of the Antelope Pub

Ramanbhai N Paramar
Ramanbhai N Paramar was born in India in 1938. When he was 15 he moved to Kenya where he studied and became a teacher. He moved to be with his parents in England in 1976, but his teaching qualification wasn’t accepted, and he became a Civil Servant. He has taught Gujarati classes in Sparkhill for the last 38 years, originally in the Sparkhill Adult education Centre, before moving the classes to Narayan Temple on Warwick Road.

Film by Idriss Assoumanou

Mr Parmar talks about some memories of Sparkhill in 1976
Mr Parmar talks about some of the school’s social activities
Mr Parmar talks about some of the school’s earliest students

Avtar Singh Randhawa
Avtar Singh Randhawa and his family helped bring Indian Cinema to England. Born in a small village called Saidowal in India, Avtar came to England as a boy, before eventually running one of Birmingham’s earliest and most successful Bollywood cinemas, The Waldorf in Sparkbrook, which became the Shree Ram Mandir in the 80’s (see here for more information).

Film by Iconic productions. Photograph by Vanley Burke

Avtar Randhawa
Avtar talks about the first Indian cinemas around Stratford Road
Avtar talks about the free showing of religious films played at the Waldorf
Avtar talks about the closing of the cinema

Leon Trimble
Leon Trimble is a VJ who lived in Sparkbrook from the 1970s. Although he was born on Farm Road, he moved to Gladstone Road for about 15 years, where his mother still lives to this day. Leon remembers many of the schools and local places, although he has moved around the country a lot and now resides in Moseley.

Film by Iconic Productions

Leon as a cub scout
Leon in his technology room
Leon’s family
Leon talks about faith and attitudes in Sparkbrook when he was young
Leon talk about music he likes, and the influence in the area

Amerah Saleh
Amerah Saleh is a local Yemeni artist who has lived in the Sparkbrook and Sparkhill area for about 8 years. She went to Moseley school, and has several memories associated with trips up and down Stratford Road. Although as a teenager she disliked the area, as a young adult, she is growing to love the area and is looking to engage and work with locals through her artistic work.

Film by Iconic Productions

Amerah talks about her memories of the Sparkhill Park Fair
Amerah talks about the opening of A1 Supermarket

Mrs Javed
Mrs Javed was born in 1945 in Pakistan, before moving to the UK with her husband in 1967. After living in Small Heath, they moved to Avondale Road in Sparkhill for 8 years, raising their two children here before moving to Kings Heath.

Mrs Javed continued working and volunteering in the Sparkhill community after their move, and has been awarded an MBE for her services to further education.

Mrs Javed
Mrs Javed talks about her teaching experience
Mrs Javed talks about her neighbours
Mrs Javed talks about Sparkhill Park

Alan Perkins
Born in 1944, he lived at Doris Road, Sparkhill for the first 24 years of his life. He went to King Edward V1 Camp Hill School for Boys and was an active member of the Sparkhill Congregational Church, which became the United Reform Church, and eventually the United Community Church in the former Hall Green Methodist building. After being a primary school teacher for most of his life, he is now retired and living in Moseley, though he still visits Stratford Road for church and samosas from Jyotis!

Alan Perkins
Alan talks about his experiences of Piccadilly cinema in the 1950s
Alan talks about girls and boys at King Edward VI Camp Hill School
Alan talks about how Sparkhill Congregational Church developed into the United Reform Church
Alan talks about the move of the United Reform Church in 2005

Harish Wara
Hari was born and spent his childhood living in Tanzania with his Indian parents and younger siblings. In 1974 they moved to Birmingham to escape the economic crisis in Tanzania, where Hari completed his education and bought his first house in Newton Road, Sparkbrook, at the age of 18. He has run two menswear and alteration shops located nearby the Stratford Road, and has been actively involved in the local community. He now lives in Hall Green.

Photo of Hari by Vanley Burke.

Harish Wara
Hari talks about his move to Hall Green
Hari talks about some of his Irish customers

Nasheima Sheikh
Nasheima first came to Birmingham to attend university in the early 1980’s. She eventually moved to Birmingham, buying a house in Sparkhill, where she has lived and raised a family since. She has many fond memories of Sparkhill Baths, and has partaken in many of the leisure facilities and drinking establishments around the area.

Film by Iconic Productions

Nasheima Sheikh
Nasheima talks about women and the Birmingham Black Sisters Group
Nasheima talks about the Italian barber she use to visit

Tas Bashir
“June 1978 was a special summer – you could hear the sounds of Muqadar Ka Sikander and Grease everywhere. My dad had taken me to see Pakistan play England at Edgbaston and though we lost I will never forget the delirious support given to the team by my dad and his mates and all the other Pakistan cricket supporters. As we sat on the wooden seats munching on greasy Katlamas and drinking coke from glass bottles our joyous singing could not avert a dismal performance from the visiting team. Cricket was like a religion in those days so it’s funny that we used to play our after school game outside a church on Ladypool Road”

Tas Bashir

Peter Fry
Peter Fry was born in 1939 and has lived in Hall Green for most of his life. His current home on Colebourne Rd, belonged first to his parents, and he lived here initially until 1966 when he got married. Peter was an active youth, enjoying sports at Moseley College, and worked at various branches of Westminster Bank in and around Birmingham until he retired.

The Dingles by Elliott Brown via Flickr
Peter talks about the development of food in the 60s and 70s
Peter talks about the development of Hall Green in the late 1930s
Peter talks about his leisure pursuits and the impact of WW2

Farida Begh
Farida Begh was born in 1947 in Bangladesh, Sylhet. She moved to Birmingham with her husband in 1965 when she was 18, living on Farm Road in Sparkbrook. In this oral history she shares some of her memories of what life was like for her when she first moved into the area, as well as some of her achievements such as passing her driving test and becoming a BBC presenter.

Farida Begh
Farida and family, Gladstone Road
family car
Farida talks about her daily routine
Farida talks about her experiences of volunteering at Farm Road Clinic