Staff Association
News Letter: Christmas 1956
Harry Calver (Revlac) describes a 'visit' to
three of Birmingham's inner city suburbs:
Duddeston; Nechells; and Saltley.
In 1970, Harry Calver was appointed Manager of Saltley branch

Last summer, having obtained the coveted last period, the wife and I felt that it called for something rather special in the way of holidays.

But where to go? Rome? Madrid? Lucerne? Surely not the same dreary old round? At last we decided on something revolutionary. But there was, of course, the ever present question of finance. This was soon solved. By not smoking, drinking or eating for three months, and by returning all Bills marked "Not known at this address", we had soon accumulated the necessary funds. Reservations were made, passports and visas arranged, and a supply of currency kindly obtained for us by H. O. The children were safely billetted on a simple minded neighbour, who, prior to their stay, owned a collection of valuable glass and china.

(One small point: we decided against BEA as I am a martyr to mal-de-mer).

At last the great day dawned! The coach, due at the Hall of Memory at 7:00 am, had not arrived at 10:30, and I jestingly told the wife that if it didn't come soon, I for one, would return home. Unfortunately it came almost at once, and we were soon away, the destination board proudly proclaiming our objective - "Day trip to Nechells".

Three happy hours later we were in Corporation Street, and our Guide, a man of ready wit, gave details of the interesting landmarks on the route, and also, quite gratis, a racy account of the ancestry of a private car driver who came closer than he liked.

Soon we were in Nechells, and the cloudburst which heralded our departure had happily given way to a steady drizzle interspersed with hail storms. We wandered off in small groups through the timeless streets, recording ever and anon on film the heaps of rubble, rain filled craters, and the impressive workers' flats. How we wished we could afford to live in one of them, with its fine views of Duddeston and its splendid conveniences.

The natives are a colourful, happy people in their national costume of dirty headscarf or collarless shirt, and we saw many playing the National game of "Waiting till they open". At our request, they favoured us with one of the traditional airs of the district, anent one Nellie Dean, a legendary figure of the early closing period. We found no hostility to Britain, and the threat to Nationalise Saltley Docks appears over-estimated. Soap is unknown.

We sampled the local delicacy (wittily called "six an' fourpennorth") eaten from newspaper and on the move, and the currency being in our favour, (forty "tanners" to the pound), we purchased several souvenirs including a fine set of cutlery marked with the arms of the Lord of the Manor and bearing his initials "L.M.S.”

The beautiful old ruined buildings struck both my wife and myself (fortunately, not seriously) but much as we wished to linger amongst their fragrant charm, the time to leave came all too soon, and it was a regretful “tarrar” (a little bit of the patois we picked up), that we said farewell to colourful Nechells, with its friendly people, and its wealth of historic interest.

One final point: don’t worry about language difficulties. Several of the population speaking English, and those who don’t can usually convey their meaning by way of signs.