My Baker family arrived in Birmingham in 1850 when my Great –Great Grandfather, Robert Charles Baker came to the City from Huntley in the Forest of Dean area of Gloucestershire. He married Emma Hodges at St. Thomas Church in March 1853, and lived in the Aston area. He continued with his trade of wood worker and by 1876 had been joined by his sons Frederick and Charles and had a company employing 6 men. Frederick, my Great Grandfather married Emma Amelia Bale in December 1877 and my Grandfather Arthur was born 10th September 1886. The family continued to live in and around Aston and Ladywood. Arthur worked as a tram motorman for Birmingham City Transport and married my Grandmother Florence Smith on the 14th October 1911 at Balsall Heath Parish Church.

My Father Leslie was born 18th March 1914. Arthur signed up for war service with the 1/8th Batt. Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 6th September 1914, and was sent to France on 22nd March 1915, to the area known as the “Douve Trenches" in the Ploegsteert Wood area, just north of Armentieres on the France/Belgian Border where he received a head wound and was returned to England on 7th  May 1915. 
On the
5th May, 1915, the War Diary entry states
In Trenches. D company heavily shelled by high explosives.
4 privates killed
4 privates wounded
2nd Lt Proctor wounded.
His name and number and regiment were published in the Birmingham Daily Post casualty list on 10

June 1915. He was transferred to the 7th Batt. Royal Warwickshire Regiment on home service as an acting sergeant, training marksmen after recovering from his wound and discharged on 9th July 1917.

(I am indebted to Terry Carter Birmingham Pals website for these details)

Following war service he became a carpenter working on many of the houses being built in the Kings Heath area. In 1924 the family moved to Beechwood Road Kings Heath, and finally in June 1939 he moved to the house in Livingstone Road, that was to remain the family house for over 60 years, until my Mother died in 2001. Arthur died in 1958, followed by Florence in 1960, they are both buried in Brandwood End Cemetery. My Father Leslie died in 1986.

I was born in July 1948 at Sorrento Maternity Hospital Moseley, one of the first babies to be born at the Hospital under the newly formed National Health Service.

I attended Colmore Road Infant and Junior Schools and after failing my 11 plus went to Brandwood Secondary Modern School.

Amongst my earliest memories are playing on the swings at Kings Heath Park, shopping in the “village” with my Mother and family visits to Warstock Lane Allotments, where my Grandfather had 2 plots. He grew most of the family vegetables and always won prizes in the annual show.

As I grew older I went to The Kingsway Picture House on Saturday mornings. We used to come out of the cinema maybe up to 100 kids, imagining that we were cowboys on horse back or invaders from outer space, whatever the main film had been about. The next stop was the chippie, there were two chip shops. We always went to the one in Silver Street. It’s still there, where we would buy our 6d of chips and stand eating them outside the shop next door to the chippie. It was Tommy Godwin's bike shop. Most of us had bikes at that time usually older second hand models, so the sight of brand new bikes with shiny paint and chrome was just a dream.

During my early teens we were always riding bikes, often cycling to the Lickey Hills for a day out or to any railway vantage point where we could spend time train spotting.

In my middle teens like most boys I found girls, so most of my time was then spent at Swanshurst Park,  where most girls seemed to be, far more than at the other parks, and then at 18, well perhaps 16, we started visiting pubs. One of the first pubs I visited was The Billesley, meet the girls at Swanshurst and then off to the Billesley when they had to go home.

 During my teens some nights out meant going to town. I remember the nights we queued up outside the Odeon to see popular films like Battle of Britain, The Great Escape, and then eating hot baked potatoes from the man with the barrow on New Street, before catching the 48 or 50 bus back to Kings Heath.

The main attraction in Kings Heath was The Ritz Ballroom in York Road. Where most of the popular well known pop groups of the 60’s performed, I remember seeing The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Spencer Davies and many others there. This was followed by a bag of chips on the way home; we knew how to live in those days.















©  COLIN BAKER   2007                                                                                       

Arthur married Florence Smith on the 14th October 1911 at Balsall Heath Parish Church

Arthur c1918

Beechwood Road with my father Leslie c1925

Livingstone Road c1960

Arthur on his May Lane allotment c1930

Arthur in Home Guard during WW2

Livingstone Road