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Up, up and away — Carefree Tipton Days

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: December 03, 2009

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THIS week, regular contributor, Ray James, recalls the Tipton of his youth. Ray is well known to Bugle readers, not least for his epic journeys from the Scottish highlands, in his trusty Morris Minor, to his former home in the Black Country.

Tipton born and bred, Ray used to work at Don Everall Aviation, and has regaled us with many anecdotes from his schooldays and working life.

Recently, he sent me an aerial photo of Tipton which he took in 1961, during his time at Don Everall’s.

He explains: “The photo was taken from G-AHST, an Auster J4 belonging to Don Everall, where I worked at the time. I think it cost £3 15 0 d (How much?) to hire the plane then for an hour. .. I pulled back the sliding window, like in early Minis, and took the shot with my trusty Kodak Brownie camera.

I knew the flying instructor, Chris Lloyd very well, and after take off he just handed me the controls and had a snooze, his only instructions were to make sure I was back over Pendeford inside the hour! With virtually no commercial air traffic at the time this was totally safe.” Ray’s recent letter was prompted by my series of articles on lost lidos of the Midlands. He continues: “Nowadays, there are not too many people who remember Tipton’s own lido, along the Bilston Road, now covered by the Myrtle Terrace development.” On Ray’s photo, “it can be seen on the left hand side, just above the halfway line. The Bilston Road goes between that and the pool over the other side of the road, (now Beverston Road) which was used by everyone for fishing. The dogleg drive to the right of that was Willingsworth Secondary Modern school. Just below the lido is Elizabeth Walk which leads on to Wednesbury Oak Road, and that goes down to “Mother Shipton’s” pub which can be seen on the junction. It’s still there today and still flourishing.” Getting back to the lido, Ray says: “It was very well maintained at the time, by whom I have no idea. People also used to fish in there, with competitions being held there. Just out of the picture was the sailing club building and I think you could hire a rowing boat there. To the right of the pool you can see the row of between the war houses. The end one was much later bought by my brother-inlaw’s sister, and my nephew, Glyn Thomas later told me that it had its own boathouse underneath and a small slipway for it, down to the water’s edge. I think he availed himself many times of the fishing facilities there.” Ray recalls:” Back in the late 40s, early 50s, my mom, Annie, nee Fisher, and her sister, Aunt Soph, would gather all the youngest in the families and we would go for a walk on summer evenings to see the various activities taking place there. Amongst the industrial grime covering the Black Country, then, it was quite an idyllic oasis.

Hard to imagine now, and a lost world to today’s generation.

Ray also recalls another swimming haunt, near to the main Walsall canal. This was “the Obba pool, which was a favourite for kids in the area for swimming in.

The name is obviously short for “oblong”, but as a bunch of young toads, it was very likely we could not spell or pronounce it in full, hence, “Obba”.

Ray continues: “In the foreground is the Moat Farm “Lost City” estate. Every time I see it the first thing I see is Albert “Obe” Locke’s drive, in South Road, on the Island there. “Obe” was an extremely well known and very well respected scrap dealer, who I had known since my earliest days.” Sadly, Ray tells me, “Obe” has since passed away, but Ray says: “I never come to Tipton without visiting his resting place to pay my respects and always see one of his family and natter about times past”. He concludes: “I hope my 50-60 year old memories of carefree Tipton days are of interest and thanks for the articles back in September for bringing them back to me”.

Many thanks to Ray for sharing those memories with us. I’m sure many readers will also recall those “carefree Tipton days”.

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