Memories of Old Quinton

By Marjorie Billings (nee Mullett)

My brother was Wallace (Wally) Mullett; he was the first person from Quinton to receive a medal in the First World War. He went to Buckingham Palace and was awarded the D.F.M. My dad’s father lived in that little house on the corner of High Street. It’s been altered a lot since those he lived in it. One of the first to make alterations was Arnold Parkes, who had the windows from the Quinton Toll House put in the back. I hadn’t heard it called ‘the nailers cottage’ until I read your book. My granddad had a big yard coming up the High Street, where they used to sell coal and groceries and everything.

Coal and coke bill
Invoice to Quinton Church for Coke 17-1-1894

There was a laundry, run by the Guest sisters, at the corner of Ridgacre Lane and Meadow Road. They would bring the laundry from the big posh houses in Edgbaston.

Meadow Road
Meadow Road (laundry house in the centre)

The sisters didn’t live there though; they lived at the bottom of College Road

My father was Edgar Mullett; he was part of a big family. Edgar’s dad was William, we had three uncle Bills. One uncle Bill had an allotment with a big orchard down the other end of Meadow Road, he never married. William Foley was my Dad’s Uncle; we called him uncle Foley because he was another Bill, his wife was Liz. The Mullets were a comfortably placed family in Quinton.

I remember the Misses Fields, who had a shop down High Street, they were two lovely maiden ladies, who had silvery-white hair and always dressed in black.

We didn’t have a lot of money but we were given a Saturday penny. I mean you could get a lot for a penny then, two ounce of sweets and something else. We would look in the window for ages, then when we were inside we would change our minds but they were always very patient. I could never recall them trying to hurry us along, they were wonderful. They stood on the little stools and got the huge glass jars full of sweets from the shelves. I never knew what their Christian names were; in those days you didn’t know that, it was always Mr, Mrs or Miss.

I remember a schoolmistress called Miss Cox, who lived down High Street opposite the sweet shop. She taught at the Quinton Church School, she was also at the Wesleyan Chapel Sunday School.

Quinton Church School
Quinton Church School

I moved away from Quinton for a while but when I came back I was her secretary Lapal School. She kept a missionary box; a lot of people had them. When your aunts and uncles visited you would say, “will you put something in our missionary box?”

Where the Kingsway is now was Monckton Road; there was a row of three cottages attached to each other, then the lane narrowed right down and went to Tinkers Farm, at the bottom.

Tinkers Farm Estate
Houses to be built on Tinkers Farm Estate

Where is now called Walters Road was called Tinkers Lane. The farmhouse was divided into two, it was owned by a Mr Sturman of Blackheath. Two families shared the farmhouse; one of the family’s was called Hayden. Mr Hayden always came to visit on a Saturday. He always wore a long grey overcoat with big wide pockets and a bowler hat. If we were at home on the Saturday when he called he would give us sweets. Mint they were, I’ve seen them since at Teddy Grays Sweetshop, round and cream coloured with like browny in the middle. I once asked, “What’s it made of Mr Hayden?” – “Cat’s muck and pepper!” came the reply. Of course you believed everything that grown-ups told you in those days. Miss Cox came this one day to empty our missionary box and asked me “What are you eating Marjie?” I replied, “Cats muck and pepper!”- I did get into trouble when she’d gone.

I remember dancing round the maypole, not on the first of May though, but at the Garden Party on the rectory lawn. It was a different rectory then, Mr Palmer was there.

Rectory Garden Party
Rectory Garden Party circa 1900s

At the garden party they had these gorgeous strawberry teas, 6d or a 1/- I think it cost, which was a lot of money in those days. Another uncle, who lived in a cottage, further up the lane was called General Waldron. He worked during the week but on a Saturday he used to cut hair for the local men.

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