The Bissells

By Edna Toye

I have many memories of life as a member of the Bissell family. I was born at 12 Bissell Street in the heart of Quinton. I am the daughter of Wilfred and Alice Bissell (nee Gill). Alice was from Blackheath. My family later moved to 801 Hagley Road near the parish church. With my three sisters and my father's family, I attended the Methodist church in College Road.

I was a pupil at Quinton C.E. School and remember three successive head teachers: A.W. Burns (who was about the leave), A.L. Strudwick, and R. A. Clarke. When I went to work it was at Allport's, high-class tailors of Colmore Row. My father's place of work was not so far away. He was employed by Webley & Scott, the famous gunsmiths whose premises were in Slaney Street off Steelhouse Lane.

I married Edward Toye and we moved into a house on Ridgacre Road. Our son Tony recently retired after long service with Birmingham City Council in the Highways Department.

Bissell Street was named after the family. Bissells and family relatives were to be found in every street around there. Those I remember best include Fred Bissell who was my father's cousin. He lived in the house still there at the east end of Meadow Road. Fred was a housebuilder and undertaker. He built some of the houses in Priory Road and Spies Lane. Dolly Bissell had a fine soprano voice. She sang solos and accompanied herself on the piano. Dolly was another of my father's cousins. His uncle Sam and aunt Jane had guns and spaniels. They enjoyed shooting and sometimes brought us the game. As my father worked in the firearms industry, they also brought their guns for him to clean.

I well remember some of Quinton's interesting old buildings, including Pax Hall with its long, high wall and a post box in the brick gatepost. Sometimes when Tony was a tiny tot and wondering what was on the other side of this tall white roughcast wall, I would lift him up to show him Miss Hussey-Freke's large front garden. I also remember the old well complete with a wooden bucket which provided the farmhouse at Howley Grange with its water before it had a mains supply.

QLHS 2000

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