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1: The Art School, Ford Street, remembered by Liz Bayly
2: Schoolday memories of Pauline Bearcock
3: Little Park Street & Spon Street, by Mick Billings
4: Voyage on the Queen Mary with Cecilia Cargill
5: Schoolboy fun around town with Patrick Casey
6: Dunlop Rugby Union Club, by Lorraine Clarke
7: The Life of Riley, by Ron Critchlow
8: Pre-war memories of Norman Cohen
9: Wartime memories of Wyken, by Alan Edgson
10: War and Workplace memories of Mike Fitzpatrick
11: 1940s & 50s remembered, by Ken Giles
12: World War Two memories of James Hill
13: A selection of 1940s and 50s memories, by Rod Joyce
14: Pictures of a Coventry ancestry, by Lesleigh Kardolus
15: Innocence, by John Lane
16: A plane crash over Exhall, by John Lane
17: Growing up in Willenhall, by Josie Lisowski-Love
18: Post-War memories of Keith Longmore
19: The thoughts of a younger Coventrian, by Paul Martin
20: Growing up in Hillfields, by Jan Mayo
21: Winter before central-heating in Hillfields, by Jan Mayo
22: Viewing the Blitz from Birmingham, by Mavis Monk
23: Family memories of Eric Over
24: Early working days of Barry Page
25: Band life with Derick Parsons
26: Brian Porter, A Coventry Kid
27: Experiences of the Coventry Blitz, by Joan Powell
28: War-time memories of Brian Richards
29: War-time memories of Jeanne Richards
30: Coventry Remembered, by Andrew Ross
31: The Coventry outings of Brian Rowstron & family
32: Time Gentlemen Please! - Jo Shepherd's Family
33: The life experiences of Mike Spellacy
34: Humber Works photographs of Peter Thacker
35: Early Coventry memories of Lizzie Tomlinson
36: Post-war decades remembered, by Mike Tyzack
37: Fireman Frank Walduck, remembered by Peter Walduck
38: Early memories of Coventry, by Muriel Wells
39: Family memories of Burt West
 
Page 3

Little Park Street & Spon Street, by Mick Billings

Mick Billings with his dad Mick Billings with his dad.

Early days... Little Park Street

I was born in Little Park Street on 30th October 1943 to Elsie Rose Billings and George Billings at Court 16, House 4, which was opposite the entrance of which is now the Telephone Exchange (south of Middlemore's and Lucas, where the Police Headquarters Car Park now stands). See photo below. The house was a typical ribbon weaver's or watchmaker's with large windows on the top floor. It was in a block of six, with six others on the opposite side of the court. Behind our court was an alleyway leading to another court where my Grandmother on my Father's side lived. (Sarah Billings and my dad's sister Gertie). Mum was a Bus Conductress during the war, while dad was in The South Wales Borderers as a cook. I was baptized in Holy Trinity Church in December 1943.

Mick at around three years of age Mick at around three years of age.

I used to play, 1947-48, on the bombed site where the Telephone Exchange stands now. It was a huge area stretching right up to Cow Lane, and I remember the area was covered with the concrete floor of the former building with large holes in the floor through to the basement which was full of rubble, timber & water as it was open to the elements. The other side of Cow Lane the Registry of Births, Marriages & Deaths used to stand just before Kirby House. On the opposite side of Little Park Street stood a pub with an open courtyard, the name of which escapes me. Opposite the Council House, on the corner of Little Park Street, were prefabricated temporary shops which continued into Little Park Street. To the left of Middlemore's was a Nissan hut style building, and I always wondered what it was used for. To the left of the entrance to the now Telephone Exchange was a walk through to a temporary coach station, towards St. Patrick's Road, which was used while Pool Meadow was being rebuilt. The Coventry Transport buses still use Pool Meadow.

When the houses were being pulled down to make way for the new Police Headquarters we moved to 55 Walsall Street, Canley, and I went to Sir Henry Parkes' Junior School (Sadly no longer there) in Prior Deram Walk.

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Spon Street

My Grandmother & Grandfather (Elsie Whitehouse nee Edwards and John Joseph Whitehouse) lived in the house at the rear of Fennell's Music Shop, 158 Spon Street. Access was through the arch under 159 Spon Street, and was situated on the left of the yard. I remember it had 10-12 wooden steps up to a veranda to access the front door. The house was on two levels but I never knew what was under these floors as the access showed there must have been a ground floor room of some kind. To the right of the entrance was a bathroom with enamel bath and toilet, while straight ahead were the stairs which lead to three bedrooms (always dark & gloomy I remember). To the left of the entrance was a small hallway before two steps down into the kitchen with the lounge/sitting room further on - light in the evening being provided by an oil lamp.

Mick's Nan is the lady on the donkey on the right Mick's Nan is the lady on the donkey on the right.
Mick aged about ten Mick aged about ten.

To the right of the yard were workshops, which were occupied by a timber merchant whose circular saw was always a fascination to me as he went about cutting the wood to the required lengths before planing. The rest of the workshops were used for the storage of timber, and I used to look through the grimy windows to see what was stored in there. At the top of the yard on the left hand side, behind Nanny & Pappies, was a low wall over which ran a court of old houses (Court 38?) which was accessed from an entry between Bird's and Fennell's. They were in ramshackle condition but were soon swept away to make way for The Naval Club along with Fennell's and Nanny's house. Nan moved to Fenside Avenue in Styvechale.

Opposite Fennell's was the GEC factory, and it was fascinating to watch as the workers left to go home in the late afternoon. To the left of the building was a dark passageway always gated off. Nan told me it was used as an air-raid shelter during the blitz. Further down Spon Street was Goddard's the newsagents. I used to go there to collect my Comic Cuts, and was disappointed when I was told that it had stopped publication but a new comic The Eagle was out that week. I replaced my favourite comic with The Eagle from that day, and I still have my membership card from joining The Eagle Club.

G.E.C. Telecommunications factory in Spon Street The G.E.C. Telecommunications factory in Spon Street.
See more great pictures of this and other GEC sites at www.telephoneworks.co.uk

At the top end of Spon Street, before the traffic lights at Barras Lane, was Phyllis' the bakers where I always loved buying the miniature Hovis loaves. Next door was the Butchers where the old fashioned Bacon Slicer always fascinated me. (How did they never lose a finger?)

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Leisure time

Mick and his sister Marg at one of the Cox Street Easter parties Mick and his sister Marg (facing us) at one of the Cox Street Easter parties.

Sundays were always Sunday School at Bethel Evangelical Church, along with my sister Margaret, at Spon End, and an occasional trip to the Swanswell Pool to catch tiddlers. Playing marbles or hopscotch and riding our bikes were our amusement in those days along with going for a walk, which I still enjoy today. Pappy was a member of Cox Street Working Men's Club along with my mum's brother Tim and we used to enjoy the parties at Easter & Christmas which were for the benefit of members' children, and also the coach trips out to places like Wicksteed Park, Kettering. Such happy memories. Pat Collins' Fair on Hearsall Common was also always enjoyable as a lad growing up during the rock 'n' roll era.

The Coventry I knew as a boy provides me with such good memories and I'm proud to be a Cov Kid and am immensely proud that I was born within the walls of the old medieval City of Coventry, which makes me a true Coventrian. Coventry is a very special place full of history. Everyone has heard of the Legend of Lady Godiva and "Being sent to Coventry", which makes it quite unique in folklore today. It makes me proud to be British.

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And there's more...

Little Park Street soon after the Blitz Little Park Street soon after the Blitz. Mick was pleased to see this picture because the roofline of his old house is visible in the background below the Old Cathedral spire. He explains a little more about the picture....
The Lucas building is the one directly behind the guy with the horse & cart, and Middlemore's is the house with the two gables just to the left of that. The paler building and the one to the right of that were repaired, as they were not as badly damaged as first appeared. To the right of the paler building, where the rubble shows, it was turned into a quite nice garden for that building. I remember the fence around it being painted blue & white. A little way on from there a lane ran through to Much Park Street. Cow Lane was opposite where the Coventry bus is in the photo.
Mick's Baptism Certificate from 1943

Above is Mick's Baptism Certificate from 1943, and below is his Eagle Club Membership Card!

Mick's Eagle Club Membership Card Mick's Eagle Club Membership Card

If anyone remembers Mick or would like to reminisce with him, you can correspond using this address.... mistermick@cytanet.com.cy


 
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Little Park Street & Spon Street, by Mick Billings
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This page last updated on 22nd December 2014