Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Michael Dodd, a couple of Jars and some history of where I live.

Today I had the pleasure of spending a few hours in the company of Michael Dodd of CDD Stamps Sydney Australia. Michael was on business to the UK and took time out to look me up. The second time in a few months. I must say it was as pleasurable as the first meeting.

A nice unexpected suprise was a gift from Michael. A 12 year old bottle of scotch, now you know where the red nose comes from. The carrier bag of stamps I gave him seems paltry in comparrison. But he assured me they would be going to good homes via his website as gifts for budding collectors. To apply for your share ( not the scotch) you will have to read his blog ( see bottom of the page).

Frankley Church which is on my doorstep (pic right) dates back to the 12th century.

We met at a pre arranged spot close to Rubery (more about Rubery later) and visited my local stamp shop Cofton Collections run by a old acquaintance Joe Brennan. After a rummage round for an hour and picking up a few select stamp bargains we made our way to a local pub where we chatted stamps and sank a couple of jars.

Imagine coming all that way from Sydney just to have a beer with me!! I think it was worth the visit, we ended up in a nice pub which used to be my local (untill I found a nearer one)

The pub (The cock) in Rubery is one of the oldest inns in the community ( a former coaching inn) it is noted for its picturesqe setting, gardens and a selection of fine ales.

Michael will no doubt also mention this in his own blog, which I urge you to read.

Set on the outskirts of Frankley in the Shadow of the Lickey hills it is a popular venue for families in the summer time. Frankley, is situated in a valley, a former green belt area 9 miles south of Birmingham, described by the Romans as "the foot hills of a part of the old salt trail (below) in the shadow of the lickey hills".

Located between the adjoining areas of Rubery, Rednal and Bartley Green it is close to Longbridge. This is the district that gave fame to Herbert Austin and birth to the Austin Motor company.

There is however more to Frankley. Although not a large community within Birmingham it does nestle in pleasant countryside with rolling hills and a real rural atmosphere that would normally only be found miles out of the city centre. The people of Frankley are fortunate to have the best of both city life and the countryside as well as immediate access to the outskirts, the city centre, the M5 and M42 motorways.

Beacon Hill

The origins of the village (Frankley) sprang up as low level alternative to the high level salt trail or salt road, which ran from Saltley near the northern outskirts of Birmingham (now an inner city suburb) where vast deposits of salt were mined by the Romans and transported to Droitwich Spa, the old Roman bath town located south West on the A38 in Worcestershire.

The old salt trail is still there ( a local nature trail above pic ) about half way up Beacon Hill, where it veers left onto the golf course or right over a stile behind Hazel Road, and continues past fields with cows and grazing horses, exiting opposite where the old Plough pub once stood. I must take Michael here when he returns in the spring, the view alone is worth another trip from Sydney.

More History

Anne Boleyn, Henry the Eighth,s second wife, stayed for some time at Rubery Manor, behind Gannow School on the Waseleys, it is now long since gone, but the history lives on.

Dick Whittington, who was to become mayor of London after setting off to make his fortune went to school at Kings Norton (a sheep farming village mentioned in the doomsday book) just 4 miles away. Another place of interest.

There was a major quarry down by the flyover, where now is just to be seen as gorse covered hill adjacent to where the old Rubery Hill mental hospital once stood.

Rubery Lane behind used to be locally called Bedlam Lane, but was renamed to a more mellow sounding one. The Quarry was very deep and used to have a railway station behind it, and talk is that it will be reopened in the not too distant future, though the original structure is also long gone.

Near the bypass flyover there is a geological fault where coal from a seam far below was often seen rising to the surface, this is now behind some shops in the car park, now difficult to see for sure, but once very evident, geological students used to come and view it.

Buffalo Bill together with four red Indians once stayed at the new Rose and Crown public house, another local pub, still with us today, perhaps mine and Michaels next port of call when he revisits in the spring?

I mentioned that Ruberys oldest pub is the Cock Inn (pic above), which is set on a small rise at the foot of Beacon Hill. The Beacon, which is 978 feet above sea level, is the highest feature of the Lickey hills, the next highest Eastwards is the Urals in Russia. It gets the name from the fact that beacons were lit in times of National danger in times past, part of a network during wars which could send warnings of invasion quite quickly from one end of the country to another.

Before you leave take a look at Michaels website and pay a visit to his blog. More about Machins next time. Oh by the way HAPPY NEW YEAR.


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