Gilbert W Hyde - My Dad

fatherGilbert was born 28th June 1916 in Kings Norton, Birmingham.

The following is both an introduction to Dad and a potted history of his life. I will be writing separate articles about each of the featured events.

His Father

His Dad Ephraim William Hyde (born March 1887 in Dudley, Worcestershire), I discovered after Dad passed away, was one of three brothers and from a family that originated from the Sedgeley area in what is today called "The Black Country". At the time it was in Stafforsdshire, today its part of the West Midlands.

His Mother

Gilbert's Mother, Alice Maud (nee Davies) was born in Spetember 1877 married Ephriam in Aston, Birmingham. At the time Ephraim was staying with Aunts who ran a Tobacconists shop on Lichfield Road, Aston. He was actually staying in Villa Road, Aston - a road that since that time has changed dramatically meaning that the actual address no longer exists. The marriage was at a church in Aston.

Barrow's Stores

At the time of the marriage, Ephrain was working for Barrow's a then famous prestigious tea merchant & grocer in Birmingham (they were to Birmingham what Fortnum & Mason's were to London).  Barrows was started by Richard Cadbury Barrow, nephew of John Cadbury, the founder of Cadbury Chocolate. Barrow's was bought by the Key Markets division of Fitch Lovell in the 1960s and the name was discontinued.

Kings Norton

After the marriage in Aston, Ephriam & Alice moved to Kings Norton (a then as now fashionable suberb of Birmingham), where my Dad Gilbert was born. They stayed in Kings Norton until Ephraim left Barrow's employ and moved to Harborne, Birmingham in (I think) 1922.

17 High St Harborne

Ephriam rented property at 17 High St Harborne from the Vickers family who were operating a bakery immediately behind the property in Grays Road. 17 High St was a 3-storey building (4 if you include the half basement) that had a shop on the ground floor and living accommodation above. Ephriam opened the shop as a Tobacconist & Newsagent and the business was  (even then) called E.W. Hyde & Son.

Royal Air Force

In 1939 before the start of WW2 my Dad volunteered to join the Royal Air Force and went off to Porthcawl in South Wales for his basic training. After basic training he went to the School of Musketary (yes that is what it was called) where he learned how to shoot and more importantly care for a whole range of weapons. At one time it was suggested he became an Air Gunner but he was found to be medically unfit for this duty. So he went onto what during WW2 was known as Airfield Defence, which he did until February 1942 when the Royal Air Force Regiment was formed specifically to protect all RAF installations.

Dad then retrained as Airfield Fireman and stayed with that skill until the end of the war. Until 1942 he was based in South Wales.  Eventually he was posted to Mona in North Wales where he stayed until the end of the war. However, there was a short sojurn to the Isle of Man in 1945 where he was based at St. Andreas Airfield, Isle of Man. Interestingly, St. Andreas at that time was home to 11 Air Gunnery School with Anson and Martinet aircraft. I need to do a lot more research into Dad's Air Force career.

Royal Air Force Association

After WW2 the Harborne branch of the RAFA was formed and Dad went to the regular dances they held in the upstairs room of The Junction Inn in Harborne High St. Incidentally, I used to go to rock band gigs in the same room in the late 1960's - early 1970's. Dad started to court Alice, my Mom ,at rhe RAFA dances and they eventauuly married in 1952.

Alice May Hyde (nee Priday) - My Mom

Alice was born 28 May 1917 in the small village of Weobley, Herefordshire and she continued to live there until 1921, when her family moved to Birmingham and her father took up the post of gardener at Harborne Industrial School in Balden Road. The family also lived in Balden Road and it was from the family home that Mom left to go to St Faith & St Lawrence Church in Court Oak Road for her marriage to Dad. Mom is part of large family, with a history going back to the 1700's.

Shop Owner

When Mom & Dad got married, Ephriam moved out of the shop at 17 High Street and bought a new home in Quinton Road, Harborne. He effectively relinquished control of the shop to my Dad. Mom worked in the shop alongside her husband. Dad was listed as a tobacconist/shop owner when I was born in August 1953.

Harborne Village Social Club

After the RAFA, Dad moved onto Harborne Village Social Club & Institue, which was originally established in 1930's Harborne. The Club (as it was always known in my family) operated from premises in the High St, which at one time was a garage. The actual building disappeared in the 1960's redevelopment of the High St. It was located more or less where Boots the Chemist currently have their store. The Club moved to the old "fleapit" cinema in Serpentine Road and it still operates from there today. Dad served The Club for more than 50 years, many as President and later as a Trustee. It was at The Club that Mom & Dad carried on their dancing. It was at The Club that Dad honed his dart, domino and particularly snooker playing skills. And it was at The Club that he taught all these things to his son - me!

North Road, Harborne

In 1960 Dad bought a small terraced house in North Road and soon after we decamped from the upstairs rooms above the shop. Soon after Vickers took over the upstairs as offices and the shop was converted to a lock up. North Road had a small garden and a bit of a lawn where I played as a child. Although only literally round the corner from the shop I was closer to the other kids of the neighbourhood and it became a lot easier to go out and play with them on the old St Johns Church bomb site and all the othe rlocal play sites. Eventually, after Mom passed away in 2009 I inherited the house and continue to live here.

Radio Hobby

Dad always had an interest in Scientific matters, particularly Radio buiding and operation. He collected a number of magazines on the subject and at one time the house was full of part built radio equipment and the components needed. He did build the first Radio Gram we had, it was in the lounge at 17 High St and when we moved to North Road it came with us, although it was never used here.


Dad always bought second hand cars, mainly because he never made enough out of his business to afford brand new ones. However one of his gems passed onto me was "buy a second hand car from a source you can trust - and let the first owner sort out the problems". Not as daft as it first sounds and when considered along with the standard of the vehicles produced in Britain during the 1950's, 1960's & 1970's, it makes a lot of sense. I remember Dad having a Canadian Ford V8 Pilot he took over from Ephraim (Grand Dad) when Ephraim got to old to drive it safely. After that it was a Rover 100. Then a Ford Cortina 1600 Sport which he had until it was wrecked on a Welsh road in the 1980's. After that Dad had a Marina, Citroen and finally a Ford Escort. Dad stopped driving in 2003 when Mom said she would never get in a car with him again - his ability to concentrate was taken over by his disease - bowel cancer.

Trips out

Almost from his birth Dad was taken on "trips out" by Ephriam & his Mom. Dad told me of his earliest memory of a holiday being when he was taken by his Mom & Dad to Fairbourne, North Wales. They went by car all the way, stayed in a guest house and he had memories of exploring Fairbourne and the area with his Dad including walking across Barmouth Bridge as a steam train trundled over it. After I was born, trips out were made on Sunday afternoons (the shop was open 6 1/2 days a week). We travelled initially all over Worcestershire but as time went on (and I got older) the trips extended into Hereforshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wales and on one memorial day to Morecame in Lancashire.


Dad always had a love of railways, something he passed onto me. Although he was not a train spotter, he did marvel at the engineering used in railway operation.

Died 2006