Roy Slim Story
My name is Roy Arthur Slim, and I was born the 3rd November 1935. I was born at home in my parent’s house in Thimble Mill Lane, Nechells. I was only a small child when I attended St Clement’s, which was then in High Park Street, from 1940 to 1950, (we left school at 15 in those days). The first four or five of course were during WW2, which I remember well. I was not evacuated to the countryside, like many children were, so I continued at St Clement’s throughout the war.
Birmingham suffered extensive bombings during the war, and I remember the air raid sirens sounding most nights when the German bombers came over dropping their lethal bombs. Near our house there was a public house/café, which had its cellars reinforced to act as a shelter. My Mum use to wake me in the middle of the night and we all went into the shelter, waiting for the all clear siren to sound. We then had to try and sleep again, before getting up to go to work or school the following morning. We would then see some of the damage the bombs had caused to the local area. Luckily, my family were not injured and the school was not hit or damaged. Unfortunately, I do not have any archive photographs of the war or my school years, but I do have memories.
St Clement’s then had infant, junior and senior levels, and I passed through them all. I think the infants were only one year, juniors up to age eleven and seniors to age fifteen years. The headmistress of the junior school was Miss/Mrs Schofield, and the Headmaster of the senior years was Mr James. Other (senior) teachers I remember are Mrs Grey and Mr Jones. Other pupils I remember are Alfred Slim (my cousin), Kenny White, Fred Cook ,Ernie Holders , Alfred Tanner and Jimmy Corbett, Bernard Hodges, George Weaver, Derek Robotham, Dorothy Tranter, Beryl Franks, Jean Cotton and many others whose names I can’t remember.
As a church school, we had weekly (Wednesday) morning church parade/assembly at nearby St Clement’s Church in Stuart Street. We would march as a classes and return after the service for normal school lessons. There was a small tuck shop a few doors down from the school and most children would call in either on their way to, or from school to buy some sweets. Amazingly I still have all my own teeth!
I do not remember any ‘punishment’ book, but we did have corporal punishment in those days and I received the cane on my hands many times! Also, we really did have to stand in the corner with a ‘dunces’ hat on! I am not sure what you do now, but in those days we had separate playgrounds for boys and girls. We were not allowed to mix during break times. Every year, we had a Christmas play that use to take place upstairs in the senior’s hall. The performance was held on a stage and it was always great fun. The school held termly competitions and points were given in each subject. I am pleased to say I was always among the top pupils. My best subjects were Maths and Geography and my worst subject was English.
After the war, when I was probably 12/13 years old, we were having a fire safety lecture from the local fire brigade, it was a very windy, stormy day, suddenly, there was a loud bang and parts of the ceiling started to fall. A large chimney on the roof of the school had blown over and crashed through. We were covered in dust and bits of plaster, but luckily no one was injured. The fire brigade of course took immediate control and evacuated us all from the room… It was fortunate that the perfect emergency service was there at the time.
The ‘rival’ school to St Clement’s was Charles Arthur Street School, and as we all lived locally, there was a lot of teasing etc., but no violence. St Clement’s did not supply school dinners, so those that needed them had to use the facility at Charles Arthur Street. Again, we were marched to and from CAS by a teacher.
After sixty five years, it is difficult to remember day to day routine experiences, but the facts above do stick in my memory. I can only say I enjoyed my schooling at St Clement’s, and I believe it stood me well for my future life.
At this stage I have to state I am, and always have been, an ardent Aston Villa football supporter (And proud of it).
If you are interested in my life after St Clements, I am pleased to supply the following information. I hope it is not boring or reads too clever and ‘show off’. If you are not interested please delete. (Ha Ha).
Leaving St Clement’s, at age fifteen (1950), I then served an apprenticeship in Electrical Engineering with the then Midlands Electricity Board, attending Erdington and Aston (Now University) Technical Schools obtaining an Ordinary National Certificate in Electrical Engineering. During the latter part of my apprenticeship, I actually became more interested in Radio Engineering, and as BBC television was just arriving in the Midlands, I did more of radio and TV than basic electrical. All this involved wiring houses (A lot houses only had gas at the time), factories etc. installing electrical equipment and installing TV sets and aerials.
The 1950’s and 1960’s were of course the early age of rock ‘n’ roll, pop, the Beatles and all that jazz. I am not ashamed to admit that during my late teens, I was your typical ‘Teddy Boy’, dressing in long draped jackets, drainpipe trousers, bootlace ties, thick crepe soled shoes and a ‘DA’ haircut. If you do not know what a ‘DA’ haircut is, ask your Grandad. On Saturday evenings, after watching Aston Villa play, we would go rock ‘n’ roll dancing at Nechells swimming baths, which during the winter was boarded over and made into an excellent dance floor. I believe the baths are still there today. On Sunday evenings, there were rock ‘n’ roll sessions at Charles Arthur Street School, which we all attended. There was also a Mecca ballroom in the town centre, which we often enjoyed.
On the completion of my apprenticeship, as National Service was still current, I had to enlist in the armed forces. Due to already having qualifications, I was offered service in the Royal Air Force as a radio engineer. I did in fact serve for three years, rising to the rank of NCO (Non Commissioned Officer). My initial training was in Liverpool and Weston Super Mare, which also included further education to roughly ‘A’ levels. I was then transferred to Dishforth (Harrogate) in Yorkshire, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. During this period I also spent a lot of time in Malta and Singapore. This again was quite a pleasant experience and I felt I was doing ‘my bit’ for the country.
On leaving the RAF, as I had met a young lady in Harrogate, I decided to stay in Yorkshire, obtaining employment in the radio/communications industry. We married in 1965 and our only child Gary was born in 1967. Sadly, we divorced in the early 90’s and Gary emigrated to Australia. Gary is now very successful and has a lovely family all of his own. I do try to see them regularly and we talk on Skype every other day.
My parents continued to live in Thimble Mill Lane until my Dad retired in 1973, when they moved to Tamworth. My Dad died in 1998, and my mum returned to live in Erdington near her sister. Sadly, my mum died in 2002. During the years from 1956 40 2002, I made regular visits to see my parents and they spent many holidays in beautiful Yorkshire.
I am now retired and after many years of living on my own, I now live with my lovely wife, who I married in 2010, in the beautiful town of Harrogate. I have visited four continents of the world. Some years ago, I had a holiday in Egypt, spending several days in Cario, where I visited the Tutankhamun exhibition, travelled by camel to the Pyramids, the Sphinx and many other sites. This was followed by several days in Luxor (down the Nile), which is the location of the Temple of Karnak and the Valley of the Kings, Queens and Pharaohs. I even took a trip underground to see drawings, paintings and hieroglyphics, but sadly, cameras were not allowed.
Eleven years ago, at age 70, although in very good health, I decided to write a ‘Bucket List’ of things I have always wanted to do. I am still working through it, but so far I have completed two 'skydive' free fall parachute jumps, from 10,000 ft and 14,000 ft out of an aircraft, In Turkey, I completed two paraglide jumps off the edge of a 6500ft mountain and earlier this year, I started taking flying lessons. I have already flown a small plane around North Yorkshire and hope to soon fly in a Tiger Moth WW2 open cockpit biplane, I was meant to do this a short while ago, but sadly, it was cancelled due to the weather. My big flying dream is to fly in a WW2 Spitfire, now that would be an experience!
When visiting my family in Australia, I walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge, snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef and visited the ‘Surfers Paradise’ Golden Coast. Ihave beento Iceland to see the Northern Lights and hot water Geysers and hope to visit Russia, China and America in the near future for some more adventures (Scuba diving would be nice, but I’m not a great swimmer).
Apart from a new right knee, at 81 I am in good health. I would like to say, I believe this is to do with good schooling, hard, but enjoyable work, honest, clean living and lots of enjoyment and fun. As John F Kennedy said, “Don’t think of what the world can do for you; think of what you can do for the world.”
My advice to the pupils of St Clement’s is, study hard, work hard, play hard, be kind to each other and enjoy your life, as I have done. I am one of the fortunate ones.
Roy Arthur Slim