Jim Rippin

I started taking photos back in about 1948. My dad was always taking pictures and my brother used to take pictures, so I joined the club. The photos were never taken with the intention of showing them to other people, it was just about taking pictures of the area at the time and not realising in the years to come how things would change. 

Air Cadets 2156 Sqn, Old Hill at Annual Camp RAF Binbrook 1953/4. I am on the front row, third from the right.
Dinky Toys were a great plaything and I still have a number 68 year on. Here I am 9 years only with a refuse collection truck and a set of racing cars. The photo was taken by my dad.
A view from Bury Hill Park taken in 1950. Looking out over Rounds Green, Brades Village and Oldbury. The 2 chimney stacks were the world-famous Brades Steel Works, makers of shovels, pick-axes, trowels, and many other items - some went world-wide.
A lot of the areas where these photos were taken have completely changed so I can't take a picture from there anymore. And where this picture was taken from down there, that hill's gone now, in fact, all this particular area behind Wallace Road, it's all houses now. This area was always Rounds Green to us. Now seems to become Rowley Regis but it was Rounds Green to us. Well it was Wallace Road, Rounds Green, Oldbury.

Photography was on real film back then. There were no digital enhancements at all. So you didn't know whether the photograph you had taken was going to be any good or not, if you had got the right aperture setting or if the light had got into there and ruined the film and so on. 

A winter’s day in 1951 taken from Bury Hill. A scramble motorbike practicing with the Edale Estate in the background and the A4123 Wolverhampton New Rd.

Growing up around here we used to have lots of fields to play on. I remember it as a great time. I can remember going over the fields with friends in the summertime when the weather was nice and we would just sit there. Let the clouds go by, and we'd look for skylarks because we could hear them. You’d never see one, you'd never find where it was.  We used to play on the old spoil tips and down the old quarries and climb down the face of some of the things there. It was a very interesting time to grow up. My late sister Jesse would sometimes join us. She never took pictures, but she'd always join in with us on the hills playing.

A view taken from the upstairs house in Throne Rd. The spoil heaps from the quarry workings and the outline of the Rowley Hills, the white building upper centre was the old Portway Hall. Throne Road was not yet completed and the Lion Farm buildings had not reached the farm area opposite.
My late sister Jesse showing off her new bike in 1954.

At the time dad used to develop his own pictures. He was self-taught, he never went to any schools or lessons. He learned how to develop films and how to use a canister for turning the film and he used the old bathroom as a dark room, blinds up at the window.  It was not a very nice smell with some of the chemicals we used. He developed the film himself and then he had a little enlarger and he'd develop the pictures - all black and white - and then we'd all have a look at them. Then they'd just be put away and never seen again really. Over the years we collected quite a lot of negatives and pictures. 

My elder brother John would at various times go around the house and collect the numerous odd envelopes with the film's negatives in to protect them for the future.

So this is my dad Bill Rippin. I wouldn't say he was a keen gardener, I mean wartime made you a keen gardener in some respects because we grew our own. On one side of the garden was potatoes and there was carrots and cabbages and everything. It was a like a garden that had to provide the food. There weren't any flowers except down the bottom end, just a couple of rows of flowers. This was all, some fruit trees, gooseberries, blackberries and all sorts.
We lived in Wallace Road until I was 24. I never saw my dad as being an animal-friendly person so to see him with the cat, Tibby is unsual. This dog was one that my brother brought back from his time when he was in the national service, in the army. It caused a bit of uproar that did. Having a dog in the house with a cat as well. But it did work out.

Sadly I have not kept everything that we took, I moved house four times, and every time you move you lose something or something goes missing. We lived in Throne Road until I was 24 before we moved over to a block of flats on Lion Farm Estate and mum and dad lived there too.

Shortly after I got married and we had a house in Throne Road. Getting a house was a real trial and tribulation in those days. We did have a lot of help from my employer at that time. I worked at a garage and the lady who ran the garage, well she sort of took me under her wing and she provided quite a lot of things. She sorted the solicitor out, sorted the bank out. She would pay for my driving lessons. She was very good.

My dad was William Joseph and he was always known as Bill.
And this is Henley's Farm. Henley was the local pig farmer. He used to come round with his horse and cart around the road and any peelings and scraps you'd got he'd have them all off you.  But the farm was a bit of a gambling area -  weekends it used to be, I don't know whether it was cock-fighting or dog fighting, I don't know what it was, but I can remember one time we were up that hill and police came from everywhere and raided his farm, caught them all at it.

I wasn't into local history so much when the black and white pictures were being taken. It was just about thinking - ‘oh that looks interesting, I bet that won't be there forever, let's take a picture.’ But I never associated it with local history or wider history at that time, I'm talking about when I was about 10. Of course, by the time 20 came on you know, my photography had gone really. In my 20s it was all about girls, shows, various other things. So photography faded away a little bit, and my passion for taking photographs didn’t really come back until after the children were born about the mid 1970s

This is my sister at Christmas. You can see the austerity of the Christmas tree!There's the old radio set, because there was no television then, just a radio. Most of the decorations on the tree are home made.
This was my brother’s 21st birthday party in 1952 at Wallace Rd, the whole family was in attendance. The large glass bowl you can see on the table is still in use today and this Christmas it will be used again for a large trifle. Some things don’t change.

This is from this hill because it was just at the back of our house looking up towards Turners Hill and that’s the old water tower. That goes back to the beginning of the century when that was put up and that was a radio tower. There's an even bigger radio tower there now. In the lower left is where Henley's farm used to be (pictured further up the page). 

This was a quarry at the time was still being worked up until the early 1950s. So this was Portway. There was a farm up there at one time and a big house.  In fact the big house there was where my wife's grandparents worked.

This is the Frank sisters from next door. You can see all this picket fencing, that was the council house sort of regulation at the time which was in about the 50s. You didn't have fencing at all like today so you could see what all the neighbours were doing.
This is of my mum pegging out the washing. In the background there is a shed made up after the war from the old Anderson air raid shelter. The Anderson air raid shelter was narrower than that, it's been extended a bit and dad made it into a shed, he used to keep the bikes and the motorbikes and various odds and ends.
Family group photo at my brother John's 21st party at Wallace Rd. John is in the white shirt and I am in the front row on the right looking up at John.

My mother’s name was May and she was one of 7 of her family. They came from Sutton Coldfield. I can never understand how they got together because my mother used to be in service. She also worked for one of the directors Mitchells and Butlers Ltd in Cape Hill and when he retired they moved out to Eastbourne and she went with them as head cook and bottle washer.

There was a story that my mum and dad told me. During the war, you had to go into the air-raid shelter at night time because there had been a warning, and a bomb dropped only two houses away from us here. Just two doors away in fact. But it landed in soft clay ground and there was a blast but not a big explosion. I was only a babe in arms in 1941. We think that the German bomber was trying to get the guns that were shooting at them from the top of Portway Hill. This was a big naval gun there. So this bomb dropped down and blew the neighbour's air-raid shelter up and it landed in our garden. It was flattened and when all the dust had cleared my dad went out to it. He thought the neighbours would still be in it and when he put his hand in and he felt this fur and thought it was somebody's hair! But it turned out to be was a dead cat. Luckily they hadn't been in the air raid shelter that night so they survived. But the blast it blew all our windows out, a couple of walls cracked in the house, and it blew a few tiles off the roof.

This is a photo of my sister on a winter's day. That's the blue rock quarry there and this is the Samson quarry there, you can see the distances.  Isn't very far between. That's Bury Hill Park across the top there, this goes down to the Wolverhampton Road. This was taken about 1949. She was born in 1935 so she'd be about 14.

We weren't that close as brother and sister. In fact, there's a story that goes back a bit further than this where my sister and my brother made me eat grass when I was at the age of 3, in about 1943. So they made me eat grass and I ended up in hospital.  And I had an operation for appendicitis. I've still got the scars to this day. 

This is a classic photo taken by my dad of Rita Cosnett, my brothers girlfriend taken at Wallace Road. Note the record player in the corner with the lid open, and the wooden biscuit barrel you can see on the sideboard was won by John when he ran for Tipton Harriers back in the 1950s.
Norma and Norman Cox at my brother's 21st party.
My brother John with his Sunday best walking at the back of our house at Wallace road about 1952.
Me on holiday with mum and dad in about 1958.
Me and Bobby Gammon getting down to bare essentials on my first old car which was a Hillman Minx 1937. When MOT were about to be introduced I feared my car would not pass! So we stripped it down and put an old door as a floor and installed the two seats and away we went over the Rowley Hills and spoil heaps - a great time was had by all.
This is a lovely photo of my sister Jesse taken on slide film taken by my brother in the late 50s/ It was taken on holiday at Butlins, Phiiheli in Wales. She was with her boyfriend John Way, and my brother John and Rita
This is Rita at the same holiday camp about to take a dip.
This is my wife Betty with my Mini taken in 1973. At the time we had just arrived in Curborough Racetrack where I had competed before. I used to do a lot of rallying with the cars back then.
Betty and me on a night out at the Civic, Old Hill in about 1972. Betty and I got married in 1965 so we have been married for 53 years.

As I've grown up I do find that thing seem to change so quickly from one week to another. In some areas and I think well, I went down there yesterday and that building's now gone. A building I've seen there for many years, just gone.  Just some boards up in front. That's why I like collecting some of the old photographs to look at how things were. Perhaps I am a bit nostalgic. I'm living back in the 40s you see.    

I think things are better in lots of ways now than what they were. I mean you go out now, there's more greenery and trees about than ever there was in my youth. We had a good time, I really enjoyed my childhood but kids of today haven't got that opportunity. There isn't the waste ground to go and play on, there are too many restrictions on everything. Although life really is better, we live like kings and queens compared to our parents. Life moves on. Coming to an end for us soon.  Well, we ain't going to go on forever are we?  Well, I said I'm going to live to 95.  I've got a few years to go yet.

Jim Rippin talkng about his life story and photographs in his house in Rowley Regis.

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