White’s. 2nd January 2020

The Giraffe, Birmingham

This years daffs are starting to show their heads already
The ideal ash can

The two of us have spent a bit of time trying to hunt out where or how we could get a new ash can. Getting one delivered to a Post Office or Amazon Locker would have been great, except they are too big according to Amazon! So instead we’ve been concentrating on trying to find a hardware shop that might just have one.

Farmers Bridge flight

This morning we walked down the Farmers Bridge flight. We like this flight but have realised we’ve only ever been down it, never up. The BT Tower sits high above as the locks work their way under buildings, roads and the railway.


Once off the canal we followed a dirty rubbish strewn road to our destination, White’s Ironmongery. Sitting on the corner of Lower Loveday Street and Summer Lane the 1930’s building melded in with it’s background.

Hinges and numbers

The window displays of hinges, brushes, bolts on boards totally filled the windows. We opened the doors and went in.

Shelves and shelves and shelves, older than the RSJ’s above them

I was immediately taken back to when I was four, with my Dad going into Stubbs in York for some screws. Shelves lined the walls, each opening once filled with boxes of screws, nuts and bolts, all manner of things. The wooden drawers covered in decades maybe centuries of patina. Labels for many an imperial sized object still in place. As a kid I used to imagine the shop assistants sliding along the shelves on their ladders to reach the top boxes, pushing from one end of the shop to the other.

1″ what’s?

Today in White’s the shelves were not so full, but still the atmosphere. There were a few displays in the middle of the room, more boards advertising their wares, a few gaps where the last hinge of its type had been removed. Hanging from the ceiling were mop buckets and two galvanised buckets. A lady appeared a touch like Mr Ben bringing with her some warm air.

50p a pair

Unfortunately the suspended buckets were all they had, none with lids. A bucket however would do us for the time being. It would give us somewhere for hot ashes to cool off before being disposed of with our rubbish and mean the ash pan could stay in the stove rather than sit on the towpath. If we were going to get anything else nicked, we’d rather it was a bucket than the ash pan from our corner stove which would be hard to replace without ordering one from Yorkshire.

Whilst here we had a routle through boxes of bolts. Back in the summer Mick had wanted one for our batteries. A good look round and he may have found just the one. When asking of its price the lady said 10p! When our hand written bill was finished she said call it £7, the bolt now 5p.


What a wonderful shop, with just about everything, except an ash can with a lid. How do they stay trading in this modern world? Hopefully local builders and joiners give them plenty of business.

The old and the new

A walk back through town to get some food for this evening. The trams now run into the centre and many of the hoardings we’d got used to seeing 18 months ago have now gone. Old buildings surrounded by new glazed towers.

Skating and a big wheel

Then it was time for me to do a touch of work. A script was printed out, read, notes made, photo references added to Pinterest. Then my tickets for my flight to Vienna were printed out. These are all in German, so I spent a while trying to translate them in case there was something I needed to know other than the obvious times and flight numbers. It’s a long long time since I did German at school and only the bare minimum has remained with me.


0 locks, 0 miles, 1 flight walked, 1 bucket, 12, 1 bolt, 1 time warp, 8 page script, 105 images, 4 flights, 22 letters in a word, 2 many consonants!

2 thoughts on “White’s. 2nd January 2020

  1. Dave (Scouts)

    We used to have a shop like that in Oxford. Gills just off The High street in Wheatsheaf yard, it sadly closed in 2010. http://www.oxfordhistory.org.uk/high/tour/south/127_129_gills.html. When i worked in Oxford i always used them for bits and pieces since as you found you could buy just the 1 item you wanted, not a multipack. It also appeared in at least a couple of episodes of Mores/Lewis and if i remember correctly heavily featured in one where i think the fictional shop assistant was one of the suspects.

    When you were at the wheel/ice rink did you go into the Library next to it. It has a couple of “hidden gardens” on its roof terraces and the “Shakespeare Room” with a lot of history on Shakespeare and the library. The views from the roof over the city are quite good as well.

    Re the ash bucket
    Have you tried https://www.paint-tin.co.uk/shopping_cart/10-litre-steel-pail-white/plain.html they are in birmingham or maybe https://www.clasohlson.com/uk/Ash-Bucket/p/40-8563 might have in stock in a local shop?

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Hi Dave. Shop’s like that are wonderful and should be preserved for future generations and not just as museum pieces.
      Thank you for pointing out the Library, we visited there back in October 2014. Mick managed to get out into the gardens but on the day I went they were closed due to high winds, so today we’ve been back.
      Clas Ohlson sadly only have one shop now in the UK and that is in Reading. I’d looked them up and seen the ash bucket, but it is now too far away. Mick might go on a mission though to the paint-tin company, so thank you for the info.

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