THE UNKNOWN CITIZENS
Born in America 1907, W.H. Auden grew up in Solihull, Birmingham, son of a Doctor.
|Harold, born Dec.1904 Selly Oak|
Born on High St. Selly Oak,1902, Albert Higgins, son of a Sand-blaster at Ariel Cycle Works who died of T.B.(28yrs), when his sons were 3 and 1year old.
Though he had no Union ticket...Auntie said
Grandad was no ordinary worker, some kind of
Mechanical Engineer, grateful to Herbert Austin's
Drive, energy and inventiveness.
Edwardian progress presented scholarship
For smart working-class boys but
Grammar school was a long way on the bus,
Best bet, an Apprenticeship at a Factory
For gifted sons good at running numbers in their
Heads, in note-books, brothers in tandem
Betting shops and an active membership
Of the Conservative Party, Selly Oak branch.
Can't tell what he believed, because
Of Parkinson's Disease; short shuffles, shakes,
Tremor and Tea spilling into his saucer,
But that didn't prevent him teaching us
Than todays, so he shuffled around the house and played
Draughts with us Grandchildren, supping his tea spills from
Once he was hardly home, said Nan, collected
Gold and Silver cups then walked the pavements,
For Darts, Snooker and Cribbage at the
Working-mens, Ex-Servicemen's, Conservative clubs,
Whilst running a Boxing ring at The Bournbrook.
The unassuming Higgins brothers, left no legacy
Of cruelty only kindness and a distant memory of
The kids to run swiftly with bets for their Dad,
And an extra bob.
Regular house-keeping to keep the Mrs... Happy, beer
And Bingo money was a Prize from Albert and
Harold, both good with numbers, and avoiding the clink.
Unlike the Peaky Blinders they had nothing to prove except
A secure home, wife and progeny who would keep out of
Trouble. His community service was keeping the sons of
Selly Oak on the straight and Narrow by teaching them
To keep fighting fit by Boxing at the Bournbrook Hotel
In a room he rented, a legacy of a Boys Grammar
Scholarship for smart working-class kids.
Some idea of the Longbridge war effort can be gained by the fact that over 8,000,000 shells were made along with 650 guns, 2,000 aeroplanes, 2,500 aero engines, 2,000 trucks and a host of other items.
The factory that produced them teemed with new developments. Research and metallurgical laboratories were added, new heat-treatment plants installed and the manufacture of gauges and measuring equipment to extremely high standards of accuracy became almost routine procedure.
On the personnel side a labour department was established and a hostel for seventy-five boys was opened with the object of giving practical and technical engineering training to suitable youths. This development later blossomed into the Austin Apprenticeship Scheme which has since supplied many leading executives both for the Company and its distributors throughout the world, as well as for other leading engineering concerns.