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Home > Warwickshire > Birmingham > B11 > The Mermaid

The Mermaid

 Picture source: Hania Franek

The Mermaid was situated on Stratford Road, Sparkbrook. This pub was used as an Indian restaurant following closure as a pub. It has stood derelict since being gutted by a fire in 2010.
Source: Philip Charlton
In January 1972, at the age of 21, in the middle of the Power worker's "go slow", I ran from home during a family crisis and ended up in Birmingham for 6 days before I came home again, and while there I found three days work by hanging around the front yard of this pub waiting to see if a "subbie" would pick me up for work, at 4 for an 8 hour day. On the first day, a thursday, there were about 20 men waiting there in the cold and most of them got collected by regular subbie gangs, leaving about 5 of us who gave up at about 09:00 and waited in a nearby cafe and got to know each other, and a nice little Irish guy called Chris, with long straight black hair and some front teeth missing advised that one subbie yet might come along and sure enough, a tall serious chap with a big black coat and curly hair and strong accent soon poked his head around the door and asked who could "drive" a shovel. I though he meant a JCB but it was just a metaphor for a bit of hard digging and Chris told me to put up my hand anyway and he took all 5 of us in his grey Consul Classic about 7-8 miles out to a housing estate under construction.
This was life on the "lump" as this kind of work was called, and I spent another three mornings at the Mermaid front yard, and on friday evening to get paid, I went inside where the subbie had set up his pay station actually inside the pub! In those days the "Mermaid" featured a prominent and colourful statue of a mermaid, right in the top centre of the main frontage, in the style of a ship's figurehead. 10 year later I drove by and it was still there. The Subbie activity at the Mermaid was featured a few months later in a TV "expose" about tax avoidance, but nothing illegal was done at the time. They were nice guys to work with and paid you promptly.
Ben McDonnell (June 2017)

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Name Dates Comments
Steve Mulvale 1960s/1970s JJ Gallagher used the carpark to recruit "lump labour" on construction sites in the 60/70s

Other Photos

Date of photo: c1895

 Picture source: Kevin Taylor

Date of photo: c1910

 Picture source: Hania Franek