My Childhood Memories

I was born in 1962 four years after Biddle and Webb was started by my Dad Ernie Biddle and his business partner the mysterious Mr Webb.


Mum used to say I was their lucky charm.

Up until 1962 life was tough but following the thaw of that biblical winter the business started to leap forward. Mr Webb left for Australia leaving my Mum and Dad to take sole charge. They never looked back.

My earliest memories are of fish and chips. Every Wednesday was fish and chip night, because Wednesday was sale day, and Mum and Dad never had time to cook.

Mum would get up early to prepare the tea and sandwiches for the sale. Mum prepared all the food and was also chief bookkeeper.

The night before my Dad would compile the catalogues. He had a large printing machine in his office and would arrive home with reams of paper.  He would then carefully place them around the dinning room table and spend three or four hours walking around collating the catalogues and stapling them together.

In the early days it really was a cottage industry.

The first saleroom was at Enfield Hall near Five Ways it has now been turned into a smart Indian restaurant. At the start we just sold general furniture every Wednesday but then three things happened very quickly and the business was transformed. Firstly, people had the money and interest to buy old things. Secondly, the main auctioneers at the time, in Birmingham, collapsed overnight. But more importantly, in a blink, my Father became a local media star.


By coincidence the Auction House was right next door to the original Birmingham Theatre School, and on Saturday, dad would take me for acting lessons.

Dad had always wanted to be a stand up comic and auctioneering was the closest he could get. He loved to make people laugh and people came from all over the region to be entertained.

Most of his stories involved his hapless family. As I was portering, sometime by the time I could walk, I remember trying to hide behind pictures and furniture as he told another embarrassing story of us growing up.


As Dad became more established the demand for Fine Art soared. Dad developed the building and we had a wonderful gallery on the top floor. The glitterati of Birmingham attend including the cast of Crossroads and the band The Electric Light Orchestra.

During all of this dramatic change my Dad never became big headed. My favourite story of him is when British Airways magazine sent a reporter to interview him. BA were about to start their first flights from Birmingham Airport and wanted a colour piece about the city. Dad drove the reporter to Pebble Mill on a wet windy day. Dressed in a suit covered in printing ink and wearing an old pair of shoes the article started like this.

Birmingham is a place where millionaires drive around in old Mini clubman’s and complain about their leaky boots.

By Dave Biddle

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