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Coventry God Cakes to Barm Cakes

By: Steve Brookes, MBE

Steve settles in his new home after leaving Coventry


As well as the fact that, from the house, a left turn and walk across North Shore Golf Course brings me to the sea, one of the other advantages of my move ‘up north’ is the food.

Now, I don’t claim to be in the ‘Ready Steady Cook’ category, but I do enjoy cooking, and relish good quality ‘real’ food.

Up here, we have good bread, scones, a fabulous variety of meat pies, fresh fish straight from Fleetwood, Bury black puddings, and that filler of empty stomachs, big white flour dusted Barm cakes.

I have tried my home town delicacy, the Coventry God Cake, and they are very tasty when well made, but the Barm cake is something else.

To the uninitiated, they are big, and when I say big I mean big. The size of a small dinner plate which when filled with local boiled ham or cheese, the feint hearted must avert the gaze.

There is a place in Coventry where, as well as good beer, home made Barm cakes are available, as are Coventry God Cakes, and long may Carl Heer, Landlord of the Town Wall Tavern continue to make them (and fill them), but up North they are an art form complete with a range of fillings of almost anything edible.

However, I defy anyone with a normal appetite to digest the really dangerous version which can be bought in the ‘chippy’ because, when a Barm cake is filled with a portion of chips, there is real possibility of serious filling of the digestive system.

I do think that a health warning should be applied to each one.

Already, the locations of the best Barm cake shops are being noted, and the bus routes to get to them are being sorted out.

Now, to the buses. There is another advantage to someone like myself with a mobility problem. Up here the buses run ‘for’ the people, not in spite of them.

In Coventry I used a number 11 bus, which (hopefully!) ran every twenty minutes from my old home in Chapelfields to Pool Meadow.

Near to my new home in Bispham is a bus route, also co-incidentally the number 11, which runs from Lytham and St Annes to Cleveleys, half way between Blackpool and Fleetwood, and from 7 am they operate every eight minutes during the week, and every fifteen minutes on Sundays (The hour long gap in Coventry which I feel does not help Sunday trading in the City Centre, is not missed I assure you). And guess what? You can get on a bus with a five pound note and get change! Yes change, because the driver has a cash till.

You can also get change on the trams.

I have almost become a tram ‘anorak’ because the Blackpool tram system is unique, and is certainly not just for tourists.

‘We’ residents use them to go from one end of Fylde to the other.

They are not the sleek, streamlined new rapid transit rail cars we have seen arrive as part of Centro in Birmingham, or the Sheffield Metro, or any of the cities re-introducing these brilliant ways of getting around.

No, up here we have mostly fairly old, fabric upholstered, wooden interior panelled, round light bulb illuminated rattling and bouncing trams, the like of which you see in the pictures and films of London or Liverpool in the late 1940’s.

My favourites are two quite different vehicles. One is a single deck tram with a body built like a fishing trawler, and painted black. It is one of the vehicles used during the illuminations, and also runs around the Fleetwood area, where its sponsors ‘Fishermans Friend’ have their factory.

The other is a very old open sided tram called a toast rack, with wooden seats length ways, and safety chains between the upright posts. The conductor has to hold on to his loose change for sure. And on a day when the breeze is blowing in from the Irish sea, it can be a bit chilly.

But, at least the air is fresh.

I look forward to seeing my Coventry friends up here during the summer. I’ll get the Barm cakes in.

Steve Brookes

Copyright © - Steve Brookes 2002 - All rights reserved


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