“Everything you desire is within you.





Green Lane Masjid, formerly Green Lane Public Library and Swimming Baths

Designed by Martin & Chamberlain 1893 – 1902 ________________________________________________________

While the Sons and Daughters of Small Heath prepare to welcome 2013 inna fine style and fashion with their forthcoming New Year’s Eve Party; it was suggested a few weeks ago by a subscriber and former resident of Small Heath, that PANTHER NEWSLETTER should highlight the richness of exceedingly talented people who used to reside in that little enclave of South-East Birmingham and the contributions they have made to the Entertainment and Arts industry of the UK and the world. So before PANTHER NEWSLETTER boasts and reveals who these talented people are, here is a brief history of the area…

Small Heath is an inner-city area within the city of Birmingham, West Midlands, England. It is situated on and around the A45 (Coventry Road). During World War II, Small Heath was heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe, resulting in well over 100 fatalities in local houses and factories.

There are two large supermarkets in Small Heath, Asda and Morrisons and the outdoor pursuits centre The Ackers Trust. There is also a business park that is home to the former Birmingham Cable Company, now Virgin Media, the international CADCAM Company Delcam and the UK’s leading independent kitchen appliance repair specialists, Repaircare. Up until 1973, Small Heath was the home of the massive Birmingham Small Arms factory (BSA) on Golden Hillock Road and Armoury Road, manufacturing amongst other things, motorcycles, guns, cars, including taxi cabs and bicycles which dominated the local and national economy; (read more here…). The factory was briefly acquired by Norton Villiers Triumph following their takeover of BSA before it closed down; (read more here…), much of it being demolished following the collapse of the British motorcycle industry. Whilst the business park now occupies the site, the remaining buildings are still used for manufacturing.


Small Heath Park


There are several parks and green spaces in the suburb, of which the largest is Small Heath Park  (formally known as Victoria Park). Small Heath is also home to Birmingham City Football Club‘s St. Andrews Stadium.


A large number of mostly terraced houses were built around Small Heath towards the end of the 19th century, and over the next few decades these buildings became the residence of numerous Irish immigrants.

In the 20 or so years that followed the end of World War II, the area attracted more immigrants – from the Indian sub-continent and the West Indies. Up until the mid 1980s Small Heath became a predominantly West Indian community.


Sport, Literature, Drama, the Fine Arts and Playing Music were the popular forms of entertainment in this close-knit community. Reggae music, the dance-hall and sound systems during the 1960s, 70s and 80s also played an important roll in their lives. Small Heath held its own when it came to the quality sound systems that graced the reggae dance-halls locally and nationally. Small Heath was home to popular sound systems such as: Iron SoundStudio City, Spaceman, Count Nevis, Count Flash, and Prince Trojan to name a few. It also accommodated a number of youth sound systems, the likes of: Jah Rebel Sound, Cyclops, Bosrah, Count Nyah, Earthquake, Jah Shanti, Negus City, Scorcher, Ruffian, Jah Rockers and there were many more.


Due to the lack of social housing in the area when the first generation of black-British born youth began to have children of their own, there was a mass exodus from the Small Heath area to other suburbs in Birmingham. However, the spirit and positive vibes still remains in the hearts and minds of them and those who spent their formative years growing up in Small Heath.


…And now some of the famous residents of Small Heath


Annette B

(Singer & Songwriter)

Reggae singer Annette B is best known for her melodic Lovers Rock style of singing. She recorded her debut single at the tender age of 15 with Philip Gadd New Talent Records. Annette B then signed to various record labels such as UK Bubblers a subsidiary of Greensleeves, Ariwa Sounds, an album release ‘Suggestive Movements’ and single ‘Fairy Godmother’ released by Charm records Jet Starr.


Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – Annette B; here…

You’ll Never Get to Heaven – Annette B; here…

Fairy Godmother – Annette B; here…


DJ Smudge


He was one of the original founding members of the Ebony Arts Theatre Group from outta Small Heath in the 1980’s. A former semi-professional football player who played for six clubs as well as representing St.Kitts & Nevis in the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. He is currently a UEFA licensed football coach and is an established Deejay for the popular internet radio station from outta Birmingham England; STINGDEM.COM; read more about him here…


Earl Falconer

(Musician: Bass guitarist with reggae band UB40)

Named after a British unemployment benefit form, pop-reggae band UB40 was formed in a welfare line in 1978, and its multiracial line up reflected the working-class community its members came from. The band consolidated its street credibility with political topics appealing to dissatisfied youth; read more here…

UB40 – One In Ten – 1981; here…

UB40 – Kingston Town; here…


 Phillip Gadd

(Record Producer)

Reggae music flows through the veins of Phillip “Gadd 59” Whittaker; his father is the creator and legendary Spaceman (sound system). His sister was a member of the Lover’s Rock girl group Brown Sugar who sang the reggae classic Black Pride (1977); here… During his teenage years Phillip was the inspiration and leader of Jah Rebel (Sound System) and later moved on to produce music of his own forming New Talent Records, producing Annette B’s first single when she was just 15 years of age. Over the years, Phillip has rubbed shoulders with legendary reggae artists such as Beres Hammond, Big Youth and the late great Dennis Brown to name a few. 

Produced by Phillip Gadd

Ain’t no stoppin’ us now – Annette B; here…

Ras Nyto & The Aggrovators – Working Man; here…

Carlton Livingstone – Bad Boys; here…

Book of King Pin – Escort to London; here… 


David Harewood

(A television and film actor)

  • David Harewood plays Friar Tuck; here…

  • David Harewood: as a black actor there are very few roles for me in Britain; read here…

  • Homeland star David Harewood bemoans lack of black roles in the UK; here…

  • David Harewood: The lady spy who ate me for lunch; here…

  • David Harewood talks about being awarded the MBE; here…

Read more about David Harewood here…


Valda Jackson


Valda Jackson has exhibited widely and has been commissioned for a series of prestigious public art projects. Her work has been shown in the National Portrait Gallery, London, Morley Gallery Westminster and public clients have included Bristol City Council and Newport City Council; more about her here…


Wilfred Emmanuel Jones

(Businessman, Farmer)

(Founder of “The Black Farmer” range of food products.) 

Wilfred Jones was born in Clarendon, Jamaica. In 1961 he moved with his parents to the UK where they settled in Small Heath. After working in the catering industry Wilfred enrolled on a training scheme that led to a job working for Peter Bazalgette on the BBC television series Food and Drink. He worked in television as a producer/director for 15 years. He also appeared on Robert Llewellyn’s Carpool on 22 January 2010. His television career gave him the capital to buy West Kitcham Farm, in Devon, which he continues to farm. He became known to the locals who helped him initially with farming as “The Black Farmer”, which inspired him to set up the brand of the same name, whose products include awarding-winning sausages, chicken, ham and sauces. He has since become involved in setting up the Black Farmer Scholarship, which aims to help and encourage ethnic minorities to work in the rural community, an area where traditionally they have been under represented. This has been made into a Channel 4 TV series, Young Black Farmers, a series of three, which sees him take a group of nine inner-city school leavers from ethnic minorities on a scholarship on his Devon farm; read more about him and check out his website here…


James Pogson


When we talk about writers, we automatically think of those who write fiction. James writes both fiction and non-fiction producing words that sell – not just tell. James Pogson is a graduate in Public Administration and Managerial Studies. He has worked in the Arts for more than a decade, writing and producing ideas for radio and theatre. For more than 20 years he’s written in the public, private, arts and entertainment sectors – wearing more than one hat. Brought up on stories told to him by both his parents, he’s managed to create a living for himself doing just that. Here’s his story…


Moqapi Selassie

(International Dub Poet)

Born and raised in Birmingham England of Jamaican parents Moqapi Selassie, International Dub-Poet, has been performing his spoken words on stage since 1984. He selected and deejayed on sound systems Earthquake and Jah Shanti from outta the Small Heath area of the city back in the day. His unique style encompasses a cultural richness and wisdom that is literally mind-blowing and it is evident that he recognises and acknowledges the power of Father God in his life. His lyrics whether written or improvised freestyle, continually give honour and glory to the creator. This is how his story goes… 

Listen to his lyrics here…


Marcus Simeon


Marcus Simeon is a qualified Youth Worker/Adviser/Counsellor and a functioning member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. He first started his musical career following the legendary JAH REVELATION MUZIC. After their demise in 1992, he became one of the official DJ’s on the TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL SOUND SYSTEM along side The Ambassador, Cronical Dan, and Legal Wolf. Here’s his story… 

Check out his website here…

Marcus Simeon & The Artist Band – Testify; here…

Marcus Simeon in the Motherland – An interview; here…


Norman Samuda Smith


On April 5th 1982, Norman Samuda Smith was confirmed as the first black British born novelist to be published in the United Kingdom when his novel Bad Friday was published by Trinity Arts, short-listed for the Young Observer Fiction Prize later that year and re-published by New Beacon Books in 1985. During the 1980’s and 1990s, he also played semi-professional basketball with his club Small Heath Panthers (Read more about them here…), who became one of the most feared and respected basketball clubs in the West Midlands Basketball League

Small Heath Panthers (Summer League Champions 1990)

He was a founder member of Ebony Arts Theatre Group in 1983 who performed and toured his plays nationally and is currently the Writer/Editor/Publisher of Panther Newsletter and Samuda Smith Publications

It’s a labour of love – Norman Samuda Smith BBC interview; here… 

Listen to Norman Samuda Smith reading his story Rasta Love here…

Interview with Norman Samuda Smith – Making History BBC Radio 4; here…  







For more details of dis musical shower click yuh finger right here…



  1. Bless up Norman

    I see the work never ends!!! keep up the good work

    Lady Legs

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