From Boy George and Bobby Ball to rare vinyl, denim and Doc Martens – Your memories of The Oasis markets – Birmingham Live

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“An iconic piece of Brummie history.”

Just one of the hundreds of comments we received after highlighting The Oasis markets, which have attracted generations of Brummies.  

You responded in your droves after we asked you to share your memories of shopping at one of our city’s oldest venues.

Comments left demonstrated just how much The Oasis markets has meant to so many Brummies over the years.

You reminisced about how the markets which first opened back in 1971 were a place of ‘firsts’ – from piercings and crazy hair dye to Levis, Doc Martens and lots more!

Despite operating under the shadow of the confirmed £550 million Martineau Galleries scheme – which begins in 2022 – The Oasis continues to hold its own.

Here are just a selection of your amazing Oasis memories.

So many memories!

Nicola Davis appeared to speak for all Brummies when she posted: “So many memories of the place!

“I’ve bought all sorts from there over the years, from belt buckles and denim jackets to my silver thumb ring I still wear now. Must make a visit soon haven’t been for years!”

And your love for the markets has been passed down the generations.

Sarah Dubois Scott said: “Bought my daughter her first pair of DM’s there for her 16th birthday. She’s 33 this week, so it was a few years ago.”

Kate Fairley-adkins said: “Gutted love the place. I have introduced my daughter to Oasis, she loves the hippy gear!”

Rocker, punk, goth hangout – the ultimate alternative haven

The Oasis was a teenage rite of passage for most of us – and gave us a safe space to be experimental with various musical and fashions trends.

Shaun Parker said: “Massive part of my teenage years, Pigeon Park and the Oasis Market! Met a few interesting characters and of course, people with the same love of heavy metal.”

Matthew McCallion said: “The shop… has been there since I was at school where I got my metal band t shirts,  now my kids go there, I love that shop… happy memories.”

Andy J Day remembered spending his money, “on rock T-shirts and various colour shag bands as a teenager.”

While Clive Adams said: “Vinyl Dreams was a great record shop – loved the way all the tribes – skins, mods, punks and goths – descended there on Saturday afternoons!”

Magical and a bit scary

The Oasis has been open for 48 years. Its rich heritage began during the Flower Power era of the early seventies and was the only place in Birmingham you could buy all your ‘must haves’ – including platform shoes and joss sticks.

A magical place but also “a bit scary” according to Anne Richardson!

The smell of patchouli oil

Theresa D’Cruze says she can “still recall the smell of Patchouli when you entered!”

Sue Jennings added: “Used to buy a new Indian print blouse every two weeks with my paper round money ready for the local disco.

“Quilted jacket that I embroidered on the back myself. That amazing smell of patchouli oil and joss sticks!!”

Anna Bee’s gorgeous gothic clothing

Anna Lalji is the owner of Anna Bee, the oldest stall inside The Oasis. She is as legendary as the merchandise she sells.

Lisa Marie Clarke said: “I don’t often go into town now but I always loved The Oasis and used to go often to get unusual stuff.

“Anna Bees stall is my favourite, gorgeous gothic clothing and Anna always knows what I like.”

Julie Wallis added: “I have a few nice pieces from here, including a lovely corset from Anna who is featured in this article.

“It would be such a loss for the city if Oasis disappears.”

Anna Bee's bestseller - a range of popular hair dyes

The bestsellers at Anna Bee were and still are the hair dyes.

Lucie Bennett told us she loved buying fluorescent pink hair dye “and covering every inch of my long blonde hair in it!!” 

Lucie isn’t the only person who liked a bit of pink dye. 

Tracey Stubbins said: “Great place for buying doc martens, studded stuff, pink hair dye.”

Boy George at the markets

 

Boy George arriving at Heathrow to sing on the Band Aid single in 1984

Clive Adams pointed out that singer Boy George used to have a stall in The Oasis before he was famous. 

Peter Wood and Mark Ian Butler also remember Boy George working there. Mark said:  “He sold me a hand painted Marilyn Monroe t shirt in Oasis! Great days.”

Kat Homer recalled another big celebrity sighting. 

Kaz posted: “I saw Bobby Ball trying on a pair of leather trousers in Oasis in the 80s. I shouted ‘Rock on Tommy’ and he shouted F***k off'”

Jin Singh said: “I worked there 88,89,90. I recall Bruno Brookes re-opening the newly renovated Oasis in 1990, good old days.”

Edwards No 8

Edwards No 8

Your memories of The Oasis were also tied in with your memories of Edwards No.8 on John Bright Street – the centre of Birmingham’s rock and goth scene for nearly three decades.

It seems a night at the club was not complete unless you were wearing the latest outfit from the markets.

Lisa Jane Morris said: “Every Saturday buying fizzy Jeans and my stiletto buckle boots lacy black tops for my nights at Edward’s number 8, back in the eighties. Had my nose pierced in there too, I still mooch round when I go to Brum best memories ever so sad if it goes.”

Vic Watson agreed. She said: “Spent all my money in there in my teens and early 20s before moving away. So many good memories and so many cool clothes and boots to wear at Edwards Number 8.”

Cola’s Food Creations said: “I used to get the bus to Brum when I was younger & this was my favourite shop for all my clubbing dresses!

“Used to love looking all around it, it was so versatile and always buzzing with lots of different types of people!”

Denim central

Jayne Hannon said: “Used to buy my Levi jeans from there also my mom brought me a beautiful dress from there for my 18th.”

Simone Harris added that she used to visit The Oasis pretty much every weekend and “buy the biggest baggiest jeans…”

Theresa D’Cruze said: “Bought my first Levi cords and jacket here.”

Vicki Smith also remembers buying vintage Levis here.

But for Bryan Edward Bailey, there was only one brand of jeans in the nineties worth buying at The Oasis…

He said: “Dreddy jeans, so comfy. Me and the Mrs went with our kids to The Oasis,  the other week, not been in there since I was a teen & the bloke selling the clothes was still there!!!”

Inside The Oasis

Carol Healey remembers: “You could buy your jeans there and get them turned up within a few hours.”
 

In our interview with Saturday Kitchen star Brummie chef Glynn Purnell, he described The Oasis as “the only place in the city, you could get a tattoo, your ears pieced and a haircut.”

Judging from your comments, it would be difficult to find anyone in Birmingham that didn’t get their ears pierced here.

Jecks Lea said: “Been going there since the 80s and still make a point of going there when I visit Brum. The only place I’ve trusted to get pierced.”

Mandy Jill said: “I got my tongue n belly done then at 16 n 18… now 35 still got them lol.”

Eve Jane told us how she got her belly and tongue pierced at The Oasis, while Sugar Wilkinson had her first ever piercing here.

Cool cafe and nearby Costa Mongers

The Costa Monger

Several of you referenced the cafe at The Oasis as well as nearby rock bar Coster Mongers.

Stephanie Jane said: “I loved Saturday shopping in the Oasis followed by pints and pool in costermongers. Hanging out in the little cafe upstairs, had my tongue and nose pierced there.”

Not the place it was

As well as lots of happy nostalgia from readers, there were a few comments from Brummies who believe The Oasis is a shadow of its former self.

James Anthony said: “That whole area of Birmingham centre needs redevelopment badly and the city will be much better for it.

“The Oasis needs to carry on and find a new home though, hopefully making it better than it is now.

“I’m sure a site could be found… the old WHSmith or somewhere large enough for it…”

Save our iconic piece of Brummie history!

Many readers believe  The Oasis remains a integral part of Birmingham, despite the changes.

Hayley Bartlett said: “I shopped there in my youth and revisited it again last year and it hasn’t changed a bit .. not even the sellers. Please Save this iconic piece of Brummie history x”

Bob Torley said: “I lived in Coventry but went to Matthew Boulton college in Birmingham in the 70s.

“I walked past Oasis every morning and loved going in there at lunchtime. It was known throughout the Midlands. I remember it being a lot bigger though? Please save it!!”

Jill Drummond Archer said: “The gentrification of Brum..will be the death of it. ..property developers.. land grabbers. The Flapper is still at risk.. will destroy the heart of the city.. a city with fancy apartments..and no pulse.. is a dead space. The Brum I loved is already gone..now the rich are just picking the bones.”

Sadly closure plans have been confirmed for music venue The Flapper.

Richey Hackett said: “I spent many happy hours in Oasis during my late teens and early twenties.

“It was the last refuge for alternative/goth/grebo kids. Sad to hear that it will become just another homogenised area of the city centre.”

Michelle Deakin said: “Literally the last unique shopping area in Birmingham… And might be pulled down for what?!

“More restaurants units that will be left empty like all the others, even more student accommodation… Birmingham is so boring to look at now.”