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Birmingham Open Air Schools - Cropwood, Hunter's Hill, Marsh Hill and Skilts (excl. Haseley Hall and Uffculme)

Jano

proper brummie kid
Hi Belinda, I have enjoyed your memories so much and have many of the same ones.
I can confirm that it was Rosemary Cottage and it was in fact quite an inspiring house.
I slept there for about 6mths and remember Linda Barr and Linda Thompson who were friends and my best friend Helen Mooney.
Was you there when we watched the Monkeys in the 60s?
Do you remember the long huts in the grounds of Rosemary Cottage where we went for Brownies and until 64 I think the odd birthday party?
I have so many tales and like you have very vivid memories. Would love to hear from you Susan Ferriday nee Hickman.
Hi Belinda and susan, I'm a journalist at ITV Central News, hoping to do a feature on Birminghams Open Air schools for our regional news programme. You both have some amazing memories, would you be willing to talk to me about them?
[email protected]
 

Jano

proper brummie kid
There is a review of the book on the Amazon site...

“I have this book and it is a VERY interesting read, more so because my twin sister and I were pupils in these schools back in the 1960s. We were at Skilts together and later seperated to Cropwood (my sister) and Hunters Hill.
The writers give a very romantic view to these establishments, my memories are VERY different to theirs. My sister and I were forced to go to these resedntial schools, taken away from out parents and our home, seeing our Mom and Dad for a couple of hours once a month. These establishments were not the home from home "happy holidya" places they seem to project.
Boys, including myself, at times cried because they were so homesick and missed their families, some boys even ran away to try and get back to their parents.
There was never enough food and heating didn't seem to exist. To get warm we boys would hide in the cloakroom where the "best" jackets and coats were kept. It was against the rules but SO warm. At night when we were hungry we wood eat our toothpaste, THAT was hunger!
I see no mention of this in the book ..........
All in all the book is good as a record of Open Air Schools, their locations and their purpose but as I have said a very rosey picture is painted and I for one would have liked to see more reality and less rose tinted memory.”
Hello, Would you be willing to talk to me about your memories of Skilts, Cropwood and Hunters Hill schools? I'm a journalist at ITV Central News hoping to do a feature on Birminghams open air schools
 

michaelwicks54

Aston bred & proud.
Hi, Would you be willing to talk to me about your time at the Open Air school? sounds dreadful! I'm a journalist at ITV Central news and am hoping to do a feature for our regional news programme about Birminghams open air schools
I would certainly love to give some insight of times in these open air scools. I had 4 years at Hunters Hill before I left to start work. Some of the teachers were really nice,yet there were a few that took it upon themselves to bully the weeker children, (myself included). It will be so nice to have a feature on Central news about how these schools were in the 60's.
 

michaelwicks54

Aston bred & proud.
Jano.I was at Hunters Hill, just across the road from Cropwood, & had a similar experience when I first went ther in 1965. I ran away twice, as I did not like it, but after sitting down for a proper chat with our head teacher, (Miss Buckley), I started to like it, though got bullied a lot.
Hello Jane. Thank you for your email regarding your research. Yes, I would be willing to share my experiences of my 4 years at Hunters Hill Open Air School. Sadly, the only people who know of what life was really like are the former pupils of these schools. Times was very hard for us pupils in the 50' & 60's, & luckily, some have managed to overcome their difficult times. Some though, have not.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Hello, Would you be willing to talk to me about your memories of Skilts, Cropwood and Hunters Hill schools? I'm a journalist at ITV Central News hoping to do a feature on Birminghams open air schools
Sorry, the post merely reproduces for the Forum the comment made of the book by an Amazon contributor. I have no personal knowledge.
 

Ladyship

New Member
Hello,
I was at Cropwood Open air school in the late fifties, Miss Urqhart was the headmistress at the time, there is a very interesting book you can get from the library called 'A Breath of Fresh Air' it was written by a girl that was there, I think her name is Frances Willmott.. The book is the history of all the open air schools, I think there were six run by Birmingham Council.
Regards trebor (Rita)
I also went to Marsh Hill open air school, as well as Cropwood, Marsh Hill was a day school, where as Cropwood was a boarding school. I was much happier at Marsh Hill, the headmistress was Ms Hazel, and there was Mrs Browning and Mr Davies and Mr Wilson to name a few. The matron was called Sister Yelland.
Trebor (Rita)
 

Ladyship

New Member
Thank you, I have recently found the thread for Open Air Schools. My eldest sibling went to one in the 1930s/40s, but I never knew which one until now. He was a day pupil from South Yardley and since Marsh Hill the only day school he must have been there. He was found to have a cardiovascular problem and attended from the age five to fifteen. I think he was very happy there and I know my late mother, a strong determined mother, would never have allowed him to go had he raised her concern. The interesting thing is she was asked not to give him breakfast before he left home in the morning, and on arrival at school was given breakfast of Beef Dripping Toast and a large glass of full cream milk - both of which he loved. Can you imagine today doctors advocating such a diet? Now trying to find "A Breath of Fresh Air", and note there might be some records in the National Archives. Thank you again. Valerie.
 

Hayles

New Member
I was there 1965/7 I think it was more like a borstal school at times, I was always so frightened, I remember two little girls (Josephine? & her sister Patricia?) They would force feed the younger one, she would spit it out and they would make her eat it, awful to see, we ate anything as we knew it was asking for trouble not too.
I never told my mom anything about what went on until I was around 45 years old, she couldn't believe it, and told me she would have taken me home at any time, I explained to her that I was told it wasn't up to her, that I'd go when the head said I could, we talked about it and it became a joke between us, my mom was only 4ft 11 but she would stand up to anyone, and she would tell/joke with me what she would have done to miss Urquhart and we would laugh so much( mom had a brilliant sense of humour) she was upset I'd never told her at the time.
I did love the country walks, I love the countryside and now live in Cleobury Mortimer which is beautiful.
I have very few good memories of Cropwood.
Hi Betty, my mom was at cropwood during the 60’s. She’s so traumatised by it. It was her 65th birthday yesterday, we had a fun night celebrating and she ended up in tears about her childhood there. I remember her crying about it when I was little. So I’ve just discovered this thread, whilst finally doing some research about it. I’d be interested to chat with you so I can hear your stories.
Hayley
 

Jano

proper brummie kid
I was there 1965/7 I think it was more like a borstal school at times, I was always so frightened, I remember two little girls (Josephine? & her sister Patricia?) They would force feed the younger one, she would spit it out and they would make her eat it, awful to see, we ate anything as we knew it was asking for trouble not too.
I never told my mom anything about what went on until I was around 45 years old, she couldn't believe it, and told me she would have taken me home at any time, I explained to her that I was told it wasn't up to her, that I'd go when the head said I could, we talked about it and it became a joke between us, my mom was only 4ft 11 but she would stand up to anyone, and she would tell/joke with me what she would have done to miss Urquhart and we would laugh so much( mom had a brilliant sense of humour) she was upset I'd never told her at the time.
I did love the country walks, I love the countryside and now live in Cleobury Mortimer which is beautiful.
I have very few good memories of Cropwood.
Hello Betty, I'm a journalist at ITV Central News. I'm doing a feature about Open Air schools for our regional news programme, and I'm looking for people to tell me their memories ( good or bad) . Would you be willing to share your thoughts about Cropwood?
Kind regards
Jane Hesketh
 

michaelwicks54

Aston bred & proud.
Hi Betty, my mom was at cropwood during the 60’s. She’s so traumatised by it. It was her 65th birthday yesterday, we had a fun night celebrating and she ended up in tears about her childhood there. I remember her crying about it when I was little. So I’ve just discovered this thread, whilst finally doing some research about it. I’d be interested to chat with you so I can hear your stories.
Hayley
Hi Betty, my mom was at cropwood during the 60’s. She’s so traumatised by it. It was her 65th birthday yesterday, we had a fun night celebrating and she ended up in tears about her childhood there. I remember her crying about it when I was little. So I’ve just discovered this thread, whilst finally doing some research about it. I’d be interested to chat with you so I can hear your stories.
Hayley

I was there 1965/7 I think it was more like a borstal school at times, I was always so frightened, I remember two little girls (Josephine? & her sister Patricia?) They would force feed the younger one, she would spit it out and they would make her eat it, awful to see, we ate anything as we knew it was asking for trouble not too.
I never told my mom anything about what went on until I was around 45 years old, she couldn't believe it, and told me she would have taken me home at any time, I explained to her that I was told it wasn't up to her, that I'd go when the head said I could, we talked about it and it became a joke between us, my mom was only 4ft 11 but she would stand up to anyone, and she would tell/joke with me what she would have done to miss Urquhart and we would laugh so much( mom had a brilliant sense of humour) she was upset I'd never told her at the time.
I did love the country walks, I love the countryside and now live in Cleobury Mortimer which is beautiful.
I have very few good memories of Cropwood.
Hello Betty. Upon seeing that you were at Cropwood from 1965-1967, I was wondering if you ever came over the Hunters Hill school with other girls for our regular film nights & dance nights, which were held in our gymnasium. Though I never took part in any of the dances (too scared of the girls), I enjoyed watching from afar. Regards Michael.
 

michaelwicks54

Aston bred & proud.
I was at Hunters Hill between 1966 and 68. I don't think it did me a lot of good other than allowing me to develop a certain amount of independence when young.
I remember a nurse who I think used to share a house with Miss Buckley. I always found Miss B a bit scary in her tweed suits and sensible shoes. I did like the nature walks she took us on though where she would identify flowers and trees and grasses; something new to most of us as we were mainly from the inner city. Did she have a yappy little terrier type dog?
I always thought the nurse (whose name I can't remember) was nice. She used to take the Catholic children to mass in Bromsgrove and, perhaps, supervise occasional visits from the catholic priest. Did she give some religious instruction to the Catholics as well?.
The young blond women you mention I think was called Miss Walton (Jan?) but she was more of a house matron/ house keeper than a nurse as I recall, although she did wear a nurse type uniform if my memory is correct. She worked with an older lady called Miss Hill, who was quite strict. Miss Hill had a friendly dog called Sykes and she married while I was at HH, possibly to a Midland Red bus driver. I remember Miss Walton being friendly with the boys but she would probably have been close in age to a lot of the older boys so probably had quite a lot in common.
Just writing this has brought back memories which I haven't thought about in years.
Judging from your timeline Michael we must have known each other but I am sorry to say I do not recall you.
Hello Joe. Probably the reason why you do not recall me was because I found it hard to mix, (kept myself to myself), until I moved from the dorm upto the block. I think Mr Browsword & Miss Buckley had someting to do with me not being so quiet then. I can remamber Mr Powell's residence being attached to the block. Could not get along with his son though.
 

Jano

proper brummie kid
Hi Betty, my mom was at cropwood during the 60’s. She’s so traumatised by it. It was her 65th birthday yesterday, we had a fun night celebrating and she ended up in tears about her childhood there. I remember her crying about it when I was little. So I’ve just discovered this thread, whilst finally doing some research about it. I’d be interested to chat with you so I can hear your stories.
Hayley
Hi Hayley, I'm researching a news feature on open air schools for ITV Central News. There were 6 in Birmingham back in the day. Would your mum talk to me about her memories of Cropwood? I appreciate they're not happy ones, and can assure you I would be sensitive.
Jane
 

Hayles

New Member
Hi Hayley, I'm researching a news feature on open air schools for ITV Central News. There were 6 in Birmingham back in the day. Would your mum talk to me about her memories of Cropwood? I appreciate they're not happy ones, and can assure you I would be sensitive.
Jane
Hi Jane,
I really don’t think she would be willing to, I’m sorry. She gets so upset talking about it. She has told me it was very cruel and very strict. she’s talked about the cold baths and swimming pool. But she also has fond memories of friends and playing outside.
I think she also feels like she was shipped off there and felt rejected by her family.
I would be really interested in seeing it when it is done.
Hayley
 

Trebor

master brummie
Hi Jane,
I really don’t think she would be willing to, I’m sorry. She gets so upset talking about it. She has told me it was very cruel and very strict. she’s talked about the cold baths and swimming pool. But she also has fond memories of friends and playing outside.
I think she also feels like she was shipped off there and felt rejected by her family.
I would be really interested in seeing it when it is done.
Hayley
I was there is the fifties and things they got away with were wicked and definitely would not be allowed today, I went to another school after, Marsh Hill Open air school, it was a day school and was lovely, you had to leave when it was deemed you were well enough to go to an ordinary school, I cried when I left there.
 
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batmadviv

master brummie
I was at Cropwood from 1954 to 1956. I really don’t recognise the cruelty or hunger that has been mentioned by some of the contributors to this thread. With 80 girls across the whole pupil age range I believe the staff did their best. I recall having wonderful afternoons on country walks, playing out in the grounds and using the swings for what seemed like hours. Yes, we had to clean and polish our shoes every morning and had baths in small round metal bath tubs but the water was never cold. We were outside a lot as that was the reason we were there - to breathe fresh air into our lungs. Indoor academic work was generally only in the morning. The staff even ran the Brownies and Guide troops.

After visiting days, once a month on a Saturday, the nurse always lined us up and went through our hair with a fine tooth comb to remove any head lice that the unfortunate pupils had picked up during their family visit.

If any of that seems ‘regimented’ perhaps it was necessary.

It is my belief that we were very well cared for.
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
I was at Cropwood from 1954 to 1956. I really don’t recognise the cruelty or hunger that has been mentioned by some of the contributors to this thread. With 80 girls across the whole pupil age range I believe the staff did their best. I recall having wonderful afternoons on country walks, playing out in the grounds and using the swings for what seemed like hours. Yes, we had to clean and polish our shoes every morning and had baths in small round metal bath tubs but the water was never cold. We were outside a lot as that was the reason we were there - to breathe fresh air into our lungs. Indoor academic work was generally only in the morning. The staff even ran the Brownies and Guide troops.

After visiting days, once a month on a Saturday, the nurse always lined us up and went through our hair with a fine tooth comb to remove any head lice that the unfortunate pupils had picked up during their family visit.

If any of that seems ‘regimented’ perhaps it was necessary.

It is my belief that we were very well cared for.
thanks batmadviv its lovely to read some posative comments

lyn
 
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Eddiethesteam

New Member
Although most of the posts are about open air schools I noticed Bromsgrove , the lickey hills, and Blackwell were mentioned.I don't know if it would be of interest to anyone butI spent a few weeks at Blackwell convalescent home in the mid. 1940's.After living in Birmingham during the war it was so relaxing not listening for the air raid sirens and having to rush down the air raid shelter.I think I was about six at the time and new were allowed the run of the grounds/gardens at the back of the home.These backed on to the railway which was the Lickey Incline a rather steep clime for the trains.They could be heard blasting up the hill day and night.Funnily enough I got to enjoy hearing them and it may well have been this that started me on my trip spotting career.
 

michaelwicks54

Aston bred & proud.
Although most of the posts are about open air schools I noticed Bromsgrove , the lickey hills, and Blackwell were mentioned.I don't know if it would be of interest to anyone butI spent a few weeks at Blackwell convalescent home in the mid. 1940's.After living in Birmingham during the war it was so relaxing not listening for the air raid sirens and having to rush down the air raid shelter.I think I was about six at the time and new were allowed the run of the grounds/gardens at the back of the home.These backed on to the railway which was the Lickey Incline a rather steep clime for the trains.They could be heard blasting up the hill day and night.Funnily enough I got to enjoy hearing them and it may well have been this that started me on my trip spotting career.
Blackwell was a really wonderful & peaceful village. (not sure of what is like now as I have not been back since 1969). I used to love going into Bromsgrove almost every saturday, when I was at HHOAS. People were so warm & friendly.
 
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