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

Wendy harris

New Member
I was at cropwood open air school from 1970. 1978. Head teacher was miss Clarke. A lovely lady. I enjoyed my time there and didn't wanth to go home at weekends
I will write some more later
Hi Sandra
I was at cropwood the same time as you and i remember you my name was Wendy Cleaver back then i remember Miss Clark she was a lovely lady. Remember sister Shaw the nurse i did not like her. I used to like the house mothers to we used to have some fun times.
 

michaelwicks54

Aston bred & proud.
Hi Sandra
I was at cropwood the same time as you and i remember you my name was Wendy Cleaver back then i remember Miss Clark she was a lovely lady. Remember sister Shaw the nurse i did not like her. I used to like the house mothers to we used to have some fun times.
I went to Hunters Hill across the road from you Wendy, though I left there a year before you started at Cropwood. We used to have some lovely times when the girls used to come over to us for film & dance nights. Some of our teachers were not nice, though our headmistress, Miss Buckley was an angel. I was there from 1965 to July 1969 when I left school. We used to come over to use the kidney shaped outdoor swimming pool, though I was not keen on swimming at the time.
 

Trebor

master brummie
I was at Cropwood in the fifties, I hated my time there, Miss Urquhart was the headmistress, things they got away with then would not be allowed now. If anyone is interested there is a book you can get out of the library called A Breath of Fresh Air, it is all about the open air schools that were run by Birmingham Council, Cropwood was donated by the Cadbury family.
 

michaelwicks54

Aston bred & proud.
I was at Cropwood in the fifties, I hated my time there, Miss Urquhart was the headmistress, things they got away with then would not be allowed now. If anyone is interested there is a book you can get out of the library called A Breath of Fresh Air, it is all about the open air schools that were run by Birmingham Council, Cropwood was donated by the Cadbury family.
I have heard it said many times when I was at Hunters Hill that Miss Urquhart was not very nice to the girls at Cropwood. Luckily, I never met her.
 

Susan Hickman

Brummie babby
In a thread about Uffculme School, maggs wrote:

I went to Blackwell Open Air school, possibly for a couple of years. I was very young at the time and can't remember, but I hated the place and was so unhappy there. The food was dreadful, burned porridge, and milk straight from the cow, which I refused to drink. It was a beautiful place though, a big house in wonderful grounds. Owned by Cadburys. It was close to Bromgrove and the Lickey Hills. Does anyone remember this school?


Perhaps this subject deserves its own thread.

I know someone who was there for two-and-a-half years from 1950 to 1952 from the age of 11 and who has happier memories of the place (and was cured). Does anyone else have knowledge/memories of this school?

Chris
Hi Chris, I went to Cropwood from April 64 to April 67. I have wonderful memories and have always wanted to write my own book about my experience living there.
I can relate to many of the stories and I actually believe I knew Susan Jones and I remember her best friend was Collete Sewell. They both had a rigorous bedtime ritual which I remember but won't go into detail.
I remember at least twenty girls by name and some by number, yes we had a number mine was 21 and I remember number 1 was a girl called Annette Wall.
The dark cloud at school was Miss Urquhart, who was indeed a regimental headmistress and I received six of the best for a small misdemeanor, with my house slipper, which was a crepe soled leather sandal.
As you can see I could go on but if anyone would like to make contact I would love to share memories of my life at Cropwood.
Thank you Susan Ferriday nee Hickman.
 

Susan Hickman

Brummie babby
the balcony looks similar but the building looks very different from the one above which is more like the one I stayed in.it was a beaautiful building and lovely surroundings but evil within. young children having to get up at 5.30 to clean their shoes strip their beds, blankets folded at the bottom all square. all before breakfas.t we were given cod liver oil tablets and if you didn't swallow them punishment, one girl was so frightened she wet herself so had to stand at the front during breakfast with her knickers on her head. at night we had to queue to have our underwear inspected it was so degrading and even though we were so young it didn't seem right. there was definatly no mothering at this school.
Hi there, it was great to read your memories about Cropwood, what year did you live there?
 

Susan Hickman

Brummie babby
Hi. I've just discovered this site, and OMG! How the memories came flooding back. I was at Skilts from about age 5 or 6, where there was a Nurse Binns who appeared to be a right battleaxe. She bought me a dolly and her mother had knitted clothes for it. It still makes me emotional when I think of that stern woman taking pity on the little waif I must have been then. I then went to Cropwood where Miss Urquhart was the headmistress. I don't recall any other staff names. I do know that Hunters Hill was the boys school across the road. I slept in exstention but we all aspired to sleep in the cottage up the road. I can't be sure of it's name but I think it was Rose or Rosemary house? Maybe someone here remembers and can remind me. My name back then was Belinda Luckman. Sadly I can't remember school mates names. I do know that I learned a life lesson while at Cropwood when I and a friend found the tuck cupboard open in our classroom and stole some sweets from it. Later, in the evening when we were in the lobby, sitting on the benches around the hand-basins waiting to go into the dining room, the teacher spoke up to say that sweets had been stolen. I was soooo scared. She pointed at another girl, pulled her to stand next to her and gave her a good smack for stealing! I was beside myself with guilt at someone being punished for my crime, but didn't have the nerve to speak up. I have never taken anything since that day that didn't belong to me. Seems the other girl must have found the tuck cupboard open too, but she got caught!
I also remember the country walks and a girl falling into sinking sand and the teacher up to her thighs in mud trying to rescue her......that was a walk to remember... I wonder if anyone else remembers these incidents? And what year it might have been?
Cleaning outdoor shoes with polish and brushes in the yard. Indoor shoes were buckled sandles. Brown tunics with yellow airtex T shirts in winter, flowery dresses in summer. The outdoor swimming pool covered in leaves. Making dens in the bushes. Watching TV on a Saturday. I'm sure I watched the first Dr Who episode there. Having your name called out when a letter or parcel arrived. When visitors bought sweets for you, the were tipped into the handbasins to be collected and shared out later.one sweet at a time...No wonder I robbed the tuck cupboard...lol
Church on a Sunday when we were given a penny for the collection plate. Silver threepenny bits in the Christmas pudding and helping to stir it for a Christmas wish. Cleaning teeth with a dab of powdered toothpaste, a bath every other night and .....knicker inspection....washing our own pants in the bathroom sinks.
I caught chickenpox by rubbing myself and my friend in the clothes of a suck girl....lol....sickbay was full so I got sent to Little Bromwich hospital isolation ward ..
Also spent a summer holiday in Eddington cottage Homes when my mom was in hospital and couldn't have me at home. Then straight back to Cropwood. .....wow such memories. Thank you to whomever started this thread, and hope I haven't rambled too much. Belinda x
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.
 

Susan Hickman

Brummie babby
Hello littleemily. I was at the boys school across the road from you in the 1960's, & was wondering what Skilts were. I do remember some of the girls coming over to us for dancing & watching films in the gym/assembly room, though I was too scared to take part in the dancing.
I remember going to the Barn Dances at the boys school in 65/66.
We had such a wonderful time and I remember one of the big boys swinging me round on the dance floor.
There was a boy called Rodney Harris and David McCluskey who I was friends with. Thank you for the flash back in time. Susan Ferriday nee Hickman.
 

Susan Hickman

Brummie babby
Hi Lorraine, like you I have so e memories of Cropwood and the yrs I spent there from 64-67 and can concur with all the interesting things you have written about.
Do you remember the walk down the hill outside the school gates to a small park?
And the Holly bush that was a huge space you could walk into and the were the swings at the back of the house there when you were?
Your memory of the swimming pool and all the experience is spot on.
I could go on and on, if you do want to reminisce some more about Miss Urquhart etc, please get in touch.
 

Susan Hickman

Brummie babby
Hi susan,was at hhoas same time as you..
Will run some names past u to c if u rememba anyone..here goes,joy brown,Pauline denley,Janet,wheldon,winnie coleman,valerie cox,Marie Sutter,her brother went to hhoas also.
Hi Susan, I'm hoping you are the same girl in the down stairs dormitory in the extension, who was friends with Colleen Sewell?
If so, I remember you so well with your night time ritual, I'm sure you will know what I mean?
My best friend was Helen Mooney and we slept down at the bottom of the dorm near the haunted staircase!!
Do you remember when we had curtains fitted at the windows and we did not like them?
And the balls of finger knitting we would do whenever we could?
I would love to hear from you Susan Hickman.
 

Betty cannon

New Member
Pupils..there was,denneth Drysdale,aiden jordan,Sean burns,phillip horsley(scope) and his brother francis,Raymond Tilley,and brother Charlie.. Pete McGrath,tommy folan,john burchell Vincent okane,Patrick's brother,I cud go on and on..I All so have a good memory for the girls names from cropwood as well.
I to was in client dorm.
I was at crowded 1965/1967 I hated it it, it was frightening place to be as a kid, so strict and regimental? If you put a food wrong you got the slipper, I remember a girl (older) Sarah Laura? She was great with the young ones? She took the blame several times for others, I slept in the dorm with window open all night, I remember getting up stripping our bed half turning mattress, outside cleaning shoes, then breakfast, back to dorm to fully turn mattress and make beds, hospital corners had to be right.
The ice cold swimming pool that was full of leaves, I hated those cod liver oil tablets, i remember the older girls having to leave bathroom doors open, I felt embarrassed for them, I think it took a lot from me, i was confidence and never scared until I went there, I cried when I had the basin hair cut, my mom went mad, that stopped me having it cut again, it grew long while I was there.
I can honestly say that place damaged alot of kids mentally.
I remember going to Hunters Hill dancing, I danced with Charles many times.
 

Betty cannon

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.
 

marketman1956

knowlegable brummie
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.. Great reading about ur experiences at cropwood.
Was wondering if our paths had crossed in that particular period?
I left hunters(yes..im a boy)in 71.
Did u ever visit hunters whilst u wer at cropwood.ie, on Thursdays we wud have dancing night.
And also do u remember any more names from that time period..both boys and girls,and even staff members?
Look forward 2 hearing more from you..
 
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