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Birmingham Weston Road Workhouse & Cape Schools

mike jenks

master brummie

the library as above told me the same about records of Individual patent details
about entry dates etc.
The census records are fine you can confirm where your relative was at a point in
time. Mine are covered great GF in 1901 and 1911.
Wrote to the freedom of Information on mr great GF
got the following E Mail back

Dear Michael

Thank you for your email.

In general, The National Archives does not hold hospital records. However we do have access to a list of the repositories where you might find them. You can find details of records held on individual hospitals by searching either through the institution's name or the town or city via this database:


Please note that if this infirmary formed part of the workhouse system, there may be further records either here or locally, although your dates are very much at the end of this system:


Yours sincerely

Sarah Hutton

It looks like a brick wall

Mike Jenks


master brummie
I was looking for a birth in Western Rd Infirmary and Workhouse in 1883. I was told at the Birmingham Library that this is one of the years that is missing. Either lost, destroyed by fire and water. Very disappointed.

Old Boy

master brummie
Re: Old street pics..

Rosie, I also remember old people who were very frightened of going into Western Road Infirmary. It was always considered to still be the workhouse. It wasn't possible to get too close to the building, as there were metal standings around it, hiding most of it from view. The chimney stacks still look in reasonable order, and at the stage it is now it could be restored. I could just about see the Arch of Tears, and it was still possible to walk all around the outside of the building. I can't believe the Birmingham City Council have allowed this piece of history to be so neglected. Where was the plaque Rosie?
Hi All,

I am confused as I understood the old workhouse had been demolished. Certainly the 'Archway of Tears' no longer exists. In its place is a plaque on a pedestal which was opened by Carl Chinn a year or two ago. This plaque is at the entrance to the car park in Western Road. I have used this entrance many times recently to attend the Midland Eye Centre which has been erected on the site. I cannot remember seeing any very old buildings except perhaps parts of City Hospital (formerly Dudley Road Hospital)

Old Boy


master brummie
I remember in my early days in the ambulance service taking elderly people into Summerfield hospital and seeing the look of fear on their faces when they realised where they were. Relatives were reluctant to tell them which hospital they were going to and although we were never allowed to mislead patients they very rarely asked. We used to drive through the archway and reverse up to the reception centre and take them into bare brick lined room . Having said that two of my grandparents were in-patients there in the early sixties and both received wonderful care.Unfortunately the stigma of the workhouse remained .The hospital was also well known for its staff canteen it was one of the best in the city.


Now I'm confused! Re #19 Was there more than one Archway? The one I've always known as The Archway of Tears is still there, the rest of the Workhouse was demolished and replaced by the Eye Department though.


Proud to be a Brummie!
Re: Old street pics..

Hi All,

I am confused as I understood the old workhouse had been demolished. Certainly the 'Archway of Tears' no longer exists. In its place is a plaque on a pedestal which was opened by Carl Chinn a year or two ago. This plaque is at the entrance to the car park in Western Road. I have used this entrance many times recently to attend the Midland Eye Centre which has been erected on the site. I cannot remember seeing any very old buildings except perhaps parts of City Hospital (formerly Dudley Road Hospital)

Old Boy

You can see the Archway here with the eye hospital a good distance to the right..
Not sure the Hospital have any real plans for the building that's left as there are plans to build a super hospital in Smethwick that will replace much of this site i should think...


master brummie
These images must have been posted somewhere before, they are in the image host.
Some links to other threads about this topic. (links not fully working since Xenforo)
ps. I've just noticed the archways look different !

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Old Boy

master brummie
Hi All,

The mystery continues. The photographs in Post 24, which seems to me the original "Archway of Tears" is much different to the archway to be seen via Post 23. All I know is the plaque dedicated by Carl Chinn is immediately inside the Western Road entrance whereas the arch in the photo at Post No 23 is a good way in from Western Road.

I will try to contact Carl to see if he can help.

Old Boy

mike jenks

master brummie

Is it the front and Rear. Who knows.
Its clearly an entrance somewhere on the site.
Very interesting.

Mike Jenks


master brummie
I am fairly certain that we used to drive through the gateway that is still standing and then through an archway and turned left and then reversed up to the reception area.It was a very tight turn and the ambulances just managed to negotiate it. There used to be a man sitting in the archway recording the number of all the vehicles that passed through the gate


master brummie
Looking at the two images in post #24, the lower one does not seem to be anything like the buildings shown in other images. The lower image was a scan from from an old Birmingham Mail and first appeared in a forum post here but was lost when the forum was hacked in 2011. There is a similar very small image in the heading of this site https://www.winsongreentobrookfields.co.uk/save_workhouse.htm
A close up of the present archway is shown in https://www.birminghamconservationtrust.org/bct-finished/archway-of-tears-2/


Gone, but not forgotten.
My memory of the archway is not that good even after working in and around the archway and old workhouse and infirmary many times, but is it not possible that the two different views are from the front and the rear?


master brummie
The tiny image on the Winsongreentobrookfields site seems to show a archway building stand alone and a tall chimney to the right.

The left image below is https://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw062659?search=brookfields&ref=1 dated 1939 from the britainfromabove website.
At the middle of the left side of this image is what appears to be an archway building on Western Rd . Behind that archway is a light coloured drive leading to what looks like another archway, so maybe these are the two archways. The tall chimney can also be seen in this image.

The right image is from a Google Earth image dated 1945 and appears to show two buildings (marked with red lines) separated by the drive which corresponds to the 1939 view.
Could this be the explanation about the two archways shown in post #24 ?

Please note - to see enlarged images without pins on the britainfromabove site it is necessary to register and sign in.

Lady Penelope

master brummie
Pedrocut, I've now had time to read this thread in more detail and in your post 21 it mentions 'Workhouse and Cape' any idea what 'Cape' is please?


Kentish Brummie
Hi Lady P. Maybe it's connected to the children. 'Cape' being a form of protection, hence shelter ? Bit of a wild guess, but never heard of it before. Viv.


Super Moderator
Staff member
There are a number of references to this in the newspapers. Normally, as below, it is described as the workhouse and cape school, so it must have been a school associated with the workhouse.
birm post.17.2.1868.jpg


master brummie
I think and am happy to be corrected, but the workhouse schools were in part of the workhouse complex. The schools, referred to as cape, were other schools supported by Parish or other churches. In this cutting it obviously refers to those schools supported by the C of E. I believe it was customary for a cape to be worn as a form of uniform; it not only kept the wearer dry and any books they had but meant the children were not sat in wet clothing during tuition. The ragged schools were usually church supported, having started as a Sunday school. There were also schools supported by industry. This link gives some detail although those interested in a more detailed view of it all will find much on the web.

PS: Well, we have moved 2017 Christmas back into the world of Wackford Squeers and Dotheboys Hall. Maybe it needs to be relocated.
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Master Barmmie
The heading of Christmas Day in the Workhouse, in the year of Our Lord 2017, is a frivolous reference to the serious monologue. But the clip is from a Birmingham Newspaper and the year 1868, which is a close to a current feature of the Forum.

From the point of view of history it gives an insight into the Workhouse at Christmas, and has provoked some discussion concerning the Cape. So in the light of this maybe it should be transferred to a Workhouse.

Not only that but I think the Cape mentioned here is actually Cape Hill! In 1870 there is a notice of sale of land (attached) and premises at Cape Hill which until recently had been a workhouse and School.

Interesting that it is being sold by another Ebonezer!