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Josiah Mason's Orphanage

The Owl

knowlegable brummie
Sir Josiah Mason's Orphanage was - very sadly - demolished in 1964. But what about the mausoluem in the grounds where Sir Josiah Mason was interred alongside his wife in 1881. What happened to that? Is it still in situ & can it still be seen?
 

The Owl

knowlegable brummie
Thank for finding that information. I did do a brief internet search, but couldn't find anything. Looking at photographs of the orphanage, it seems a great shame that such a magnificent Victorian building is gone forever. Nowadays the building would probably be converted into posh apartments, but in the 1960s preserving Victorian architecture didn't seem important & finding the space to build more houses did. I also feel that it is a shame that the tomb was destroyed. Difficult to know what to do with it, I guess ... but, though Sir Josiah Mason's name lives on, nothing physical apart from the bust on the island remains of this great Birmingham philanthropist.
 

jackie12345

New Member
Does anyone have any memories of my great great uncle that was in the orphanage in the 1901 census? His name was Ulan Parker, I wondered why he was sent there, I know both his parents died in 1899 but do not know why?


Dear Johanna

I can throw more light on Hugh Ulan Parker's family if you still want information.
 

BrianR

proper brummie kid
The history of Sir Josiah mason's building did not end with it's end as an orphanage. In1963 the orphanage was used to temporarily house a new school.
The new estate, Shard End, had been built without any infrastructure so children were being bused to schools in older districts of Birmingham, I had to go to Aston Hall Road School. Then it was announced that in future a bus would take us to "Sir Josiah Masons" and the staff at the end of a year there would move us to a brand new school in Shard End. We had a lovely year at Mason's. There was a big field with avenues of oak trees in which we spent many happy hour of play and lessons on hot summer days in the shade of the trees. It is a replica of an oak tree that can be seen on the Brown Mead school badge to this day and is in memory of the schools beginning. It was Miss Hunt (head mistress) Mr. Spinks And Mr. Wood who were most instrumental in the forming of Brown Mead and lade down the beginning of many successful futures.
By Brian Rhead (Lived at 16 Pear Tree Rd. Long long ago.)
 

Kellie001

New Member
Hi Everyone

Thank you all so much for taking the time to post your memories and questions regarding SJMO. I wanted to see if I could at all find some information before posting; I have enjoyed catching up and reading everyone's comments and memories.

My father recently passed away (our daughter/father relationship was very hit and miss - probably more miss than anything else) but he never spoke about his grandparents or family. I have been working on my Mums side of the tree and thought I would expand this to cover my fathers side.

My Great Grandfather Arthur Charles Roberts (Born 1881) and his Brother George Harry Walker Roberts (Born 1883) apparently both were placed at SJMO after their parents died. I have found the 1891 census with their details on. Does anyone know who I may be able to contact to find any additional information?

Many thanks in advance
 

Sue.T

New Member
I am currently researching family tree and it appears that my late husbands grandfather is shown as being in the orphanage on the 1901 census any ideas where I can find more information
 

DerekTP

Brummie babby
Sir Josiah Mason's Orphanage was - very sadly - demolished in 1964.
Only joined this group today, hence the long hiatus after previous post! I was at Yenton school when the orphanage was demolished. The building backed onto our playground and I remember break times spent watching a large wrecking ball being used to bring down big chunks of masonry, seemingly very close to our playground. I hope it wasn't as close as I recall but H+S was a bit different then. Certainly things got pretty dusty.
076_04.png
This is a scan of a slide taken from the loft window of my house in Erdington. The scan is un-edited and shows the orphanage as a ghostly outline in the distance. This must have been in the last 3 - 4 years before it was knocked down.
 

Moor End Lad

knowlegable brummie
My father together with his friends and his sister were educated at SJMO's day school prior to WW2. He has left me a large panoramic photo of the entire school centred around headmaster Shillito dated 1938. They are all dead now, as presumably all who remember them are.

He used to describe how Shillito would make him hop around on the stage on one leg, and each time he passed in front of Shillito he would get a whack of the cane.

The worst teacher was the woodwork master Von Beck, who would hang boys out of the window by the scruff of their neck. One terrified boy fled away from him through the school and up into Shillito's office, where Shillito was interviewing the parents of a prospective pupil. The boy cowered under the desk pleading with Shillito to save him, while Von Beck stood at the door brandishing a length of wood. We don't know if the offer of a place was taken up!
 

Moor End Lad

knowlegable brummie
My own experience is of being a pupil at the new Yenton Primary School, which was built on the Orphanage's eastern playing fields around 1952. I was there from 1957 until 1964, when I witnessed the Orphanage's demolition. In June 1964 the whole school was ushered out into the southern playing fields to watch the main tower being brought down. Pit props had been inserted into the base and then set alight. After a good while, the tower collapsed like a concertina. It was all very sad.

During my first three years at the infant section of the school, I remember four orphans in my year, who must have been the last of the Orphanage residents. I particularly remember an enthusiastic lad named Peter Wood, then there was a blonde girl named Louise, a dark haired lad named Michael and a dark haired girl, whose name I never knew. When we moved up to the junior section, these orphans didn't follow, and must have been sent elsewhere. The Orphanage closed to residents soon after. Meanwhile, our first year at juniors was spent in the old SJMO classrooms, which were being used as overspill accommodation by Yenton. I recall thet the classrooms on two floors were very light and spacious, and accessed via a cast iron staircase at the rear of the assembly hall.

I further remember a curious room known as the 'art room', where we were allowed to paint. It was accessed through a door half way down the classroom buildings from the Orphanage playground. This led down into a sunken area like a small swimming bath. I've always puzzled over whether this was a forerunner to the main swimming bath or perhaps a communal bath after playing games.
 

Moor End Lad

knowlegable brummie
The white house is Rookery House, former Council House for Erdington. Not sure if it's Spring Lane or Western Road in the photo. Someone else might know Rookery House is still standing but is deteriorating fast due to no funds to maintain it. If it gets demolished yet another heritage Erdington landmark will disappear.
https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/erdingtons-historic-rookery-house-costly-1723974

I have to say that on reading this I felt quite incredulous that Rookery House would be visible from the Orphanage tower. Moreover, that is definitely the spire of the Abbey church in the right background. A quick look at the 1900 OS map confirms that the road is Orphanage Road, which by then had yet to be developed. Indeed, the only building apart from the Orphanage is Grove House just left of centre.

The white building is actually Norwood House in Mason Lane (now Holly Lane), which was built for none other than Sir Josiah Mason. After his death it became St Agnes Convent. A photo is attached:

Norwood House.jpg
 

Moor End Lad

knowlegable brummie
Here is an aerial view of the Orphanage taken in 1937. The day school buildings comprise those to the right. Yenton Primary School was built on the fields visible between the Orphanage and the Chester Road beyond. My father recalled that the playing fields were mowed using a shire horse named 'Diamond':

Mason's Orphanage aerial view 1937.jpg
 
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gruchy

New Member
Josiah Mason's Orphanage was a very imposing place. The main door was very, very large(well, so it seemed to a 4 year old!)

The main corridor seemed endless and on the right hand side stood glass cases that housed stuffed animals and birds (a thing I still hate to see to this day).

At the end of the long, long corridor was a massive staircase that went up to the dorms. my first bed waas in the "Babies" section that was housed above the Chapel. In this room there were several beds and a fireplace with a huge old fashioned firegaurd surronding it.

The Orphange was sectioned into two halves, boys section and girls section.I was only allowed to go to see my brother once a week.

We were taught how to do housework and and laundrywork.
We went to Church on Sundays to Pype Hayes and then to Chapel in the Orphanage on Sunday Evening. My wonderful Grandparents tried to be there every Sunday night and if they couldn't make it I would cry!!

The orchards were my favourite place, I would love to wonder among the trees on my own and dream that I was there by mistake and my parents would come and find me.............childish dreams.

The children there were not all "Orphans", many had one parent and many had both parents and many had no parents. All of us were there for one reason or another and we became each others family.

We went down the huge play ground to the day school to be taught (Alberta.remember Mr Shillito?)

I used to think I was hard done by as I grew older but now I realize that I was proberbly very fortunate to have been raised in a place that taught me to be a good citizen and to try my best to live up to the school motto

DO DEEDS OF LOVE

So to Sir Josiah Mason Orphanage I say a big, big THANK YOU:)
Its 2021, and yesterday I learned this was where my father and his two brothers lived around 1936 to early 40's? He never talk about where he grew up. My father died in 1991, so I can not ask, but thank you for sharing your memory, I now feel that a family home would have been better, but he was a good place as a boy.
 

gruchy

New Member
My father together with his friends and his sister were educated at SJMO's day school prior to WW2. He has left me a large panoramic photo of the entire school centred around headmaster Shillito dated 1938. They are all dead now, as presumably all who remember them are.

He used to describe how Shillito would make him hop around on the stage on one leg, and each time he passed in front of Shillito he would get a whack of the cane.

The worst teacher was the woodwork master Von Beck, who would hang boys out of the window by the scruff of their neck. One terrified boy fled away from him through the school and up into Shillito's office, where Shillito was interviewing the parents of a prospective pupil. The boy cowered under the desk pleading with Shillito to save him, while Von Beck stood at the door brandishing a length of wood. We don't know if the offer of a place was taken up!
Hello, is it possible to post the photo? My father and his brothers were at SJMO around 1936 ( my dad was 9) to? They where John, Peter, Michael Gruchy.
 
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