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St Margarets Hospital - Great Barr

G G Jean

Brummy Wench.
Thanks fatfingers. Just a shell there. My aunt used to come home with awful bruising at times. She also had some of the inmates who were just institutionalized and should not have been there home for Sunday Dinner.
 

June47

New Member
Around 1980 my sister lived in Kinross Cresent, I would have been 14 at the time and used to stay with her regularly. On a number of occasions I would wake up with my heart pounding and sweating and had a feeling of panic, as though I was being chased through woodland and around a small body of water...I would dream of running into an upstairs area of a barn or other wooden building. I always felt heavy as though I were pregnant. I would awaken hearing footsteps coming up the stairs. After several times of this same dream, I woke one night and hearing the footsteps got out of bed and stood at the top of the stairs. I expected the footsteps to stop, but instead the footsteps continued. It frightened me terribly. Years later I told my sister the dreams I had had, I'll never forget her face as she listened and then said she had had the same or similar dreams...in her being chased she had had the feeling of men in long coats and big dogs chasing her towards a barn or wooden shed and from the barn she could see a small lake We couldn't believe it when we did some research and found that there was actually a lake was in the grounds of St. Margret's, we had no idea of this before hand. We heard that unmarried mothers could have been sent here....I would love to hear if anyone else knows anything more of the area being used for unmarried mothers or a chase that happened. I know that some asylums were used for unmarried mothers....as pregnancy outside of marriage was considered a mental health issue, where a woman was unable to control her libido!!
 

infosearch

New Member
As a complete outsider, I would like to bring into the discussion the children with cerebral palsy and various other physical defects who were dumped into St Margeret's as being "sub normal" and unwanted.

In the 1970's my mother, Margaret Evanson, was appointed head of the St Margaret's Hospital special school, which had been set up to give these youngsters a chance of learning. During her time at St Margaret's, she fought the authorities, continuously, to improve the lot and future of these youngsters. Eventually, a purpose-built school was built on the site - with facilities to improve the mobility, accessibility and independence for these youngsters.

In 1979, my mother was reluctantly forced to resign, being 65 years old. As I understand it, it wasn't long after this that the hospital and school were closed down.

If anyone can tell me more about these years, I'd be grateful.
 

Shortie

master brummie
It's totally dreadful that children with disabilites were considered sub-normal, but that was simply a hangover from the Victorian age. It was easier, I guess to just declare that these children were sub-normal than to find a way of teaching them - how frustrated they must have felt, and angry one assumes, too. I rememer in the early 1950's a single deck bus used to come into the street where I lived to pick up what we now know as a Down's child. This child, I have no idea of its sex, was tied tightly into a green gaberdine mac and a grey balaclarva and off they went. My mother said it was not possible to educate them, which was the view at that time. How lucky we are to now live in a more enlightened age.
 

faenol

New Member
Hi, I came across this site when I was just browsing looking for old photos of St Margarets Hospital to show my children. Find it really interesting as I nursed at St Margarets from 1977 to 1985. I remember my first time of going there as a newly qualified nursery nurse and being interviewed in the room below the clock tower. I was absolutely petrified..........it turned out to be the most rewarding job I have ever had. It actually was a town of its own, everything you needed was on site. Most of the staff there were very commited to their posts and had the clients best interests at heart and did there best in difficult circumstances. I worked on various wards on the male side and the female side but mostly on Chase and Derby ward which were the childrens units. Also in the newly built school. The story about the murder of the lady by the gardener was true, I actually worked with Joseph Birch (Jo), of course by then he was a very frail elderly gentleman. Also a young lad from Chase ward did manage to get out through a window during the night and drowned in the lake on site. Things were very different then, health and safety weren't the big issues they are now. I often go back to visit my dad who lives in Great Barr, as I live in wales now and always have a drive up the main entrance. Its very hard to imagine it now as it was then. So many stories could be told, I could go on and on. Just makes me wonder where all the poor souls are now. Would be lovely to be in touch with other people who worked there, as I'm sure they will agree it was the sort of place that had a huge impact on your life.
 
W

Wendy

Guest
Hello faenol. Its nice to read your memories of working at St Margarets I can imagine it must have been difficult working there. I think like nurses it takes a special kind of person to work in a place like that in the 70's. I am glad your memories are mostly good ones. I hope your co workers see this and get in touch.
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
A photo from Britainfromabove.org.uk of Great Barr Park Colony for Mental Defectives (St Margaret's Hospital), Walsall, 1936. The image is HERE .
They did not mince words in 1936 with the above description. The brook flowing from the lake in the image went through the Beeches Estate into the pool in Perry Barr park and then into the River Tame. If you register on the site you can zoom in close....
 

nickcc101

master brummie
Certainly remember the river that ran through Perry Hall Playing Fields, the smell was dreadful and the banks were black and covered in slime. We were told the river ran through the industrial Black Country which resulted in all the trade effluent being discharged into the river, never saw any signs of life as opposed to the lake in Perry Barr Park where fishing and boating were the norm, we fished in the Canal by Perry Barr locks as we couldn't afford to pay for a fishing permit.
 

bobsden

New Member
After reading this account I asked my mother about it as she lived on the Queslett Road from 1948-1960. She recalls this story from around 1952-1953, as she and her friends were warned about going near the hospital.
 

nickcc101

master brummie
After reading this account I asked my mother about it as she lived on the Queslett Road from 1948-1960. She recalls this story from around 1952-1953, as she and her friends were warned about going near the hospital.
Bit off thread but I used to go to a friends house on the back of his bike during our lunch break from Beeches road School to his house on Queslet Road, we used to cook chips and his name was Robert :). This would have been 1959/1960.
 

Miranda Squire

New Member
Hi, I came across this site when I was just browsing looking for old photos of St Margarets Hospital to show my children. Find it really interesting as I nursed at St Margarets from 1977 to 1985. I remember my first time of going there as a newly qualified nursery nurse and being interviewed in the room below the clock tower. I was absolutely petrified..........it turned out to be the most rewarding job I have ever had. It actually was a town of its own, everything you needed was on site. Most of the staff there were very commited to their posts and had the clients best interests at heart and did there best in difficult circumstances. I worked on various wards on the male side and the female side but mostly on Chase and Derby ward which were the childrens units. Also in the newly built school. The story about the murder of the lady by the gardener was true, I actually worked with Joseph Birch (Jo), of course by then he was a very frail elderly gentleman. Also a young lad from Chase ward did manage to get out through a window during the night and drowned in the lake on site. Things were very different then, health and safety weren't the big issues they are now. I often go back to visit my dad who lives in Great Barr, as I live in wales now and always have a drive up the main entrance. Its very hard to imagine it now as it was then. So many stories could be told, I could go on and on. Just makes me wonder where all the poor souls are now. Would be lovely to be in touch with other people who worked there, as I'm sure they will agree it was the sort of place that had a huge impact on your life.
Hi , I know your post is quite old but I have just joined and have been looking for information on the patients . My great grandmother was an patient there apparently, Nellie Redfern . I was wondering if you knew her xx thanks in advance
 

Old Acsonian

Brummie babby
I lived on the border of Great Barr and as small children we rode all over the place on our bikes. We would often ride to the top of Queslett Rd. and dare each other to ride down to the hospital( only as children we called it something else). None of us ever took up the dare, we were all too scared, and most of us were in forbidden territory anyway.
 

G G Jean

Brummy Wench.
Martin there is a facebook page on St Margaret's but they only allow people on there who have connections with the old hospital. I am on there because my Aunt Phyllis was a nurse there for many years. You could private message one of them. This is a photo of Aunt Phyllis in her nurses uniform.
 

Attachments

Vivienne14

Super Moderator
Staff member
Martin you may already have looked into this resource but I remember coming across a lot of information about St Margaret’s via the National Archives newspaper site - you need to subscribe of course. Viv.
 

Dave M

Pheasey Born Bumper
Martin there is a facebook page on St Margaret's but they only allow people on there who have connections with the old hospital. I am on there because my Aunt Phyllis was a nurse there for many years. You could private message one of them. This is a photo of Aunt Phyllis in her nurses uniform.
GG you might seen myself on there
 
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