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St Margarets Hospital - Great Barr

Karenkaren

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 Faenol, I know it's been quite a while since your post. I look every so often for info aboutSt Margarets as my dad was a nurse there in the 1970s. His name was Kevin Campbell. I don't know if you knew him
 

faenol

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.
Hi, I actually think I worked as a Nursery Nurse at the school when your mom was there. The name rings a bell to me. I used to go with the children from Chase and Darby ward and spend most of the days there with them. I left in 1984 , I believe it closed a few years later.
 

faenol

New Member
Hi Faenol, I know it's been quite a while since your post. I look every so often for info aboutSt Margarets as my dad was a nurse there in the 1970s. His name was Kevin Campbell. I don't know if you knew him
Hi, the name is really familiar to me. Do you have any idea which part of the hospital he worked in.?
 

faenol

New Member
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
Hi, do you know what ward she would have been on or where she went after St Margaret’s closed down. There’s so many names which are familiar to me but it’s so long ago I just can’t remember.
 

ade

master brummie
Before it was fully demolished for the houses to be built I spent some time on the estate with a mate of mine who was helping to set up the security there. Most of the buildings had been pillaged or vandalised over the year's but all the building's on this very large site were standing. It was very quiet on a warm day but the one thing that stood out to me was how eary the whole estate was, I'm not one who believes in ghosts, spirits etc but this place definitely had an uneasy feeling about it. We left around 6.oclock on the evening I was glad I spent the day there but on the other hand was glad to leave, that's the only place I've ever been which made me feel like that, never went back again. one evening talking to my friend he reckons there is a tunnel running from the main building all the way through to the walsall road which I don't know if it was filled in before the estate was built or they just capped the ends and left it there
 

ade

master brummie
Hi Dave
So the story of a tunnel was probably true then, maybe there were a series of tunnels running under the site for various reasons known to the staff
That's for the picture and the reply
Ade
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
this is quite a fascinating thread although so very sad in many parts...my mother in law who lived locally used to work at st margarets as a SRN and she often mentioned the sad sights of people/children who had been born with horns and tails...i think she found it very difficult to work there and did not stay long...this would most likely have been in the late 40s...does anyone know exactly what if anything is left of the hospital?

lyn
 
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Dave M

Pheasey Born Bumper
Hi Dave
So the story of a tunnel was probably true then, maybe there were a series of tunnels running under the site for various reasons known to the staff
That's for the picture and the reply
Ade
Believe so have a few pics of the damaged buildings, and inside of GBH, some showing the steps down to the cellar and the internal well,
 
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Williamstreeter

master brummie
this is quite a fascinating thread although so very sad in many parts...my mother in law who lived locally used to work at st margarets as a SRN and she often mentioned the sad sights of people/children who had been born with horns and tails...i think she found it very difficult to work there and did not stay long...this would most likely have been in the late 40s...does anyone know exactly what if anything is left of the hospital?

lyn
Lyn horns and tails ??
 

ade

master brummie
This guy has a few videos on YouTube from inside St Margarets this video is the abandoned isolation ward
 

JohnO

master brummie
yes john this is what i was told...such were some deformities...
Heartbreakingly so, in that great catalogue of ‘things that ought not to be, but sadly are’ - “horns and tails” fall into the relatively minor league of possible misfortunes. I have been told stories by a previous generation of mental health staff that I cannot bring myself to think of, let alone repeat.
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
i think most of us unknown to our parents must have gone into old/derilict buildings and played on bombs pecks etc i know i did...anyway my daughter and myself drove past st margarets the other day and i was telling her how we have a thread for it...it was only then that she owned up to climbing over the fence a few times with some mates and went into the old buildings..this would be about 14 years back when she was in seniors at perry beeches school and being chased off by security...she said that they saw lots of metal bunk beds minus the mattresses and a room that looked like it could have been used for electric shock treatment which of course was used back in the day...they were told stories(this could of course just be old wives tales) that bodies could be in the lake and said they found it very spooky...couldnt really tell her she should not have entered as i used to do the same thing myself :rolleyes:

lyn
 

Redit

New Member
Hi been wanting to had something to this thread for quite a while I grew up on Berwick Grove up the top from the cat and fiddle anyway my mom's friend forget her name used to work at the hospital and I remember quite a few stories about the place apparently one room was concreted up because patients used to kill themselves if they were placed into this room we used to hear the siren when we used to play outside and no matter where you were an adult would call you in to there house straight away and lock the doors. There were two or three cases when a patient had drowned in the lake or had hung themselves from the tall trees that lined the long drive up to the hospital. There was a murder in the underpass that ran under the queslett road a girl or young woman was stabbed to death by one of the patients in the underpass and no one would dare use it from then on so the council filled it in. It was a very eerie place to be around my friends back garden used to back onto the grounds and his fence/walk a the top of his garden was riddled with barbed wire more to keep people in than stop them climbing over to get into the grounds can still remember hearing that eerie siren going off and knowing someone had escaped again
 

ade

master brummie
I think one of the saddest things about St Margaret's and many institutions like it is most of the elderly patients should not have been in there in the first place. In the early forties and fifties no one really knew about dementia and Alzheimer's and people were just diagnosed as been mentally ill and treated accordingly. I've worked in aged care for a long time now, and to be fair in our special care unit you can see why they thought this way. Thank goodness this now a recognised illness and people are given the dignity of a proper caring environment rather than been locked in a room for 24hrs a day and left alone.
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
ade that is a very sensible post you have just made....think most of us would agree with you ..thanks goodness some things have changed for the better

lyn
 
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burbngrips

New Member
I think one of the saddest things about St Margaret's and many institutions like it is most of the elderly patients should not have been in there in the first place. In the early forties and fifties no one really knew about dementia and Alzheimer's and people were just diagnosed as been mentally ill and treated accordingly. I've worked in aged care for a long time now, and to be fair in our special care unit you can see why they thought this way. Thank goodness this now a recognised illness and people are given the dignity of a proper caring environment rather than been locked in a room for 24hrs a day and left alone.
Unfortunately, the same can be said for the children that spent their lives at St Margarets,My sister was born mentally and physically handicapped in 1965 a year younger than me,i think from 1967 onwards she spent her life at St Margarets until it closed down,Then got moved to a unit in Pelsall.Every age group was catered for at St Margarets, In todays society a child born mentally and physically handicapped would be sat at home with their family,Looking back i now realise that medically, hospital was the best place for my sister,we used to go and visit my sister every week when i was very young,i have fond vivid memories of playing with the other children when on a visit,it was like a family environment there.St Margarets was labelled many different things over it's lifetime,but for me it was just a hospital.
 
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