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St philips rc boys home, edgbaston

anne bernadette

proper brummie kid
My father, aged 6 and his elder brother aged 8 were at the above home between 1934- 1941/2 (after their father died from a WW1 illness and his wife was left with 5 children). Does anyone remember what it was like or have photos of it? Who paid for the children to go there? My grandmother was poverty striken at the time so she couldn't have afforded the fees. Thanks for any help given.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
A quick search on Google gives the following that might be of help…
Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul.
In 1895 this order established a night-refuge, servants' home and registry office at St. Anthony's Home, Bath Street. (fn. 68) In c. 1909 and c. 1911 the girls' home here was replaced by new ones opened in Vicarage Road, Edgbaston, and Gravelly Hill, Erdington. The sisters left in central Birmingham were engaged in general parochial work. (fn. 69) They moved to Shadwell Street in c. 1911, though the night shelter in Bath Street remained open for some years. (fn. 70) By 1954 the Shadwell Street and Vicarage Road houses were closed, but there were Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Philip's boys' home, Edgbaston, and at 33, Princip Street, where they managed a working-girls' hostel. The sisters have also conducted the Oratory girls' school since 1919. (fn. 71)
https://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22978

St Philips Roman Catholic Boys Home, 17 Westbourne Road, Edgbaston

Best wishes, Peter
 

anne bernadette

proper brummie kid
Thank you Peter. I had seen that little bit of information- my father was a very active member of the local SVP society for all of his life. I am hoping someone might have photos or personal memories of the home- just to expand on an area of my Dad's early life I know very little about. I notice the footnote states extra information from the Diocese archivist, so I may be able to track down records there.
thanks once again- it was great to get a reply so quickly!
 
H

Humph3

Guest
Hi,

I was sent to St. Philip's House in 1956 with my brother after the death of my father. My mother was, at the time going to visit relatives in Kenya and so she felt it necesarry to find temporary accommodation for us at the home and since she knew the Sister Superior from her school days, it was so arranged for us to go there on a short term basis.

My mother, however returned to England after a couple of months and Sister Joseph(Superior), who was also the headteacher of the Oratory School, offered my mother a teaching job there which she took readily because of her financial situation. This meant that we, my brother and I, had to stay on at the home for the next five and a half years.

My mother had to pay for us to stay at the home, and reading her diary's of the time, she would send money to the home monthly. Did we like it there? No, I hated being away from home, but at least after some months there, we were allowed to travel home to Sutton Coldfield on some weekends. Most of the boys came from distant places and didn't go home until holiday times.

Remembering some of the things we got up to, I believe the sisters must have had a difficult time keeping some of the boys under control. I found it a difficult time in my life and though there were some fun times, we were very regimented, having to walk to school in a line with a sister watching at the back of us younger ones. We weren't allowed to stay for school meals so had to walk back for lunch and being about a mile there and back we walked about four miles each day in all weathers.

The home was very large, you can see the size of it if you go onto Google Earth. We slept in dormitories of varying sizes from two beds to seven or eight beds. Our sheets were changed regularly and the place, with the boys help was kept very clean. We had meals in a very large dining room we called the 'ref'' and if the food was not to our liking we tried to off-load it to someone else on the same table or throw it out of the window when it was open in the summer otherwise you were expected to clean your plate by the end of the meal, like it or not. Most of my memories of the home are either bad ones or ones where we got into mischief.

If there are any questions you would like to ask, I will gladly answer them, though the times your father was at the home may have been a little different to the period I was there.

Best wishes
Humph
 

anne bernadette

proper brummie kid
Dear Humph

Thank you so much for your reply, I was delighted to hear from you.
It's quite uncanny because yesterday I visited my Uncle who went to the boys home with my father, and we were talking about his experiences a little more.
He said there were about 40 pupils in 6 dorms. As my father was only 6yrs old and he was 8yrs when they were sent there, they went to separate dorms and even ate at separate tables- he never once shared a table with his brother in all the years he was there. The only time he saw him was every morning when he had to help my father wash his sheets in cold water as he had wet the bed. It breaks my heart to think of them - and you in such a harsh environment, and yet some of the family thought they were lucky to be getting a good education. Sister Joseph was in charge - (as in your day) and Sister Gabriel was at the Infant school at the Oratory, which my father attended to start with.
Once a month they were allowed to go home for lunch, they went to church, walked home (Harborne) had lunch with their family (Mum, 2 sisters and a younger brother) then walked back to the boys home. They never went home in the first year of their stay.
Every one else had a months holiday in the summer, and as you say they went home, many a long distance, but my father and his brother only went home for 2 weeks, again to do with money I think, perhaps my Grandma couldn't afford to feed them for that long, the other 2 they had to go on holiday with the nuns......talk about no escape.
We also talked again about who had paid for them to go. I wonder if you could tell me how much the fees were? ( Although you went later it would be interesting to know).
I will show your reply to my Uncle next time I see him- I am sure he will be interested to read about your experiences, even if it was some time later than his stay.
With many thanks once again.
Anne
 

CARTON

New Member
Hello Anne Bernadette,
I was at St. Philip's House for nearly 4 years in the 1950's, my mother worked away and my grandmother was struggling to look after me, I have no father to speak of and we had been living in very deprived conditions in Nechells, from memory it cost about £3 p.w. for me to be there. I have to say that generally I didn't enjoy the experience although I believe that the nuns felt they were doing their best, I have lots of memories most of them bad, however, from time to time we did have some fun. We put plays on which I quite enjoyed and had endless games of football when the weather permitted, the negatives that spring to mind were the food which I hated, the sisters took a pretty hard line and it stayed in front of you until it was eaten(or you could dispose of it in some way) Midweek early morning mass in the chapel at which I was generally half asleep, although I didn't mind going off to the Oratory for mass, I did on reflection miss my mother very much which I suppose, affected my mood, the nuns were extemely kind to us but in their own way, Sister Joseph could be paticularly fierce to the point where she smashed a plate over my head on one occassion, one benefit I believe was that I was exposed to boys from different social backgrounds and cultures which I believe benefitted me in later life. I could go on at length and should you want to know more pleaswe let me know.
Best Wishes, Patrick
 

Lizy barnes

master brummie
Well what an eye opener this thread is. I went to the Oratory I&J school ,and i always thought the young boys who boarded at St phillips were very posh as they were all so well dressed i do not know if after a time it was just for paying boarders ,but i do remember some boys in our class that lived there being of Polish parents . Well in comparison to us they looked very posh .
 

CARTON

New Member
Hello Lizy
Well the answer is that some were posh and others like myself came from difficult backgrounds, I attended the Oratory school 1957 to 1960 with other boys from St Philips, we did have some Polish and Hungarian boys as you remember, I remember Mr. Barrett quite well and Miss Robson.
We were all encouraged by the nuns at St Philips to be well turned out, lots of ironing and mending our clothes which I supposed made us all look the same.
 

Lizy barnes

master brummie
When did it close down as i never attended the Oratory Senior school as it closed down the year before i was to move on ,and i then had to attend Follett Osler Secondry school as i was one of ten i my parents couldn't afford to send us to the next catholic school. So once a week Father Michael or Father Geoffery would come to our school for R.E .
 

CARTON

New Member
Hello Lizy
I left the Oratory school about 1961/62 and it was still operating as a senior school then, I dont think the teachers there thought that I was going to turn out academically, so the obvious solution was to go and get a job. I don't know how long St. Philips house continued as a boys home after that but the nuns with their wing headresses seem as if they are from another century now. At the time I didn't realise it but I guess all the St. Philip's boys must have been there as a result of some family crisis, I know that the Hungarian ones were there due to the situation in their own country, although I left Birmingham many years ago whenever I go back Edgbaston has hardly changed whereas, Ladywood and Nechells have all but disappeared.
 

Bushbaby

master brummie
Hi,

I was sent to St. Philip's House in 1956 with my brother after the death of my father. My mother was, at the time going to visit relatives in Kenya and so she felt it necesarry to find temporary accommodation for us at the home and since she knew the Sister Superior from her school days, it was so arranged for us to go there on a short term basis.

My mother, however returned to England after a couple of months and Sister Joseph(Superior), who was also the headteacher of the Oratory School, offered my mother a teaching job there which she took readily because of her financial situation. This meant that we, my brother and I, had to stay on at the home for the next five and a half years.

My mother had to pay for us to stay at the home, and reading her diary's of the time, she would send money to the home monthly. Did we like it there? No, I hated being away from home, but at least after some months there, we were allowed to travel home to Sutton Coldfield on some weekends. Most of the boys came from distant places and didn't go home until holiday times.

Remembering some of the things we got up to, I believe the sisters must have had a difficult time keeping some of the boys under control. I found it a difficult time in my life and though there were some fun times, we were very regimented, having to walk to school in a line with a sister watching at the back of us younger ones. We weren't allowed to stay for school meals so had to walk back for lunch and being about a mile there and back we walked about four miles each day in all weathers.

The home was very large, you can see the size of it if you go onto Google Earth. We slept in dormitories of varying sizes from two beds to seven or eight beds. Our sheets were changed regularly and the place, with the boys help was kept very clean. We had meals in a very large dining room we called the 'ref'' and if the food was not to our liking we tried to off-load it to someone else on the same table or throw it out of the window when it was open in the summer otherwise you were expected to clean your plate by the end of the meal, like it or not. Most of my memories of the home are either bad ones or ones where we got into mischief.

If there are any questions you would like to ask, I will gladly answer them, though the times your father was at the home may have been a little different to the period I was there.

Best wishes
Humph
Dear Humph.... I attended the Oratory junior and seniors.. and i left there in 1960 to start work.. in junior school i was in a mrs ellis class and i remember a boy called jonathan who had a brother.called humphrey.... we then were in the same class again a welsh teacher called mr bobbett.. it would be nice to hear from you..
 

johnny082

knowlegable brummie
My memories of the Cottage homes goes back to the late 30s/early 40s. I was not a resident there but lived just off the Slade Road. I used to walk up Fentham Road with my mother as we travelled to Erdington for shopping. Very often the children would be almost marching coming from or going to the Home. My mother used to say they were children who had no parents and I remember I used to feel so sorry for them. I suppose they used to be in groups of about twenty, mostly in their black rubber mackintoshes, souwesters and wellingtons. Very often their 'guardians' sounded very strict which made me feel even more sorry for them.
 
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