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Winson Green Mental Hospital And Rubery Hill Asylum

Rob Derry

master brummie
A very sad discovery in my family history was the treatment of Betsy Jones, sister of my great grandad Frank Jones. She was deemed to be a "congenital idiot" and placed in the Winson Green mental hospital in 1878, then the new Rubery Hill Asylum in 1882. On becoming an inmate her records state that she was "said to be deaf and dumb, destroys clothing, restless, violent and noisy, thin but seems healthy and has an intelligent expression but can't articulate". She was put in the asylum aged 9 and died at Rubery in 1910. At that time the education committee were responsible for identifying such children notifying the "mental deficiencies committee" of those who appeared incapable of benefiting from special schools or classes and the authorities would then step in. Thank God we are not Victorians! Forgotten to history but not by us.

Lady Penelope

master brummie
Rob, just happened on your story - how very sad. No wonder the poor child destroyed clothing and was restless and violent, she must have been so frustrated in her own closed-in world. In those days nobody tried to communicate with deaf people did they? Imagine not knowing any words so you can't think can you? You can't escape into the world of books or have friends or know that somebody loves you. It doesn't bear thinking about. I will certainly remember Betsy too.

Rob Derry

master brummie
She was in the end reunited with her family as she is buried with Thomas and Louisa Jones in Witton cemetery .. I did try to find it once but searched for an hour and couldn't :(


That's such sad story Rob. Did you ask at the office at Witton for directions? They sent me a small map but they have large ones (for their own use only) and can give you directions. The groundsmen were helpful too!