Acorn Grove Children's Home, Ladywood

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Date:1971 - 1999 (c.)

Description:In 1970, Ladywood was a Redevelopment Area and, to make way for the new development, many of the old streets had been demolished. Garbett Street was one such street which no longer existed by the end of 1970.

A new street in Ladywood was built partly over the old route of Garbett Street and partly over the foundations and cellars of houses which stood there.

The Children’s Committee acquired land on the new street to build a working boys’ hostel in the same style as the other new hostels which were already being built by the Council.

The new street was named Acorn Grove and the new hostel opened in 1971.

An edited extract from an oral history interview with a man who was in Acorn Grove in 1971 for six months:

“They sent me to Acorn Grove, Ladywood which was not so much a children’s home, it was just a home for kids who had been at the approved school or got into trouble and for whatever reason they can’t stay at home. It was kids that didn’t want to be there, they were a bit uncontrollable. It was a lot rougher than a children’s home.

“It was actually two maisonettes stuck together - it just looked like a big house from the outside. It didn’t look any different to next door but the difference was it was that it was like two of the houses but actually with one front door.

“Everybody was over sixteen years of age so it wasn’t really a children’s home. I went to work from there. There weren’t any real rules other than the fact that you just had to be in before ten o’clock at night and that was it, you were left to yourselves. Some of them might have been in children’s homes when they were younger as well, I mean we never really discussed it. But as soon as I got there, you know we all gelled. I can only think of there ever being the six of us.

“We had our own rooms in that house - that was alright but little - just enough room for a bed. They weren’t big rooms but we all got on because we were all pretty much all same way, for different reasons.

“They opened bank accounts for you and whatever money you earned had to go straight into the bank and they used to allow you so much of it a week.

“It wasn’t a big home and it was, it was run just as a stop gap. We were there to fend for ourselves and we were allowed to do so as long as we were in by ten o’clock at night and that was it. It was like a hostel, that’s what it was it was like.”

In 1979, Acorn Grove was a working children’s home for 8 boys. In 1986, it remained a working children’s home. In 1989, the number of children it could accommodate had been increased to 12.

As a children's home, it is believed that Acorn Grove closed in the late 1990s. In 2000, the building was converted into offices.

Image: The building photographed in 2010.
Source: This history was compiled by the Birmingham Children's Homes Project, an initiative to explore Birmingham City Council-run children’s homes between 1949 and 1990.