Bridgeburn Road, Weoley Castle

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Date:1953 - 1993 (c.)

Description:The children's home on Bridgeburn Road opened in a purpose-built house for eight children in 1953 on the newly built Woodcock Hill housing estate.

The first houseparents were Mr and Mrs Godfrey who remained at Bridgeburn Road until 1966.

The home was part of a programme of new children’s homes, each built on newly developing housing estates, which were called family group homes or scattered homes – a move away from the larger children’s homes favoured in the first half of the twentieth century.

These family group homes were designed to be a small ‘family’ unit in a house that looked very much like any other. The first of these homes was completed in 1951, and a further 11, one of which was Bridgeburn Road, were built in the following decade.

Roundlea Road, on the same estate, opened at the same time. Both homes were designed to accommodate eight children. They were designed so that houseparents (generally a married couple) would live on site, with, if they had any, their own children.

One woman's memories of her time living in Bridgeburn Road from the mid 1950s until the early 1960s:
“I was collected from Pebblemill House by Mr Godfrey in his black ford car, to live at 8 Bridgeburn Road, Northfield where Mr and Mrs Godfrey were the houseparents. It was a much smaller home with only eight children. It was known as a family home and blended in with the rest of the estate. I must have settled in quite quickly and we called Mr and Mrs Godfrey Mum and Dad. It was explained to me that this would be like living in a proper family and we were to treat each other like brothers and sisters. I had no problem with that at all as I liked the idea. The home was for eight children but Mum was always being asked to take another child and usually there were at least ten children.
"Mr Godfrey worked as an accountant and went out to work each day while Mrs Godfrey managed the day to day running of the home together with an assistant housemother, a cook and a cleaner. The house was always nice and airy and well kept and we all had our jobs to do according to our ages. The children were of different ages from two to sixteen years, the time when you had to leave. There was a girl who was two months older that me so we used to do things together and were in the same class at school. As we grew older we helped Mum look after the younger ones which I enjoyed. Mum used to take us to town to buy our clothes at Wilkinson and Riddel and shoes from Samuels in Wrottesley street, and we would be treated to lunch at BHS. It was wonderful.
"There were five bedrooms (one for boys one for girls, a sick room, the assistant’s room and Mum and Dad’s bedroom) two bathrooms, an upstairs loo, Mum and Dad’s sitting room, a large dining room/lounge, a kitchen, a pantry, a laundry, a cloakroom, an outside loo, coalhouse and large brick built store. Dad managed the large garden back and front and it was here that I learnt about gardening. We grew vegetables, fruit and roses – Dad’s favourite flowers. He used to play with us as well.
"We were taken out regularly in the car – a large Morris Oxford by now- to Sutton Park, the Lickey and Clent hills, Bewdley or some other places in the country. We had lovely times having picnics and playing games. Dad was a football referee and I often went with him to matches. If it was raining I would help him to dry the car in the garage he had erected on the large drive. We went to church on Sunday mornings and came back to a lovely lunch. Dad also used to take us to the local Senneleys Park on Sunday afternoons to give Mum a rest after the busy time preparing lunch. One such time he took us tobogganing in the deep snow. We always had a good time on bonfire night. Mum made toffee apples and baked potatoes and the neighbours often came to watch the fireworks in the field at the back of the house. One year a spark set all the fireworks off at once. What a grand display it was.
"School holidays were spent mostly picnicking at the bluebell woods, or at the ‘rezza’ both in Bartley Green. We also had a bike we shared. I was often sent to Harborne on the bike to buy the fresh fish for Saturday lunch. I also had roller skates. Seaside holidays were brilliant. Even though sometimes we slept on camp beds in church halls or schools we had a great time. We were always treated to a ‘knickerbocker glory’ (the highlight of the holiday) and one year Mum won a lot of prizes for us at the bingo stalls at the fair. Some of the places we went to were Blackpool, Weymouth, Tenby seaside, Tenby on a farm, Gt Yarmouth and Rhyl. Imagine taking ten children on the train!
"Christmases were always good. Mum was given money for presents but she always added more to give us good presents. The house was decorated and the tree had chocolate decorations hanging on it. After Christmas we each chose a chocolate. That way Mum made sure we didn’t pinch them beforehand. We were taken out and given presents by ‘uncles and aunts’ belonging to The Loyal Order of The Moose, possibly based in Sutton. We also went to pantomimes and parties arranged by organisations like the Post Office."

Bridgeburn Road closed in 1993, partly because, according to the Birmingham Post at the time, it was being under-used.

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Image: Bridgeburn Road children's home in 1955.
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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.

If you have any further information about this children's home or photographs of the building you would like to share with the project, please contact gudrun.limbrick@birmingham.gov.uk