Forhill House, Lea End Road, Bromsgrove

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Date:1945 - 1987 (c.)

Description:Barrow Cadbury, as a keen observer of remand work in the city, believed that the city needed a new type of remand home or observation centre where children could be observed for longer periods of time than was usual so that more comprehensive reports about them could be given to the courts. To this end, he gifted Birmingham a property called Leahyrst in Blackwell in 1942 in memory of his wife, Geraldine.

The idea was that the home would be used more as an opportunity to try to work out why the child’s behaviours had arisen rather than as a place of punishment.

Unfortunately, planning permission could not be obtained and so Leahyrst was sold in 1945. The money made from the sale was used to buy Forhill (pronounced 'forrull'), a large country house two miles south of Birmingham.

The city already had two remand homes for boys at this time – the Moseley Road Remand Home and Fircroft Remand Home, Bournville. During the Second World War, children had been evacuated from the Moseley Road Remand Home into temporary accommodation on Bell Heath and then into Fircroft College. While younger boys returned to the Moseley Road Remand Home, Forhill was intended for boys aged over 12 and thus, in 1945, all the Fircroft boys were moved into it.

Fircroft had already been developing the experimental observation approach favoured by Cadbury and so this continued at Forhill.

Forhill had accommodation for 50 boys aged 12 to 17.

The 1969 Children and Young Persons Act replaced children’s remand homes with observation and assessment centres, which would ‘provide facilities on both a residential and a day attendance basis for children remanded or subject to interim orders by the courts, and will advise on the treatment of children in care, so that decisions can be soundly based on the best possible diagnosis of the child’s needs and circumstances.’ [‘Children in Trouble’, Home Office, 1968.]

In 1981, the number of beds at Forhill was reduced from 50 down to 40.

In 1986, Brian Owen retired as principal of Forhill and was replaced by Percy Lea (previously principal of Tennal).

In 1987, Forhill House closed largely because of the amount of money needed to renovate the buildings. The remand function was moved to ‘Woodsong’ a new remand unit at St John’s, Erdington. The buildings of Forhill have since been demolished.

Image: Forhill House c 1950.
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.