Private schools in Acocks Green

 

 

The first private school we are aware of was a Catholic boys school at Acocks Green House in the early 1820s. It was mentioned in an article in November 1822 in the Morning Post.

 

There were a surprising number of private schools in Acocks Green from the 1860s onwards. Some lasted only a short time, others went on for many years. The amount of information we have varies from simple directory entries to pupil memories. We would welcome any additional information or photographs.

Directory entries

Private schools in Acocks Green from 1860 to 1970, as listed in directories. Please note, we have not looked in every year, and it is known that some schools were there despite not having a directory entry at the time. There is separate additional information for Eastbourne House, the Convent school, St Mary's Church of England school, and Wellesbourne. The information is listed in the order of earliest date of appearance, with subsequent dates and variations within the entry. Any additional Information would be accepted gratefully.

 

Bywater, Mrs Martha, ladies boarding school:

1868 and 1872, listed at The Gothics, Warwick Road 1873 and 1880 as a ladies’ school

 

Dickson, Anne and Emma (Misses), ladies boarding school:

1868 and 1872, listed as Westbourne Hill House as a ladies’ school 1873, 1876, 1880, at the Warwick Road in another 1880 directory, listed as Dixon with Anne, Emma and Lucy (Misses) as a ladies’ school at Riversdale, Station Road 1883, and as Dickson in 1884 and 1886 at the same address (see also Young below). Founded 1853?

 

Butler, Arthur, commercial school, Foxhill Villas, 1873, Butler, Rev. Arthur B.A. LL.B collegiate school, Broad Lane 1876, as LL.D at the same address in 1880

 

Cooke, Albert, commercial school, Alpha House 1873

 

Jones, Miss Kate, preparatory school, Douglas Villa 1873

 

Morgan, Miss, preparatory school for young gentlemen, Allandale 1873, Morgan, Eliza (Miss), boarding school, Victoria Road 1876, Morgan, Miss, preparatory school for young gentlemen 1880, and in another 1880 directory Morgan, Eliza (Miss), boarding school, Allandale, Sherbourne Road, Simpson Mrs Frank Hampson, boys school, Allandale, Sherbourne Avenue, Sherbourne Road 1883, Turner, Albert Kirk, gentlemen’s school, Allandale, Sherbourne Avenue, Sherbourne Road 1884 and 1886, Hampson-Simpson, Mrs Georgina Eliza, ladies school, Sherbourne Road 1888, 1890, 1892, 1900, Hampson-Simpson, Mrs Georgina Eliza, boys school, Allandale Sherbourne Road 1903, 1905, 1910, 1915

 

Wilde, Mrs, Ladies school 1873, Wilde, Mary (Mrs), ladies school, Ormonde House, Warwick Road 1876, Wilding, Mary (Mrs), ladies school, Ormonde House, Warwick Road 1880, Martin, Agnes (Mrs) ladies school, Warwick Road 1884, listed as Ormonde House, Warwick Road 1886, Martin, Agnes (Mrs), ladies school, Ormond House, Dudley Park Road 1888, 1890, 1892

 

Preparatory school, Fern Villa Broad Road
Established 1879. Miss Fanny Duval
"receives a limited number of day pupils, boys and girls, to instruct in
the ordinary branches of education combined with sound religious training.
References to the Vicar and other parents of pupils". (notes by Mary Smith)

 

Kimpton, I, ladies school 1880

 

Whitehouse, Elizabeth (Miss), ladies school, Laurel Villas, Broad Lane 1883

 

Boucher, Miss Maria, ladies college, Dudley Park Road, listed at Sherbourne Road 1886, 1888. Known as Edendale collegiate school?

 

Crotty, Joseph Bradshaw, gentlemen’s school, Wellesbourne College, Warwick Road 1888, 1890, Sunderland, Oswald, private school, Wellesbourne House, Warwick Road 1896, Sunderland, Oswald, L.C.P. Wellesbourne House 1900, 1905, 1910, Whitechurch, Edward Cooper, A.L.P., Wellesbourne House 1915, Dixon, Herbert, Wellesbourne House, Warwick Road 1921, 1925, numbered as 1155 in 1930, 1935, E.C. Whitechurch, L.C.P. headmaster 1940, H.D. Crickmay, B.A. Head Master, 1945, 1950

 

Manton, Elizabeth Ann (Mrs), ladies school, Botteville Road 1888

 

Young, Elizabeth (Mrs), ladies school, Station Road 1888 (may be continuation of Dickson), 1890, listed as Cumberland House, Station Road 1892, 1896, 1900, 1905, as a girls school 1910, listed at 55 Station Road 1915, 1921, 1925, McCallum, Miss Elsie (girls) 55 Station Road 1930, 1935, listed as a boarding house 1936 

 

Shearman, Miss Louisa, collegiate school, Eversfield, Clifton Road 1896, listed as girls 1900

 

Phillips, Mrs Beatrice (day girls), Broad Road 1904-7, listed as a private school 1908 

 

Long, Mrs Helen Maude, A.L.C.M., 3 Oxford Road 1910

 

Catholic church and school of the Sacred Heart and Holy Souls, Warwick Road, 1912,, 1915, 1920,1925, Convent of Our Lady of Compassion, ladies school 1147 and 1149 Warwick Road, 1930, 1935, 1940, 1945 (see separate pages)

 

Marshall, Misses N. and M., private school (Eastbourne House) 1910, 1915, listed at Warwick Road 1921, 1925, 1930, Eastbourne House school, 111 Yardley Road (F.B. Moynihan, B.A., principal) 1950, listed as boys and girls 1954, 1960, 1965, 1970/1. See also reference under Davis and the additional separate information below.

 

Cofton House School (Miss Kathleen Cross, Head mistress), 40 Westfield Road 1925, 1928

 

Pearson, Miss Imelda, 53 Station Road (preparatory and girls) 1930, Commercial school: The Hurst school (Miss Imelda Pearson, Principal), expert individual tuition, 53 Station Road 1935, 1940, 1945, now takes boys, girls, prep 1950, 1954, 1960

 

Davis, Mrs Myra E., M.A., 5 Dudley Park Road (Girls, Boys, Prep) 1935, Miss Betty Duncan, L.R.A.M, A.R.C.M., M.R.S.T. private school 1936-9, Mrs Doris Westbury private school 1940-5, Winstear, Norman Kenneth, private school 1946, Eastbourne House school, F.B. Moynihan, principal 1947-8

 

Warwick Modern School (J.F. Hudson, B.Sc., principal) 1073 Warwick Road 1936-41, Churchill Citizens' Club 1942. See also our page.

 

Crosby Hall school (R.C.) (Very Rev. Canon B. Manion, M.A., principal) 1147/9 Warwick Road 1950, Rev. W.J. Moore, principal 1954, 1960, 1965, 1966-7 (See our Convent school pages)

 

 

The Convent school: see our pages

 

St Mary's Church of England school: see our pages

 

 

Eastbourne House school

The following are memories of a pupil of Eastbourne House school (no name is given). It began where the square building is on the Warwick Road before Mallard Close in a former doctor's surgery. It then moved to Dudley Park road for a while, then after the war Frank Moynihan re-opened it in September 1948 at 111 Yardley Road, one of the original mansions along there. Sadly, it closed in 2007:

 

When we first moved to Birmingham Acocks Green was still known as the village, although development had started. I am talking about pre-World War II. We lived in Hazelwood Road and behind us was still some green field area on the other side of Victoria Road, but development of the vast municipal estates was under way.

 

The no. 44 tram terminus from Albert St had its terminus at what is now the island opposite Quiksave (the Green, ed.). In the V formed by the junction of Shirley and Westley Roads was an old meadow, with a right-of-way across it, and an ancient farm house in the centre. Shortly after our arrival this meadow was taken over for the building of the library, the Warwick Cinema and the re-building of the public house.

 

The old lady who lived in the house was rumoured to be the last of the Acocks family. She died a few weeks after being re-housed. The house itself collapsed when the ivy in which it was enclosed was being removed! (As far as we know, Elizabeth Orsborn was not an Acock, and she lived another three years, ed.)

 

The number 1A bus (which is now the no. 1) started at the same stop as now, but carried on along Broad St. to Bull St., instead of going only to Five Ways.

Between Dudley Park Road and Station Road there were a number of privately owned shops, as well as the Post Office, which was at the Dudley Park Road end. There were - a small electricians, to which it was my job, on the way to afternoon school, to deliver and collect the wet batteries for the wireless - a wool shop, Wells the newsagents and bookshop, Wrensons grocers, a bank, a very 'up-market' sweet shop, a shoe shop, and one or two others which I cannot recall (oh, a haberdashers), the row ending with the Picture House.

 

If you wonder how the no. 11 bus managed to get round the corner into Station Road, study the pavement and you will see the line of the old pavement. On the far side of Station Road were Knight and Soden, the butchers, who delivered in the traditional butchers' high cart, with a high stepping pony, Masons grocers, Boots, a dress shop, a large shoe shop, an ironmongers of the old style (if one wanted half a dozen nails they were counted out and wrapped in a screw of paper, for example), the Maypole Dairy, and several other assorted shops up to the front garden wall (oh, I forgot the bicycle shop and the shoe repairers) of Eastbourne House.

 

On the opposite side, a little farther up were the Catholic church, a convent and the Convent School. Then there was a lane which led up to the buildings and playing fields of Wellesbourne House boys school - the playing fields came through to Shirley Road, where the newer shops are now sited. It was a fairly large school - the uniform was navy jacket with red piping around the edges, grey flannel trousers, ditto shorts for the small boys, grey socks and navy and red skull caps. Then there was the Red Lion public house, which stood back from the pavement, with a two tier horse and dog trough in front of it. This was opposite Eastbourne House.

 

Then there were the little telephone exchange, an opticians and a tiny sweet shop. One went up four steps and entered something like a cave, full of the kind of things school children would buy - toffee in trays which had to be broken up with the toffee hammer, aniseed balls and peppermint balls (twenty a penny!) (Needless to say these were not sucked in school). Gobstoppers and the halfpenny box - a great assortment here! The proprietor was a little old lady who would emerge from a door at the back of the shop and wield the toffee hammer with great dexterity. She had grey hair screwed up into a tight bun and I never saw her in anything else but black: high neck, wrist length sleeves, tight waisted and ankle length  - a true late Victorian figure.

 

After that, not in this order though, Miss Lines shop - stationery, toys, wool crepe paper etc. in fact all sorts of bric-a brac, Manchester House, ladies and childrens outfitters, Coxhills cake and bakery shop, a jewellers, a chemist, Lawtons, gents outfitters, another butchers, the electricity showrooms (Birmingham had its own electricity department then) then there was a lane way to the back of the shops, followed by a bank, and Pitt, the greengrocers, who also delivered one's order. It was a fascinating shop, full of exciting smells. I remember sacks of bird seed and dog biscuits, and nuts on the shop floor, with their mouths rolled back (the sacks), and purloining a biscuit or two to sample the taste!

 

Now to the school. I enjoyed school at Eastbourne House. In retrospect, not only were we well taught but there was also discipline.

 

There were only sixty-odd of us then, because of the amount of space available, with a waiting list. Old Girls would enter their girls there, which was quite a lot.

Our school uniform, with which we always had to wear hat and gloves, was a navy and blue gym tunic, with navy blue and gold tie and hat band, navy blue coats and macs, and navy blue hat and black shoes. In cold weather we would wear navy blue jumpers over the blouses. Stockings were black, too.

 

The most seniors were allowed to wear more sophisticated, coloured stockings!

In the summer, panama hats and navy blazers, with the school badge on the breast pocket. If our parents so desired, in the summer we could wear short sleeved blue dresses with white collars and cuffs and long white socks.

 

This was, as you will have gathered, an all-age girls school, with a few boys in the juniors. These usually ended up in places like King Edwards (which was then in New Street, where the Odeon is now (no longer, ed.)), Wellesbourne House, or Solihull school.

 

The youngest juniors attended in the mornings only - 9.30 to 12.30, with their morning break at 10.30. By the age of seven-odd they came all day - 9.30 - 12.30, with the same morning break, and 2.30 - 4.00 in the afternoon. Roads were much safer then, and also they would always be collected.

 

Senior hours, from age ten upwards were 9.30 - 12.30, with fifteen minutes break at 10.45, and 2.00 -4.30 pm. Also, as we got older there was homework every evening - plenty of it. Half day was Wednesday, and no school on Saturdays.

 

Apart from Miss Nancy Marshall, who ran the junior school, and Miss May Marshall the senior school (the Principals), there was a staff of five, and a visiting French mistress every afternoon. On Tuesdays, after morning break, in a respectable crocodile, we went to a local hall for gym.

 

As there were not enough of us for team games, we had tennis on a local tennis court, Mondays and Thursdays in the evenings, in the light months, Wednesday afternoons in the dark months. In the winter months we played in our gym tunics but in summer all white was de rigueur.

 

Our education was broad based. English grammar was a subject, study of the Bible - Old and New Testaments especially the book in that year's public exams, the three branches of maths - viz. arithmetic (which for the older juniors included mental arithmetic), geometry and algebra, geography, which included knowing the location of places and countries, history - right back to the Roman invasion, which the juniors also tackled. I never got past the Stuarts at school, as due to financial curcumstances I had to leave when age fourteen, but have read up the rest since.

 

Then there was chemistry, botany, physics, some fairly elementary geology, essay and letter writing, literature, such as Shakespeare, Scott, Dickens and Stevenson and French. We could not drop any subject at any age, but by leaving school early I did get out of tackling Chaucer!

 

We were not allowed to get awway with untidy work, bad writing or bad spelling.

What we were being taught we were expected to learn, and our parents expected it too. There was no question of an irate parent descending on the school. If anything appeared to be going wrong, one side or the other would make an appointment to discuss the matter.

 

Discipline was strict and did us no harm. For example, as well as no talking in class, we were not allowed to talk on the stairs or run around in the building. We were expected to be polite, well mannered and to speak good English using correct grammar.

 

I remember that the young juniors had copy books to learn 'proper' writing and then later moved on to print, which appears to be the reverse of today's practice. They all had to learn cursive writing first. Also, for a couple of years in the younger seniors, we were taught basic sewing, viz. hemming, seaming, button holing, darning and a few simple embroidery stitches.

 

If considered suitable, we took the public examination of that day, Junior Oxford or Cambridge, School Certificate and Matriculation. (Pupils from the smaller schools went every day, all day, for a week, to the Great Hall at the University).

 

No one was allowed to pick and choose between subjects, we had to take the whole syllabus for these examinations. When I was thirteen, rather young, I took the Junior Oxford and passed in nine subjects out of ten. Everybody in Birmingham failed botany and there was a row about it, because the principal questions revolved round the dissection of, description of, and drawing of, a specimen flower with which each of us we be provided an example. It turned out to be the very much unopened bud of a fairly uncommon South African flower. No one could do this!

 

We also had all subject exams at the end of each summer term.

 

Holidays - one month at Christmas and Easter and two months for the summer, but only one day for half-term. However, the seniors were given holiday tasks, which were not for rushing through in the last few days, but a couple of papers to be sent in every week.

 

Eastbourne House was a substantial Victorian Gothic, large double-fronted house with a coach house to one side, the type of house well-heeled city gents built for themselves in the country in the mid-nineteenth century. Acocks Green would have been a true village then. There was a double-ended drive, and of course a front garden. The school extension was built on, to one side of the house, which was the Misses Marshall's residence as well. Behind the house and extension was a large garden - very large, with a large lawn also, where a garden party was held every year for the seniors and parents.

 

In one corner of the garden was a small playground for the juniors; we also were able to use the garden paths.

 

As well as the school extension, we used some rooms in the house and were not therefore allowed to wear outdoor shoes in school, but black pumps instead. As our entrance was actually the door to the cloakroom as well we had no excuses for not changing.

 

There were two cups, of silver, the tennis cup, for a knock-out competition during the summer term, and the Semper Fidelis cup, voted for by the Seniors, intended for the Senior who, in the eyes of her peers, had brought most credit to the school during the previous year.

 

There was one prize giving a year, at the end of the summer term. These were always books - quite expensive books, I realised later. Doing a bit of bragging, fro three years I walked away with the top of form prize and the music prize. I remember also, to  my astonishment, being awarded a prize for my handwriting! It was a very handsome copy of David Copperfield.

 

I forgot to mention that Miss Nancy Marshall, L.R.A.M., who gve piano lessons, and entered us who had these lessons, for the appropriate L.R.A.M. examinations. Somewhere or other I have several certificates from that august body, which used to hold exams in the Imperial Hotel.

 

Some names I have dredged from my elderly memory are Betty Belcher, Joan, Diana and Carol Wimbush, Dorothy Clayton. Maud and Lucy Cattell, Patricia Timins, Mary Wilkins, Mary Wilkes, Nora Beckett, Muriel Hobson, Joan Barnwell, Daphne Cole, Buddug Williams (Welsh, from Bithig), Joan Todd, Marion Hawley, Delia Hall, Katherine Tracey, Joan Carter, Katherine St. George, Constance and Joyce Steele, Monica Sumatra.

 

Joyce tragically died from blood poisoning, following a mosquito bite.

 

Monica had a strange background. Born into a Hindu family - presumably in Sumatra, as one of twins, she was abandoned. Miss Mellor (who lived in Victoria Road), a Methodist missionary in the village, found the baby, adpoted her, had her christened in the mission chapel, and on her retirement brought the little girl back to England with her. Miss Mellor's dearest hope was that Monica would follow her into the mission field.

 

Pupils did not come from Acocks Green only, but from Yardley, Hall Green, Olton and Solihull as well.

 

The basic aim of the school was to turn out well educated, well spoken, ladies - in the true sense of that often abused word - at ease in and able to mix with all levels of society.

 

Miss May married Nora beckett's father during the Christmas holidays of 1933-4. She had intended to continue teaching, but unfortunately during the same holidays she sustained a severe stroke, and was, of course, unable to return.

 

Next term we managed with a supply teacher but the atmosphere was not the same. As I had to leave at the end of that term, I am not sure what happened exactly after that but I know that a bit later Miss Nancy sold the house and school and moved to Solihull. Shortly after that the school was moved to what I always thought to be a rather unsuitable house in Dudley Park Road, somewhat off the beaten track, as well, where your father found it. I was distressed to discover that the school had deteriorated to such an extent and am delighted that your father and you have been able to revive it so successfully.

 

Acocks Green without Eastbourne house School is unthinkable, even though in its modern form it is not quite the school I attended!

 

More memories of Eastbourne House school

When I joined Eastbourne House School in 1928 it was a thriving school taking girls from  age 5 to when they left at 16 or 17, and small boys. Several of these went on to Solihull  School and one joined the diplomatic service and his name was mentioned in the paper some years ago.


The school was run by the two Miss Marshalls. Nancy Marshall, the elder, was in charge of the junior school which occupied the ground floor of a large house on Warwick Road, opposite what is now Safeways. May Marshall, the younger sister was in charge of the senior school which was based on the first floor and this had a library with some fascinating old books which the older girls were allowed to borrow. Mrs. Marshall looked after the domestic arrangements with the help of a maid or maids and provided a few lunches for the girls who could not possibly get home. The house had a very nice garden and I am not sure, but I think there was a tennis court. The pupils were supposed to use the outside lavatories, but as I was a frail, sickly child I was given permission to use the lavatory upstairs if the weather was bad.


Soon after I joined the school, so it would be something like 1930, a display of dancing was put on in the hall at the corner of Arden Road. This was for some charity, probably the Childrens Hospital which was being extended about that time. Some quite well known, well off, people sent their daughters to the school and I remember one family named "Salt" who lived at Yardley. They had quite a number of children and employed a nurse to look after them. When the weather was fine the nurse used to come in a horse and trap to collect the daughters who were at Eastbourne House. She drove all along Yardley Road, Station Road and Warwick Road but there was hardly any traffic about. Except for the seniors playing tennis I do not think that games were top priority at that time, but once a week, we were marched to the hall at the corner of Arden Road where Mr. Landsdown took us for P.T. with clubs and taught us the rudiments of ballroom dancing.

 

Mr. Landsdown was a well known local character and ran an acadamy of dancing at Small Heath. He was rather old fashioned and told us that the woman's hand must always rest on top of the man's hand and not be gripped tightly. He organised a large display of dancing at the Town Hall and the girls from Eastbourne House took part.

 

Miss May Marshall married Mr. Jack Becket as his third wife and came to live at your present property and continued to teach, but the marriage only lasted a short time and they were divorced. Old Mrs. Marshall was a very stately lady and wore a velvet ribbon round her neck. There was another sister and a brother who came to stay from time to time. Norah Becket attended the school at the time of her Father's marriage to Miss May and we had a collection to buy a tea service as a wedding present and the new Mrs. Becket had some of us to a sort of garden party at your property.


When Malvern Hall School opened several parents who lived in Solihull took their daughters away from Eastbourne House and as the two Miss Marshalls were getting older and the property was due for development, they sold to a Mr. & Mrs. Davies. I believe that Mr. Davies had a degree of some description. They moved the school to Dudley Park Road taking some of the girls from Acocks Green Convent which also closed about the same time. The people living in the house adjoining the school were none too pleased and used to knock the wall if there was a lot of noise. Mrs. Davies used to give a Christmas Party each year, one for the juniors and one for the seniors. They employed a nice young teacher named Miss Payne. At this time the Rev. Kelly from St.Mary's used to come on a Monday morning to take prayers.


The Davies's must have been there at the time of the Abdication as Mrs. Davies told the senior girls to ask her if there was anything they did not understand about it.


Miss Duncan then took over with her Mother to look after domestic arrangements.
She certainly put on one display in the garden and I do not know whether it was during her time or when the Davies's were there but we used to go to some playing fields between Fox Hollies Road and Shirley Road to play netball and we also went to Small Heath Park to play tennis as well as using courts at the back of your property and some down Elmdon Road.

 

During this time Radio Broadcasting for schools came in and to my parents' horror instead of doing real lessons, as they called them, we were allowed to listen to certain things on the radio. We were also allowed to listen to the Queen launching the liner "Queen Mary".

 

I left Eastbourne House in July 1939 but my sister who had joined in 1935 stayed on until 1940 or 1941 by which time I am afraid the school had become rather run down so our parents took her away and sent her to Olton Convent which they considered the nearest good girls school. I am very glad that Eastbourne House recovered and returned to its original concept of a good general education and good manners and consideration for other people, which is what the two Miss Marshalls taught.

 

Wellesbourne House school - 1885/1966 (mostly from notes by the late Mary Smith)
Wellesbourne House School - a private day school for boys was founded in
1885 and catered for over 200 boys from the age of 8. The founder is believed
 to be Mr J B Crotty. Joseph Bradshaw Crotty was taken to court in January 1883 by his company, the Stirchley Nail Company, over the proceeds from share transactions. The case was withdrawn after witness statements. Maybe he decided to leave the world of commerce after that experience!


The school stood in its own 5 acre grounds and included a good playing field.
The location of the school was Warwick Road, behind the shops and old Catholic
School, and so had easy access to buses and trains - an essential in its earlier days. It soon established for itself a sound local reputation. The school was very keen on sports and the playing field stretched down behind the Warwick Road shops to near the Midland Bank.


The school curriculum was clearly defined and the emphasis was on developing
a keen spirit of competition both in work and games between the three school houses - Sunderland, Dixon and Whitchurch (named after three of the early headmasters). A high standard of discipline was maintained - and woe betide anyone who overstepped the guidelines. Boys were taught to doff caps and when travelling on a bus to go inside - not on top - to give seats to ladies and girls - and the penalty for failing to comply was the cane. Amateur dramatics also played a large part in the school activities and productions of Shakespeare and Gilbert & Sullivan were regularly given.


The school also had a very nice garden and if the Head wanted a quiet talk
with a boy (or vice versa) he was invited to 'take a walk in the garden'. There is an Old Boys Association and the 81st Annual Dinner was held on 18 May 1985 - it celebrated the Centenary of the Foundation of the School - and was attended by some 130+ Old Boys whose ages ranged from 30/32 to 90. The oldest 'old boy' attending was Mr ? who left the school in 1917 (68 years ago); he well remembered his days at Wellesbourne. Also attending was Mr Dennis Crickmay who was the Head from 1940 until the closure of the school in 1966. Listening to the 'Old Boys' talking it soon became apparent that Wellesbourne was a happy school, remembered with great affection, but with a strict discipline.