Beechholme - A Children's Village, published by the Banstead History Research GroupBeechholme Memories from the 1950s

A collection of memories or stories relating to events, or people who resided at
Beechholme (Kensington and Chelsea District School) during the 1950s.

If you recognize a name or would like to add your own memories or story please contact us here

You can also order our book Beechholme – A Children's Village.

 

 

Added
to site
Person at
Beechholme
Period Details of contribution — Click links to view full stories.
Mar 2016 Dawn Bunce 1949-1957 Dawn has sent in memories of Pine Cottage and Miss Hoare.
Nov 2016 Alan Chapple 1957-1962 Alan has sent us an update (story temporarily withdrawn at Alan's request. 29 Nov 2016)
Mar 2015 Tony Attwood 1946-1956 Tony has sent in lots of his memories which include names of other children.
Mar
2015
Connie
Turner
late 1950s
Jo Lane, Connie's daughter sent us EIGHTEEN photographs from Connie's collection.
Sep
2013
Aileen
Odey
1950s
Aileen sent us memories, of friends and pranks, and how her father took her and her sister to Nigeria.
Oct
2012
Linda
Morey
1950s
Linda sent us memories, including a robbery, and a photo which shows an unknown fried.
Jul
2012
Ida
Beech
early 1950s
Ida sent us memories and photos incuding one of 'Laurel'.
Feb
2012
Frank
Heard
mid 1950s
Frank supplied many of the names of children in a group photo of 'The Maple tribe' taken whilst on holiday in Rhyl.
Jul
2011
Roger
Armstrong
mid 1950s
Roger Armstrong tells us what happened next after he left Beechholme.
Jul
2011
Susan
Gibbs
late 1950s
Susan is the daughter of Frank and Freda Gibbs who ran Fir in the late 1950s and has sent in several photos from one of her parents' albums.
Nov
2009
Peter
Farmer
late 1950s
Peter Farmer sent us his memories of the mid to late 50's along with a group photo.
Mar
2009
Penny
Wright
mid 1950s Penny writes about her memories of Beechholme school and how the school impacted her life.
Feb
2009
John
Ireland
1950s
John sent in a great photo of the ':Maple tribe' on holiday in Wales as well as a story about one of his great escapes!
Feb
2009
Roger
Armstrong
mid 1950s
Roger Armstrong has new information, having acquired his records from the London Metropolitan Archives. Roger was at Beechholme in the mid 1950s.
Aug
2008
James
Daly
1945 -
1956
James Daly wrote about his time at Beechholme . James lists a few of the names he recalls from that time.
Jul
2008
Gillian
Stile
1947 -
1961
Report on Gillian's visit to the UK this month, when she met with Lewis Wood and Ralph Maciejewski of the Banstead History Research Group.
Jan
2008
June
Brown
1951 -
1964
June (Acacia and Hazel) spotted herself in one of our pictures and has clear memories of her thirteen years at Beechholme.
Nov
2007
Clive
Parish
late 1950s
Clive Parish (Kerria) sent in memories and photos from the late fifties and early sixties. Clive was at Beechholme with his three sisters Christine, Carol and Gwendoline Parish.
Jun
2007
Gillian
Stile
1947 -
1961
Gillian Stile Los nee Stile (Acacia) sent in her memories from Beechholme. Gillian still visits ex- Beechholmers all over the world.
Jun
2007
Susan
Hillen
early
1950s
Susan Darocha nee Hillen (Thistle) sent in her memories from the early 1950's Sue also sent in several photos...
Mar
2007
Frank
Heard
1950s Frank (Maple) wrote about his many many memories and names We visited Frank at his home and he kept us entertained for about four hours with lots of funny and mischievous stories from his days at Beechholme.
Mar
2007
Clive
Artingstall
mid to
late 50s
Clive sent a variety of memories of Fir and Acacia. Clive also includes a different version of the Beechholme song.
Jan
2007
Frank
Gibbs
1950s Thanks to Mrs Leese (nee Gibbs) for her short update on Frank and Freda Gibbs. Fred was Housemaster of Fir during the 1950's.
Jan
2007
Roger
Armstrong
mid 1950s
Roger Armstrong recalls people in the photographs sent in by Jean Middleton.
Dec
2006
Bruce
Grant
late 50s
to 60s
Looking for any information on Miss Barker who later became Mrs Day.
Bruce sent us his memories of life at Beechholme .
Nov
2006
Roger
Armstrong
mid 1950s
Roger Armstrong recalls memories from Beechholme in the mid 1950s.

Back to list.


Back to list.
Public contribution to BHRGMarch 2017 memories of Pine Cottage by Dawn Bunce (now Wright).

Is there anybody out there who attended Beecholme from 1949 to 1957? I was at Pine cottage, and I remember it was run by a Miss Hoare who had a black and white cat called Frisky. My best friend at the time was a girl called Kathleen who lived next door in what was known as the Catholic House; she had a sister called Winnie. 

My teacher at the school was Miss Every, and the headmaster was Mr. Kelly. I used to sit next to a boy called Christopher in class and was friends with a boy called Edward who had a brother called Kenny. I think they were Welsh. I also remember looking after a tiny tot called Frank Cousins at Pine cottage.

Miss M Hoare Retirement Beechholme 1967 My name then was Dawn Bunce and I would be very pleased to hear from anybody who was at Pine cottage at this time or had connections with this. My memory regarding actual names (surnames especially) is not so good although I can remember daily events there so vividly.

It would be lovely to finally hear from someone who experienced life at Beecholme like me, and I regret not having been in touch much earlier. I would be interested in hearing more stories.

Dawn Wright (Bunce)

In response, Gillion Stile-Los sent us a photo, and wrote :

I remember the name Dawn Bunce but didn't really know her. At the time of her arrival Pine cottage was known as Cottage 3 and the Catholic house she is referring to is Almond. I didn't know Almond was considered a Catholic house until a couple of years ago when Michael Somers said it was when he lived in that house. My house, Acacia was next door to Almond. The only Miss Hoare I remember was the Matron, she took over that position when Miss Lodge retired probably in 49/50.

Public contribution to BHRG March 2015 memories of Jasmine and others from Tony Attwood.

My story starts when I was four years old when my parents had a bit of a tiff and my mother walked out. At that time social services pounced as they had been watching because we were under-nourished and very poorly kept. I remember an ambulance, and being wrapped in a big red blanket and taken away. That would have been 1946 and I was at Beechholme for the next ten years. It was like being in the army i.e. really strict. The beds had to be made all the same or they would come and strip them for you to make again.

I was in a couple of the houses when I was small, mind you I still am. The house mistress was Peggy Cullen - she ruled with a rod of iron, don't mess with her, you won't win. There was Mrs Kilbane a lovely woman, and lastly a young woman called Rita who was man mad.

I remember James Daly and people in Jasmine house were Joyce, Tony and Bobby Green, Marlene Jones, Brenda Baker and Shirley Collier.

Holiday time for two weeks was always Walton-on- the-Naze, Norfolk way somewhere. There was always plenty of sea, sand and ice cream. Our pocket money was a pittance, 2d a week, up 1d every year.  The coaches were all the same green. There was a time when there was an outbreak of mumps and I landed in Cuddington hospital, I think that's in Carshalton.  At the top boys’ end was the gym come cinema, which also served as a dance hall as well as the stage for pantos.  I was a choir boy for quite a few years. Father Butterworth was the priest. At the boys’ end were the gardens with all the green houses which were in the corner. The main building housed all the Offices and behind that were the stores, a big laundry, next to that the tailors where all our repairs were done, an upholstery shop, then the cobblers just to the side the church.  

Every house in Beechholme had its own playground at the back of their home.  There were a couple of big bunkers or air-raids as we called them, full of old bikes and prams, we all played in them. At the Drift Bridge end was the infirmary and it was a hospital as well, if it was something they couldn't handle you went outside to a main hospital. I can only remember some names Marlene Jones, horse mad. Ronnie Graves nickname (bulldog), Shirley Collier she had ginger hair, and Brenda Baker. There were good times and bad times, if you were bad you knew what was to come THE CANE. I’ve felt the long handled brush that we used to scrub backs with quite a few times. A few years later one of my brothers came but he did not know me and it took a little while before he believed me. There were three of us but one went to another home. The time I was there I saw my parents and my other brother and sister twice in the ten years. I still have memory flashes of the homes. My brother was Raymond Attwood and he was five years younger than me, but now he’s with his maker at peace. If you did not have anyone two visit you on Sunday (fortnighty), I mean no visits at all from anyone they would find someone from outside. Me, I got two spinsters who lived in Sutton; they were so funny but lovely at the same time.

Epsom race days was an enjoyable time, leaning on the fence you could nearly touch the coaches and buses and there was plenty of waving to the people. On Sunday we used to go for an afternoon walk to Banstead or Nork. We used to stop at the little shop and spend some pennies, four sweets for 1d. We used to see who could buy the most, even swap. Then on through Nork and then down towards Drift Bridge, one big circle.

During the summer times we had picnics at different places, Box Hill I remember and there were visits to museums. The Pullman train which was always used on race days passed.

Evening time about 5pm we all were into Jennings at school with Billy Bunter, and of course the series called Journey into space. Sunday at around midday, Family Favourites and Archie Andrews. Jasmine house did not have TV so what we did was to climb onto the outside of one of the houses about three up from Jasmine and climb onto the dining room window sill. We pressed our faces to the window even when it was cold, then the window would steam up. Oh, we had some real naughty times, late evening when the staff retired to their staff room; there were four boys and four girls and we played a game called dark nights, we paired off then we turned the light off for a while then when they were turned on we moved to the next, we had to listen for the staff door opening in case we got caught. Those were the nights of bliss.

There are so many little things that pop into your head that you’d forgotten. In Kerria cottage someone asked the name of the head. I think it was Mr Evans.

If anyone remembers me please please mail the webmaster.

Frank Heard and I went to the same school, Sutton West secondary boys school and it would be great to get in touch with him if he would like it. I have many memories for example Mr Law who never missed the tips of your fingers with the cane.

Tony Attwood

Public contribution to BHRG

March 2015 - Memories and pictures from Connie Turner's collection sent in by Jo Lane.

My mum worked at Beechholme, she was Corinne Turner (became Lane) in 1965. When she married she had yellow jaundice, which the doctor told her was just pre-wedding nerves.

As a child I loved hearing her stories about Beechholme. She died twelve years ago of cancer and I would be very interested to know if anybody remembered her. We think she was a house mother, possibly of Beech House from 1958. She would have been known as Connie(Turner). She was from Balham.

We don't remember any of the children's names but there was a deaf blind girl, whose mother had had German measles during her pregnancy.

One of the stories that mum told was about a Christmas when she had to buy the presents, it was the year that Slinky Toys became very popular. She overheard the children talking about their presents and then she heard from the recipent of the slinky "but that's not fair, all I got was a bit of old metal!"

Best wishes
Jo Lane

Jo also sent in a number of photos shown below. If you happen to find one which includes you, please let us know at the Banstead History Research Group.

Note from webmaster: In response to Jo's contribution,Gillian Los wrote - I recognize, Drico and Noula, they were of Greek Cypriot descent, Jamey was Jady Hatib, June is June Lethouer, her sister Maureen and I hung out together as we were closer in age than the rest of the children of Beech house. When I left Beechholme in February of 1961, I gave my black kitty cat, Babs, to June to take care of.

Margaret Dyke was my housemother when I first moved to Beech House in the Summer of 1959, when she left Connie Turner became our housemother.

Great photos. Gillian


Andrico and Yeonoulla at Tudor Lodge.

Beryl with children




Tony and Jamey at Selsey

Raymond, Linda, Theresa, Noulla and Terry

Jamey (Jady Hatib or maybe Jadi Khatib)

Beverley, June (Lethouer) and Yuonne

Linda, June and Noulla

Valerie, Linda, Milly, Carol and Theresa

Christine


Margaret Dykes and Milly

Jimmy, Tony and Billy at Margate

(L-R) Billy, Noulla, Gwen, Tony, Frances, Louis, Chrissy,
Linda, Jenny, Jimmy, Brian and Julia

Christopher Smith in the Junior Boys football team
Do you recognise yourself or some else from Beechholme
in the late 1950s/early 1960s?

If so contact us at the
Banstead History Research Group


Back to list.

Public contribution to BHRG
Eddu and Aileen Odey  Eddu aged twelve and Aileen aged nine.

September 2013 - Memories from Aileen Odey (Pine Cottage)

My sister and I arrived at Beechholme in 1950 or 51 and stayed until December 1958. Our names were Eddu and Aileen Odey. I remember Mr Banner very well, and Miss Hall.

I remember quite a few names. The Caravans; Theresa, Michael and Rosemary ( may have been a Perkins). Michael was a bit of a bully and I remember Rosemary had given my sister Eddu a black eye. Then Stephen Akintabubu and my friend Yvonne Frazik (not too sure of the spelling). I remember Mr Banner and the song we used to sing (we stand and cheer (4) til Mr Banner says sit down. I think I was in Pine house, not too sure there, but Miss Hall was in charge. I also remember another song: egg and bacon we don't see, we get sawdust in our tea, that's why we're gradually fading away............

I have loads of memories really, climbing on the perimeter wall as we watched the queen and others go to the races, or playing tie string on the knockers of doors up in Nork and pulling on them and running for dear life when they opened their doors. We ran into the woods that adjoined the fields. Can't remember though whose apple tree we had climbed and couldn't get down fast enough when the owner appeared. I fell and broke my right arm. Left handed till today; too impatient to await its recovery.

Eddu Odey  Eddu outside the gate of the local
Secondary Modern.

Beechholme was heaven compared to the life we found in Nigeria in 1959 when my dad took us there in January 1959, and you know there was the Civil war in Nigeria seven years later so that was a fight for life. My dad hadn't told us we were not going back so we never did say 'bye' to friends. I would welcome hearing from Stephen and Yvonne. When we got to Nigeria, my dad put me in another boarding school again (a convent this time)! Haha!

I stayed in Nigeria but my sister returned to the UK. She seems to remember the pantomimes and sports days as her best times. I was strengthened by my experience in Beechholme (going there at 2 years of age), and the Biafran war later. I can safely say I succeeded very well in the end.

I am 65 now and often look back on those years, believe or not with fondness (gone through worse over the years).

Cheers. Lovely remembering it all again. I would sit and tell my own children about Beechholme. They couldn't really comprehend it all, being sent away so early and yet finding such fun.

Aileen


Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG
Linda Morey and friend - Beechholme girls.  
Linda Morey and friend possibly taken at Hastings, during the 1950s.
October 2012 - Photo and memories from Linda Morey (now Lynda Garb)

My name is Linda Morey I lived in Beechholme childrens home from 1952 to 1962. I'm on the right in this picture and I would like to know who the other little girl is. Funny old-fashioned swim suits in those days.

I have never been back to the Children's home, I left in 1962 and was placed in a girls' hostel in Slough Buckinghamshire; my two brothers were separated from me. Michael who was younger stayed on at the home for a few more years, then he moved to London. He still lives in the UK.

Christopher went to lived in Wellington New Zealand, where he married a stunning lady called Robyn. Sadly he passed away about five years ago. I never did get to see him again after the children's home as I live in Johannesburg, South Africa .

It all started like this, my two brothers and I were left in a back kitchen in our parents' house in a terraced house in London somewhere. I remembered wearing my Dad's army jacket to keep warm, and my eldest brother wearing his army cap. We were abandoned by our mother; I was 5 years old and my youngest brother 3 years old. Chris the eldest brother was 7 years old. I think we slept in the house for a few days by ourselves.

After that we were sent to a place for a few months in the countryside, then moved again to Prison in Maidstone Kent. It had bars up at all the windows. The first day I arrived I was made to strip in this big bathroom which had rows of white metal baths and get into the bath in front of all the other kids. I don't know how long we stayed at the prison, we then moved to Beechholme in Banstead. I stayed in two Houses, the second called Kerria which was next to the Gym. I can't remember the name of the first one, only that it was on the right hand side of the road, same side as the administration block and the church.

I can remember that lane by the railway station, it was a very long walk home at night by myself from the station. I was always so frightened of someone who was called Beaky the bummer.

I had a friend called Lawrence, all the kids called him Professor Lawrence. One day we were playing hide and seek in the woods near the Banstead shops, I got into a hut that was turned on its side and I found a big sack with money and jewellery inside. We rushed to the butcher's shop and he called the police. The butcher told us there had been robbery a few nights before. Always wondered if the butcher got a reward, will never know.

I see from Peter Eliot's website that I was in Babes in the Wood with one or two others mentioned on this website.

Linda Morey.


Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG
Beechholme - Laurel taken from the Sick bay end  
Laurel taken from the Sick bay end
July 2012 - Photos and memories from Ida Waugh nee Beech.

I was born in Islington in July 1940 so I was about eleven when I went to Beechholme.

I was in Beechholme I believe in the early 1950s and left in summer 1955 at the age of fifteen. I lived in Beech Cottage and by coincidence, my maiden name was also Beech; the house mothers were Miss Wakefield and Miss Johnson. I went to Picquets Way School in Banstead Village.

I remember Ma Coates as we all called her at that time. She was Housemother in Cedar next to Beech Cottage. My brother Tom Beech was in the one near the gym and ours was the only girls' cottage down the boys' side.
Both my brother and myself were confirmed in the church there. I remember I used to feel faint and had to sit out in the church porch sometimes.
I would love to hear from anyone; I remember one girl called Eileen Taylor who was a Cockney girl.

Myself and another girl, whose name I can't remember used to go to tea with three ladies who had three cats and a lovely garden in the village. I often wonder who that girl was or even the ladies we called aunties.

After I left Beechholme, after a while, I worked as a nursery assistant in a Kentish Town Childrens' Home. Some children went on to Beechholme from there when they reached five years old. They were aged from a few weeks old to five and I often wonder what became of them. I left there in 1959 and got married.

I have so many more stories so please get in touch if you remember me or my brother.

Ida Waugh nee Beech.

Terry, Ida and Raymond at Beechholme


Photograph probably taken between 1955 and 1957 whilst on
a visit to Beechholme. It shows Terry, Ida and Raymond.
Terry's surname may have been Rickerby. Ida says "sorry I do not know the names of the two little boys; it was an open day. Terry knew them. I went out with him at Beechholme and also at the Shirley school. He was a friend of my brother Tom".

Edith Mullins and Ida Beech.

Edith Mullins and Ida Beech in 1959.

I was 19 and I got engaged that week and got married in September 1959.

I was born on 2/1/1940.

FOLLOW UP: 13 August 2012 after Ida applied for her file from the LMA

I have received a print out of my file from the London Metropolitan Archives. It shows that I was received into care in September 1953, first placed at Woodvale, then transferred to Beechholme on the 15th of September 1953. I remained there until 28th of May 1955 when I went to live with my sister in Staffordshire until I returned home to my parents in London in December 1955 on a trial period. I was discharged from care on the 2nd January 1958 aged 18yrs. The reason I was taken into care was because my poor school attendance indicated to the authorities that things were not going well at home.

Well it is such a big file and so heavy. It took me 6 hours at least to read it. I had to take it to bed to read as was so interesting I could not put it down. I felt I was reading a book and finished reading it at 2am.

Best regards

Ida.

NOTE FROM LNW: Ida is one of many who have found their Beechholme records at the LMA, and often they answer questions that have been unanswered for a very long time. I would encourage you to apply for your records but please be aware that not all have survived, and some that have, simply show a list of codes which need to be interpreted. If you are particularly nervous about what might be uncovered, the LMA have a specialist who can go through the file with you. They are very helpful so do contact them here.


Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG
Susan Gibbs 
July 2011 - Photos from the Gibbs' album sent in by Susan Gibbs.

I came across your website while surfing the net and find it very interesting, particularly as it enlightens me to some of my childhood years.

My parents, Frank and Freda Gibbs, were house mother and father of Fir Cottage during the late 1950's. I was born at Beecchhome (see photo) and had two older brothers, David and Colin.

My father passed away in 1990, however, my mother is still with us (Jan 2008)and has photos and memories that may be of interest to you. I have attached some photos of the pages in her albums. There are many more photos but as they were at another school, Ashford Residential School, before going to Beechholme the photos are mixed. The ones I have attached I am sure were from Beechholme days but there are also more.

Cheers,
Sue

Note from webmaster - Most of Susan's photos are of individuals, most named but some not. They can be viewed on Peter Eliot's site here. Just scroll down (quite a long way) to Fir Cottage.You will see that Michael Pinapfel has been able to add useful captions to several of the photos such as the example below.

 
Boy standing on right with glasses is Peter Armstrong, boy sitting down in middle is Albert Barnes, boy standing behind him is Charlie O'brian, sitting in front of Peter is Onig Bogi.

Photograph probably taken 1958/59 at the back of Fir cottage between house and outside toilet.

By the look of the bikes it was summer time and a Saturday which was when they were allowed to use the bikes.

Michael Pinapfel


Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG November 2009 - Memories from Peter Farmer.

I came across your site the other day whilst Googling an orphanage for an elderly neighbour.

I went to Beechholme with my younger brother Eric in 1955, I was nine years old at that time, my elder brother Graham having arrived the day before.

We lived in Ash House, which I think was the first or second house on the right as you went through the big gates. Mr.and Mrs.Davies who were both in the Salvation Amy were the house parents. Mrs.Davies was a wonderful singer and when she walked around the kitchen singing it made kitchen chores not so unpleasant. They were lovely people!

 
The boy  top left,with his arms folded is Alan Wells, next to him (surname only) is Knowles and next to him, is Stephen Akintibubo. Further along the row the tall boy with blond hair is Keith Aldridge and in the same row, at the end with the black hair is Jan Kusak from Poland.   In the front row, the little blond on the left is Mr.and Mrs.Davies' daughter and two up from her is her little sister. Directly above them are the Powell brothers, from the left,Tommy, Johnny and Bobby. They were mine and my brother Eric's best mates.  Mr Davies is the gentleman on the left of the picture, right at the back with glasses on , that is my brother Graham in front of him.  If you go along the back row you'll see the tall lady , that's Mrs.Davies.

UPDATE Jan 2013 - Billy Lucas born 1944 wrote to us saying that he was in Beechholme Pine Cottage in the late 40 s - 50 s and would dearly like to hear any news of his best friend at the home, Stephen Akintibubo (pictured above). Christine Kent our professional genealogist traced him within 48 hours and the two are now in touch with each other again. The last time they saw each other was back in the early 1960s

That's isn't a badge on Graham's  T-shirt, he's holding up one of those tiny little photos they used to have in those days. The picture is of two girls he used to know; he always fancied himself as a bit of a ladies man!

Mr and Mrs Davies Houseparents   Beechholme
Mr and Mrs Davies>
I can remember of some of the lads that were in Ash House at the same time are the three Powell brothers (see picture above), two of whom were twins, Tommy and Johnny if my memory is right and Bobby. There was Ronnie Blattner and Henry Didham, who burnt his arm badly when a petrol pump caught fire.The pump was near the tailor's shop as I recall.

Mrs.Clegg was my teacher (I enjoyed those little nature walks) until I passed my 11+ exams. I was lucky enough to get into Salesian College at Battersea and commuted to there from Banstead for a year or so. In 1962 I thought about migrating to Australia and having made my mind up to do so I boarded M.V.Fairsky at Southampton docks on 22nd February 1963 sponsored by The Big Brother Movement. Quite an adventure for a sixteen year old. I lived mostly in Sydney, until just over 11years ago when I moved up to the Central Coast.

 It would be good to hear from anyone who was in Beechholme. Thanks for your site, I was on it for hours last night.

My brother, who has lived in New Zealand for the past 11 years, is coming over to Oz for a visit. I told him about the site, so he is going to bring some pictures of our days in Beechholme. I'll post them to you. 

Best regards Peter Farmer.....

Peter was as good as his word and his photos are shown below



Webmaster has Peter's contact details.

Beryl Simner Beechholme
Beryl Simner

Jan Cusak   Beechholme
Jan Cusak
Gillian Raynes Beechholme
Unknown, Gillian Raynes Beechholme
Alan Wells, unknown,Jan Cusak
Alan Wells, Unknown, Jan Cusak

Back to list

Public contribution to BHRGMarch 2009 - Memories from Penny Wright - but which house was she in?

Hello, I came across your website on Beechholme and after several weeks, have the inclination to add my little bit of information on myself and my few Beechholme memories:

In approximately 1952/53, ( was about 11 years old) myself and 5 brothers and one sister were all split up (apart from my 2 youngest brothers who stayed together) and sent to various Residential Homes. I was first sent to Ashford Residential School in Middx, (another story!) and then sent to Beechholme 1953/54. I seem to have quite a memory block, and I'm not even sure which Cottage I was in, and I sometimes get mixed up with the 2 homes.

I remember that I was terribly unhappy, at not only leaving my mother, but my brothers and sister as well. When you think of it, it was a terrible tragedy, the things that happened in those days. Forgive me if I mix up some events between Ashford and Banstead, but some things I do recall are:
Going on the bus past Banstead Downs, where we (the children) used to pass the 'Looney Bin' on the way to Sutton to Glastonbury Secondary School, where we were known as the 'Home kids'.
I recall scrumping for fruit in the orchard at the back of the home. Also, myself and several others managed to go outside and do some carol singing at the local houses.
I also recall going to Walton-on-the-Naze for a camping holiday. When I was 14 (in 1955) A teacher (can't recall her name) took myself and about six or eight other girls on a bicycle holiday for a week, and we went to various places - Bath was one of them, and we stayed in Youth Hostels. I was really happy doing that, and I've got some photos with the Teacher and some of the girls.

I also remember that I was forever running away, and myself and several girls (strange that I can't recall one child or friends names) managed to abscond for several days at a time! I think I was rebelling, and thank my lucky stars that on the last time I went 'awol', I recall Mr Banner (Yes, he's the only name I recall) hooked me round my neck with a walking-stick and said "Miss Wright, the next time you run away, you will go into a Borstal!" I obviously didn't run away after that, because I didn't go to a borstal!

I must say, that I think the traumas of childhood (it was bad at home before Beechholme due to my Father) and the homes did affect me, but 3 husbands and about 40 different addresses later, I've finally found some peace.

It seems strange seeing all the details that ex-inmates (!) have written and I will try to sort out the pictures for you as soon as I can.

Penny Wright.

 
Back to list

Public contribution to BHRGFebruary 2009 - Memories and 'Maple' photo from John Ireland.

I recently can across your site regarding Beechholme, and was surprised to see articles and stories from some of the children that were there at the same time as me.

I was in Maple house with Miss Sunderland whose name I once mispronounced as "Miss Thunderland" the resulting punishment was such that I never made that mistake again.

Beechholme kids on holiday in Wales
Unknown, Miss Sutherland, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown
David Gibbons, Jackie Howe, Janet Howe, unknown, Carol Hislop, John Ireland
John Martin, Terry Lackey, Rose Heard, unknown,Florrie Heard, Frank Heard
Tony Lackey, Ncky Fudugba, Anne Fudugba, Abigail Fudugba
(names supplied by Frank Heard).

I remember Gillian Stiles (who I did manage to meet up with after we had both left Beechholme) Frank Heard and his sisters, John Martin, Carol Hislop (I believe she had a brother), Nicky, Anne and Abigail Fudugba (not sure on this spelling) and of course many others.

I have attached a photo of the Maple house "Tribe" on holiday in Wales. I'm sitting behind Frank Heard, the boy with the bandaged leg on the right of the picture. If my memory serves me correct, this was caused by his leg being trapped between a tractor and mesh fence. Frank was like that; if something was falling, swinging or being thrown, you could bet that Frank would be the guy there to collect it.

I will try to put some of my recollections together for you. Unfortunately like so many others, it is the brutal and spiteful treatment that remains uppermost in one's mind, but also there were some times that still to this day, bring a smile, so I will endeavour to recount these times.

If you feel my stories would be of interest please do let me know.

John Ireland

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER -

I contacted John on the very same day and it turns out that he has a diary which he kept at the time, so there will be further memories to come......... If you can identify any of the individuals in the photo please mail the webmaster.

This is one of John's many stories:-

I was a fully paid up member of the Beechholme escape (sorry, I mean leaving without permission) team and on several occasions took it upon myself to go and visit family relatives around the country.

Most of these journey's were taken without any fear of the travelling, only the consequences of being returned to Beechholme which was of course was never in any doubt.

I have recounted below one of my journeys when trying to visit an aunt who lived in New Cross London, the details are from my diaries of the time.

Travelling without rail tickets I managed to get as far as Newcastle!  The name on the station board looked like New Cross to me as I never did pay attention during English)!   Once in Newcastle I thought I was in a different country and couldn't understand a word anyone said.  Iwas so hungry and cold that I "surrendered" to the nice lady that was cleaning the toilets and who in turn passed me on to a porter, and so I was passed on until eventually I finished up in the station master's office. He kindly offered, and I promptly ate, his whole stack of sandwiches (the look he gave me, I now recognise as - I only meant for you to eat one!), after which I was collected by the police and taken to the local police station, once again I was fed and given a Beano to read (I still have this).

All of these people I met after my "surrender" were so kind; this was however in stark contrast to the guy from welfare services who collected me and spent the whole journey back to Beechholme telling me the extent of the punishment that I could expect on my arrival back.

It was late when we arrived back at Beechholme, so you can imagine no one was happy to see me after having been woken from their sleep. I can remember going through the house to the dormitory on "tiptoes" which was more due to some dark shady member of staff having me by the scruff of the neck than me trying to be quiet. Later Miss McDermott crept in with some biscuits and a beaker of milk telling me not to make any crumbs and to hide the beaker. Bless her, she was a candle in a dark place.

Later the next day I was given the cane by I think (this hurts me more than it hurts you) Mr Dicker. I do remember that at no point was I asked where I was trying to get to or why. I had a story prepared that I had got lost on the way to school, so it's probably a good thing that I wasn't asked.

This was not my last time to leave "without permission" and as my reading improved I eventually started to arrive at my intended destinations, although not without first misreading and mixing Cardiff with Catford where my Grand Mother lived.  Once again I finished up in a part of the county that I thought was inhabited by foreigners but that's another even longer story....


Back to list

Public contribution to BHRGAugust 2008 - Memories from James Daly.

Greetings to you all

James Daly 2007Have just found your web site and that brought up many happy memories so will try and add to the story.

I was known as James (Pug) Daly born 7-10-1940 and I lived in Banstead School (Beechholme) from 1945-1956 then sent home ??

My younger brother and sisters also spent some time there, Keith, Carol and Yvonne. They went home earlier as far as I can remember.

Some of the staff that I recall are Raynor, Banner, Kelly (also his dog Rex) and Miss Nichols.

Some of the kids' names were Tony Sharp, Ivor Brinkman, Diane Willams, John Longa and Danny Green. We all were quarantined for a time with Polio but we all came good.

The things to do and the places that we went made for many happy days. Reading the letters on your site are very much as I recall.

I have no photos anymore - all lost on life's travels.

Best regards

James Daly

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER - James also provided his email and contact details and would also like to hear from anyone who remembers him. Please reply via the webmaster.

Back to list

GILLIAN STILE LOS VISITS BHRG

Gillian Stile Los
Gillian on the breezy Downs.
On Monday 21st July 2008, Gillian arrived at Banstead railway station on her two yearly trip from her home in California. Gillian spent her whole childhood at Beechholme and has kept in touch with many children she knew at the time. She travels extensively and spends a lot of time and effort visiting ex Beechholmers.

Gillian was met by Lewis Wood, your BHRG webmaster and Ralph Maciejewski, BHRG secretary. We had a very pleasant lunch at The Mint in Park Road. Ralph showed Gillian the draft of the new book and lots of photographs. Gillian's memory of Beechholme is pin sharp and she was able to describe all the locations in the photographs in great detail, often adding considerably to the information we already had.

After lunch, we drove past the memorial and the Woolpack, and the Waitrose Supermarket which Gillian remembered used to be the Village school. Further along Banstead High Street, we went past the church and further still Woolworths, where Gillian once worked.

Gillian and Ralph
Gillian and Ralph with the first draft copy
of the new book on Beechholme.
We crossed the Brighton Road - "much more traffic" remarked Gillian - and stopped in Nork. We walked along the parade of shops where Gillian reminisced over her trips to a small coffee shop, now no longer there.

We then drove along Fir Tree Road and up to Epsom downs where we had a fine view across the whole of London. The sun shone but as always, it was a little breezy.

We took Gillian to the new Epsom Downs train station which is now at the far end of a housing estate and considerably smaller that the nine platform station it used to be. After that we drove around the old Beechholme site noting several streets named after the original Beechholme houses.


Press 'Play'
Thank you Gillian for coming all this way to see us, and all your friends.

Gillian caught the 5.35pm train from Banstead station to Victoria but before she left she recorded this short message for all you Beechholmers out there.

............. So where are you all?

If you or your relatives spent any time at Beechholme, do write in and tell us about it. We very much like to hear from you, and if you wish, we may be able to put you in touch with others who were there at the same time.


Lewis Wood

Back to list

Public contribution to BHRGJanuary 2008 - Memories from June Brown.

Hi, My name is June Brown, I went to Beechholme at the age of 4 in 1951, I was in Acacia with Gillian Los (Styles), Miss Hawkins was the house parent.

June Brown 2007The first four years of my life were happy and my mother was a loving Mum, according to my Aunt Rose. I think that had something to do with how I turned out. Unfortunately she had a weak heart and having five children took its toll. She died during a Hysterectomy operation when she was three months pregnant with her sixth child. Then my dad had T.B. so had to go into a sanatorium. He refused to allow our mother's friends and relatives to take us so we landed up in Beechholme.

I was very lonely and lacked love and affection in Beechholme but at the same time I was cared for, fed and protected from harm. I vividly remember that first day, I was very scared, they took off my clothes, cut my hair and told me to stop crying or else! I ended my stay in Hazel House with the Simmons; they were strict and spiteful, I never heard from them once I left in 1964.

May 1958
My sisters Brenda and Barbara and brothers John and David also lived there, we were together on and off. The group photo was taken in May 1958 and my brother David is the boy behind the boy third from the left.

Like many others, I too remember getting my hair cut short, going to the dentist and being gassed when they pulled my teeth. I remember being in the sick bay, hiding the medication under my pillow because I didn't know how to swallow it and I liked being fussed over there and didn't want to go back to Acacia house.

I remember playing outside a lot, climbing fruit trees and eating hard apples and plums. I also had a job, arranging the flowers for the church, I had to pick them and I really enjoyed doing this, can still remember the smell of them and the pride I felt on Sundays. I sang in the Choir briefly, also was in the brownies at Beechholme, where I learnt to knit and got an award for having the nicest finger nails!

I remember jumping down the stairs at the infant school and badly spraining my ankle. Also going to the London Hospital to get checked for T.B as my dad had the disease. I remember getting my tonsils out, being very scared and alone at the hospital.

I helped to look after the younger children when I was 11 years on.

I remember Mr Banner. He was tall, good looking and cared for us, he listened very well. I remember Mrs Banner and her sweet baby who was born blind I think and died, I remember feeling very sad about it. I was also friends with Ann for a short time, I was quite jealous when she was adopted by the Banners, couldn't think why they didn't choose me! Ha, ha.

I have been looking through the Banstead history site and think I am in the House Parade 1962 picture, standing beside Yvonne McCarthy to the left. I would have been 14 then and I recognise my sad face, and big feet! Ha, ha. I would love to find Yvonne as we were quite good friends at Hazel house. She used to punch me on my upper arm when we had a disagreement!

NOTE FROM WEBMASTER - June and Yvonne are now in touch again thanks to this website, and hope to meet up again in Summer 2009.

June Brown second in from the left in 1962 I went to Stowlangtoft Hall in East Anglia when I left Beechholme, then went to Widbury Nursery in Ware, Herts to train as a nanny. Brenda (Rose) got married when she was 19, they immigrated to Canada. In 1967 her mother-in-law looked me up and asked me to consider coming to Canada to keep Brenda company. Although I wasn't close to Brenda I had a desire to get to know her again so when I finished my training I also immigrated here. Brenda's mother-in-law paid my way with my promise that I would stay for two years. I soon settled, met my husband and got married in 1970, we had four children and now have three grandchildren!

I often feel disconnected and out of place with society, having no roots.( I think having children of my own has helped me feel more grounded in life, I worked hard to give them the security that I lacked.)

When I left Beechholme, becoming a Nanny seemed the best route for me, I was following Brenda in a way. I have always been aware of children's rights and needs and have a strong desire to protect them from harm. It took some education and practise to learn how to do it right though, as I found myself being harsh at times! I have spent my life caring for children, making sure that their early years are happy ones.

John, David and June in 1998I think my experience in Beechholme taught me what not to do with children!!! I realize that the LCC did the best they could, having hundreds of displaced children to care for so I hold no grudges, in fact I am thankful to them for all the good things, like going to big parties put on be U.S. soldiers, sports days, pantomimes, talent shows, Sunday cakes and pocket money, to name a few!!

I have been trying to get my files from the London Archives but so far they cannot find them. I would love to see what was said about me in those early years.

I am now in touch with Gillian. Brenda, who is now Rose, and I live in Canada, John and David (see photo) are in England and Barbara is in Scotland. I am looking forward to getting a copy of the updated book when it is published as I already have the original Beechholme booklet.

Thank you so much. Sincerely, June Brown.

June also sent in the following photos.

Group at Colwyn Bay Group at Colwyn Bay             Tea in the garden at Lime Tea in the garden at Lime
 
Back to list

Public contribution to BHRGNov 2007 - Contact from Clive Parish received November 2007.

I would love to tell you a few stories of the home and also name a few of the people in some of the pictures. Clive parish aged 4 with Beechholme in the background.

The photograph of me shown on the right was taken on the playing fields at the home, when I had just arrived there.

I was taken into the home at the age of four years and I still do not know why my mother was unfit to keep the seven children; only three did not go into the home, one a baby boy, was adopted and the elder two remained at home. I and three of my sisters, Christine, Carol and Gwendoline were taken to the home direct from school one day. The girls spent a lot of time with foster parents in and out of Beechholme whilst I remained there till I was about 16 when I got a job with British Rail.

Unknown houseparent. Picture supplied by Clive Parish.Looking through the photographs on the BHRG site and Peter Eliot's website, I recognize some of the staff but I'm not sure of their names. I have a picture of one houseparent on a caravan holiday, and also two of the boys who were in my house which was at that time Kerria. The boys' names were, Henry Vaughan and Eugene Plange (spellings could be incorrect here). The house parent was a new one and I can't think of his name.

The picture was taken on holiday at Great Yarmouth Caravan Park; we were all catching eels there. I would have been around 10 so it was about 1962.

I knew a Brian Murphy, a Frank Merrit, a Dilly Brammer, a Tina Paige, and the Simmons, house parents in Hazel, as they were very very strict. Pete Mctavish took over from the Johnsons, Jean and Peter, when they left.

I remember Mr Kimber the barber, as he was more than rough and the only hair style he knew was the pudding basin style hence us boys looked stupid.

I remember spending a long time in the hospital wing as I had yellow jaundice for some time. I can remember this as if it were yesterday, as the dragons of nurses ate all my Easter eggs leaving me not one. The matron used to torment us kids with her dog.

Lumpy porridge we ate or went hungry. Corporal punishment was an every day occurrence if bad or not. Maybe the staff, some of them anyway, got a thrill out of the abuse they gave some of us kids.

I remember Mr Banner and his beloved rubber plant and his fireman hats too. One punishment was polishing them.

The female members of staff would get the male members of staff to give the punishment out: example: Aunty Joy Walker, in I think Larch or Acacia house told Mr Johnson when he came in I'd sworn at her. He did no more than pick up the metal hoover pipe and whack me with it so hard around the face, then grabbing me by the hair dragged me upstairs punched me in the face piked me up and threw me on the bed. I was cut and bruised all over. I remained in bed till late the next day so also had no tea, no breakfast, no dinner or supper the next day either. When my father came down at the weekend I was not allowed to see him as punishment. This is in my head like a magnet as this was just one of many beatings I took - this one only mild to what other things I endured and I can assure you I was not the only one to have this treatment.

The fact was that my not seeing my father was really to cover up what was going on. He was told I had been moved next door to 'Drake' (?) and we had all gone out for the day, to avoid him seeing the cuts and bruises. Others were told I had fallen down the stairs.

This form of abuse lasted many years until he left to take a new job at Throwley Road in Sutton, same type of position in a children's home.

I remember the beanstalk very well. This was our quick get away from any staff chasing us for whatever reasons.

Carol Parish. Picture is an extract from a group photo of Miss Walkers' Primary class b. Courtesy of Peter Eliot.The best memories were in fact holidays, as once away from the home they seemed to leave you alone and you got no beatings then.

My sister Gwendoline is included in Peter Eliots picture of Miss Walker's class b primary. She is the one in the middle of the three sitting alongside Evelyn on the left and Elaine on the right.Gwendoline Parish. Picture courtesy of Peter Eliot.

Peter also has a picture taken of my other sister, Carol, whilst on holiday. She is the girl in the rubber swim ring. On holiday, I went swimming most days and also enjoyed sports days back at Beechholme.

I remember the gym as we went to club night there, Tuesdays and Fridays. Mr Banner came in one Friday and closed the gym as President Kennedy had just been shot.

I used to climb the fence on Derby day to watch the cars go by.

Once on my way to the primary school, I was just doing what boys do, climbing, and cut my leg badly on a broken tap with no top on. I still have the scar today.

Just a bit about what I've done since Beechholme.

I started work in the signal box at Sutton station; it had always been an ambition of mine to drive trains you see. I worked my way up from there till I was driving trains from Norwood junction. I drove freight trains for many years then I went on to the new diesel trains but had a reaction to the diesel which finally left me seeking other work, so sadly my train driving career ended then and I still miss them.

I then worked as a self employed decorator for a while to keep myself in work as I hate doing nothing at all. Later,I got work with a company when the market was slow for my trade.

I drove a Multi drop on the open road which I enjoyed very much and I was there for many years till I was involved in a road traffic accident - not my fault I might add. This left me unable to return to work again now I just doodle around indoors all day with time on my hands, the mind's willing, the body unable.

I had a large family myself as big families are fun the only thing is I am told I spoilt my kids a bit as I felt they needed what I never had. They grew up gave me and the wife twenty two grandkids, some we see, some sadly we do not, but life goes on all the same.

Enclosed is a picture of me here. It's not great as I don't do photos of myself much.

Well let me see, yes back to the home now.

There was lots went on in the home, even scandal like a lad getting a houseparent pregnant. Goodness in those days that was a scandal especially as she was married. The abuse continued and even seemed it might come to a end as a few houseparents tried to bring it out into the open yet it seemed to me that they were quickly moved on.

I can recall one night being dragged from our beds and taken downstairs to the kitchen as someone, not me on this occasion, had eaten a great chunk of Mrs Johnsons cake. No one, we were told would leave till someone owned up. I was so tired I fell asleep on my feet and awoke to a crash, having hit the deck on the kitchen floor which was stone, and cold too. I had a bump on my head and it hurt for days. Some of us boys would take the blame just to go back to bed sometimes even when we were not involved.

A group of us lads would abscond to the field where we would climb the fence and run off onto Epsom Downs, or to Banstead Woods, or to the local quarry in Banstead which was the railway yard depot.

We would play there for hours. We went on a Sat morning to the Curzon in Epsom. Saturday morning flicks cost sixpence and we would take it in turns, one pay to go in and open the fire exit door to let the others in and all spend the sixpence sharing with who ever paid of course. Wicked but great adventures all the same and we were after all away from the home for a bit.

We did a paper round and Mr Apps the local news agent in Nork Way used to come down the home to check we were all up, shining his little torch in your face. We got paid for this but had to save most of it for our holidays. Pocket money was for me started off at tuppence increasing each birthday by a penny.

Out of this, a penny was taken back to pay for your holidays etc. With the other penny I'd go to The Chocolate Box in Nork and spend it on sweets; hence no teeth now!

We went to judo with a house parent all cramped in a little mini about as many as she could fit in, even with your face squashed up the back window, no seat belt then. We were not allowed to thumb lifts and I remember a house parent coming back from Epsom one time with a group of us kids. She thumbed a lift as we had missed the bus but was seen and reported she then left, (sacked). That's one thing, they were certainly hot on with the staff.

Christmas in the home - you got a lump of coal, an orange, an apple,an old used toy car made of tin, and odds and ends of no use. The coal I used to think would bring me luck but was soon to change my mind as we had to put it in the coal bucket anyway. So really I can't work out what the coal meant. We would go to pantomimes and shows, all good fun which made a change from listening to Jimmy Young on the radio all day long.

Television was Dr Who, and Dr Kildare but we only watched them to try and stay up a little later as we when we were told to go to bed, we would say "Oh please let us wait till the next interval". Well as you guessed, they never had no intervals anyway but as the staff mainly stayed in the kitchen or office they did not cotton on to that one for a while. Programmes at the time were Ready Steady Go, Coronation Street, oh how times have changed. Mind you I can say I would not want to go back there either.

Well even with the abuse that certainly went on there, and in a big way too, I thought much like the other kids who taught us little ones try stay out of trouble. I must admit I did rebel a lot but I was a lad and certainly did not like all the rules. Beechholme was awful in the first early years but I would agree with many others it did change for the better I guess when Mr Banner came in there. He was a fair do sort of guy although in them days if you'd asked me what I thought, I'm quite sure what my reply would have been.

Section of Stained glass window showing C. Parish as one of the makers.  Courtesy of Peter Eliot.

I also was the C Parish (2nd line up on the right hand panel) on the stained glass window as I helped with the window.

I was rather sad when the church was destroyed as we had to then go to another church in Banstead.

The Times Educational Supplement dated 20th November 1964 wrote that the windows consisted of two 15ft. high panels, both 2ft. wide. depicting St. Francis and the animals, and St. James the fisherman apostle. All Mrs. David's pupils were involved in its making. For more information and photographs of the Church and windows visit Peter Eliot's site. Two stained glass windows at Beechholme.Courtesy of Peter Eliot.

We all had chores to do like polishing the shoes till your face shined in them like a damn mirror. If they were not clean then you'd do them again, till they were. I'm sure that's why I only wear trainers today you know.

Another job was to get the coal in and you did not mind doing this in the winter as it gave you a few extra moments by the fireside, as unless toasting toast there, you were pretty cold.

Itchy blankets - I remember those very well, and night watch ha ha.

A few boys would raid the larders looking for food as we were always hungry, On several occasions I went too, but if you got caught, man you were in trouble, big trouble, but the idea was do not get caught.

Days in the home came and went, new faces appearing all the time, and it was a bit like a pecking order I guess, the bigger boys at the younger ones, so you soon learnt all the ropes and how to fend for yourself to survive life there. You had to learn to watch each other's back as bullying did not happen so much then from other kids. It was more of a status type thing in them days.

The only bullying I can recall was from the house parents, well some of them,

Good times were sports days and the run up to them. I would get up early to go running to Epsom and back, straight into the pool on the return and then in to the cottage for breakfast, which on those days was good as you could have two bowls full of the lumpy cold porridge or even egg and beans. So if you were into sports you were ok then for a bit as the house parents did like to win. That was Pete Macavish. He would follow us to Epsom in his car which I believe was a mark 1 white escort which we all had to clean for him too.

Another thing which sticks in my mind was the police constable from Banstead. He used to come around the home in his Black Maria and give us rides in the back of it as he was a good friend of Pete MacTavish. Although a good copper he was not my friend at all!

My girlfriend there was called Tina Paige, but as lads do when she was not around I'd have another girlfriend on hand.

The domestic staff that were employed there were very good to us all. I got on very well with them all and two in particular. One was (Jean) Poppy Callaghan who did a lot of cooking and some cleaning too and who I still see today, as when I got married it turned out she was the mother of my wife's best friend, so we keep in contact. Jean is getting on now but still we relive old happy memories together. The other lady, Doreen Crosby was another domestic there. She used to give us fags as we would not leave her alone till we got one. They were the happier sides of life in the home.

I'd like to just recap here. Children in the orchard were not retards as it's been described; they just went there while awaiting places in the secondary school, and most of us just lacked a mother's love. I do vaguely remember Mr Banner's daughter but from what I can remember, she was not really allowed to mix with us kids. I remember her big flowery dresses and bows in her hair walking holding her mother hand down The Avenue.

Life rolled on for us all in Beechholme, and even though my sisters were sometimes there, we did not spend as much time as we would have liked to, with each other and now even after all these years its hard to try get back what you lost - family life, real family life.

We drift in and out each others life now and then yet I cant help thinking if its the past that really does keep us segregated so to speak.

My elder brother turned his life completely around after Beechholme. I can't help wondering if he too has the ghosts in a closet as most of us did back then. It pains me still now to think of all those nasty not mentioned things that went on behind closed doors.

My brother as I say went on to become well known as a wrestler. I looked up to him then. He is my big bro still even though we don't see much of each other now. He became Johnny Kincaid, and that too is another story and is his to tell. He has written a book about his life which includes his early years at Beechholme.

Clive ParishThis is just but a small memory of my time in Beechholme but I am going to put down my experiences on paper and I will send them on to you.

Well on that note I'm going to say cheerio, love to here from anyone who may remember me. Mind they need to be patient as I said before; I will reply to e mails but need time as I do not know nothing of the computer age as such. As I was more a physical man myself can't spell either.

Cheers Clive .

NOTE FROM WEBMASTER - It's the memories that are important Clive, not the spelling.
If you remember the Parish kids let us know by mailing the Webmaster
. He always replies! In the meantime we have suggested that Clive contacts the London Metropolitan Archives where most of the archives from Beechholme are retained.

Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG Jun 2007 - Contact from Gillian Stile (Now Gillian Stile Los).

I was in Beechholme from 1947 until 1961 (2 years old until 16) I spent my entire childhood there. I saw it change from its Dickensian mode to a more family friendly place after the arrival of Mr Geoffrey Banner as Superitendent

I have some snap shots of people and buildings. Please contact me if you think I could shed some light on the history of Beechholme.

Gillian Stile Los.

As always, the webmaster quickly replied and Gillian then sent in the following:

I have written a brief synopsis of how Mr Banner turned things around for Beechholme. I have also sent you three photographs. The one on the right is me at age 7, one of Mr & Mrs Banner ( to be included in the new book) and one of me with Mr. Banner in 1987.

I read Frank Heard's letter and decided it pretty much sums up early life in Banstead Residential School in the early  50s. I was surprised to see my name among those he recalled as most of the names were of children in Maple House with him, I was in Acacia. It could be that I was hanging around Maple a lot because I had a crush on Johnny Martin.

Prior to the mid 1950s Banstead Residential School was divided in half, all the houses to the right of the Staff House were known as the Boys' end and were lettered with the exception of Rendal, and those to the left were known as the Girls' end and were numbered from 1 to 14 with the exception of Rodean.

Housemothers and Housefathers were referred to as Mr., Mrs. Or Miss with their surname added but usually it was just Miss or Sir.

Every summer we went to camp for 2 weeks, this usually meant Dymchurch or Walton-on-the-Naze. I always went to Dymchurch. All the children had a packed kit bag, which included a sheet and pillowcase, and were loaded onto several green coaches that took us to our destination. The Dymchuch compound was a large military barracks complete with quonset huts which were furnished with canvas beds no more than six inches off the stone floor with a blanket and pillow on each bed.

The last memory I have of Mr. Raynor, the superintendent, was during one of our weekly (Winter season) picture shows that were shown in the Gym. Mr. Raynor had the movie projector shut down and the lights put on as he walked to the stage and said Girls and boys I have good news, war in Korea has ended, I didn't know what Korea meant but I cheered along with all the others if only to have the picture show resume.

In 1954 Mr. Raynor retired and Mr. Geoffrey Banner became our new superintendent; with him came many changes.
Gillian Stile Los and Mr Banner in 1987 The Boy's end became the upper end and the Girls' end the lower end, all houses were given names of trees and their doors painted in bright colors of either red, blue, yellow or green. Each cottage now housed boys and girls and, in most cases, brothers and sisters were housed together. Later years saw huge dormitories being partially separated into cubicles for the older children to give them privacy.

Another big change was the Summer holidays, no more being shipped off to camp, we actually went to real seaside towns like Herne Bay, Hasting and Broadstairs to name a few and stayed at boarding houses like real families did, we even travelled there by train.

House parents were now referred to as Aunt or Uncle followed by their first names and, sometimes, just their first name was used.

Here are a few excerpts of some London County Council meetings that brought about some changes to Beechholme:

April 4th, 1950 Approval for installation of electric lighting was given.

April 24th, 1951 Banstead Residential School to be renamed Beechholme. This happened three years before the Banners arrived.

April 29th, 1952 Provisions were made to install refrigerators.

By December 2nd, 1952 there were a total of 448 children residing in Beechholme.

November 6th, 1956 Approval was given for stripping and re tiling of roofs and at the same time internal cleaning, painting and plastering was approved.

My information comes from reading the minutes of council meetings when I went to the London Archives in 2002.

I reside in Burbank, California but visit Banstead every 2 years, next visit is July 2008.

Gillian Stile Los ( last name rhymes with Close, as in near.)

NOTE FROM WEBMASTER - Let us know when you are coming over and we'll arrange to meet up for a coffee and chat over old times.

Back to list

Public contribution to BHRGContact from Susan Hillen (Now Susan Darocha) received June 2007.

Hi, for year I have tried to get information about Beechholme and could not find out anything and now I have found the BHRG and Peter Eliot's websites. I was there in 1953 age 5 with my brother Danny Hillen. My name is Susan Hillen and we lived in cottage 13 later known as Thistle.

I had a hard time finding the location of Beechholme. For years I was looking, and now its' too late to go and see it. I never realised how near to London it was.

One of the first things I remember was standing on a chair having my long red hair cut short up to my ears like a bowl on my head. All of us girls had this style and it was really awful. The picture on the right shows me with my rotten hair cut. I look back now and think ...what did they do to us?. I remember the dentist and the surgery next door when the dentist put on the black mask on my face with the gas. I was always pushed to be first.

I can remember some names the first being Sandra and Valerie Ali who were sisters and Maxine Cardigan who used to sleep next to me. She had to roll up the carpet as soon as she woke up. In the bedroom she used to jump from side to side because she wanted to go wee first but couldn't. I can't remember what little job I had back in those days. Danny, my brother was in Thistle as well. I can't remember anyone else in Thistle and no one seems to have written in about it. I don't remember the house mother or whatever they was called. I remember Charlotte she was about 18 I think and was was a helper or maid (skivvy). I don't even remember going to school even though I was there from the age of about five until about nine.

I was in the brownies as I can remember the uniform but that's it. I think I might be in the photos sent in by Priscilla Bradley (see Peter's website). Perhaps you could let me know the date they were taken. Also the picture of the four young men - I remember Peter Sharp. I have sent in the few photos I have.

I remember the Beechholme song and getting out of bed in the middle of the night for fire drill. Also at one point I was sitting out on the window ledge in the night, I must have been a sleep walker. I also remember playing out the back of the house playing blind man's bluff. It was my turn and one of the others took off the manhole cover and guided me to fall into it. I don't know if I was hurt badly - that's a blur. If any one remembers doing this to me I would like to know why. I think that was the most fun some of them had.

This group photo must have been taken when we went on holiday but I don't remember it or any holidays, but the name Dimchurch does ring a bell.

I'm the one half behind the little boy in white short trousers. The two Indian girls where Sandra and Valarie Ali, Valarie being the smaller one. We did not live far from one another when we left Beechholme and her dad had a Indian cafe in Aldgate, which must have been the first of its kind; now there are hundreds around Brick Lane and I love to find them too.

That's my brother in front of the boy at the very back. He has dark hair and his name is Danny Hillen. He lives in France now. Sorry, I don't know any other names but we must have all been from Thistle cottage. I would love to hear from anyone shown in any of these pictures.



In the picture of the five children, I Susan Hillen am in the middle. My brother Danny, is top right.

I cannot remember the name of the other boy or even if the others were at Beechholme, but the girls were Catherine and Elizabeth. They might have been from Lilly Rd in Fulham. I recall no 49 perhaps.

The next photo is of me and mum on one of her visits when she used to take me to Ann's cafe. I can't remember what I used to have.

How I wish I had more photos.

If you know of any photos that show Susan Hillen or her brother please send them to the Webmaster who will be very pleased to add them here and send copies to Susan who longs to receive more pictures of herself when she was young.


Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG Frank Heard in 1959 From Frank Heard 3 March 2007.

Frank writes - originally I was from Stepney, East London. At the age of six, I was sent to Woodvale in West Norwood but I kept absconding at every opportunity, so in 1951 I was transferred to Beechholme. First of all I went to the boys' end; in through the gates, turn right up the Avenue and I believe I was put in the first cottage on the right (I can't remember the name!). After quite a struggle I eventually started going to the junior school, which is one of your photos. The only teacher's name I can recall from there was a Miss Clegg, and my favorite teacher Mr Nichols.

I think around the mid fifties the cottages became mixed, boys and girls hence my move down to 'Maple'. The house mother at that time was Miss Quinlan, a ferocious woman to say the least. She would get great joy from knocking us kids about for the smallest misdemeanor. Her assistant was a Miss Sunderland, equally fearsome but not quite such a bully.

I remember well the chores kids aged 12 and above had to do, making all the beds (properly) otherwise they would all be stripped and we would be made to do them all again. Likewise, polishing all the pairs of shoes, polishing the lino floor, washing up etc etc. In spite of this my life improved from the age of 12 when I started secondary school at Sutton. I'd catch the 164 bus outside the main gate for the daily journey to school. The big love of my life soon became Sutton United. I'd watch them at every opportunity I could. It was like an obsession. I'd get the money for this by washing Mr Banner's car every Saturday morning, a Morris 10. I took great pride in my work and would receive one shilling and sixpence to go with my sixpence pocket money each week, providing I'd been good!

At this time I was also in the brass band, playing the euphonium. We used to play on sports day as well as taking part in the sports events.

I was also in the scouts and even some of the Christmas shows. I quite enjoyed this time of my life. In my early years at Beechholme, our holidays were alternate trips to Dymchurch(St Mary's bay) and Walton-on-the-Naze, which I liked. From 12 years onwards we'd go to North Wales, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Landuddno. We really enjoyed these holidays.

My main love from the age of 12 was playing football most evenings a week on the 'lower field', just past the sick bay and the dreaded dentist. Some of the kids that played were Barry Watts, Roy Hiscock, Alan Moth, Terry Butler and Peter Metcalf. I also played for the 'home' team Beechholme on the 'top' sports field in our black and white hooped shirts. I remember scoring a hat-trick away to Banstead Hall boys where we won 4-1. Mr Jarrot or Jarrow was our trainer, happy days.

Opposite 'Maple'there were five lovely sisters (the Fillinghams) Sandra, Julie, Diane, Jackie and Susan. I think the house was 'Labernum' although I can't be sure. The picture of the church is easily recognisable as was Mr Kimber the short back and sides specialist!. I remember the harsh winters and trying to get the sheets off the line when they had been left out to dry all day and were as stiff as cardboard. I remember being woken around 1.00 am, getting up bleary eyed for fire drill, lining up in the hallway downstairs to be counted. Some of the boys would be steaming where they had just wet the bed.

The porridge was cooked the night before and heated up in the morning and served for breakfast, thick skin and big lumps! I still heave today even thinking about it. My two younger sisters, Flo and Rose, came down to the home in the late fifties. I don't remember which cottage they were in . By then, younger housemothers were coming in. In Maple we had a really nice thirty something Irish lady, a Miss McDermottt, so different from the previous ones. On Sundays she'd let us older kids come into the staff room to listen to Radio Luxembourg Rock'N'Roll etc. we loved it.

I could go on and on with so many stories, it would be a book in itself, but I'll give a few more names which I recall, Anita and Valarie Reigns, Carol Hislop, Jackie Howe, Gillian Stiles, Dave Gibbons, John Martin and the band master Mr Ward.

I recall Derby day, hanging over the fence down the lower field watching the coaches chug up from the drift bridge, and throwing coins for us kids. I remember the Italian Tailor (in the home) who used to taper our trousers for us so we could be like young Teddy Boys.

The square dances and film shows at the Gym, the Bedford lorry that used to carry foodstuffs around as well as take us scouts to Aldermasten for our camping holiday. We'd often help the tractor driver transfer logs from the top field to the lower field on a trailer. I remember the name Beaky who was supposed to have hung around in the woods leading up to Banstead Station.

Visiting days were every second Sunday from 2 till 4 pm, also the grey clothes we had to wear. I forgot to mention earlier, Diane was my first girlfriend, although I used to fancy her sister Julie as well. The only TV we ever watched,(the older kids)was on a Sunday evening. Half an hour of Bruce Forsyth and 'Beat the clock' followed by 'Highway Patrol' also half an hour. The radio programmes Journey into Space and Dick Barton.

I remember having gas at the dentist and still feeling sick and giddy two days later. Frank pictured in 2007

I have many stories from my time at Beechholme to tell. I really do hope to hear from you again and anyone else to do with this theme. I don't have any knowledge of computers and can only communicate by letter or phone - I've sent the only photo of myself from those days, sorry its a bit scratched up.
Best wishes
Frank Heard

NOTE FROM THE WEBMASTER - I have cleaned up the original to a reasonable state. Frank wrote again in the most beautiful and neat handwriting. The original picture shows Frank aged 15 at Sutton West secondary Boys School. (1959) If you are mentioned in this letter, do let us know.

We went to see Frank and have recorded several hours of stories and fantastic memories. If you would like to get a message to Frank, mail it to me and I will pass it on. If you would like to write to him directly, let me know and I will advise you of his address. The picture on the right shows Frank in 2007, older maybe, but there is no mistaking the glint in his eye as he recounts his amorous adventures at Beechholme.

Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG 24 January 2007 - Clive Artingstall

Hi, the words to the song that I remember went.

There is a mouldy dump down Beechholme way
where we get bossed about, fifty times a day.
Egg and bacon we don't see; we get sawdust in our tea.
That's why we're gradually fading away.
The teachers are real barmy. The matrons are real mad.
And poor old Bannner the man sometimes looks real sad.


Regretfully the next few verses I am still not too sure of.

I too remember the swimming pool, the laundry, and the service areas. All but my youngest sister were in Beechholme from the mid fifties to the late 1959ish time. We went by the names of Dennis, Clive, Robin and Shirley Artingstall. Dennis and I were at the home for longer than the other two and I think we were in Fir.

My brother Robin and sister Shirley moved from a different home and were in the house next door. Once it was realised that we were all of the same family. We were all moved into Acacia. I remember several families that were in Acacia with us - The Moths and the Richards.

My best friend at Beechholme was a chap called Victor Metcalf who by the way was not in Acacia with us.

I remember that on a Friday, dinner was always boiled fish (with egg sauce) which I and Victor hated that much that once a week (on a Friday) we would run away from home.

Luckily my grandmother worked for Watney's at the time and was working and living at their convalescent home at Tattenham corner, which to us was worth the walk. The cook was wonderful to us two young ragamuffin folk and always fed us with her fresh made scones and other newly baked goodies. Mind you we had to sit properly at the table, and after the scoff we had to stay at the table until we were collected by one of the staff from Beechholme. Then it was early to bed etc.

Scrumping was another way of relieving the old hunger pangs. I remember the various fruit trees scattered around the home, apple, pear, cherry and plum trees, but it was still more fun to scrump your way to a full tummy. I also seem to recall trying to eat some of the Beeech nuts of the trees that lined The Avenue.

Also and as seen in the photos, during the time when snow was covering The Avenue, having competitions on which house could build the biggest snowman.

Regretfully and for some reason I know not why. I have complete blanks in my total recall of my past, and I sometimes wonder that if I were to meet some of the kids from the home, whether or not I would be able to remember them.

Writing these memories reminds me of another thing I seem to recall. When writing home were we told to start the letter.
Dear Mum and Dad,
I hope you are both well and happy, as we are, ..........
Then you wrote what you liked after.

Anyway Webmaster my good lady is informing me that my Sunday dinner is on the table. So I must refrain from adding more to my missive to you.
Hope to hear from you soon.
CLIVE ARTINGSTALL.

FROM WEBMASTER: Hello Clive and thanks for another great selection of Beechholme memories. Our new book gets longer and longer but keep them coming.

Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG January 2007 - Mrs E L Leese (nee Gibbs)

My Brother Frank Gibbs was Housemaster in Fir tree house with his wife Freda as Housemother and their children, David,Colin and Susan during the 50's,we visited several times. They emigrated to South Australia in 1961.

We visited several times and they settled there happily,they also came back to visit a few times. Sadly my brother passed away in 1990. Freda is now in a Home and we are still in contact. The 3 children have done well and Sue visited a few months ago as she had business in Ireland; she in now a Marine Biologist. I am sure this will interest those that remember them.

Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG January 2007 - Roger Armstrong new information on photographs.

Mr Manger Beechholme Sports Day 1963

The photos are of excellent quality. I am afraid that I did not know Godfrey Lawson, but I recognise Mr. Kimber, Mr Manger, and children in the sports day picture showing Fir. I think that the boy holding the banner is David Broome, the boy to his left with the crewcut is Roy Stagg. The black boy is Rowland Jones. There were not very many black children in Beechholme in my day and I do not remember any racism. I did not find out about racism until I left the home and as I had grown up with Rowland and other black children, I did not see any distinction between us. That was one really good thing about growing up in care, it taught you that we are all just folk. Rowland I think was British born as he had no accent. He was almost certainly a child of African parents, yet he had an English name.

The other people that I recognise from the other pictures on the website are the Matron, Miss Hoare, and Mr Bray, of Hazel, who drove a 1936 Standard 9 car DPB 937.

The interior shots of Cedar were interesting. They show that this house had had a new set of furniture. Our chairs were old fashioned Windsor chairs stamped London County Council. I have 2 of these still in my shed at home. Those in the 1962 pictures of Cedar are newer Ercol chairs. How I hated having my hair cut by Mr Kimber. His hand clippers were really blunt. They used to pinch the back of your neck. Sit still boy, he would say as you yelped with pain.

We were in Cedar when we first arrived in Beechholme. The houseparents were Mr/Mrs Hillman. Mr Hillman was an ex army keep fit fanatic and unfortunately a sadist. Through his ill treatment I ended up in Queen Mary's Hospital, Carshalton for a year and a quarter with Rheumatic Fever. He was sacked for child cruelty in about May of 1956 and we were moved to Fir.

UPDATE FROM ROGER 6 Feb 2009 - He says "I sent for my care records from London Metropolitan Archives and I now find there is an error in my written record of my stay in Beechholme. My care records confirm that I was sent to Cedar House, Beechholme on 3rd February 1956 as I have said, but that I was sent away to Queen Mary's Hospital Carshalton earlier than I had thought, on 12th May 1956 having caught Rheumatic Fever through the ill treatment I had received both before and after entering care. I was discharged from hospital on 3rd August 1957 and joined my brother Peter, in Fir house under the somewhat better care of the Gibbs family."

UPDATE FROM ROGER JULY 2011 - By the way, I don't think I have said what happened to me after I left Beechholme. I was bullied badly at school because my clothes were in rags and because most kids with Aspergers Syndrome tend to get bullied anyway. My school trousers had got torn being caught in my bike chain riding from Fulham to school in Cheam each day on a bike bought for 30 shillings.

I had intended to stay on and take O levels but left instead and found a job in Wandsworth assembling transformers for £3.10 shilllings a week. After 12 such dead end jobs, working in shops, factories, warehouses and canteens, at the age of 24 I found work buying houses for a housing association in Clapham. I was very successful at this, became development manager, bought and supervised the development of over 1,200 flats and houses in South London, became an authority on 19th century houses, co-wrote the book Buildings of Clapham, currently in local bookshops. I am now an area surveyor for another housing association. All of this without any academic qualifications whatever.

I married in 1981, have two grown up sons, and live in Esher. I am an active cyclist, a member of the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings, and have recently restored a 1920s car. Not bad for a Beechholme kid.


Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG DECEMBER 2006 - Bruce Grant writes I am looking for information on a Beechholme teacher.

The teacher's name was Miss Baker (Who later became Mrs.Day) I have a special interest in her as she used to take me on holiday and outings on my own. I was wondering if she had any photos of me as a child. She might not even be alive I suppose.

I was in Beechholme in the late 50s early 60s together with my brothers Andrew, Stuart and Malcome. I attended the home school and remember learning to swim there. One summer we went to Margate (taken by the London Black Taxis cabs) which came to the home in a convoy and took every child there. Each summer we had two weeks holiday at a seaside resort, and in the winter went to pantomimes in London. We often had trips to museums of the country. In some ways we did more that the local children!

We attended the church each Sunday and on my first Christmas there we did the nativity which was filmed by the BBC, I played King Herod but fell asleep halfway through and had to be woken up!

I remember the hairdresser who came and cut our hair one day and left a boys hair half cut because he found out that we had Mumps!

We used to go scrumping along Banstead golf course for cherries pears and apples (even golf balls). At the end of the avenue was the hall where we watched films.

We learnt to cook, sow, do our own cleaning etc good skills for later in life. Derby day was a main even for us we sat on the fence of the sports field asking the returning motorists who were head to tail in slow moving traffic if they had any luck on the betting, they used to throw us coins.

All the houses were named after a tree or bush, My house was Kerria. In the photo of sports day you can just make me out holding the house flag. We had to march around the sports field holding it and competed against other houses.

I believe the weather vane was above the hall.

They were happy times, with many happy memories. The only thing left now is the sports field.

These are just a few of my memories from Beechholme. Bruce.

Back to list

Public contribution to BHRG NOVEMBER 2006 - Roger Armstrong writes - "I have the original book, having myself been at Beechholme between 1956 and 1963. I have many detailed memories, some happy some not too happy. There was a Beechholme song which does not appear in the first book. We used to recite this time next week quite a lot rather wistfully, just like the kids in other childrens homes, but the Beechholme song went..see right hand panel.

There were other verses, including one about Pop Banner.
There is a mouldy dump
Down Banstead way
Where we get bread and cheese
Three times a day
Eggs & bacon we don't see
We get sawdust in our tea
That's why we're gradually
Fading away.
Roger continues.."I was in Fir, which was the only all male house in the place. I remember many of the staff, including 'Killer' Thompson, the matron at the sick bay. I remember the specially painful dentistry with the foot operated drilling machine, Mr Ford the gardener, Mr Manger in the trades yard, the Beechholme tractor SGW 343, The Beechholme Bedford lorry, JXT 913 and most of the houseparents vehicles.

"I remember Beaky, who attacked Miss Knights one evening, don't know what actually took place but I know police were involved. I remember Roy Stagg sleepwalking out of the dormitory window and falling onto the garden below completely unhurt. I remember the ice crystal flowers that used to form on the inside of the dormitory windows in the winter, I remember the all too frequent incidents when the lights were switched on in the middle of the night and we were ordered out of our beds to stand shivering until some poor child would confess to raiding the larder. Sometimes this took hours and children would fall asleep standing up and end up concussed on the iron bed ends. The offenders would be slippered. ".

Back to list