…Evacuation and Service
Floodgate Street and Tinkers Farm Schools’ Logbooks cover between them both World Wars, yet there is relatively little mention of the Great War whilst much is recorded of events during the Second World War. Perhaps this was due to Birmingham falling victim to sustained air raid attacks during the Second World War. The evacuation of many school children became a priority before Britain officially declared war on Nazi Germany following the invasion of Poland on 1st September 1939:
“School opened this morning, Saturday, to prepare for Evacuation Scheme – school open all day – also on Sunday 27th.” [S68/1/1 26.8.1939]
The sudden threat of war led to an ultimatum a few days later from the Education Office:
“Final notice from Education Office that Evacuation of School children to safety should take place on Sept 1st.”[S68/1/1 31.8.1939]
30,000 children were evacuated from Birmingham and the immediate area and schools closed until further notice. However, the Birmingham Post ran an article on the 2nd September 1939, a day after the evacuations, arguing that a further 40,000 children should also have been evacuated.
Children were scattered all across the surrounding country. Floodgate Street Infants Department Logbook records:
“130 children entrained at Bordesley Station at 9.28 am for Ross-on-Wye.” [S68/1/1 1.9.39]
In 1940 two large school camps were set up for senior boys and girls in the midlands area: a boys’ camp at “Shooting Butts”, Pipewood, near Blithbury, Staffs, and a girls’ camp at Penkridge Bank, Cannock Chase. The Education Committee produced a list of items each child should bring with them, and a notice from St. Clement’s C. of E. Primary School, Nechells, survives:
However the onset of the “Phoney War”, a period with no major ground offensives between the warring countries until May 1940, meant that the first raid to target Birmingham was not until the 8th August 1940. By the end of September 1940 the Education Committee extended the evacuation area in consequence of bombing raids. [Education Committee Minutes 27.9.1940 BCC 1/BH/1/1/1/38].
The movement of many children during the evacuation meant that Floodgate Street School was closed for the duration of the Second World War. However, as will be seen in the next blog post, Tinkers Farm re-opened and provides a great insight into schooling during the war.
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