Tag Archives: world war

At School No.7: The World at War

…Staying at School

The Education Committee admitted in 1939 that education for those left in the evacuation areas would not be as good as for those in the reception areas. [BCC 1/BH/1/1/1/38 p.15] Providing suitable education and protection for those that had not been evacuated became essential. Tinkers Farm Road School reopened on a voluntary basis on 26th October 1939, and on a compulsory basis in January 1940. During this time air raid shelters were built. 9 shelters were built at Tinkers Farm at an estimated cost of £1,085.

Air raid shelter figures included accommodation for 850 children at Tinkers Farm. BAH: BCC BH/1/1/1/38.

A later report lists Tinkers Farm protection as accommodating for a maximum of 850 children. [31.5.1940 BCC 1/BH/1/1/1/38 p.252] However, the children did not seem too bothered by these new additions to school life:

“This morning’s + this afternoon’s shifts were given an A.R. practice. The children accepted the rehearsal as an enjoyable experience, being curious to see inside the shelters + not at all nervous.” [S199/1/1 23.1.1940]

Tinkers Farm Senior Logbook records many of the air raid warnings during the 1940s, including one event during morning assembly where a plane and gunfire were heard. [S200/1 5.9.1940] The Head Teacher also recorded the falling of bombs in the neighbourhood. [S200/1 13.11.1940] Birmingham’s surviving air raid maps show a cluster of bombs near Litchfield on this evening.

Birmingham Air raid no.46 fell close to Tinkers Farm Road School (top right). BAH: LS/8/29.

Bombing raids on Birmingham were most prolific during 1940 and 1941. In 1944 evacuees arrived at the local rest centre fleeing from the Flying Bombs, V-1’s, which first hit London on 13th June 1944:

“A number of children from the flying bomb area have had to be admitted today.” [S199/1/128.8.1944]

“112 Evacuees arrived from London.”  [S200/1 31.8.1944]

Yet despite these hardships school continued, and there was even the occasional treat:

“City of B’ham Orchestra (40 players) visited the school this afternoon + played to the whole school. The concert consisted of The Caliph of Bagdad, Seventeen Come Sunday, Dance Macabre, Fingal’s Cave, + Shepherd’s Hey – with introductory remarks by Dr Desond Macmahon, conductor. Everyone was delighted.”[S200/1 6.10.1944]

A National holiday was declared on the surrender of Germany to the allies and the signing of the Armistice on 8th May. The Logbook notes that many children were still off the day after as the celebrations ran late into the night. [S199/1/1 10.5.1945]

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At School No.6: The World at War

…Evacuation and Service

Evacuees at Snow Hill Train Station. BAH: WW2 Home Front/Box 2/Print 15.

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:

The press were critical of the fact that more children weren't evacuated. BAH: MS 396/11.

“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:

A notice for the Parents of Evacuees. BAH: S157/1/9.

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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