Birmingham’s child emigrants revisited

Annual Report Middlemore Homes
 showing ‘before and after’ photos

The Balsall Heath Local History Society has received £32,100 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project concerning the Children’s Emigration Homes. These were founded by John Middlemore in Highgate in 1873 and are an important aspect of Birmingham’s heritage.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project aims to make contact with living relatives of people who were in the Homes and to raise awareness through displays, talks, work with schools and an exhibition. The local History Society will be looking for volunteers to help us in a variety of roles which will offer an opportunity to enhance skills.

Literally thousands of destitute children spent up to a year at these homes before being sent off to be settled with farmers in the backwoods of Canada. They were part of a much larger picture of child emigration, but this project is to concentrate just on the Middlemore Homes.

There is huge interest in Canada, where it is estimated that over 10% of the current population are descendants of Home Children. However, there is relatively little awareness in Birmingham of the work of the Children’s Emigration Homes and the impact they have had on the lives of people today.

Val Hart from the Local History Society said: 

“We are delighted to have received support, thanks to National Lottery players, and are looking forward to Interpreting the work of the Homes to the people of Birmingham.”

Vanessa Harbar, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands said: 

“We are delighted to support this project, which, thanks to money raised by National
Lottery players, will mean that more people will be able to get involved with, protect, and learn about the exciting heritage right on their doorstep.”

Please contact Val to find out more:
0121 689 2584

Also they’re looking for a project manager:

5 thoughts on “Birmingham’s child emigrants revisited

  • I am so excited to see this project go into effect. A test was done some years back to help our (Canadian) descendants with research on our British Home Children. The project was in connection with Councillor Reg Corns(now passed away) and the Birmingham Archives. The test results were unfortunately unsuccessful and trials stopped. So this venture is very much needed and wanted. In New Brunswick a facebook group is set up and running for descendants of the Middlemore Home Children at I personally would like to make contact with the coordinator for this project but your mail box failed to work. I can be reached at

  • I had two great uncles on the 1909 sailing of Carthaginian from Middlemore – am researching the lives of all 130 children on that sailing. Very interested to see this project develop.

  • Catherine West

    I, also, am excited to learn of this project. The British Home Children and Descendants Association operates out of Nova Scotia, Canada and we try to promote the sharing of knowledge on the Home Child scheme and provide information for descendants. As stated in the article, there is a great deal of interest in Canada. On March 7th. 2018, our Federal government declared September 28th. of each year to be named "British Home Child Day". On a personal note, my grandfather, his sister and their cousin were sent to Canada as Home Children. At last count, he alone has well over 100 descendants.

  • Hi Marion, Thanks for your interest! The project has only just begun – I don't think there is a project manager in post yet. As soon as all is up and running I'm sure Val will get back to you.

  • Very interestiing – thanks for responding and hope to be in touch soon once project is started.

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