Recovery and recuperation in Bournville

Fircroft College during WW1
Thanks LoB: MS 466/3a/831

With the onset of World War 1 and in particular the Gallipoli campaign in early and mid 1915, the hospitals in Birmingham began to receive casualties, both ill and wounded servicemen. In addition to the acute facilities available at the 1st Southern General Hospital, convalescent homes were required to allow individuals to regain their health and strength. Throughout the city appropriate facilities were sought and requisitioned by the War Office. In Bournville two buildings were identified and made available by Cadburys – Fircroft and The Beeches.
Donations were provided to make these two large houses fit to comply with the requirements of Military Convalescent Hospitals. Medical and ancillary staff were recruited and the intent was to provide suitable accommodation and care in a beneficial environment – in ‘the fresh air’.

The Bournville Works Magazines of the period describe the financial and practical contributions provided by the employees of Cadbury Brothers Ltd. These ranged from the donation of weekly sums of cash to the provision of varied entertainments and ready access to many sports and recreational facilities. Female employees volunteered to undertake the weekly laundry of individual patients. The two convalescent homes could accommodate 80 patients at any one time. In the account of ‘A Year’s Work’ given in 1917 by the Chairman of the General Workpeople’s Committee, it was reported that the homes now offered treatment in new open-air extensions, extra nursing for those suffering from wounds rather than illness and electric massage to promote the recovery of damaged limbs. Detailed accounts of Income and Expenditure were also published.
Written by Alison Smith