Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text

St Christopher's Home, Olton

Photograph of St Christopher's Home, Olton

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St Christopher's Home, Olton

Olton, Solihull, Warwickshire

(1931 - 1990)

St Christopher's Home for Babies was acquired in 1930 and its Foundation stone laid the following year in May 1931.

St Christopher's was opened by the Duchess of Beaufort in December 1931 and dedicated by the Bishop of Birmingham. The establishment of the Home was made possible by the Midlands Waifs and Strays League, or the 'Waif-aiders'. The group was founded in 1925 with the object of furthering the interests of the Society in Birmingham and supporting other Birmingham Homes - Sycamore House in Mosley and St Mary's in Handsworth. The Waif-aiders single-handedly raised half the cost of building and furnishing the Home.

By 1937 the Home was housing on average 40 children. The residents usually arrived as babies and left when they were around four years old. The children were grouped in dormitories according to age and development.

A new wing was added to the building in 1939 and in the same year residents and staff were evacuated to Huntley Manor Nursery, Huntley, Gloucestershire, because of the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Home reopened in 1945 as St Christopher's Nursery, and staff and residents were able to move back into the building.

A fête at St Christopher's Home in 1954 was supported by local shops and schools who sent gifts and performed concerts and dances. The event attracted more than 2,500 visitors to the Nursery gardens.

In 1957 St Christopher's structured its nurseries along the lines of a small family groups: children aged between one and four years old occupied their own room and were cared for by a 'mother' who was usually referred to by her christian name. An 'Uncles and Aunts' scheme also ran at this time, whereby couples would care for children at weekends or sometimes for week long holidays.

An extension was built in 1970, paid for by funds raised by local committees and friends of the Home and in 1972 the Nursery extended its age range to take children of junior school age and became known as St Christopher's Home.

In 1973 initial plans were made for the adaptation of St Christopher's into a Home for children with physical disabilities, but this was not possible until around 1978, when the Home first began accommodating children with physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome. In 1980 the Home featured in the film 'And All Your Children' produced by The Children's Society for the International Year of Disabled People.

In 1980 St Christopher's functioned as a Residential Centre for children with physical and learning disabilities.

By 1990 St Christopher's was operating as a centre to prepare young people with disabilities for their eventual move into the community and the Home was known as St Christopher's Home For Multi Disabled Children.

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