Tag Archives: Education

The Ockenden Venture ‘Westholme’

Sometimes when cataloguing an archive collection you come across an item which has no obvious link to the other papers it is with and clues to help you identify the links are few and far between. Such was the case with a small pamphlet with the title ‘Ockenden Venture ‘Westholme’ training and education for refugee boys’ which caught my attention in the records of Bull Street Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. As this week is Refugee Week, when the contributions of refugees to the UK are celebrated and greater understanding about why refugees seek sanctuary is promoted, it seemed fitting that the story of Westholme should be retold.

The Ockenden Venture was established in 1951 by three school teachers in Woking, Surrey. They were concerned about the conditions in which displaced East European teenagers were living and recognised that the educational provision in the camps was insufficient after a group came on holiday from a displaced persons camp in Germany at Ockenden House where Joyce Pearce (1915-1985) ran a sixth form. Pearce, together with Ruth Hicks (1900 – 1986) and Margaret Dixon (1907-2001) housed small numbers of East European teenagers from the camps at Ockenden House and later in houses at Haslemere, Surrey and Donington Hall near Derby and provided for them so that they could complete their secondary education.

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The Midland Adult School Movement

I stumbled across the Iron Room Blog after a photograph of a worker at the Bournville Cadbury factory fluttered out of my late Granddads bird watching note books. I searched for the name but instead found the January 12th blog post; Cadbury Trusts’ catalogue now available.

I delved deeper and discovered that in 1859, under the auspices of William White, twenty year old George Cadbury began his life long connection with The Adult School Movement. My own family also have a strong association with Cadburys and the Adult School (AS) so my curiosity was ignited.

It was under the influence of Methodism that the first AS was opened in 1798 by William Singleton in Nottingham. William was subsequently joined by Samuel Fox, a Quaker and grocer who invited his staff, mainly women, to teach at the school.

In Birmingham Joseph Sturge also a Quaker, social reformer and philanthropist established the Severn Street First Day School on October 12th 1845. Joseph recognised the need for an organisation which young men could attend to learn to read (the Bible) and write. More than a hundred attended the first meeting and the numbers grew despite a draughty and uncomfortable environment.  The school members drew working men away from the public houses to improve their ‘lot in life’.

In Birmingham Archives and Collections I come across the original sepia photograph of The ‘Beehive’ AS which opened in a disused public house in 1902. This school was first established in 1901 in a grocers store room in Bishopsgate Street. This was a run down part of Ladywood, Birmingham where it was ‘scarcely deemed safe for one policeman to patrol alone’.

At first glance this photograph, of a crowd of men with pocket watches hanging by chains from their waist coats, appeared to be of The Clark Street School which opened in 1875. However a hand written letter from E.J. Fullwood (former secretary of the National AS Council) confirms that it is the Beehive School:

In a most unexpected place I have at last found the missing Beehive AS original photograph. The seated figures and those standing immediately behind them are the original members of the school. Most of the others are members of the Clark St School…

(MS 703 (2015/082) 15/56)

MS 703 (2015/082) 15/56

The Beehive Adult School, branch school of Clark St. Adult School, photograph taken by F. Nightingale, after Opening Service, September 1902 [Ref MS 703 (2015/082) 15/56]

Closer scrutiny of the photograph reveals that the building on the left hand side is indeed The Beehive Inn! I am delighted to find another letter from my Great Grandad Tom Hill to Lawrence Burton, the secretary of the Midland Adult School at that time. Grandad Tom wrote,

…of all the men present we know nothing; we have no record of all of the good they did, or endeavoured to do, only this photo…

(MS 703 (2015/082) 15/56)

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From Azad Kashmir to Small Heath

Mahmood Hashmi

Birmingham Archives and Heritage holds a collection of papers of noted Urdu writer and educator Mahmood Hashmi (ref MS 2579).  He was born in a village in Azad Kashmir and was from the 1940s a well-known name on the literary scene, with short stories and articles of literary criticism appearing in reputable journals such as Saqi and Adabi Dunya. He graduated from Punjab University and went on to gain an M.A. and L.L.B. from the University of Aligarh in 1943. In 1950, at the time of independence and partition he wrote a book of reportage, Kashmir Udas Hai, which was very popular in Pakistan, which was reprinted in 1995. He emigrated to England in 1953. He gained a postgraduate certificate in education from Leeds University and became the first black teacher in Birmingham in 1956 at Loxton School, Duddeston, Birmingham. He also turned to journalism and in April 1961, he became the founder editor of the London based ‘Mashriq’ (The East), Britain’s first Urdu language weekly newspaper and also the first South Asian newspaper. The paper was initially financed by Pakistani and Kashmiri factory workers from Birmingham who could see the significant impact it would have on their lives.

When he left the Mashriq in 1972, he returned to Birmingham and set up an Urdu interpreting and translating service, edited a bilingual newspaper (Saltley News) and continued to teach.  In the 1980’s as Urdu began to be introduced into British schools, he moved to Peterborough, where he undertook research into the needs of young pupils interested in learning Urdu in schools and devised teaching methods and materials.   This research resulted in him creating his Qaida (Primer) which was published by Bradford Metropolitan Council, in 1986. An entirely original approach in the teaching of Urdu, the Qaida was highly praised in the Times Educational Supplement.  Since retirement in 1983, he has reviewed bilingual books for the Times Educational Supplement, acted as a language consultant for the BBC School Magazine and as an examiner for the Royal Society of Arts Certificate in the teaching of community languages.  Today he lives in Small Heath, Birmingham, and is regarded as a leading light in the world of Urdu literature and is consulted by writers from across the globe.