Evans’ Convalescent Home

The Evans Convalescent Home for Children, Widney Manor Road, Solihull was set up in 1881 by Susannah Sarah Evans (née Lee). She was the wife of Rev. Canon Charles Evans (1824-1904) who was Rector of Solihull 1872-1894. The above photo shows the home c.1940.

The home was immediately below the rectory grounds and replaced an earlier more modest building at Ash Cottage, Warwick Road (opposite Solihull School) which was established as a juvenile Sanatorium by Caroline Martineau in the mid-1860s.

The home received, according to the Leamington Spa Courier, 11th May 1878:

delicate children of the poor, and also from the hospitals and industrial schools, provided that they are not suffering from infectious diseases. The charge for each child is two shillings per week. 

The newspaper article noted that the charge of two shillings per week was insufficient to cover the full costs of board, lodging and individual care, so donations and subscriptions made up the shortfall.

Miss Martineau maintained the cost of the institution herself and, when she left Solihull in 1872, the home was transferred to Mrs Evans. A building fund was set up to build new premises that could accommodate up to fourteen children.

The aim of the home was to “promote the well-being of children living in Birmingham and the thickly-populated districts that adjoin the town, who, after illness, sorely need fresh air and country scenes in order to thoroughly recover good health. Solihull is admirably adapted for such an institution.” (Birmingham Post, 30th July 1883)

A new wing was finished on 25th April 1931, the construction of which was paid for by the generosity of local benefactor, Mrs Grenville, who also paid for the furnishing of the new wing. The convalescent home was often the recipient of local fundraising initiatives, such as the Solihull Carnival 1931. The aim of the carnival was to raise £40 to increase the heating facilities and a further £60 for improvements to sewerage and other urgent needs.

It was noted in the Warwick County News, 2nd May 1931 that 211 children had been admitted to the home in the previous year, with 58 of them being readmitted for a prolonged stay. The article also stated that:

Children from Solihull and district are given preference, but they are also admitted from the various Birmingham organisations for the aid of suffering little ones

Mrs Evans died at her home (St Alphege, Parkstone, Dorset) in 1915. Solihull Parish Magazine, May 1915 reported on her death and noted that “The Evans’ Convalescent Home will be a permanent memorial to a kind friend of many in this parish.”

The convalescent home she founded continued to operate under her name until it was closed in 1950. By the time of its closure it had 31 beds, “ample” bathroom and sanitary arrangements, and a playing ground of nearly two acres.

During the early part of the Second World War, the home took some of the children evacuated to Solihull until Chairman of the home informed the Chief Billeting Officer in July 1943 that the Committee wished the home to revert to the care of convalescent children.

In 1948, the home was compulsorily acquired by the Government under the National Health Act. The Midland Regional Hospital Board announced in 1949 a proposal to close the home. The following year the Board recommended to Warwickshire County Council that the Council should take over the Evans’ Home building for residential purposes, in exchange for two houses in Lode Lane – Ardenne and Apsley – which were being used at that time to house elderly people.

From c.1953 until c.1967 the premises were a nurses’ home known as The Beeches, 15 Widney Manor Road. In 1968 planning approval was given for the building to be turned into a Teachers’ Centre but, by 1969, the condition of the building had deteriorated and it apparently suffered from woodworm and dry rot as well as vandalism.

At its meeting on 9th June 1969, Solihull Council’s Education Committee decided that owing to the state of the building, and the failure of negotiations to remove a restrictive covenant, it would not proceed with the proposed Teachers’ Centre. The restrictive covenant apparently restricted the use of the site to a convalescent home or private dwelling house.

In January 1970 there was a proposal to convert the building into a private hotel but, with the restrictive covenant meaning that the sale of intoxicating liquor was prohibited, and objections from some 80 local residents, the proposal did not succeed.

The building seems to have been demolished by July 1970 and two private dwellings were then built on the site.

If you have any further information, please let us know.

Tracey
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk

 

© Solihull Council, 2021.
You are welcome to link to this article, but if you wish to reproduce more than a short extract, please email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk

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