Until Solihull became a County Borough Council on 1st April 1964, the provision of state education in the area was the responsibility of Warwickshire County Council. We’re aware of five special schools in the Solihull urban/metropolitan district, catering for children with physical or learning disabilities:
Tudor Grange (later Swanswell)
In addition, there was also a special school at nearby Packwood Haugh, Warwickshire.
On 13th July 1990 the official opening took place of the new Sixth Form block at Saint Martin’s Girls’ School. The Sixth Form occupied the site of the former stables at Malvern Hall, adjacent to the former Solihull Lido in Malvern Park.
Saint Martin’s School had moved to Malvern Hall, Solihull in 1989 and was the third school to occupy the historic site – the previous two being Solihull High School for Girls (1931-1974) and Malvern Hall Comprehensive School (1974-1989).
On 1st September 2020, Saint Martin’s School merge with Solihull School, so Malvern Hall now houses its fourth educational establishment – Solihull Preparadtory School. It seems timely to look back at the schools that have occupied this stately home over the last 70 years.
Throughout December 2017, there was an exhibition in the Heritage Gallery on the first floor of The Core, Theatre Square, Solihull relating to Tudor Grange Special School, which provided residential and day accommodation for children with physically disabling conditions such as polio and cerebral palsy.
20-year-old John Vere Isham (pronounced “Eye-shum”) died of blood poisoning at No. 24 General Hospital, Etaples, France on 3rd June 1916, serving as a Second Lieutenant with the 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s). He was the eldest son of Sir Vere Isham (1862-1941), 11th baronet, and was born in Bury St Edmunds on 14th November 1895. Under normal circumstances, John would have inherited the Isham baronetcy on his father’s death, instead of which it was his younger brother, Gyles (1903-1976), who became the 12th Baronet in 1941.
Three local soldiers died in Egypt on Easter Sunday, 23rd April 1916, serving with the Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars (Worcester Yeomanry). Corporal (Acting Sergeant) Cyril Henry Coombs and Private Osborn Thomas Smith are both commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial, and both are listed on the Solihull School war memorial. Leslie St Clair Cheape, a member of the North Warwickshire Hunt, also died on the same day and is commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial. He was a Captain with the 1st Dragoon Guards, but was attached to the Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars.
Two local men lost their lives on 2nd August 1915 whilst on active service – Private William Manton, 1st/4th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and Sergeant Lawrence Waters, 5th Battalion, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry.
Former bricklayer’s labourer, Henry Simmons (known as Harry), died on 13th October 1914, serving as a Private with 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
On the same day, former painter, Private William Shenstone of Bordesley, Birmingham, also died whilst serving with the Worcestershire Regiment. Information from Packwood Haugh School is that this could be the same W. Shenstone who is listed on the school’s roll of honour, although there is some doubt about this.
Lieutenant Alexander Nigel Trotter, 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) died of wounds in France on 12th October 1914, less than a month after his twentieth birthday.
Nigel, as he was known, was born in London on 17th September 1894 to parents Alexander Pelham Trotter and his wife Alys Fane Trotter (née Keatinge). Nigel had an older sister, Gundred Eleanor Trotter (1889-1975), known as “Gunda”, who was also born in London. Nigel’s local connection with the Solihull area is that he was educated at Packwood Haugh Preparatory School. Referred to now as “The First Packwood”, the school occupied a site in Glasshouse Lane, Hockley Heath from 1892 until 1940, when the school moved to “The Second Packwood” in Ruyton-XI-Towns near Shrewsbury, where it remains today. The original building in Glasshouse Lane has now been turned into 12 apartments, known as Fetherston Grange.