New Futures for Birmingham`s Historic Buildings

The Archway of Tears at the City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham

Posted March 23rd, 2010 by Birmingham Conservation Trust with 38 Comments

 

 

The Archway of Tears

The Archway of Tears

The Archway of Tears at the City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham

 

 

Birmingham Conservation Trust have secured funding to carry out an Options Appraisal on the Archway of Tears at the City Hospital on Dudley Road. This is the initial stage in a proposed larger project to restore the Archway of Tears – the entrance to the former Birmingham Union Workhouse.

The building was designed by J.J. Bateman and completed in 1852. It was here that people driven by poverty and circumstance arrived to be assessed for entry to the workhouse. Its evocative name reflects the sorrow suffered by new arrivals as families were split by gender and age to relevant living and working areas. Have a look at Ted Rudge’s website http://www.winsongreentobrookfields.co.uk/workhouse.htm to read stories about the Workhouse.

We will look at ways to re-use the building in a sustainable way and we also will tell the story of the Workhouse in some way. If you or your family have any memories or artefacts you want to share with us, please get in touch.

 

 

 

38 Responses to “The Archway of Tears at the City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham”

  1. diane horton September 26, 2018

    my dad was in dudley road hospital infarmary 1939 to 1940 and is name was frank davitt

    Reply

  2. diane horton September 26, 2018

    i am looking for anyone that was in dudley road hospital as the same time as my dad in 1939 and is name was frank horton

    Reply

  3. Malcolm Rooke August 16, 2018

    Hi having checked the 1911 census I found out my Grand mother Mary Ann Rooke formally Parry age 40 along with Edith Rooke age 14 her daughter and (James Rooke age 12 my father her son ) also she had two other sons a Walter Henry Rooke age 4 and Arthur Phillip Rooke age 5 were all in the workhouse which is now city hospital. Mary was 40 at the time of the census she died two years later at 42 leaving I assume all her children still trapped in the workhouse. Is there any way of finding out individual information on my family, medical records etc. I know little or nothing about them and would love to find out as much as possible. It must have been very hard and sad times for them. However, it seems they all survived the workhouse. Edith actually died in the city hospital according to info I found on Ancestry.

    Reply

  4. Shirley Leaver May 19, 2018

    When my grandmother, Hannah Leaver, died in 1928, it was stated on her death certificate that she died at
    77 Dudley Road, Dudley. This was not her home address. She was at this address for some time, she was suffering from pernicious anaemia for which there wasn’t any treatment at that time. Does anyone know if this was the hospital or maybe the workhouse please.

    Reply

  5. Shirley Leaver May 19, 2018

    When my grandmother, Hannah Leaver, died in 1928, it was stated on her death certificate that she died at
    77 Dudley Road, Dudley. This was not her home address. She was at this address for some time, she was suffering from pernicious anaemia for which there wasn’t any treatment at that time. Does anyone know if this was the hospital or maybe the workhouse please.

    Reply

  6. Judith Chadwick nee Beswick July 20, 2017

    I trained at DRH in 1951 to1956 but did not hear of the Archway,how interesting.I visited about 20 yrs ago and saw many changes and there are many more now Iam sure including the name which is a shame Why.If ther is anyone about from the PNS of 1951 to 1952 please get intouch,would love to hear from someone.

    Reply

    • Paul May 1, 2018

      Hello; I was interested to read about your connection to DHR. I am looking for information about my father Ray Bradbury who was hospitalised in 1945 with a hip trauma injury. I am trying to find out when he was admitted, whether Penicillin was available and who was the young surgeon who operated on my father. Any leads would be appreciated. Many thanks and regards, Paul

      Reply

  7. Julie Smith October 9, 2016

    Hello, I am researching my family tree and am looking in particular for my Grandmother, Gladys Woodbridge who was born in 1915 in Colnbrook, Eton, Bucks to an unmarried Mother. I have an autograph book dating from 1930-1934 including from different people, e.g, “Mother”, D. Stanmore, E. Taylor, Mrs J. Wallen, A. Wheatly and I know my Grandmother worked at Dudley Road Hospital at some point so wondered if she may have been brought up in the adjoining Workhouse. My Grandmother married in 1935 to Edward Albert Newton. I wonder if anyone knows of a relative who worked at the Workhouse in the 1930’s matching any of the above names.? I would love to hear from you. Kind regards, Julie.

    Reply

  8. Laura August 7, 2016

    I was wondering whether there might be any records of hosiptal staff working during the 1940s and 1950s? I’m very interested in finding out more about my grandfather who was the Hospital Administrator around this time. His name was James Preston. If anybody has any idea on how to find this out, I would be most grateful.

    Reply

    • David Preston September 29, 2016

      Hi Laura
      I am David the youngest son of James Preston. We lived in Dudley Road Hospital until dads death on 5th November 1960 when I was 10 If I can help in any way it would be nice to be in contact with relations I didn’t know we had
      My brother, also called James will also get in contact with you
      Regards
      David.

      Reply

    • Jim Preston September 29, 2016

      Laura, my brother Dave just phoned me: James Preston was our father, and we lived in the grounds of DRH until he died in November 1961. How strange to see your message, especially as I’ve recently been doing some digging into my past. Does the name Mabel Preston mean anything to you?

      Please get in touch.
      Jim ( Thomas James Preston)

      Reply

    • David Preston September 29, 2016

      Hi Laura
      I forgot to mention that I have some photographs of your grandfather in his grander moments at Dudley Road.
      David

      Reply

    • Vicki Cox October 3, 2016

      Hi Laura,
      Jim Preston has been in touch and left his contact details with us. If you give us a call on 0121 2334785 we can take your details and pass them on so that you can contact each other directly.

      Vicki
      Birmingham Conservation Trust

      Reply

      • Dr.Krishna Kumar April 11, 2017

        Dear Vicki

        I am most touched by Laura’s search for her grandfather and subsequent replies by David and Jim. I am not related or known to anyone but only keen to learn if she managed to satisfy her quest.

        With kind regards.

        Krishna

        Reply

  9. Jayne Casey September 21, 2015

    Hello

    I just wondered if there was any news about the Archway of tears ? I have told you previously about my family connections to the building through Nathaniel Freeth Felkin my ggg grandfather who assisted Mr Bateman build the workhouse and have found documents that my ggg grandfather even assisted Mr Batman go to Birmingham Heath with 7 men to dig holes to find out if the land was suitable for building the new workhouse. He then went on to be Superintendent of Labour in the new workhouse so you can see I’m very attached to the building and also understand the sadness attached to it as other family members died there. It would be a fabulous museum as I’ve said before to show what happened before the welfare state. I just wondered if there was any new news.

    Thanks Jayne Casey

    Reply

  10. ybonne September 5, 2014

    I was a student nurseliving in the nurses home and then the sisters home at DRH in1986 at that time there were rooms above/adjacent to the archway of tears where we had lessons in elderly care. It was definately a very enigmatic place, not creepy but you could feel the sadness

    Reply

  11. Keith Bracey August 1, 2013

    My Dad and Gran passed away in Dudley Road Hospital as it was known and my Mom received marvellous care there when she fell down her stairs at home. We lived not far away on the Number 11 Corporation Bus in Willow Avenue, where the Sandon Road Number 6 bus had its Terminus and Corporation clock, on The Poplars Estate on the Birmingham side of Bearwood. I went to school at George Dixon Grammar School for Boys and when we got injured playing rugby at the playing fields in Portland Road we were carted off to ‘Dudley Road’ as my Gran always called it when they lived in ‘Back-to-Backs’ in Dugdale Street off Dudley Road, Winson Green. My Grandad Arthur Lewis Merriman worked at Hudson and Wright in Dugdale Street now long gone and drank in The Park Tavern on the corner of Dugdale Street and Dudley Road and ‘The Engine’ as he called it: ‘The Locomotive Pub’ on Dudley Road, right next to the main entrance to The Cape Hill Brewery where he joined The Auxiliary Fire Service at The Cape Hill Brewey Fire Station as he was too old at 40 to join up. Grandad was often on ‘Firewatch’ during the Birmingham Blitz in 1941 with his stirrup pump (which we had into the 1970’s but which has now been thrown away and his ARP tin hat and he would put out German fire bombs and incendiaries as he patrolled the streets of Winson Green, Cape Hill and Ladywood. When he left Hudson and Wright he joined GKN in Heath Street, Smethwick, not far away and walkable for a fit man like Arthur where he worked for over 30 years as a Furnaceman, making nuts, bolts and screws. His daughter my Mom Dot Bracey, later on after he passed away worked as Executive Tea Room Lady at the GKN HQ also in Heath Street Smethwick. Mom went to City Road Junior and Infants School in City Road, Edgbaston near to Dudley Road Hospital.

    Reply

  12. Sandra Rees August 1, 2013

    I have been wondering about the Arch Way a lot,of late, when is the work going to start, it must have a place in history, I have never been up close to the Arch but was born and breed around Winson Green, I feel I have always had a connection to it, if I could, can, help in anyway, please contact me.

    Sandra

    Reply

    • Suzanne Carter August 1, 2013

      Hello Sandra, Thanks for your offer of help. our Director Simon is looking into the situation and I have asked him to respond to you with news when he gets some. Best wishes, Suzanne

      Reply

  13. Jayne Casey July 3, 2013

    Hello again

    I was in touch in 2011 (see above) and I wondered if there was any news on the archway, as things seem to have gone quiet again.

    Your hopefully !

    Jayne Casey@btinternet.com

    Reply

    • Simon Buteux July 4, 2013

      Hello Jayne, thanks for bringing this up. I haven’t heard anything about the Archway of Tears recently but I understand that the NHS Trust have recently undertaken a survey of their estate. Unfortunately their Director of Estates is out of the office till Tuesday, but I have asked him to get back to me when he returns and I hope that I will be able to update you on the situation then.

      Best wishes

      Simon

      Reply

  14. Julia Larden February 15, 2013

    I have not yet seen anyone referring to the history of this building after it ceased to be a workhouse. From 1948-1974 the building was Summerfield Hospital: a geriatric hospital later integrated into Dudley Road Hospital (Now ‘City Hospital’) My father worked there, and I often played in the grounds as a child. I know Summerfield was proud of the number of elderly patients who were treated, and successfully discharged, for various aliments of the elderly, but I believe that many elderly people and their relatives were initially distressed on arriving at Summerfield, thinking they would never come out again! I remember my father saying that they frequent cry, at least in earlier years, was: ‘I’m going to the work ‘us’

    Reply

  15. Ted Rudge January 18, 2013

    Dear Lucie
    At the start of the “The Archway of Tears at the City Hospital, Dudley Road, Birmingham” link of your site could you please change the following.

    from http://www.ted.rudge.btinternet.co.uk/workhouse.htm

    to http://www.winsongreentobrookfields.co.uk/workhouse.htm

    Thanks and are there any new developments / news on the workhouse???

    Best wishes
    Ted Rudge

    Reply

    • Suzanne Carter January 28, 2013

      Hi Ted

      Lucie no longer works for the Trust, i’ve taken over as Development Officer. Sorry to say there have been no developments to report on. Thanks for sending over the link. Have changed. Best wishes, Suzanne

      Reply

  16. Lucie Thacker April 28, 2011

    We are still talking to the NHS, the Constituency Manager, the City Council and other agencies to negotiate a sustainable long term end use for the building.These projects always seem to take ages and I wish things could move faster, but we are still very much involved and moving forward inch by inch! Thank you all for your comments and interest – it gives us comfort that this building is valued by the people of Birmingham.

    Reply

  17. steve whyte April 27, 2011

    Hi how is the work to save the archway of tears progressing?it would be a great shame to see the building collapse due to neglect and finance.Surely something must be done,its part of Birmingham’s wonderful history.

    Reply

  18. mark powell April 25, 2011

    Great news I hope the archway is saved for future generations worked here as a voluntary worker in the early 1990s and was so sad to see this place destroyed and seemed such a waste at the time the admin block used to stand behind this

    Reply

  19. Jayne Casey January 20, 2011

    So glad Ive just found out this good news as I have a family connection to the workhouse.

    My great great great grandfather Nathaniel Felkin served 15 years in the Royal Marines after seeing action in the French Wars and left in 1816. On his return home it seems that he was an inmate of the old Workhouse in Lichfield Street and was a stone breaker. By 1823 I have found him in the records as Superintendent of Stone Breakers earning 20 shillings a week. His wife Sarah was Launderess of the infant department.

    In 1848 he was directed by the board of guardians and Mr JJ Bateman to gather 7 of the parish men to make holes in the field at Birmingham Heath and assist Mr Bateman the architect to ascertain the fitness of the land for the building of the ‘New Workhouse’ in Western Road.

    The ‘New Workhouse’ was opened in 1852 and Nathaniel was appointed the Superintendent of Pauper Labour and assisted Mr Bateman in such jobs as finishing the drainage systems.

    From the records I found and read about Nathaniel he sounded a very fair and caring man.he put it to the Guardians in 1849 that the indoor and outdoor paupers do cease work on the following Thursday as the day has been appointed a day of great thanksgiving on acount of the cessation of cholera in this county. I have many stories showing he was caring probably due to the fact that he used to be an inmate himself.

    Nathaniel worked at the Workhouse well into his 80’s as the Guardians were happy for him to stay on as he ‘rendered good service’. He died in 1864 aged 86 of Senile Decay. The Guardians placed an obituary in the Birmingham Daily Gazette which read ……….

    Felkin – on the 16th inst.in the 86th year of his age Nathaniel Felkin, who for nearly 40 years filled the office of Superintendent of Outdoor Labour in the parish of Birmingham.In which he rendered good service to the rate payers. He for several years served as a marine in the Royal Navy during the reign of George the Third, and was present at the Battle of Trafalgar and Several other engagements by sea during the French War.

    Nathaniel was buried in All Saints Church just around the corner from the workhouse, it is not clear if he had a headstone or not but the church yard was cleared in the 1970’s and now is a housing estate which upset me as there is nothing to say that this great man who served his country all his life ever existed.

    I am very proud to be his great great great grandaughter and to have found out about his life.

    Reply

    • Lucie Thacker January 20, 2011

      What a fascinating family history to have discovered. Many thanks for sharing it with us – it is a story of great hardship but also amazing fortitude and you are rightly very proud of your great great great grandfather. I am so glad that you have written about Nathaniel – his story tells us a great deal about the way the Workhouse operated and the good people who could end up there.
      This is an inspiring story and one I hope we can tell again if we can find a way to save the Archway of Tears.

      Reply

      • Jayne Casey January 21, 2011

        That would be fantastic !!

        Reply

  20. cecilia morrall August 7, 2010

    myself my older brothers and sister and my younger siter all have conections with the city hospital site as we were all born there in the 50’s and 70′
    i have recently found out through tracing my family history on the morral side
    that my great great grandmother maryann morral was addmitted to the work house infirmary in 1901 due to the fact that there was nobody to look after her after her husband edward morrall died and she was also of feeble mind

    i think it is a crying shame that the the archway of tears could possable be demolished and i think every effort should be made to try and save this wonderfull historic building for furture generations and also for the memory of the poor souls who where there through no fault of their own

    Reply

    • Lucie Thacker August 17, 2010

      Thanks for your message of support, Cecilia, and for sharing your sad story with us.
      Birmingham Conservation Trust is working with the NHS and our partners to find a sustainable solution for this building – it has so many important memories for lots of people.

      Reply

  21. Lucie Thacker April 14, 2010

    Thanks for that, Neil. I look forward to hearing more about what the local community is interested to see the building used for. We will explore all the options as we do the appraisal. We have to ensure that we have a long term sustainable use (which can change over time – thankfully it no longer need be a sad place) so that the building and its very special history is preserved for future generations.

    Reply

  22. Neil De-Costa April 14, 2010

    We’ve just written about this project on our blog and are really hoping to continue to support the work that you are doing. This is a really important building locally and historically. We would like to see it brought into positive use by the community.

    Reply

    • Victoria L. Holland March 25, 2011

      Hello from Texas, I was born in Dudley Rd. Hospital in May of 1960. At that time period, was the Infirmary the only functional part of the Hosspital? I think it’s great that you are doing this project.

      Reply

      • Lucie Thacker March 29, 2011

        Hi Victoria
        thank you for getting in touch. I think the hospital was extensive and included all departments as it does today. The former Workhouse had become the geriatric unit and was demolished in 1993, with the exception of The Archway of Tears. we are still working on ways to save this special place.

        Reply

  23. The Archway of Tears project | Soho Neighbourhood Birmingham April 14, 2010

    […] to be used for, but also to learn more about its history. The Birmingham Conservation Trust is looking for funding and leading the project, but I hope we can help to support the work it is […]

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