A history lesson-Cropwood House

The south and south-west of Birmingham have a lot to thank the Cadbury family for and Hunters Hill is no exception. Cropwood House is one of three sites used by the school (the others being the main school site, which was Hunters Hill Open Air School, and The Stables where our outdoor learning is based).

Barrow and Geraldine Cadbury built a house in Blackwell village as a country retreat. One of their children suffered with lung problems so they also built Cropwood House in the village, in the late 1890s. In 1925 it was gifted to the city to be used as an Open Air school for children with respiratory diseases, mostly those caused by living in the industrial areas of the city. Former residents have told staff of a building without glass (just the window-holes!), outdoors classrooms, and snow blowing in across their beds at night. We are hoping to run an oral history project on the Open Air schools soon- the last one closed in 1986 so they cover a long period of time!

These days Cropwood is our KS4 base where year 10 and 11 students are dropped off in the morning. A slice of toast, a game of pool, or a bit of morning news in the lounge sets every up for the day and their english and maths lessons are carried out in Cropwood House (which now has glass in the window-holes!). There is also an ICT suite and the well-equipped fitness room. Our construction and motor vehicle teaching areas are also found on the Cropwood site. 

Year 11 students are not allowed to be in overnight residence, as part of their transition to leaving Hunters Hill. However some year 10 students are resident on Mondays and Tuesdays and they get to sleep in the historic building and make use of the facilities including the beautiful billiard room in the photo. We are considering making some of these facilities available when they are not in use by the school, please get in touch if this is of interest. Cropwood House is also home to our annual residents' Halloween party, being the ideal setting for a haunted house experience run every year by the older students for the little ones!

One of our main feeder schools, Skilts, is also a former open-air school and our friends at Mount Pleasant School Farm in Kings Norton are also based on land that was donated by the Cadbury family to the Bourneville Village Trust. We have the Cadburys to thank that our area is full of green spaces as they were the forerunners of the 'green belt' concept!