Beaconsfield (Childrens) Convalescent Home
An account of living in the Home during the 1940s.
Tonia Cole writes:
“My brother and I were born in Cornwall just 12 months apart. Our father was in the Armed Forces in Cornwall at the time. He left our mother when I was three and my brother two years old. Our mother felt that she could not care for us in the way that she wanted to. She was living in London at the time, so we were placed in care. Then we were placed in Beaconsfield Convalescent Home in 1946.
One of my earliest memories of the home was standing in line to be given a spoonful of Cod Liver Oil. My stomach was unable to keep it down, so the nurses decided that they had to stop giving it to me.
I remember rows of potties on the floor, side by side beds and a play room. We spent most of the day in the play room which had a gate in and out to the main building. To me, at that time, it seemed six feet high (it wasn’t!). We were walked in pairs in a line with a nurse in front of us and one behind us, to a nearby pond.
I only have very vague memories of the other children except when a child threw a toy metal plane that hit me on the head. I clung to the gate screaming and put my apron over my head. When the nurse came, I took the apron down and it was covered in blood. I still have the scar.
Every Christmas we lined up to speak to Father Christmas and receive a present, one of which I still have.
Enid Blyton came and signed a book for each of us. I had that for many years too but, unfortunately, it was lost somewhere.
I, like many of my room mates, had night terrors about a dark, sinister looking building that we could see from our bedrooms. We called it the monkey house.
I very vaguely remember grown up people coming into the home to look at us.
When I become six, I should have been removed and sent to St Barnardo’s, but as my brother was only five, they kept me [in Beaconsfield] until he was six. This information I discovered in my adoption records years later. We were very lucky children.
I do remember when my adopters came; we were placed in a small room to talk to them. I was very shy and wouldn’t go near the man.
I know, looking back, that the nurses were very kind and caring.”
Tonia also adds that her brother and she were adopted together which was unusual in those days. She was very grateful for this.