Beechholme - A Children's Village, published by the Banstead History Research GroupBeechholme Miscellaneous items

This section includes any contributions which are not specifically memories from children who resided at Beechholme.
Contributions are shown in the order they are added, with the latest at the top.

If you recognize a name or would like to add your own memories or story please contact us here

You can also order our book Beechholme – A Children's Village.


Beechholme A Children's Village   

BEECHHOLME — A Children's Village

A Banstead History Research Group (BHRG) publication.

One hundred pages featuring Beechholme history, numerous photographs and memories. This is a far more comprehensive book that the original booklet which, for many years,was the most requested BHRG publication.

Copies are available locally from The IBIS bookshop in Banstead High Street (opposite Waitrose), or to order by post at £9.99 plus post and packing.

If you have any questions, please mail the Webmaster  . He always replies!

Of course we will continue to collect your photographs and memories of Beechholme, and if you have the facility, you can even upload your own images, or comment on existing ones on our Photographic Archive,  here. The earliest photos come from about 1895 when Beechholme was still the Kensington and Chelsea District School.

Want to apply for Beechholme records?
Read Valerie's tips here.

Public contribution to BHRG Aug 2012 - Derek Gribble writes about his granddad William 'Jay' Joiner who was an engineer at Beechholme for many years.
Public contribution to BHRG Feb 2012 - Frank Burgess ex Beechholme boy found guilty of murder.
Public contribution to BHRG Dec 2009 - Beechholme Red Cross Unit 140 memories from 1953
Public contribution to BHRG Nov 2009 - the destruction of the Beechholme World WWI Memorial
Public contribution to BHRG Aug 2009 - Mouldy Old Dump the Beechholme song, or was it?
Public contribution to BHRG Jul 2009 - June Brown and Yvonne McCarthy reunited after 47 years
Public contribution to BHRG May 2009 - Frank Rowsell researching Elizabeth (Beth) Chalk
Public contribution to BHRG Nov 2008 - Robin Chalmers wrote in about Frank Hall .
Public contribution to BHRG Sep 2008 - Valerie Kassl (nee Baker) wrote in enquiring about her father Edward Henry Gent . Valerie also describes the process of obtaining his records.
Public contribution to BHRG Aug 2008 - Mrs Leese (nee Gibbs) sent us an update on Frank and Freda Gibbs. Fred was Housemaster of Fir during the 1950's.
Public contribution to BHRG Jul 2008 Gillian Los visits Banstead.
Public contribution to BHRG Apr 2005 Terry Shoosmith sent in a photo of the Column of Remembrance sited outside the school within the Beechholme grounds.

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William Joiner - Engineer at Beechholme

William Joiner - Beechholme Chief Engineer.

Hello, my name is Derek Gribble and my granddad was William Joiner, known by many as "Jay". He worked at Beechholme for many years, up until his retirement from London County Council. I estimate this would have been around 1965.

I believe his job title would have been something like Chief Engineer as was in charge of the steam boilers, I seem to remember. He lived in the white semi-detached house on the north (railway) side of Fir Tree Road, the only house on that side of the street at the time, as I recall. He lived with his wife, my Nan, in the left side portion of the semi, next to the lane that ran down to Beechholme from Banstead Station. I assume these houses were owned by the Council. I spent many happy times in that house and in the lane alongside.

William Joiner was on call for whenever something went wrong with the physical plant at Beechholme. He was a wonderful Granddad, kindly and always impeccably dressed and he had big bushy eyebrows. A few times, he took me into the school into the boiler room.

I wonder if any of the contributors to this site remember him or have a photo of him.


Derek Gribble

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Frank Burgess - Guilty of murder

Frank's mother at the time of his birth was an inmate of a colony for feeble-minded persons so Frank did not have the best start in life. He had an older sister, and later was to have a younger brother. By the age of three he had been adopted by The London County Council and found himself at The Banstead Residential School where he remained until the age of fifteen.

He frequently had nightmares, was slow to learn and had the occasional outburst of temper when he became violent and difficult to control. On the whole however, he was described as a quiet boy who craved for affection. He himself said that he was happy and well treated at the school.

Frank left Beechholme at the age of 15 but was sent to an Approved school within a year. Aged 17 he enlisted as a Trooper in the Royal Armoured Corps and served in North Africa but returned to England after a severe bout of Thyfoid fever. He was eventually referred to a Physiciatrist, after becoming violent towards his Sergeant, who concluded that Frank was permanently unfit to serve in the military. He found it difficult to adjust to civilian life and in November 1951 he was admitted to Netherne Hospital. He discharged himself in Jan 1952 but was charged with unlawful wounding within two days; he had attacked a taxi driver with a knife. Following a probationary period be started work at the Elgin Hotel in Croydon.

On 23rd April 1952, Frank Burgess was charged with the murder of Johanna Hallahan who was found strangled in her room at the hotel. She had been working there for about six weeks. In a letter to his probation officer Burgess wrote "She took a long time to die but I found it was in quite a fit of laughter when I killed her".

The appointed Medical Officer, J C M Matheson concluded that Frank was "sane, fit to plead to the indictment and fit to stand his trial". Burgess stood trial at Surrey on 30 June 1952 and was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. He was executed on 22 July 1952.

Sources: Daily Telegraph article dated 24 April 1952
National Archives :Piece reference PCOM 9/1624

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The Beechholme British Red Cross Unit 140 - memories from 1953 

My name is Brian Sutcliffe and as a member of the British Red Cross Society I was asked if I would help to run  Unit 140 of the Junior Red Cross at Beechholme. This was in early 1952. An Enrolment Ceremony was held in December 1952 and another in January 1953. First Aid examinations followed in due course following courses in instruction and training.

Red Cross Badge The youngsters proved to be a lively bunch, some shy, some brash, some just waiting for something to burst out from amongst their thoughts. I had a good relationship with them and they mostly behaved quite well. I worked them hard and they responded with a bright cheerfulness.


They loved the drill and marching as part of the parades just as much as other subjects such as first aid and bandaging.  Their smartness must have impressed someone, for on 15th September 1953 the Cadets escorted me up to London on the train, there to assemble at the foot of the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral to await the Princess Royal who was attending the Annual Service of the BRCS. There were some very proud faces on that day, I can tell you - me included!


Various examinations in First Aid were undertaken by the Cadets, who impressed the inspecting officers with a good turn out at the annual inspection.


When I left Beechholme I was given an autograph book inscribed "To Cadet Officer B. O. Sutcliffe.  Please accept this small gift from the Cadets and Officers of Unit 140, as a token of appreciation, and interest taken in them." Signed by Capt Larkin,

Mr D H Reynolds, L Stears. Then followed these names G I Wilson, Jean George, Jean Bedwell, Betty Albers, Sylvia Amos, Margaret Pearson, Cecilia Howden, David Johnston, Michael Drummond, Michael Marshall, Jimmy Smithers, John Smithers, Brian Drummond, Maurice F Bunce, Keith Daly, then "Down by the river carved on a rock three little words for-get-me-not" James Daly 29.9.54. I still have that little book for it is very precious, and at 82 still brings a tear to my old eyes. What memories!


British Red Cross
Read more about the British Red Cross here.

I was sorry to leave Beechholme on 29th September 1954, but I had joined the staff of the British Leprosy Relief Association (BELRA) and after a year on their headquarters staff sailed to Nigeria where I served as a Leprosy Lay-worker, initially at Itu in S E Nigeria on the Cross River. During the next few years I was sent to other more remote places finishing up with the secession of Biafra and the ensuing civil war - but that it quite another story and quite of enough of me. This is supposed to be memories (and very happy memories) of Beechholme.

Brian Sutcliffe


Note from webmaster -
Are you one of the children Brian mentions? Do you remember your time with Unit 140? Write in and tell us about it here .

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Beechholme memorial

Builders destroy Beechholme
Great War Memorial

Read more here.

MYSTERY : At BHRG we have always been certain that the WWl Memorial was bulldozed by the builders, however a recently published photo seems to show the school with no memorial in front of it. This is most puzzling. Can you help solve this mystery? Mail us with any information here.

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Mouldy old dump!

Today I was listening to Radio 4 and heard someone mention and hum the tune to a hymn. Straight away I realised this was where the Beechholme song had come from. The song that begins "There is a mouldy dump" is a bowdlerised version of the hymn 'There is a happy land'. Same tune, same phrasing, just the words have been changed. I guess they once used to sing this hymn in the Beechholme church, though I never heard it there. Perhaps they dropped it from the services when the song was made up, otherwise they would have got the mouldy dump version sung in church.

Best wishes from Roger Armstrong,
Beechholme 1956-1963.

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Reunited after 47 years.

Yvonne Russell nee McCarthy contacted us when she found her photograph on our Beechholme feature.

Yvonne is an ex Beechholme resident who now has a studio at Morden Hall Park, just a few miles away from Banstead.   A sample of her work can be seen on the right. 

Yvonne trained as a painter and earlier this year (2009) held an exhibition of her work at Morden Hall Park.

Yvonne is a big character in more ways than one and would be delighted to see you, so if you are in the area, pop in and ask for her and tell her you saw her pictures on the BHRG website. Everyone knows her!

  Yonne Russell painting
See more of Yvonne':s pictures at
Beechholme 1962 Yvonne only had four photos of herself up to the age of twenty so she was really pleased to get the one on the left which shows her next to her best friend June .

June now lives in Canada but visited the UK in July 2009 and met up with her old mate Yvonne a mere forty seven years after the photo on the left was taken! Here they are in 2009 - hardly changed at all. 

June and Yvonne in the UK 2009

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Do you remember Elizabeth (Beth) Chalk? :

Frank writes : Hello, I hope you can help me, I am doing some research on my mother Elizabeth Ann Chalke ( Chalk ) who was a resident at the Beechholme School, Banstead. I believe she was there between approx 1937 to 1954 and was also known as Beth.

Frank Rowsell

We have already established that Beth started at Beechholme on 15 Feb 1939. Her DOB was 20 Sept 1935.
That's about all we can tell Frank. If you remember Beth please mail the webmaster . Thank you. LW


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25 Nov 2008 - FRANK HALL passed away last night in the city of Tacoma which is about 30 miles south of Seattle USA.

Robin Chalmers writes- About five years ago I was asked to be a member of Washington State Hall of Fame Committee for football. I met a fellow by the name of Frank Hall. He and I both being the only Brits among a whole group of Americans immediately hit it off. What was truly amazing is that Frank lived in Beechholme and attended the boys school in Picquets Way during the war from 1940 up until about 1950.

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Public contribution to BHRG

Valerie describes the process of recovering her father's records:

First I contacted the London Metropolitan Archives online with a short e-mail giving my name and address and relationship to whom I was looking for with Subject Line: Beechholme school, Banstead. I gave details of who I was researching - name, date and place of birth, last know location, etc.

I also received a reply from The City of London enquiries service. It was a very straight forward process and the cost was about £30 - well worth it.

I received a report giving some general information on Beechholme as well as my father's details - it took about 5-6 weeks to get the report. I suggest that anyone interested should first contact the London Metropolitan Archives.

Lewis Wood, the BHRG webmaster has helpfully set up direct links below. These will open up a new blank e mail correctly addressed to the right place with a subject heading of "Beechholme Residential School records enquiry - ".

LMA logo
Click here to start mail.
City of London logo

Click here to start mail.

Good luck with your search.


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Gillian Stile Los
Gillian on the breezy Downs.
On Monday 21st July 2008, Gillian arrived at Banstead railway station on her two yearly trip from her home in California. Gillian spent her whole childhood at Beechholme and has kept in touch with many children she knew at the time. She travels extensively and spends a lot of time and effort visiting ex Beechholmers.

Gillian was met by Lewis Wood, your BHRG webmaster and Ralph Maciejewski, BHRG secretary. We had a very pleasant lunch at The Mint in Park Road. Ralph showed Gillian the draft of the new book and lots of photographs. Gillian's memory of Beechholme is pin sharp and she was able to describe all the locations in the photographs in great detail, often adding considerably to the information we already had.

After lunch, we drove past the memorial and the Woolpack, and the Waitrose Supermarket which Gillian remembered used to be the Village school. Further along Banstead High Street, we went past the church and further still Woolworths, where Gillian once worked.

Gillian and Ralph
Gillian and Ralph with the first draft copy
of the new book on Beechholme.
We crossed the Brighton Road - "much more traffic" remarked Gillian - and stopped in Nork. We walked along the parade of shops where Gillian reminisced over her trips to a small coffee shop, now no longer there.

We then drove along Fir Tree Road and up to Epsom downs where we had a fine view across the whole of London. The sun shone but as always, it was a little breezy.

We took Gillian to the new Epsom Downs train station which is now at the far end of a housing estate and considerably smaller that the nine platform station it used to be. After that we drove around the old Beechholme site noting several streets named after the original Beechholme houses.

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Press 'Play'
Thank you Gillian for coming all this way to see us, and all your friends.

Gillian caught the 5.35pm train from Banstead station to Victoria but before she left she recorded this short message for all you Beechholmers out there.

............. So where are you all?

If you or your relatives spent any time at Beechholme, do write in and tell us about it. We very much like to hear from you, and if you wish, we may be able to put you in touch with others who were there at the same time.

Lewis Wood

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Public contribution to BHRG NOVEMBER 2006 - Roger Armstrong writes - "I have the original book, having myself been at Beechholme between 1956 and 1963. I have many detailed memories, some happy some not too happy. There was a Beechholme song which does not appear in the first book. We used to recite this time next week quite a lot rather wistfully, just like the kids in other childrens homes, but the Beechholme song went..see right hand panel.

There were other verses, including one about Pop Banner.
There is a mouldy dump
Down Banstead way
Where we get bread and cheese
Three times a day
Eggs & bacon we don't see
We get sawdust in our tea
That's why we're gradually
Fading away.

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Beechholme Memorial postcard sent in to BHRG by Terry Shoosmith. Public contribution to BHRGAPRIL 2005 - Terry Shoosmith sent us this postcard depicting the Beechholme Column of Remembrance erected in 1921. Terry's grandmother was a member of staff at Beechholme around 1912. At that time she was Mrs Esther Downs, born 1877, a widow with a daughter of 5 or 6 years of age (Terry's mother, born in July 1906).

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