Erdington Cottage Homes

aka Aston Union Cottage Homes


Erdington was not part of what we know as Birmingham until 1911. It was thus not Birmingham Union that opened the cottage homes at Erdington in 1900 but Aston Union. The Homes were built next to the workhouse from where the first children came.


Initially, the Homes were made up of 16 large houses (some detached, some semis) on either side of a long avenue. Single sex boys homes were on the right hand side, girls homes were on the left. Each home had two-dormitory style bedrooms and a live in foster mother.


At the entrance end of the avenue was the lodge, and at the far end was the infirmary, swimming pool, school and chapel. The homes also had large playing fields on the ground between the complex and the train line.


In the middle of the avenue was the superintendent's house and the clock tower.


Later, a probationary home was added and one of the workshop buildings and the infirmary were turned into the eighteenth and nineteenth homes.


In 1949, the homes were each given names rather than being known only by numbers. The foster mothers were replaced by houseparents - a married couple that the children were encouraged to call 'mom' and 'dad'. In 1966, each of the cottages became an independent children's home and the avenue became known as The Gardens. The late 1970s saw an end to live-in houseparents, instead a staff team working in shifts and led by an officer-in-charge managed each home.


The homes were used as children's homes right up to the early 1980s. The buildings are now private residences but the exteriors have been preserved to look very much as they did when they were the cottage homes.


A famous resident of Erdington Cottage Homes was Johnny Prescott, the successful 1960s boxer who became the heavy-weight champion of the Midlands. He spent part of his childhood in the Homes. Sadly he died in November 2012. Read Birmingham Mail coverage of his funeral here, and an overview of his life here.





The Homes hit the Airwaves!


On Sunday 22nd July, the keeper of this site (and author of The Children of the Homes) will be on Carl Chinn's show on Radio WM wit a former resident of Erdington Cottage Homes. Tune in from 12 noon.






 The children of the Homes, the long-awaited book on Erdington Cottage Homes, is available now.


The children of the Homes uncovers Erdington’s hidden history. While the buildings of one of the country’s biggest children’s homes are still in place, few people know about them and can only guess at the lives and experiences of the thousands of children who spent time there.


With more than 80 photographs and illustrations, The children of the Homes charts the story of the cottage homes from 1899 when the first children were moved in from the workhouse, to the late 1990s when the last child left.


This book tells, for the first time, the story of the thousands of people who spent their childhoods behind the iron gates through a combination of memoir and factual research. The memories of the children separated from their families make for moving reading.




£12.99 (+ £1.50 P&P - UK ONLY)






Any questions, or enquiries about alternative payment options or postage costs outside the UK, please do not hesitate to get in touch




 Dave has let us know that he is writing a blog about his time in the Homes in the 1970s.

You can read it here.

This, and many other pictures of Erdington Cottage Homes, is available to buy from our PHOTO SHOP






    The children of the Homes:     

    a century of Erdington Cottage Homes


- memories of the homes from the time of Aston Union and the workhouse to the street of childrens homes known as the Gardens in the 60s, 70s and 80s.


            Size: A4, 102 pages

            ISBN: 9781903210284






Looking for records of your time in Erdington Cottage Homes?

Please have a look at this leaflet.


And see our page on accessing records for your rights and restrictions in terms of looking at archives about cottage homes.




There's an article about Erdington Cottage Homes in the April 2013 issue of Carl Chinn's Brummagem magazine.