Middlemore Emigration Homes



 Middlemore Emigration Homes, known before 1925 as the Children's Emigration Homes, were founded in 1872 by John Throgmorton Middlemore. He saw poor children on the streets of Birmingham and felt that they should be sent abroad for a healthier life away from their pauper roots. The Middlemore Homes was, of course, not the only organisation sending children to the New World, many organisations were doing it. it was seen not only as  way of giving poor British children a new start in life but also as a way of supplying much-needed labour in these newly developing countries. 


Hundreds of children were migrated from the Homes, including some from other children's homes in the city which used Middlemore Homes as a vehice for theie emigration. Sadly, emigrations such as these were not always happy. It is has since become apparent that children not only suffered the trauma of being separated from their families and all that was familiar to them but some were mistreated in their new homes. Many people now find themselves 'in limbo', still based in their new countries, having newfound contact with their families in England but unable to afford to visit.


Middlemore Homes were initially based on St Luke's Road, Highgate but later were in a large building (pictured above, courtesy of Patricia Skidmore) on Weoley Park Road. In Canada, children were sent to Fairbridge Farm School where they were taught the skills they would need for labouring work (boys) or domestic service (girls).


After the Children Act 1948 outlawed the practice, the numbers of children being emigrated was greatly reduced. As results, Middlemore Emigration Homes had no need for their huge building in Selly Oak and so it was leased to Birmingham City Council for use as a children's home known as Middlemore House. Around a hundred children lived there until 1955 when it closed. For a time the building was part of Westhill College but it was eventually demolished in 2004. More information on this can be found here




The archives of the Middlemore Homes is held by Birmingham Archives and Heritage at the Library of Birmingham.


If you are looking for your own records of your time either at Middlemore Emigration Homes or the Council-run Middlemore House, write a letter giving as many dates and details as you can to:

Data Protection & Freedom of Information Team

Children, Young People & Families Directorate

Birmingham City Council

Martineau Centre

Balden Road

Birmingham B32 2EH


The Child Migrants Trust is a great source of support and information for former child migrants.

Girls at Wolfe Cottage in Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra, Western Australia - a common destination for children from Middlemore Emigration Homes

This picture is available to buy from our PHOTO SHOP


Marjorie's story


We recently received the following email from Canada:


"I am the daughter of a British Child Migrant. My mother, Marjorie, was born in Whitley Bay, northern England in 1926. In February 1937, Marjorie and three siblings were removed from their mother's care and placed in the Middlemore Emigration Home in Birmingham.


In September 1937 of that year my mother and a younger brother were sent to Vancouver Island, BC, Canada via the Fairbridge Farm School scheme. A younger sister followed in August 1938. The older sister was left behind at the Emigration Home because she was thought to be too old for the scheme. She was sent back home when she turned 16.


It was to their mother's eternal distress that she lost her three children to Canada.


I have written a book about my mother's experience - both as a child and as a senior returning to London in February 2010 to be present at Prime Minister Gordon Brown's formal Apology to all children who were sent from Britain during its 350 years of child migration (1619 to 1974).


"Marjorie Too Afraid To Cry" was published by Dundurn in January 2013.

I have attached a photo of my 86 year old mother - happily holding 'her story.' "



Patricia Skidmore