History of the school

 

Taken from "Bentley Heath and Widney Manor" by Edna G Handley

Published by Edna G. Handley 1992  ISBN 0 9519897 0 7

 

Bentley Heath Old School/Church is a very special building to many people in Bentley Heath. For over a hundred years it was the School, the Church, the local library, and general meeting room for all organisations in the area. Church meetings, whist drives, W.I. Meetings, concerts, talks, socials, knitting and collecting 'comforts' for the troops and much more went on within its walls. When the School was built in 1870 Bentley Heath was a scattered hamlet of farms and cottages; the village we know today grew up around the Old School and Mission Church.

 

Old school

 

The school came to be built on this isolated spot through the vision of George Homer who lived in a large house in Station Road, Solihull, between St. Augustine's Church and the High Street.  The grounds of his house spread down to the road which now bears his name.

In 1865 George Homer wrote, " I have contemplated erecting and endowing a school for the education of poor children with a residence for the master of such a school upon that portion of the Parish of Solihull known as Bentley Heath.  Now in case I should die without effecting such an object and any person or persons should within twelve months of my decease give a suitable piece of land...I bequeath to my trustees the sum of £500."  If no land was forthcoming the money reverted to the other beneficiaries of the will.

He died in November 1867 and the Feoffees and Rector of Solihull were anxious to take advantage of this gift. When the contents of the will became known in 1868, Rev. John Holbech Short of Temple Balsall gave a piece of land at Bentley Heath which he had inherited, his ancestors having been Lords of Widney Manor in Tudor and Stuart times. The conveyance states that all buildings erected on the land must be used as a school and residence for a schoolmaster.

The Feoffees appointed Mr Watson as architect and by May 1869 he had produced some plans. The design chosen was in the Butterfield Polychromatic Style (it has different coloured bricks) and Mr Skinner's tender of £445-10-0d to build the school was accepted in August 1869.

 

Next:  The School Opens - the 1870's