©  COLIN BAKER   2007                                                                                       

Uffculme House was built for Richard Cadbury, of the chocolate making family, in 1891; it is located next door to Joseph Chamberlain’s Highbury Hall. It was named after the village in Devon where the Cadbury family had a house. Richard Cadbury and the family moved to the house from Moseley Hall, after giving the Hall to the City of Birmingham for use as a children's hospital. His wife Emma continued to live there after the death of  Richard in 1899

Uffculme was first used as a hostel for Belgian refugees, when the family made it available for the war effort with the first arrivals in September 1914.  In November 1916 it was taken over by the Friends’ Ambulance Unit and opened on 7th December 1916 as a 200-bed unit.  It later became a regional limb-fitting centre for soldiers living in the counties of Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Oxfordshire. Uffculme became an annexe to All Saints Hospital, and was used for Outpatient facilities. It became a centre for the treatment of neurosis and is still in use as a medical facility to this day

In 1932 Part of the grounds were given to Birmingham Corporation, and, along with land from adjacent Highbury Hall, became Highbury Park.

Richard Cadbury born 1835 was one of seven children of John Cadbury, the founder of Cadbury's cocoa and chocolate company, they were a strict Quaker family and did much to promote the Religion in Birmingham. With his brother George he took over the family business in 1861 when their father retired, and in 1878 they acquired land, four miles south of Birmingham, moving their city centre factory there in 1879. Over the following years more land was acquired and a village was built for his workers which became known as Bourneville. Richard became a respected citizen in Birmingham; involved in public affairs, on the town council; serving on the Boards of the General Hospital, Eye Hospital and the Institutions; and becoming an active promoter of the railways.

He died in 1899

Richards’s son William was Lord Mayor of Birmingham 1919-1921




In 1910, Richard Cadbury,’s son Barrow, and Geraldine, his wife, made available 5 acres of Uffculme estate with funds of about £400, to erect an open-air school. Their son Paul had contracted tuberculosis, and had been treated with a method of treatment known as open-air living. This treatment consists of patients spending most of their time outside in the open air, summer and winter, with a balanced diet and exercise. The buildings at Uffculme consisted of square wood and brick rooms which had glazed folding doors on three of the sides, which enabled the room to be opened to the elements. The school opened on the 18th September 1911 with 28 children aged between eight and 12 years old, all selected by Dr. Auden, Birmingham’s School Medical Officer. During the day, (8-30 to 5-30) the children were fed 3 meals and allowed a 1½ hours rest period when they were encouraged to sleep on the specially provided beds. The emphasis was on improving the physical condition rather than the education of the child

“The success they achieved was probably due as much to the quality and quantity of the food as to the fresh air”.

By October there were a total of 100 children attending each day.

Most children would spend up to four months at Uffculme, although up to 12 months stay was not unusual, before returning to a general education school, following discharge from Uffculme, children were re-examined after 3 months and most still showed a great improvement in their health. Punishment for bad behaviour was caning, vegetable preparing or general kitchen duties.

Following the success at Uffculme, four more open-air schools were opened by Birmingham City.

The faith doctors had in the open air treatment, could be seen at Moseley Hall Children’s Hospital, where a veranda located on the first floor was surrounded by a folding glass partition which could be left open for the “benefit” of patients. The education of  children who were in-patients at Moseley Hall was administered by Uffculme, and children were discharged to Uffculme from there.