My father was one of the Cottage Homes cup team
My father Sidney Haddock is in the photograph of the Cottage Homes football team which appeared in the Bugle dated September 26. He was the boy furthest left in the back row.
My father was one of a family of seven children orphaned in 1914, and as a consequence four children were within the age group warranting entry into the Cottage Homes for care, upbringing and education. As my father was the youngest, all his formative years (1914 -24) were spent under their guidance and support.
He lived in house number 7 (of 8). He recalled that each house had three bedrooms containing ten beds, with additional rooms for the Foster Mother and assistant Foster Mother.
The superintendent was Mr Wolverson, a local preacher, who had his own bowling green, and the homees had their own farm and allotments to cultivate the food. All the children had to work in the digging and growing of the garden produce. At any given time there was always a minimum of 40 spades available to ensure no skiving among the bigger children, who were also expected to help with the general upbringing of the younger ones.
He recalled with great affection Miss Cooper, his Foster Mother – stern but with an underlying kindness for all her children.
The resident carpenter was also the cobbler, Mr Frank Banks, who had additional responsibilities to train the football team. With a continuing change of age groups it was impossible to keep together the team of 192122 who apparently won the Cork Cup, scoring 25 goals in five matches, without conceding one, with my father scoring a penalty in every game.
They always had to attend St Thomas’s Church, morning and afternoon each Sunday, and an occasional trip to Bluebell Wood in Bushbury was considered a major event.
A final anecdotal tale concerns an apparent arrangement with New Cross Hosptial (known to my father as The Spike, due probably to the workhouse connection) that the homes’ bakery produced a certain amount of loaves for New Cross, and when my father was older he sometimes went with the horse-drawn van to deliver the load.
On one occasion the horse had slipped his bridle, but happily trotted his way down the Wednesfield Road, turned right and calmly negotiated his way to the appropriate dropping off point, obviously memorising a well worn route.
As the school leaving age was 14, all children were then discharged into the community, but not without the homes knowing that they had a job to go to and somewhere to live.
The abiding memory left with my father was of a disciplined and strict regime but tempered with an overriding will of the staff to keep the children fit and well balanced to meet the rigours of the outside world that still existed in the 1920s.
A.G. Haddock, Fairview Grove, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton
Standing, from left: Frank Banks (trainer), Sidney Haddock, G Hardy, C Summerfield, Fred Richards. Middle row: Ike Benton, Dave Callear, Billy Walker, Bobby Lees, Albert Abbots. Front, on ground: Fred Cheshire, Ted Evans