Rotherham lad's happy memories of a convalescent trip to the seaside

Retro reader Ray Hill has shared great memories of a childhood visit to a Filey convalescent home that feature in a new book about Rotherham.

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 12:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 12:13 pm
A postcard of the Habershon House convalescent home in Filey that was sent home to his parents in Rotherham by Ray Hill
A postcard of the Habershon House convalescent home in Filey that was sent home to his parents in Rotherham by Ray Hill

Ray said that Habershon House in Primrose Valley was opened in 1903 for Rotherham children to recover from illness.

He added: “It maintained this status until 1973 when due to circumstances it changed its status and name. It became an educational centre for the local primary schools and special needs schools.

“It changed its name to Habershon House in memory of Ivy Habershon, wife of a past Rotherham mayor in 1922, for her interest in the home and the welfare of the local children.”

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A group of children at Habershon House convalescent home in Filey

Ray, who went to Spurley Hey school, was sent there in 1958 after he had a mastoid operation on his ear.

“I remember the two weeks very well. My mother took me to town early on Saturday morning and we waited with a group of other lads outside the Odeon Cinema on Corporation Street for the Riley’s bus to take us to Filey.

“There were two women who went with us and they were to stay the two weeks looking after us.”

On arrival, “we went one at a time into the office of the woman who was in charge of the home. She was Mrs Hill and lived in Filey (no relation).

We had to hand over our spending money for safekeeping and we could purchase a postcard which showed the house to send home to our parents to say we had arrived OK. Then we were taken upstairs to our dormitory where we picked our beds.

“The lad who was the next bed to me (can’t remember his name), we became pals for the whole two weeks. There was another Spurley Hey lad a year older than me and I can’t remember his name either.

“Myself and my new mate would climb up into the big tree in front of the house and talk and tell jokes and sing songs that were popular at the time. We would also play football with the other lads and on the swings at the front and side of the big garden.

“Just after we had got our bearings we found out there was an apple orchard in the big house at the back of the home.

“We climbed over the dividing fence and took some apples back to the home and shared them with some of the others. When we got to the end of the two weeks there were no apples left.

“Sometimes when it was nice the two women who looked after us took us down the lane at the side of the home which led down to the beach where we would play for a while.

“A few times, instead of staying there we would turn left and walk on the sands all the way into Filey where we would have a look round the shops before walking back.

“So far down the lane was a shop/post office where we could buy ice cream or a drink before going on to the beach. There was a narrow path that took you down to the beach between the cliffs.

“We also had special trips into Filey. The two that weren’t popular were the Sundays we had to go to church. There were three others we enjoyed, though.

“One outing was to the local fire station where we were shown round and allowed to get into the cab of one of the fire engines and also climb halfway up the extended ladder. Wouldn’t be allowed today.

“Another outing was to a local youth club in Filey and that was very enjoyable and in the early evening.

“They had a boxing ring and one of their boxers asked if anybody would like to put the gloves on with him in the ring. The other older Spurley Hey lad got in the ring and boxed with him.

“He did that well the club presented a cup to take back to the home. I also had a go in the ring with my new mate.

“One night us older lads went into Filey to the cinema with one of the women whilst the other stayed and looked after the young uns.”

Ray found another source of apples on his last day but they had an unfortunate effect, leading to an uncomfortable journey home!

Ray said: “Twenty seven years later I was at my cousin's house and his wife got out a tin box full of photos.

“As we were going through them we came across the same postcard I had sent home to my parents from the Filey home.

“It turned out she had been there a couple of months before me. She also had a group photo of the other girls who were there.

During my research of other people's memories of their time at the Filey home I was given quite a few other pictures from there and was told some interesting tales of their experiences.

“These are in our new book, Rotherham A Book of Years, by Rotherham District Civic Society. There are 11 pages on this subject including a fuller history of the home.

“It's available from Rotherham Visitors Centre on High Street, Rotherham. For further information on how to receive the book, ring Peter Hawkridge on 0114 2464703.”