Birmingham City Council

Children of the poor in Sutton Park

 poor children of Birmingham on a day trip to Sutton Park

This photograph of young children from the slums of Birmingham was taken in 1898 before departure on a summer day trip to Sutton Park.

The trip to Sutton Park, a summer highlight for a small number of the poor children of Birmingham, was organised by the Cinderella Club.

From 1893, when the club was formed, groups of under-priviledged, slum-dwelling children were taken on a respite away-day to the clean air and green open spaces that was Sutton Park. Each year, donations from wealthier residents of Birmingham funded the care and entertainment of children like the ones in the photo, both in the summer and the winter.

According to the Annual Report of the Cinderella club for 1898 - "Last summer 600 children were taken to Sutton Park, a number which would have been increased but for an unfortunate percentage of wet Saturdays. Furniture vans were again in requisition, and in batches of 50 the children were introduced to the inestimable joys of the country".

The children were entertained with cricket for the boys and skipping and various games for the girls, before tea and then taken on a ramble through the park.

Further comments from the Annual Report remind us of the innocence of youth and the lacking experience of nature with these city dwelling children...

"Many are the curious comments asked as to the flora and fauna of Sutton Park. "Are there any wolves or snakes in the woods? Will they bite us?" "Do 'bob-owlers' sting?" - are samples of the bewildering queries put to puzzled helpers."

For the curious among you - "Bob-owlers" are an old Birmingham term for Butterflies or moths which is not used a great deal today.


Digital Birmingham Photo Archive - 1890s
Digital Birmingham Photo Archive
Photographic and other Special Collections in Central Library
Birmingham Archives and Heritage Service
Sutton Park To Modern Times.