Other Uses Of The Property In Wartime


In October 1940 arrangements were made for the establishment of a rest centre for members of the civil defence services who had put in long hours on duty. Accommodation was made available for up to 40 men on a rotation basis to enjoy a period of rest under comfortable conditions in the countryside. This facility lasted for 2 years, but was discontinued as the building was becoming too crowded.

Additional information from an elderly lady who made visits to Town Thorns to see a victim of the bombing who had lost an arm. He was taken to Town Thorns and spent 2 years receiving treatment and an artificial arm.

In preparation for after the war, the Authority was looking for new premises to house the children on their return to the City. 3 Spencer Road was acquired and in February 1946 four girls lived there. Pending properties were Keresley Grange and Stoke House as a Receiving Unit and Exhall Grange was considered as a possibility.

When the children of the Scattered Homes returned to the smaller units within the City boundary, Town Thorns continued as a Children’s Home with a difference. The Administration was taken out of the hands of the Children’s Committee and passed to the Education Department. Now it was for temporary, rather than long term care. In June 1948 the older pupils were sent outside to Binley Park School.


There was a nursery with between 60 and 70 children. On the ground floor was a playroom. The boys’ dormitory was on the first floor, the one for girls on the second storey. The Conservatory was used as a dining room and classroom. Administrative offices were on the ground floor of the Mansion.

In December 1952 a resolution was passed that Town Thorns be taken over by the Coventry Education Committee. Sir Alfred Herbert would have liked the building to have been used as a Camp School, the original terms of the gift, but he generously expressed his willingness for Town Thorns to be used for a purpose which the Authority considered would bring most benefit to Coventry children. Plans went ahead to improve the building to provide better accommodation for staff and to increase the number of places for children from 48 to 58.


In the autumn of 1954,The Education Department now planned to open a Camp School for Girls at Town Thorns. A Camp School for Boys had been functioning since 1940 at Cleobury Mortimer. The intention was to custom build a Residential School in Coventry for those children already at Town Thorns. It was, however low on the priority list as Coventry Council was concentrating on building new primary and secondary schools at that time.


Nothing came of a Camp School for Girls. Sir Alfred died in 1957. The Trustees sanctioned that the premises could be used as a school. Town Thorns continued as a school for a further 29 years after his death. The Chapel was the library when Town Thorns was a school. A plaque on the outside of the door testified to this gift stating that it was given by Sir Alfred Herbert so that City children would know the joys of country life. The plaque disappeared when the school was torn down.