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history

Burcot Grange was built in 1890 when it was regarded the finest house in Greenhill. The house was built by F & C Osler in the traditional style of the day; carved black oak with decorative plaster panels. It was built using only the most superior materials; the joinery is exceptional, finely made from oak and walnut and there is much lovely glasswork.

The house was commissioned by Henry Follett Osler, son of a wealthy and remarkable Birmingham manufacturer with plenty of money to indulge his plan to be a country squire. Henry purchased the Newhouse Estate from Benjamin Brown in 1889, consulted the eminent Birmingham architect, Jethro Cousins, who then designed his country home.

Henry's father was Abraham Follett Osler, although never actually living at Burcot was a regular visitor and a very influential man. Abraham built up the family glass firm, which in 1851 took prime position in the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace. Their exhibit, the Glass Fountain, was said to be the most striking and admired by visitors. Here lies the connection with the wonderful glass to be seen at Burcot, all designed and produced by the Osler Company.

Through the Birmingham and Midland Institute, Abraham was linked with notable people such as Edward Elgar, Charles Dickens and influential Birmingham families such as Tangye, Kenrick, Martineau, Nettlefold, Chance and Cadbury.

Abraham had a great enthusiasm for clocks, erecting an astronomical clock in Cannon Street, Birmingham that became the means by which the city set its own clocks. He eventually changed the timepiece to Greenwich Mean Time, within 24 hours every local clock had followed. In 1885 Abraham financed and built The Big Brum clock and bells adjoining the City Art Gallery; today still the standard timekeeper for the city.

Henry Osler was almost as involved in Birmingham life as his father. He had a great concern for its citizens and raised a great amount of money for the Hospital Saturday Fund and other local institutions.

On the 10th August 1913, aged 77 years, Henry Follett Osler died after fourteen years at Burcot Grange. His daughter, Jessie, inherited the house and its grounds, but her death in 1927 brought about the break up of the Estate, which was put up for auction.

The Estate was offered for sale by Messrs Edwards, Son and Bigwood. The residences and land totalling 40 acres were withdrawn at £6,500.

Burcot Grange was purchased by Mr and Mrs F W Rushbrooke. Frederick William Rushbrooke, like the Oslers, became an important Birmingham businessman. He was the son of a miller, and confectioner in Willenhall, Staffordshire, and enjoyed spending his recreational time cycling, on a pennyfarthing.

In 1902, he opened a branch in Halford Street, Leicester, later moving the stock to Birmingham to a retail shop called Halford Cycle Shop. Within a short time, nine more shops had opened. In 1906 Frederick formed a new public company: The Halford Cycle Company - Halfords as it is known today, was born.

Mr and Mrs Rushbrooke had three children; Crystal, Janet and Donald, who joined the Halfords business in 1923 and later, became chairman. Miss Crystal was well known for her good works within Burcot village.

In 1937, Mr and Mrs Rushbrooke made the magnanimous gesture of giving Burcot Grange to the Birmingham and Midland Eye Hospital. There had been heavy demands on the hospital in Birmingham and Burcot formed a welcome annex, giving prolonged treatment of children suffering from inflammatory conditions of the eye associated with harsh city life.

The house needed little alteration and only £2,800 was spent, mainly on equipment. The spacious rooms were turned into wards; the conservatory became a playroom and the butlers Pantry was turned into the surgery.

Burcot Grange operated as an Eye Hospital until it closed in 1963 and was taken over by Dudley Road Hospital in Birmingham. It was used for elderly patients from Summerfield Hospital waiting for places in welfare homes.

The "Bunnie Cot", pictured to the left, was endowed at a cost of £600 by a former patient of the eye hospital. It was donated anonymously and named after the former patient's wife, Bunnie. The picture shown here is of Dr Dorothy Campbell, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and Mr EJ Rainsford (chairman, Committee of Management)

In 1990 the Hospital closed down and the house and grounds were put up for sale. Its present owners, Mr and Mrs Mark Bales bought it and have converted it into a beautiful Residential Home for the elderly.

It retains all the qualities and elegance of its Victorian heritage

 

 

 

 

 

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