Child Abuse at Beecholme Childrens Home, Banstead, Surrey

Beecholme was notorious for its physical and sexual abuse.

Beecholme Childrens Home, Fir Tree Road, Banstead, Surrey was open from about 1930 until 1974.

It was operated by the London County Council. Children from London County Council, Islington, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Hackney Councils were sent there during its lifetime.

Geoffrey Banner was Principal from 1954 – 1970. In 1965 it came under the control of Wandsworth Council then around 68/69 only Wandsworth children went there. In 1974 it closed.

Houses of Beecholme that are known – Cedar House, Jasmine House, Fir House, Drake House

Clifford Heap, abuser, who ended up as the superintendent of Shirley Oaks was a deputy Scoutmaster at Beecholme in the 1950s. Edward Pearce and Thomas Hart were also there.

Currently there is a Police inquiry which is stretching round the world. The investigation is led by Detective Cannon Russell of the complex abuse unit of the Surrey police.

It is common for abused children often to travel to get far away from place of upbringing and abuse, but if you read this please get in touch.

Did the Wandsworth abuse network also link to Lambeth and Islington abuse networks?

If you have information on Beecholme or you were there, either leave message in comments below or best to Beecholme Survivors Network,

twitter BeecholmeSurvivors @Beecholme12

email beecholmesurvivorsandjustices@gmail.com

or Islington Survivors islingtonsn@gmail.com

Timeline

1930-1965 Beecholme Childrens Home operated by the London County Council [GS]

1945 -54 Geoffrey Banner worked at Hatton Residential School [6]

1950 Clifford Heap was a deputy Scoutmaster at Beecholme in the 1950’s. Edward Pearce and Thomas Hart also there. Heap ended up as the superintendent of Shirley Oaks [GS]

1952 Jan. Heap had set up and run a Boy Scout’s group at Beecholme  [11]

1952 late – 1953 James Reeves taken to Beecholme, Jasmine House by his mother, who he would not meet again until he was 12 [9] Staff were House Mistress Miss Peggy Cullen, Miss Malden, the other was Miss Kilbane who never abused him. He was physically abused by Miss Cullen.

“After bath, we were marched out up the stairs to our dormitories. It must have been not more than 20 minutes later, I remember being pulled roughly out off my bed by a man who took my nightshirt off and took me downstairs. I was told to face the wall, opposite a room which was occupied by people.

Every time any one came out of that room I was slapped hard on my bare bum. I was standing facing the wall for what seemed like ages, then I heard people leaving the room and going out the front door. I was then blind-folded and taken into that room and sexually assaulted by 2 people. One tried to bugger me, but stopped when I screamed.

Next I remember something hard being put in my mouth. I was crying and shaking with fear, I was so scared. I was told to suck on the thing in my mouth, but was whacked round the head. I heard one person say “He’s no good – his teeth are digging in”. I was then taken back to my dormitory and put into bed, told not to look round or I would get it. The person removed the blindfold.

I was frozen, scared, crying. Then I heard the door shut. I lay there scared to move. I must
have fallen asleep.

We were woken up by Miss Malden, the other staff member. I tried to speak to her but she would not listen to me. I tried to talk to Miss Cullen who seemed in charged of Jasmine House. She pulled me into her office and told me ”Children who lie are sent away to bad places. Is that what you want?”. I remember saying “No Miss”.

I know they had a school there but can’t seem to think about that. I remember we were all at our tables for tea. After tea, Miss Cullen used to put her chair in the middle of the dining room floor and call us boys to stand in line. She then would one-by-one strip us and spank our bottoms hard in front of the girls.

This happened every night after tea, 7 days of every week. Other times at dinner, puddings were served. 10 times while I was there they served figs and custard. I was eating a fig it was horrible and I was sick all over my pudding, and was forced to eat it.

Other times I was sick over figs and custard, Miss Kilbane (when she saw Miss Cullen go) would come and remove it and give me a cuddle. She seemed helpless and – I don’t know – I’m sure a few times she had tears in her eyes.

I never saw men in the house during the day, only at nights when they used to take me downstairs and repeat their abuse. God knows how many other boys there were abused like me, at nights. It was no good complaining, no one would listen to me.” [9]

1952 Survivor “There were seven boys [abused in his dormitory], including me. I used to stay awake for hours wondering if I was going to be taken again”  [11]

1954 Electoral register [7]  Click to enlarge

1955 Electoral Register [8] Click to enlarge

c. 1954 -1970 Geoffrey Banner, Principal of Beecholme Childrens Community

1960 Jun 9 – 1961 Sept  Graeme Sergeant sent to Beecholme Cedar House aged 4 according to Westminster Council records. Older sister Karen also went to Beecholme. He was physically and sexually abused. [After leaving GS was sent to Gayfere House by London County Council. A Margaret Quigley was there. Subsequently he has found Gayfere House owned by Greek shipping company and leased to another Greek man and woman] [GS]

1962 Survivor “I was 12 years old, it was 1962. There was sexual and physical abuse. I was in Fir House. As soon as those doors were shut, that’s when it started.  [11]

1965 Beecholme  came under the control of Wandsworth Council [GS]

c.1968/69 Only Wandsworth children went there [GS]

1974 Beecholme closed [GS]

1978-1983 Geoffrey Banner Director of Social Services Wiltshire [6] Also sometime Member of Central Council for Education and training in Social Work

1988 Aug 9 Times Geoffrey Banner Obit  [6]

2001 Convicted paedophile William Hook was sentenced for child abuse, including targeting one victim at Beecholme while working as a swimming instructor  [11]

2013 Former resident says he tried to report the abuse in, but claims Surrey Police did not take a statement.  [11]

2017 Aug 4 Surrey Mirror Craig Simpson Children allegedly raped and beaten at Beecholme children’s home in Banstead [11]

If you have information on Beecholme or you were there, either leave message in comments below or best to Beecholme Survivors Network,

twitter BeecholmeSurvivors @Beecholme12

email beecholmesurvivorsandjustices@gmail.com

or Islington Survivors islingtonsn@gmail.com

Possible Sources of information may be National Archives, British Library, Wandsworth Council archives, Wandsworth local libraries, Wandsworth Council Children Safeguarding Board. Also freedom of information requests to various councils see WDTK website  [13] eg [10] 2017 Aug 3 WDTK re Beechholme House Childrens Home

Its worth checking for Inspection Reports of the Homes.

It is worth everyone applying for their own records with “subject data access requests” under the Data Protection Act.

For full following article and pictures and video go to 2017 Aug 4 Surrey Mirror Craig Simpson Children allegedly raped and beaten at Beecholme children’s home in Banstead  [11]  It is one of the best articles on child sexual abuse at a home by local paper. Thankyou Craig Simpson

Appendix 1  – 2017 Aug 4 Surrey Mirror Craig Simpson Children allegedly raped and beaten at Beecholme children’s home in Banstead [11]

Beecholme. Pictured is one of the “cottages”, Cedar, which housed vulnerable children

Police are investigating allegations of systematic sexual abuse at a children’s home in Banstead where, it is alleged, children were repeatedly raped and abused by groups of men.

Former residents have described Beecholme children’s home, which stood in Fir Tree Road but has now been demolished, as a “hell” of sexual and physical abuse suffered by vulnerable young children in what they claim was a culture of fear, violence and humiliation.

Among other torments it is alleged that young children were plucked from their beds to face repeated rape and group abuse at the hands of adults.

The site was known as a “children’s village” due to its sprawling nature, with children separated into a number of different houses.

Surrey Police has confirmed it is investigating alleged abuse between 1957 and 1974. A spokeswoman referred to them as “non-recent allegations” and said: “Enquiries are ongoing.”

The home was run from 1930 by London County Council, which no longer exists, and later by Wandsworth Borough Council, from 1965 until it closed in 1974.

The borough council, which demolished Beecholme in 1975, has declined to comment on the allegations.

Former resident Graeme Sergeant speaking about the alleged abuse (story continued below)

Video see 2017 Aug 4 Surrey Mirror Craig Simpson Children allegedly raped and beaten at Beecholme children’s home in Banstead [11]

There are fears from former residents that the history of alleged sexual abuse has been “buried”. A number of local historians found, when looking into the history of Banstead and the home itself, that many of the records about staff who worked there and other adults associated with it were destroyed when it was demolished.

This makes tracing those people who worked and visited even harder.

One man who alleges that he was repeatedly abused over two years says he is still scarred by what he claims happened.

Graeme Sergeant has waived his right to anonymity as an alleged victim of sexual abuse to speak out.

The 61-year-old, who grew up in Wandsworth before being taken to Beecholme in 1960, said: “My life was ruined 57 years ago. You think you are going into fairyland but in fact you are going into hell.

“It was painted as this ideal place but it holds dark secrets. Beecholme was full of dark, dirty secrets. It was evil. It was sick. It was systematic.

“I think hundreds of kids could have been abused. It was so widespread. There was a culture of fear.

“Within two to three months of going there it started.

“I was dragged out of bed and put in a cupboard, then paraded around naked. Then I was taken into another room and things happened. I don’t like to talk about it.”

Graeme claims that, as a boy, he was was forced to perform sex acts on adult men while others watched.

“I was given a belt around the ear then taken back to bed,” he continued. “I was abused dozens of times in the two years I was there.”

Graeme was in Drake House, one of 23 named houses on the vast Beecholme site, which were each home to dozens of children. Ages ranged from infants to teenagers.

The site, built in 1880, was designed to provide idyllic “cottage homes” for vulnerable children from London slums. The city’s old county council took over after the ‘poor law’ was abolished in 1930. The series of homes were operated under the name Beecholme from 1951.

So far, it is understood, abuse is alleged to have taken place within four separate houses by victims who have come forward and were unknown to each other.

Whole families of siblings could be sent to Beecholme, and could be forced to face abuse together, according to survivors.

Surrey Police’s investigation has reportedly reached three continents with enquiries being made in Australia, Canada and Ireland.

Accusations of sexual assault and humiliation have been levelled at “strangers”, who victims did not recognise as staff, as well as older teenagers at the home.

Staff have been accused of beating and violently punishing children, and of complicity or indifference over the alleged sexual abuse.

Photo see 2017 Aug 4 Surrey Mirror Craig Simpson Children allegedly raped and beaten at Beecholme children’s home in Banstead [11]

Graeme Sergeant, 61, is a former resident of the children’s homeThere are links between Beecholme and known paedophiles.

There were reports from the Department for Education in 2014 that Jimmy Saville visited Beecholme during the timescale police are investigating.

Beecholme also has direct links to those accused or convicted of abuse at another children’s home.

Convicted paedophile William Hook was sentenced in 2001 for child abuse, including targeting one victim at Beecholme while working as a swimming instructor. Other victims who brought charges against him were at the notorious Shirley Oaks children’s home in Croydon.

Shirley Oaks was overseen from 1952-64 by Clifford Heap, who was accused by survivors at the home of being complicit in sexual abuse.

Before this Heap had set up and run a Boy Scout’s group at Beecholme in January 1952.

Another former Beecholme resident, who cannot be named for legal reason, claims he was just seven when he arrived there in 1952.

The resident, holding back tears as he recalled the alleged abuse, said: “I’ve still not got over it, it’s still playing on my mind. I’m 71 and it’s still there.

“I was woken up in bed and I was put in a blindfold and I was taken downstairs and I could hear men’s voices, voices I had never heard before. They were talking about what they were going to do.

“They interfered with me.”

The then seven-year-old claims he was raped and forced to perform sex acts, before being beaten and taken back to bed.

“There could have been three, four or five people in the room,” he said.

“And it was not just me that was taken downstairs. Other boys were taken out of bed by adults. And they shouldn’t even have been around. It was late at night.

“There were seven boys [abused in his dormitory], including me. I used to stay awake for hours wondering if I was going to be taken again.

“When it was another boy I was relieved – I hate myself for that.”

Children ‘were told they were lying’

Each house were run by an “aunt and uncle” pair, with the whole site overseen by a superintendent and a matron.

When the seven-year-old, who cannot be named, told an “aunt” about what he was enduring, he claims he was told that “children who tell lies go to bad places”.

Within weeks of him making the allegation, he says he was moved out of Beecholme to another children’s home.

This fed what former residents have called a “culture of fear” and of “violence and humiliation”, where children were allegedly afraid to speak out and abuse went unreported.

Alleged victims have claimed that “telling fantastic stories”, as it was labelled, was severely punished.

The former resident says he tried to report the abuse in 2013, but claims Surrey Police did not take a statement.

The force has refused to comment further, but is not under investigation itself for its handling of any allegations according the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

‘It was all about survival’

Another former resident, who cannot be named, claims that dealing with his secret history of abuse took him to the verge of suicide.

He said: “I was 12 years old, it was 1962. There was sexual and physical abuse. I was in Fir House. As soon as those doors were shut, that’s when it started.

“Soon it was all about survival. Older boys, they used to follow us into the toilets and make us do things.

“Everyone knew this went on. Nothing was done.”

He says he was beaten and punished relentlessly by staff, who refused to act on accusations of sexual assault.

He and other alleged victims are now relieved their suffering is finally being acknowledged by some authorities, and it is hoped that more of the potential “hundreds” of alleged survivors of abuse at Beecholme will come forward.

A group known as Beecholme Survivors has been set up to support former residents who claim they were abused. They can be contacted by visiting https://twitter.com/Beecholme12.

Surrey Police has said it will investigate all allegations fully.

A spokeswoman for the force said: “Surrey Police takes all allegations of sexual assault extremely seriously and any allegations made against individuals will be investigated thoroughly, whether they are current or historic.

“The force has a dedicated team of officers who investigate public protection matters and we would encourage any victims or anyone who has concerns about potential sexual abuse to contact us.”

*Did you live at Beecholme as a child? Contact Craig Simpson at craig.simpson@essnmedia.co.ukand you story will be treated with the utmost sensitivity.

Appendix 2

2017 Jul 19 Cathy Fox Blog #CSASurvivors Stories 3 – James Reeves Story [9]

My name is James Reeves. I was born in 1946. I was in a children’s home called Beecholme, in Banstead, Surrey. I was in a house in the children’s home called Jasmine. I think I was 7 years old – had spent younger years in foster care. I can remember their names – the Porters.

My foster dad wasn’t involved in abuse that I remember it’s the only thing I remember about foster carers except on one birthday my foster dad bought me a brown 3 wheel tricycle. I can remember standing on the kitchen table just a cloth nappy on being abused
by women and grown up children, being locked in some cupboard for hours
every day that’s all I can remember from foster care.

My next memory is Beecholme, Jasmine house. I was taken there by a woman who handed me over to the House Mistress of Jasmine House. That woman who took me to Jasmine House was my mother. The next time we would meet was when I was 12.

I was shown into a dining room then stripped naked, was beaten on my bottom hard by the House Mistress, Miss Cullen. I was then taken into a large bathroom with 2 baths end to end. The bathroom was crowded with other naked boys and girls, one bath was for boys, the other was for girls. The water was never changed. There were 2 other female staff in there; one Miss Malden, the other Miss Kilbane (who was lovely throughout my stay and
had no hand in any off my abuses).

After bath, we were marched out up the stairs to our dormitories. It must have been not more than 20 minutes later, I remember being pulled roughly out off my bed by a man who took my nightshirt off and took me downstairs. I was told to face the wall, opposite a room which was occupied by people.

Every time any one came out of that room I was slapped hard on my bare bum. I was standing facing the wall for what seemed like ages, then I heard people leaving the room and going out the front door. I was then blind-folded and taken into that room and sexually assaulted by 2 people. One tried to bugger me, but stopped when I screamed.

Next I remember something hard being put in my mouth. I was crying and shaking with fear, I was so scared. I was told to suck on the thing in my mouth, but was whacked round the head. I heard one person say “He’s no good – his teeth are digging in”. I was then taken back to my dormitory and put into bed, told not to look round or I would get it. The person removed the blindfold.

I was frozen, scared, crying. Then I heard the door shut. I lay there scared to move. I must
have fallen asleep.

We were woken up by Miss Malden, the other staff member. I tried to speak to her but she would not listen to me. I tried to talk to Miss Cullen who seemed in charged of Jasmine House. She pulled me into her office and told me ”Children who lie are sent away to bad places. Is that what you want?”. I remember saying “No Miss”.

I know they had a school there but can’t seem to think about that. I remember we were all at our tables for tea. After tea, Miss Cullen used to put her chair in the middle of the dining room floor and call us boys to stand in line. She then would one-by-one strip us and spank our bottoms hard in front of the girls.

This happened every night after tea, 7 days of every week. Other times at dinner, puddings were served. 10 times while I was there they served figs and custard. I was eating a fig it was horrible and I was sick all over my pudding, and was forced to eat it.

Other times I was sick over figs and custard, Miss Kilbane (when she saw Miss Cullen go) would come and remove it and give me a cuddle. She seemed helpless and – I don’t know – I’m sure a few times she had tears in her eyes.

I never saw men in the house during the day, only at nights when they used to take me downstairs and repeat their abuse. God knows how many other boys there were abused like me, at nights. It was no good complaining, no one would listen to me.

One day I was told I was leaving, to be taken to another children’s home. I was picked up by car by a LCC Social Worker. I was driven to Hutton children’s residential home, in Shenfield, Essex. I was taken into a large house, called Thames. All the other houses were named after rivers. I was never sexually abused there by any staff members. Though one boy was, in a different house and his abuser Mr Brabbon was sentenced to six month prison.

Whilst there somehow some of us were invited to the Billy Cotton Band Show Christmas party, which was shown on BBC television. I was one of the kids who went. It was late 1950’s or early 1960’s. I can remember being seated at the tables full of food. There was Russ Conway, a woman singer and my abuser Alan Breeze.

I didn’t know his name at the time. I asked Russ Conway his name. It happened in the men’s toilets. I was in there when Alan Breeze said “You going to toilet?”. I said “Yes”. “Let me help you.” he said and started touching my penis.

He had his hand down my trousers holding my bum. I was trying to pull away, when someone else entered the toilet. I think he saw what was happening and he pulled me away, and sent me out of the toilet.

As I left I complained to someone – a man – about what happened. He told me to go away and sit down, which I did. I was so upset and angry. I tried telling Billy Cotton but couldn’t get near him or Russ Conway anymore. I tried to tell staff at the home, but they laughed and walked away.

From that day, I was totally confused and felt alone. It got so bad I was taken to The Maudsley hospital, who after listening to my story told the person who took me there they wanted to keep me in. On hearing that, I ran out of the hospital and was found by my taker outside a big hospital opposite.

I was crying and said “No one believes me! I am not staying in that place!”. I was taken back to the home and put on anti-depressants. I have never forgotten my abuse – it still
haunts me to this day.

If you have information on Beecholme or you were there, either leave message in comments below or best to Beecholme Survivors Network,

twitter BeecholmeSurvivors @Beecholme12

email beecholmesurvivorsandjustices@gmail.com

or Islington Survivors islingtonsn@gmail.com

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • One in Four [C]
  • Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area
  • A Prescription for me blog Various emotional support links [M]
  • ShatterBoys -“Male Survivors Of Childhood Sexual Abuse Inspiring change, Through Shared Experience Whilst Building Connections…Together We Can Heal” [N]
  • Fresh Start Foundation Scottish not for profit group, helping child sexual abuse victims & survivors  [P]

Links

If you have information on Beecholme or you were there, either leave message in comments below or best to Beecholme Survivors Network,

twitter BeecholmeSurvivors @Beecholme12

email beecholmesurvivorsandjustices@gmail.com

[GS] Information from Graeme Sergeant

[1] Wikipedia Beechholme https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechholme Surrey but run by Wandsworth?

[2] c.2013 PaedoBritain blog –Institutional Child Abuse – MY STORY https://reevesjim47.wordpress.com/institutional-child-abuse-my-story/ James Reeves

[3] Beechholme Home Page http://www.bansteadhistory.com/beechholme_feature_home%20page.html

[4] 2013 Jul 13  UK Database  Institutional Child Abuse – Beecholme childrens home – Surrey https://theukdatabase.com/2013/07/13/institutional-child-abuse-beecholme-childrens-home-surrey/

[5] 2016 Oct 31 No2Abuse  Were you in Care under Wandsworth Social Services? Were you abused in care? http://www.no2abuse.com/index.php/blogs/comments/were-you-in-care-under-wandsworth-social-services-were-you-abused-in-care contact re Wandsworth

[6] 1988 Aug 9 Times Geoffrey Banner Obit [HT @craftymuvva][7] 1954 Electoral Register [HT @craftymuvva]

[8] 1955 Electoral Register [HT @craftymuvva]

[9] 2017 Jul 19 Cathy Fox Blog #CSASurvivors Stories 3 – James Reeves Story https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/csasurvivors-stories-3-james-reeves-story/

[10] 2017 Aug 3 WDTK re Beechholme House Childrens Home https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/beechholme_house_childrens_home

[11] 2017 Aug 4 Surrey Mirror Craig Simpson Children allegedly raped and beaten at Beecholme children’s home in Banstead http://www.surreymirror.co.uk/child-abuse-legal/story-30463308-detail/story.html

[13] WDTK https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/ FOI website

 

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About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
This entry was posted in cathy fox blog, Child Abuse, Child sexual abuse, Childrens home, Islington Council, Lambeth, London, South East, Wandsworth, Westminster and chelsea council and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Child Abuse at Beecholme Childrens Home, Banstead, Surrey

  1. FOI Beechholme to West Sussex County Council https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/beechfield_childrens_home . There was a known investigation into sexual abuse concerning Beechfields children’s home in Copthorn.
    Q. Was Beechfield Children’s home closed down and was this due to the
    investigation.
    A. Beechfield Children’s Home was closed down in 1987 due to the fact that it
    was beyond economic repair. ht@thewakeupcall09

  2. Pingback: BEECHOLME SURVIVORS GROUP – scepticpeg

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