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End of an Era - c.1975

It is the end of an era at Banstead's Beechholme Children's Home (above) in Fir Tree Road.

Gone are the times when the place was full of happy girls and boys playing around their dormitorie's.

The great monument to Victorian child care has seen better days and is now virtually empty.

When it was opened, in 1880, it was considered quite revolutionary - a major step to get away from the massive institutions housing hosts of orphans.

But standards have changed and the once modern features are completely out of date.

Wandsworth Council, the owners, took the decision to shut Beechholme some years ago when it was found that the cost of repair work would not be economical.

The children started leaving at the beginning, of 1974 and they, are gradually being rehoused in modern homes around Wandsworth.

A spokesman for the council said: "The houses in the worst state were the first to be closed down and the children moved out".

"There are still a few there waiting for the completion of the new homes which should all be finished by the end of the year."

Rush and Tompkins, the developers, have bought the 37 acre site for a large housing project and they are also building the new homes in Wandsworth.

Drainage work on the first. phase of the development has now started and the houses should be ready within three to five years depending on the rate of sale.

Rush and Tompkins are also negotiating with Reigate and Banstead Council, who want to buy Beechholme's playing fields and gymnasium.