A resident of William Lench Court approached me last week saying they’d like to share a story of their life but to stay anonymous. This story describes them going from thug to responsible man and meeting their long lost daughter all the way in Australia, here is the story in their words:

I was born in 1947 in Aston, Birmingham as one of four children, we lived in a back to back terraced house with no bath and a brew house to do the washing in. I had a happy childhood and at the age of eleven I passed the grammar school exam. My father decided that the whole family would change religion, to the Catholic Church, this presented no problem to me until I was informed that I would not go to Kings Edwards grammar, instead I’d go to a catholic school.

My whole young world fell apart and began going off the rails. I left the school as soon as I could, my home life was at a low with my father and it didn't take me long to get in with the wrong types. At age fifteen I went to court twice for theft within two months. I tried breaking away from gang culture and met a wonderful girl called Janet, we became close and I ended up sleeping at her house more than my own. We spent hours in her room listening to Radio Luxemburg and we spoke about how we'd move somewhere outside Aston. One night I decided to go out with my mates against Janet's advice, we got up to no good, ended up getting caught and I went to Victoria Law courts for the third time. After a spell at a remand home in Northfield, I returned to court, I expected to see all my mates walking into the dock but when I looked back at the gallery no one was there apart from lonely looking Janet. She half waved and I was told to face the court. 

I was committed to an approved school for corrective training, absolutely gutting. I was taken to the cells to await transportation to Forhill House, a remand home for all types of horrible criminals. Before leaving the cells at Steel House Lane I had a visitor, it was Janet, we both broke down and she promised she’d wait for me.

After three months at Forhill I had two visitors, my mother and again, Janet. Seeing them together I knew all was not well, mum told me Janet was pregnant and it was my duty to get out as soon as possible, to be a responsible father. I vowed that I would do right by her and get back as soon as possible. I think it was this moment in my life that made me realise what a selfish, conceited person I had become. I thought I was a top guy but I had become a silly little idiot, leaving the girl I loved pregnant and with no one to stand by her.

On November 5th 1963 I was transferred to Ardale School in Essex, I settled in well and my love for football held me in good stead with the lads, I was given a chance in the first team and soon became a regular first team choice. I came home on annual leave that Christmas to see Janet, her house was empty. The neighbours let me know she left soon after having my daughter and took her too. No one knew where they had gone, all I was told is that she was driven out by bigots and had left the city. I was devastated, my whole world collapsed.

I went home to see my mum and then found my way back to Ardale, Essex a broken young man. After lots of help from my house parents I got back on track, I wasn’t the happy go lucky Brummie that used to be, but a determined man who only wanted out. After making something of myself with two A Levels in Art and Technical Drawing, five O Levels in various subject and a City and Guilds in painting and decorating, I was finally allowed to leave. I didn’t go home as I knew it wouldn’t work between me and my father.

I later found employment with a local builder, Albert Rose and he helped me get on my feet and find a bedsit in Tilbury. I stayed there for three years making weekend trips to Birmingham hoping to find her but sadly never did. I played for Gray’s Athletic for two seasons, training three nights a week, Ardale had turned me from a thug into a responsible man.

My mother was taken ill with cancer and I moved back to Birmingham to be with her until she passed away in 1970. I never returned to Tilbury, I settled back into Birmingham. Many years later in 2012 I eventually found my daughter, Adel, she is a theatre nurse in Australia, Janet sadly passed away in 2005. She never married and lived in the hope I’d turn up one day. My daughter is the double of her mother.

        Mystery Resident – William Lench Court resident