Berida Junior Red Cross Home was established by the Junior Red Cross in Bowral in 1950. The house had previously been a Red Cross convalescent home for servicewomen and servicemen. Berida was a school for special purposes that appears to have provided temporary care to school-aged girls whose families were experiencing illness, childbirth or crisis. Berida Junior Red Cross Home closed in 1974.
Berida Junior Red Cross Home appears to have been established in 1950, by the Junior Red Cross, in Berida, a stately house that had been formerly used by the Australian Red Cross as a convalescent home for servicemen and women.
Berida had been donated to the Red Cross in 1941 by Dr Jessie Freeman as a servicemen's convalescent home, but was used for servicewomen until Dr Freeman and a group of local women insisted it be returned to its original purpose.
It is not clear exactly when Berida was converted to a Junior Red Cross Home but in May 1951 it became a New South Wales Department of Education School for Special Purposes. This indicates that the school was a residential school that had a special programme addressing psychological, behavioural and other difficulties. Accounts from former residents suggest that Berida was a girls' home for girls aged under 13 that provided temporary care when families needed respite or child care during crises such as illness, childbirth or discord.
Cherry attended Berida in the 1960s:
I like many other girls was sent to Berida Children's Home with my two sisters; I think I was about 7, my sister was 6 and my youngest sister was about 4. We stayed for what seemed ages, I remember the dormitory and steak and kidney pudding followed by junket and prunes which was served for lunch I think every Tuesday. My sisters and I refused to eat it and they made us sit at the long dining room table for hours as punishment. I remember lining up to have your hair deloused with kerosene; this was compulsory and I remember my youngest sister wet the bed and they made her wash her own sheets in a laundry; I wet my bed and tried to hide it.
On the positive side, this was the first time I saw snow in my life and I remember walking into Bowral with all the other girls to see it. My stay would have been about early 1960's. … I also remember the Berida song;
The Berida kids are we
always up to mischief wherever we may be
the matron calls us lazy
she makes a great mistake
if you belong to the Berida dump
you're always wide awake
how many eggs for breakfast
how many eggs for tea.
Berida Junior Red Cross Home closed in 1974, and was purchased by celebrity cook Margaret Fulton. The property later became a hotel known as Berida Manor. Since 2009 a number of former residents of Berida Junior Red Cross Home have left their recollections of their time at Berida on the Southern Highlands Online travel review section for Berida Manor. Some of the women recount negative experiences, but others found the staff caring and valued the routine and three square meals a day. (At least one former resident would like to reconnect with other women who passed through the home and provides her address on the comments thread.)
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Red Cross Home: Donor Resents Use by Servicewomen', The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 March 1943, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/17841496; 'Berida Red Cross Home Bowral', The Clanicle, August 2013; 'Berida Manor', in The Southern Highlands Online, https://web.archive.org/web/20170219063835/http://www.thesouthernhighlands.com.au/directory/accommodation/resorts/berida-manor; Government schools of New South Wales from 1848, New South Wales Department of Education and Communities, https://education.nsw.gov.au/about-us/our-people-and-structure/history-of-government-schools/school-database-search; Grech, Vicki, 'Review: Berida Girls Home Inquiries', in The Southern Highlands Online, 2009, https://web.archive.org/web/20170219063835/http://www.thesouthernhighlands.com.au/directory/accommodation/resorts/berida-manor; 'List of schools in the Illawarra and the South East (New South Wales)', in Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_schools_in_Illawarra_and_the_South_East_(New_South_Wales); Emails from former resident to Find & Connect web resource, 10 January 2014 and 4 June 2014.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 19 August 2013, Last modified: 14 May 2021