Pebble Mill Nursery

This cutting is from the opening of the Pebble Mill crèche in 1989 – one of the first in the BBC. It was actually Pebble Mill’s second creche, the first being in the 1970s, and only lasting a year or two. Ruth Barretto (Gill) and her daughter, Elena Rebekah were at the 1989 opening, along with Head of Broadcasting, David Waine and creche Manager, Pauline Mandry.

Pebble Mill Nursery – 1st Birthday











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Press cutting from the internal BBC Midland Newsletter, about the first birthday of the Pebble Mill Nursery, circa 1990.  The Nursery was based in the sports pavilion on the Bristol Road, just round the corner from the main Pebble Mill site.  It catered for around 20 children of BBC staff.  The Nursery had a really good reputation and some excellent staff.  Consequently it had a long waiting list and was quite difficult to get a place.  It was difficult to establish, and I think was the idea of Bridget Allen in Personnel.

Thanks to Marie Phillips for making the cutting available.

The following comments were added on the Pebble Mill Facebook Group:

Chris Marshall: ‘That’s my little boy! Now 25 and running an artists’ cooperative and gallery in Newcastle. The nursery gave such a tremendous start to both my boys and I remember the staff with great affection: so kind and patient (even when I was late collecting!). Thanks so much for this – very happy memories!’

Ruth Barretto: ‘I think Kimberly Palmer was Jean Palmer’s daughter who worked in Finance and Jodie Mawson is Wendy Mawson’s daughter (she works in Drama).. I must find the picture of David Waine, Pauline (who ran the nursery) and me and Elena. She opened the nursery back in 1989.’

Marie Phillips: ‘I know I have said it before, b ut the Nursery would not have existed without the efforts of Bridget Allen, Senior Personnel Officer. You wouldn’t believe the work she put into the project and it was a stroke of genius when she chose Pauline to run it. Bridget left the BBC when she had completed the Nursery and unfortunately, others got the glory for its inception – something I always thought unjust. It was brilliant and such a boon for so many Mums (and Dads!).’

Pebble Mill Nursery

These photos are of the children in Pebble Mill Nursery, taken in winter 1991/2.

The Nursery occupied a former sports pavilion on the Bristol Road, just round the corner from Pebble Mill.  There had been a Pebble Mill Nursery in the 1970s, but that closed, to be re-opened in the late 1980s.  The second Nursery remained until the building was emptied in 2004, although it had to move to portakabins in the car park, due to the pavilion site being cleared.  The Nursery was run by Pauline, who did a brilliant job, along with her deputy, Sarah.  Many of the girls who worked at the Nursery stayed for years, because it had such a good atmosphere – both for children and staff.

As you can see from the photos the children used to play outside on the disused tennis courts.

My daughter, Hattie, is riding the tricycle in the second photo – it was her 21st birthday last week!  She started at Nursery at 18 weeks old.  I can’t be sure about the other children, but I think that Charles White’s son is on the bike, and probably Ruth Barretto’s daughter on the little trike.

Please add a comment if you can identify the others.

Pebble Mill Nursery

This image is the front cover of a booklet presented to my daughter, Hattie, when she left Pebble Mill Nursery to start school in September 1994.  She started at the Nursery in December 1990, when she was just 18 weeks old.  She is now a 20 year old student!  The photo shows Hattie enjoying a Nursery outing to Cannon Hill Park.  The booklet itself includes drawings by Hattie and her friends at Pebble Mill.

Pebble Mill Nursery was a great asset for staff.  It began in the late 198os, when David Waine was the Head of Building, although it was the brainchild of senior personnel manager Bridget Allen.  I think there were around twenty places for babies and toddlers, and it was often over subscribed, with staff having to wait for a place. The Nursery was housed in a wooden building, which had previously been a sports pavilion, round the corner from Pebble Mill, on the Bristol Road.

The Nursery was managed by Pauline, who was there for almost the entire life of the Nursery, ably supported by Sarah.  The staff running the Nursery were excellent and tended to work there for several years – always a good sign.  Towards the end of Pebble Mill the Nursery was moved to portacabins in the car park, as the original wooden building and tennis courts were demolished.

Vanessa Jackson

(Nicola Silk commented with the following additional information:

The nursery actually began life in the mid 70s… I was there! Originally set up in 1974 (in the same wooden hut), the Pebble Mill nursery was the first creche facility in the entire BBC. I was one of the first intake of 5 children and I can remember the year I spent there. Enforced afternoon naps on green camp beds with fluffy purple blankets, riding in a go-kart round the tennis courts and the time I went in without any knickers on (my mum was away filming and my dad was looking after me). These things shape a person’s life. The highlight though, and possibly the highlight of my life, was when we went over to ‘the big building’ the day the Wombles were on Pebble Mill at One. Not only did I meet my heroes but I was filmed dancing with them on the front lawn. Uncle Bulgaria was quite a mover. Despite the campaigning of the Nursery Action Group (NAG) set up by my mum, it was closed the following year. It made the local paper when it opened and somewhere there’s a cutting with photo of me posing on a slide, with 2 other kids and the wife of the Chair of the Board of Governors to mark the opening.)