Olga Harvey

Olga Harvey was born in Birmingham and raised in Ladywood. She went to school at St. George’s and lived with her mother, father and brother, Jim, in a small but comfortable house on Ladywood Road opposite the Children’s Hospital. Her uncle (her mother’s brother) also lived with them, and shared Olga and Jim’s bedroom. Her father ran a pub, and she remembers knowing about pubs from an early age!After the war had broken out, and the bombing got worse, they were left without a home in which to live. Her father was called up to the army and was based at Norton Barracks in Worcester but Olga, Jim and their mother had to join their grandmother in her tiny little house which they all hated because it was very cramped. At this stage Olga and Jim were not attending school, and must have been enjoying running around and playing in the streets, because their father received a letter from one of their neighbours asking him to come home and sort out his children because they were running wild! He did come home, and you can hear Olga talking about their evacuation arrangements by clicking on the link below:

your kids are running wild Transcript of Olga’s audio clip

The two children were put on separate coaches in the middle of Birmingham by their grandmother, who gave Olga a lunch for the trip. When she got to Pipewood, Olga remembers that it was pouring with rain and when she saw that all the girls behind the gate were wearing black pacamacs, she declared to her fellow passengers that she wasn’t stopping! Thankfully she did stop, and by all accounts from her interview must have enjoyed every minute.

Olga Harvey (back row) with her Pipewood classmates and their rabbits.

She made many friends whilst at Pipewood, who she retains until this day. As well as the fellow students and a number of the teachers she has, until recently, also kept in touch with the son of the local farmer next to Pipewood, who she wrote to until his death four years ago. She remembers the schooling as being excellent and was glad to be able to pass on the skills of skinning rabbits and gardening to her two boys, who she wishes could have had a similar boarding school experience when they were young.

She wrote regularly to her family and saw her parents nearly every month on visiting days. She would also see her brother Jim when the two camps decided to share visits between the two. At fourteen, the normal school leaving age at this time, Olga did not want to leave Pipewood, and so her father arranged with the teachers at Pipewood for her to attend the Commercial School at Rugeley where she learnt how to type in shorthand. During her later years there, Olga remembers helping the teachers with the younger girls.