Rudolf Memorial Home for Boys, Balham, London
The Rudolf Memorial Home for Boys was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1935 on Thornton Road, Clapham Park, Balham. The building had previously been occupied by the Society's St Winifred's Home. The new home was one of the two to be established in memory of the Society's founder, Edward Rudolf, who died in 1933, the other being the Rudolf Memorial Home for Girls in Dulwich.
The location of the home is shown on the 1954 map below, by which date the St Luke's Home occupied the premises.
Both the new Memorial Homes were intended for children with educational problems (what were then often referred to as 'backward' children) and for 'those who, while not mentally defective, have serious psychological troubles, due, it may be, to ill-health, cruelty, neglect, or fear which are likely to cause problems in later life if not addressed'. The boys' home at Balham was the first to be opened and was used by the Society to gain experience in dealing with children with behavioural and learning difficulties. The home was assisted and supervised in its operation by London Child Guidance Council.
In other respects, the home operated much like any of the home's branches. In 1937, the children had a summer holiday by the sea through an exchange visit with the Leven and Melville Home at St Leonards on Sea. In the same year, a percussion band was started at the Balham home.
During the war, the central part of the premises, number 16 Thornton Road, was used as the Society's central clothing depot, formerly at the St Elizabeth's Home in Clapham.
The Thornton Road premises were re-opened as the St Luke's Reception Centre.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by surname.
- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by date of birth.
- The Children's Society Records and Archive Centre is at Block A Floor 2, Tower Bridge Business Complex, 100 Clement's Road, London, England SE16 4DG (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Files for children admitted to its homes after September 1926 were microfilmed in the 1980s and the originals destroyed. Some post-1926 files had already been damaged or destroyed during a flood. The Society's Post-Adoption and Care Service provides access to records, information, advice, birth record counselling, tracing and intermediary service for people who were in care or adopted through the Society.
- The Society has produced detailed catalogues of its records relating to disabled children, and of records relating to the Children's Union (a fundraising body mostly supported from the contributions of children).
- Bowder, Bill Children First: a photo-history of England's children in need (1980, Mowbray)
- Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society [Rudolfe, Edward de Montjoie] The First Forty Years: a chronicle of the Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society 1881-1920 (1922, Church of England Waifs and Strays' Society / S.P.C.K.)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Morris, Lester The Violets Are Mine: Tales of an Unwanted Orphan (2011, Xlibris Corporation) — memoir of a boy growing up in several of the Society's homes (Princes Risborough, Ashdon, Hunstanton, Leicester) in the 1940s and 50s.
- Rudolf, Mildred de Montjoie Everybody's Children: the story of the Church of England Children's Society 1921-1948 (1950, OUP)
- Stroud, John Thirteen Penny Stamps: the story of the Church of England Children's Society (Waifs and Strays) from 1881 to the 1970s (1971, Hodder and Stoughton)
- Hidden Lives Revealed — the story of the children who were in the care of The Children's Society in late Victorian and early 20th Century Britain.
- The Children's Society
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.