St Luke's Reception Centre, Clapham Park, Balham, London

The St Luke's Reception Centre was opened by the Children's Society (formerly the Waifs and Strays Society) in 1949 at 14-18 Thornton Road, Clapham Park, Balham. The premises had previously been occupied by the Rudolf Memorial Home for Boys.

The location of the home is shown on the 1954 map below.

St Luke's Reception Centre site, Balham, c.1954.

St Luke's provided temporary accommodation, usually just a few weeks, for up to twenty children of a wide range of ages. The children staying at the home included those coming into the care of the Society for the first time, those whose fostering arrangements had broken down, and those from one of the branch homes who were in need of some specialised form of help. In the mid-1960s, the home started to reserve half its places for children needing longer term help.

St Luke's Reception Centre, Balham, 1949. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1973, the home began stop offer therapeutic care for emotionally disturbed children. It provided educational, psychiatric, and social work support, with the aim of eventually placing such children suitable long-term foster homes. In June 1976, difficulties in recruiting adequate staff for the scheme led to its relocation to Caerleon and other homes. St Luke's was then re-opened providing residential and day-care facilities.

The St Luke's building no longer exists.


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  • 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.)
  • 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)
  • 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.