Bedfordshire Training Home for Girls, Bedford, Bedfordshire
The Bedfordshire Training Home for Girls was established in 1879 to accommodate and provide training in domestic skills for girls aged 12 to 14 years from workhouses and those with poor homes. It initially occupied a small house at 102 Tavistock Street, Bedford, where eight girls could be received. In 1881, it moved to larger premises at 1 Tavistock Street where up to sixteen girls could be housed. The girls were given a basic education, religious instruction, and trained in all branches of household work, needlework, machine sewing, and washing. A laundry was built on land adjoining the property which allowed the girls to be taught laundry work. The laundry also generated income towards the running cost of the home. The girls were expected to remain in the home for between 6 and 18 months.
In 1889, a branch home housing ten girls aged 7-13 years was opened in a rural location at Narrow Path, Aspley Heath, Woburn Sands, Buckinghamshire. The girls there were to receive 'motherly care and attention from a Christian married woman'. They attended the local village school then at the age of 13 were transferred to the Bedford home for two years of training.
In 1912, the home moved to new, purpose-built premises in an elevated location at what became 1 Hill Rise, Park Road North, Bedford, where there was again accommodation for sixteen girls. A press report at the time described the new building as follows:
The home is approached from Park-road North by a long gravelled cartway. The first impression on passing into the hall is one of brightness, airiness, and spaciousness. The wood-work is exclusively of pitch-pine. The walls are coloured pale terra cotta duresco, and harmonise well with the dark terra cotta Minton tiles, with black and primrose edging. To the right is the Committee Room. On the left is the matron's room. Passages lead the laundry and to the domiciliary and living apartments. The dining hall is an ample, cheery, well-lighted and ventilated room. It has its piano, and on the walls are photographs of girls — former residents in the Home. The floor is cork-lined, the walls durescoed a warm red tint above a 4ft. 6in. dado of pitch-pine. The adjoining kitchen is reminiscent of the old farm house — a large kitchener with ovens side, useful cupboards, and a dresser, with its complement of shining dinner and tea services. There again the colour scheme is light blue, and the appointments generally show thoughtfulness and care. A roomy scullery is attached. These two rooms are floored with 6-inch red tiles, and the walls of plain brick, lime-washed. The larder and coal barn and other offices are the same liberal scale.
The hand laundry, which runs the entire length of the south of the building, is built and equipped upon the latest most approved lines. A soft-water tank of the capacity of 9,000 gallons accepts the rain water from all parts of the roof, and a pump in the laundry fills a cistern with it, and from this the water runs by gravitation into the coppers and washing troughs. When the rain water runs short, the town's supply can substituted. There are two large coppers. Twenty washing troughs are affixed to the walls, and each is fitted with its taps for hot and cold water. A sudding and rinsing machine, and a hydro for extracting water from clothes without passing them through mangles and thus saving the annoyance of broken buttons, are amongst the equipment. As an ante-chamber to this, the receiving room is fitted with sorting bins. The ironing-room has a drying closet, heated by furnace, and containing eight "horses," which are run out single rails for the necessary charging and changing process. This will only be used to supplement the drying ground when the weather makes it imperative. The iron heating stove accommodates 35 irons, at a time. The last stage in the clothes' journeyings is the packing room, which again is suitably fitted, and opens out into the yard for delivery.
The first floor is reached by a staircase of pitch-pine, with walnut stained treads covered in cork-lino, and is occupied by two bathrooms, linen cupboard, the bedrooms, and dormitories.
Outside there is provision made for flower beds, and a strip of land the full length of the property from north to south will be utilised as the kitchen garden.
The architects are Messrs. Usher and Anthony, and the builders. Messrs. A. J. Dawes.
The home closed in 1930. From 1932, the premises were occupied by the Bedford and County Home.
Neither of the home's premises survives.
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.
- Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford. MK42 9AP. Has minute books, including lists of candidates for admission (1879-1931); Annual reports (1883-1912); Rules; Photographs; Correspondence; etc.
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.