Orphan Girls' Home, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire

The idea for Bradford's Orphan Girls' Home (also known as the Bradford Industrial Home for Orphans and Deserted Girls) was proposed in 1864 by five members of the Workhouse Visiting Society, to help 'friendless girls' residing in workhouses. The scheme became a reality in 1865 when a small house was taken in Roberts Place, initially with just three girls. Four more were added in the course of the first year, and a larger house was taken in Brunswick Place, with the number of inmates gradually rising to twenty. The home was originally intended just for workhouse girls, but the committee subsequently decided to admit, on payment, a few girls who were orphans but who had never been inmates of a workhouse.

In 1866, a disastrous explosion at the Oaks Colliery, near Barnsley, resulted in a number of children being left fatherless. Eight girls were admitted from Barnsley in 1867, with others following later. By the start of 1871, forty-two girls had been received into the Home whose ages ranged from 8 to 18 years. Of these, seventeen had lost one parent, twenty had neither father nor mother, and the rest were deserted children. Half of them came direct from the Bradford workhouse, thirteen from Barnsley, and the remainder were sent and paid for by friends.

By 1870, it was clear that larger premises were needed, which would include accommodation for girls out of place, and for any who might fall ill. A fund-raising effort was launched for the £3,000 required to build new premises. The new home was formally opened on April 14th, 1871, at 230 Manningham Lane (later renumbered as 24 Keighley Road), Bradford. The home could accommodate 32 girls, aged from 5 to 8 at their date of admission. A payment of three shillings a week was required for girls from Bradford, or seven shillings a week from elsewhere.

Orphan Girls Home, Bradford, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

All the girls were prepared for a future life in domestic service. Their training included baking and bread making, laundry work, needlework, knitting and dressmaking.

In 1926, the running of the home was handed over to the Waifs and Strays Society who re-opened it as their St Hilda's Home for Girls.

The Manningham Lane building is now in private residential use.

Records

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.

Bibliography

  • 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.