Edward Nicholl Home For Babies, Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales

The Edward Nicholl Home For Babies was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1918 at Maplewood on Station Road, Llandaff. The proposal to set up the home had come from Viscount Tredegar and Sir Edward Nicholl, MP. As a first step, Maplewood was leased for five years as temporary premises while a permanent building was being constructed. The new home was formally opened on July 30th, 1918, by Major-General H.H. Lee, and dedicated by the Bishop of Llandaff. It could accommodate 25 babies from birth upwards.

The home's permanent location was to be on a three-acre site donated by Lord Tredegar on Waterloo Road in the Penylan (or Pen-y-lan) area of Cardiff. The £21,000 cost of the building was met by Sir Edward Nicholl, with the proviso that a similar amount had to be raised by the Society's supporters as an endowment fund for the running of the home. The fund-raising effort was led by Sir James and Lady Robinson. Three years later, the money had been collected and construction work began, with the foundation stone being laid by the Prince of Wales.

The official opening of the new home, on October 31st, 1922, was performed by Sir Edward himself, with a ceremony of dedication conducted by the Bishop of Llandaff. The building, designed by Messrs. Ivor Jones and Percy Thomas, was described as a beautiful block of buildings, built on the simple lines of French convent school. Its hillside location offered fine views of the Bristol Channel.

Edward Nicholl Home For Babies, Penylan, Cardiff, c.1924. © Peter Higginbotham

Edward Nicholl Home For Babies, Penylan, Cardiff, c.1924. © Peter Higginbotham

The Second World War left its mark on the home. On February 26th, 1941, the building was hit by incendiary bombs which set the roof on fire. Its elevated position made the burning house a highly visible target for the dropping of high explosives but fortunately, none of these struck the building. A sudden deterioration in the weather seems to have cut short the air raid. In the meantime, the fire brigade dealt with the fire while the home's staff and children remained in its air-raid shelter. The home's roof was virtually destroyed and an immediate evacuation was ordered. The children were carried through the now pouring rain to buses which took them to a rest centre at a convent some miles away. Less than two months later, the home re-opened at The College on the Esplanade in the seaside town of Porthcawl. It returned to Penlyan in September, 1946.

The home closed in around 1982. None of its former premises survive. The Penlyan site is now occupied by the modern housing of Edward Nicholl Court.

Records

Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

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.