Gateshead Council Homes
In 1930, the Boards of Guardians, who had administered the poor relief system in England and Wales since 1834, were abolished and their responsibilities were taken over by county and county borough councils. Each council set up a Public Assistance Committee to oversee its new duties, which included the operation of the various children's establishments previously run by the poor law unions in each area. The cottage homes at Shotley Bridge, formerly run by the Gateshead Union, were taken over by Durham County Council.
In around 1943, the Gateshead council established a residential nursery at Briermede, Earls Drive, Low Fell, Gateshead. By 1947, the Oakfield receiving home had been opened at Oakfield, Chowdene Bank, Low Fell.
Following the passing of the 1948 Children Act, councils were required to provide care services for all needy children in their area, especially those who lacked a normal family home. In common with other local authorities, the council established a new Children's Committee, whose responsibilities had previously been spread across separate Health, Education and Public Assistance Committees. The Committee took over responsibility for the Briermede and Oakfield homes.
By 1950, a new home had been opened 17 Saltwell View. In 1951, a twelve=bed hostel for working girls, aged 15 to 18 years, was established at 4 Cambridge Terrace. At around the same time, a second residential nursery known as Earlswood, was opened at Earls Drive, Low Fell.
The 1948 Act had recommended that where children needed to be in residential care, they should be in 'family group' homes, which ideally accommodated no more than eight children, or twelve at most. By 1954, the council made its first step in this direction with a mixed 'family group' home on a new housing estate at 11 Marsden Grove, Wrekenton.
By 1959, the Saltwell View home had become a hostel for working boys and the Oakfield nursery was closing.
By 1967, the Lyndhurst family group home had been opened at 42 Eskdale Gardens, Gateshead. The following year it was joined by a home at 1A Fennel, Harebell Road, on Gateshead's on the Beacon Lough estate. By 1972, there was a reception and assessment centre at 50 Malton Green, Gateshead. Chowdene was now a day nursery.
As part of the local government reorganisation that took place in 1974, Gateshead absorbed the neighbouring districts of Felling, Blaydon, Ryton and part of Chester-le-Street Rural District. As a result, Gateshead took over a number of homes previously run by Durham County Council. These comprised the family group homes at 6 Blake Avenue, Whickham; 53A Edendale Estate, Crawcrook, Ryton; 37 Hallgarth, Felling; and 30 Linden Road, Blaydon.
In the late 1970s, a large community home was established on Mount Road, Birtley.
Children's establishments run at some time in their history by Gateshead Council.
- Ravensworth, Mount Road, Northside, Birtley
- Family Group Home, 30 Linden Road, Blaydon†
- Family Group Home, 53A Edendale Estate, Crawcrook†
- Family Group Home, 37 Hallgarth, Felling†
- 11 Marsden Grove, Wrekenton, Gateshead
- Hostel for Working Boys, 15 Saltwell View, Gateshead
- Family Group Home, 1A Fennel, Harebell Road, Beacon Lough Estate, Gateshead
- Working Hostel for Girls, 2/4 Cambridge Terrace, Gateshead
- Reception and Assessment Centre, 50 Malton Green, Gateshead
- Receiving Home, Briermede, Earls Drive, Low Fell, Gateshead
- Residential Nursery, Earlswood, Earls Drive, Low Fell, Gateshead
- Family Group Home, Lyndhurst, 42 Eskdale Gardens, Gateshead
- Residential Nursery, Oakfield, Chowdene Bank, Low Fell, Gateshead
- Family Group Home, 6-8 Blake Avenue, Whickham†
† indicates homes at some time also run by a county council.
The involvement of local authorities in the running of children's homes dates from 1930, when they took over the running of the poor relief system previously administered by Boards of Guardians. Surviving records for council-run children's homes may be held in each council's own internal archives. Prior to 1991, however, when a legal requirement was introduced for councils to retain records of children leaving their care, the survival of such records is very variable. Contact details for local authorities in the UK can be found on the website of the Care Leavers Association (CLA). The CLA also provides guidance on accessing childhood care files, which are normally only open to the individuals they relate to.
Locating local authority records has been complicated by the various local government reorganizations that have taken place in recent times, such as the abolition of the London County Council in 1965, and the major nationwide restructuring in 1974 in which many administrative areas were created, amended or eliminated.
Older records may sometimes be placed with the relevant county or borough record office. Many of these repositories have online catalogues of their holdings and also contribute to the National Archives' Discovery database. Note that records containing personal data usually have access closed for a period of fifty years or more.
Older material relating to Gateshead Council homes may exist at:
- Tyne & Wear Archives, Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA.
Some records relating to council-run homes, for example inspection reports (though not resident lists etc.), are held by The National Archives (TNA). A closure period may apply to these records.
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Urquhart, Gloria (2020) Nobody's Child: The True Story of Growing up in a Yorkshire Children's Home
- Cooke, Allan Institutionalized in a Children's Home: Skellow Hall 1950-1963 — a true story of a child and children in a home (2012, Authorhouse)
- Cummings, Les Forgotten: The Heartrending Story of Life in a Children's Home
- Limbrick, Gudrun The Children of the Homes: a century of Erdington Cottage Homes
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.