St Aidan's Home for Boys, Tynemouth, Northumberland

St Aidan's Home for Boys was opened by the Waifs and Strays Society in 1906 at Mariners' Lane, Tynemouth. It replaced a temporary home, also known as St Aidan's, opened at Whitley Bay in 1901. The demand for places at the Whitley Bay home soon made it clear that a larger, permanent establishment was needed, and the Tynemouth home was the result.

The Mariner's (or Mariners') Lane site was sold to the society by the Duke of Northumberland in 1902, effectively at half its market value. Following a fund-raising effort to pay for its construction, the foundation stone of the building was laid by the Duke on September 12th, 1905. The home was completed towards the end of the following year and the first residents moved in. The official opening by Lord Armstrong took place on January 10th, 1907, with Archdeacon Henderson conducting the ceremonial dedication in place of the Bishop of Newcastle who had been unable to attend.

The home occupied a site of about an acre, with a frontage of 145 feet on Mariner's Lane and 264 feet on King Edward Road. The building was constructed of red brick, with stone facings. On its ground floor were an entrance hall, play room, master and matron's sitting-room, dining-room, kitchen, scullery, stores, washhouse, lavatories and bathrooms. On the first floor were four dormitories, and the Master and Matron's bedroom. There was also an isolation room for any cases of infectious illness.

St Aidan's Home for Boys, Tynemouth, c.1907. © Peter Higginbotham

The home originally housed up to 25 boys aged from 7 to 10 years, but an extension in 1908 increased its capacity to 36. In 1913, the maximum age range of the children being admitted was raised to 15.

The home's first Master and Matron, Mr and Mrs Tullip, provided the boys with instruction in various trades and the top floor of the home was used as a workshop. Mrs Tullip also taught the boys music.

Football was a popular pastime amongst the boys and the home had its own team which played other local sides in the area.

St Aidan's Home football team, Tynemouth, c.1907. © Peter Higginbotham

The boys also enjoyed camping trips.

St Aidan's Home at camp, Tynemouth, c.1908. © Peter Higginbotham

All the boys at Tynemouth had a sailor suit which was worn 'for best' and on special occasions.

St Aidan's Home for Boys, Tynemouth, c.1921. © Peter Higginbotham

Naval outfits were also on parade for an inspection by the Duke of Northumberland in 1926.

St Aidan's Home for Boys, Tynemouth, c.1926. © Peter Higginbotham

St Aidan's Home for Boys, Tynemouth, c.1926. © Peter Higginbotham

St Aidan's Home for Boys, Tynemouth, c.1934. © Peter Higginbotham

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the boys were evacuated to the Rectory of St John Lee, near Acomb, and then to Fallowfield, near Wall. The home re-opened after the war but in 1948 was converted for use as a babies' home which continued operating into the 1980s.

The Mariner's Lane building no longer survives and modern flats now occupy the site.

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.