Girls' Orphan Home and Industrial School, Whitehaven, Cumberland

The Whitehaven Orphan Home and Industrial School for Girls (also known as the Whitehaven Girls' Home and Industrial Institution) was established in 1860 'to befriend destitute girls, especially orphans, training them to industrial habits, fitting them for domestic service, and providing them with suitable situations.' The institution was maintained by public subscriptions and donations, supplemented by income generated by the labour of the girls. It was managed by a committee of ladies.

The home was initially based in the former Preston Quarter township workhouse in the Ginns area of Whitehaven but by the early 1870s had moved into a property purchased at Granby Place, on Michael Street. The building could accommodate twenty girls aged from 13 to 17. For each girl admitted to the home, an initial fee of 5s. was requested and then a weekly contribution of 3s. 6d. However, the charges could be negotiated according to the circumstances and a few free cases were taken. New entrants were required to be in good health not feeble-minded. Girls in the home were occupied in laundry work, needlework and knitting.

In around 1904, the home moved to new premises known as Granby House at 1 Victoria Road, Whitehaven.

Former Orphan Home For Girls, Whitehaven, 2012. © Peter Higginbotham

Not long after the move, the home was handed over to the Waifs and Strays Society and became their St Agnes' Home.

The Victoria Road property still survives, now converted to private residential use.


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  • 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.