Barnsley Council Homes
In 1930, following the abolition of the Barnsley Poor Law Union, the Barnsley Borough Council took over responsibility for the administration of poor relief in the city. The Ashley House children's home at Princess Street, Barnsley, previously run by the union, now came under the management of the council's new Public Assistance Committee. The establishment could accommodate up to 24 children.
In 1934, a home for 12 boys was in operation at Myrtle Villa, 7 Huddersfield Road, Barnsley. By 1937, however, Myrtle Villa had been replaced by two adjacent houses on Rockingham Street, known as Maryville and Georgeville, respectively housing 12 girls and 12 boys.
In around 1942, a residential nursery known as Jordan House was opened at 41 Gawber Road, Barnsley, accommodating 10 children. Another home, The Views, was opened at 39 Gawber Road in 1944. It housed up to 14 children.
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 Social Welfare Committees. Under the new regime, residential care was seen as the least desirable option for children in care, but when it was employed, the recommended size of home was eight children, or twelve at most.
Ashley House was closed in around 1960 and was then used for administrative purposes. By 1967, the two Gawber Road establishments had also closed, with a new nursery being opened at Hinchcliffe House, 77 Rockingham Street, adjacent to the Georgeville and Maryville homes.
In 1971, local authority children's departments were absorbed into their new social services departments. Following the local government reorganisation that took place in 1974, the new Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council took over two homes (Cubley Hall and 43 John Street) that had previously been run by the West Yorkshire County Council. It also opened new homes, Needlewood and Wellfield House.
The council's children's establishments in operation in 1977 are listed below. Those taken over from West Yorkshire are indicated by an asterisk.
|Georgeville, Rockingham Street|
|Maryville, Rockingham Street|
|Hinchcliffe House, Rockingham Street|
|Cubley Hall, Mortimer Road, Penistone|
|43 John Street, Great Houghton|
|Needlewood, Keresforth Hill Road|
|Wellfield House, Wellfield Road|
By 1984, a number of closures had taken place, with only 43 John Street and 77 Rockingham Street remaining in use. A hostel for mentally handicapped children was also in operation at 12 Greenfoot Lane.
Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Barnsley Council.
- Hostel for Mentally Handicapped Children, 12 Greenfoot Lane, Barnsley
- 77 Rockingham Street, Barnsley
- Ashley House, 7 Princess Street, Barnsley*
- Georgeville, Rockingham Street, Barnsley
- Residential Nursery, Hinchcliffe House, 77 Rockingham Street, Barnsley
- Residential Nursery, Jordan House, 41 Gawber Road, Barnsley
- Maryville, Rockingham Street, Barnsley
- Myrtle Villa, 7 Huddersfield Road, Barnsley
- Needlewood, Keresforth Hill Road, Barnsley
- The Views, 39 Gawber Road, Barnsley
- Wellfield House, Wellfield Road, Barnsley
- 43 John Street, Great Houghton†
- Cubley Hall, Mortimer Road, Penistone†
* indicates link to pages on www.workhouses.org.uk.
† 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 Barnsley Council homes may exist at:
- Barnsley Archives and Local Studies, Town Hall, Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 2TA.
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.