Bolton 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 Bolton Council's Public Assistance Committee took over the Bolton Union's Hollins Cottage Homes on Plodder Lane, at the south side of the Bolton workhouse site, where around 175 children could be housed, and a 16-bed Working Boys' Home at Townleys House, a property just across the railway line, at the north-east of the workhouse. The latter appears to have closed in about 1936.

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 Hollins Cottage Homes. By 1952, a separate home for 12 boys had been opened at Crompton House, 228 Wigan Road, Bolton.

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 1953, the council was moving in this direction with two mixed 'family group' homes at 26 Church Road and 53/55 Archer Avenue, Bolton, housing 6 and 8 children respectively. The latter establishment was on one of the council's new housing estates. By the same date, the Braxmere Children's Home was opened to accommodate up to 16 children at 358 Belmont Road, Astley Bridge, Bolton. In 1954, further Family Group Home had opened at 37/39 Stanworth Avenue, followed in 1955 by another at 571-573 Chorley Old Road. The Elizabeth Ashmore residential children's nursery opened on 30 January 1955 1t 291 Chorley New Road. The same year saw the opening of a new Family Group Home at 196-198 Newby Road, on the Breightmet estate, and the closure of the Hollins Cottage Homes.

By 1965, the Archer Avenue home had closed, as had Stanworth Avenue by 1967. However, a new home was opened at 50 Church Road, Bolton. By 1970, there was a new 6-bed Family Group Home at 576 Darwen Road, Dunscar, and a 14-bed home, known as The Poplars, on Withins Lane, Bolton.

By 1975, new homes had opened at 198 and 217 Deepdale Road and at 125 Ellesmere Road, Bolton. The following year saw the addition of three homes previously run by Lancashire County Council. They comprised 52 Washacre and 37 Southfield Drive, both in Westhoughton, and Burnthwaite, on Old Hall Lane, Bolton. The homes in operation in 1976 are listed below:

LocationPlaces
Braxmere, Belmont Road, Bolton16
Burnthwaite, Old Hall Lane, Lostock24
571-3 Chorley Road, Bolton12
26 Church Road, Bolton6
50 Church Road, Bolton6
Crompton House Boys' Home, 228 Wigan Road, Bolton12
576 Darwen Road, Bolton6
198 Deepdale Road, Bolton6
217 Deepdale Road, Bolton6
Elizabeth Ashmore Residential Nursery, 291 Chorley New Road, Bolton30
125 Ellesmere Road, Bolton*
196 Newby Road, Bolton6
The Poplars, Withins Lane, Bolton*
37 Southfield Drive, Westhoughton*
52 Washacre, Westhoughton*

In 1980, the Moss Nook Observation and Assessment Centre was in operation on Radcliffe Road, Bolton. Grange Cottage, an annexe to the Braxmere Home, was in use on Belmont Road. The Southfield Drive, Church Road, Ellesmere Road and Wigan Road homes had closed. By 1984, the Chorley Old Road home had also closed.

Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Bolton Council.

  • Family Group Home, 196/198 Newby Road, Bolton
  • 198 Deepdale Road, Bolton
  • 217 Deepdale Road, Bolton
  • Family Group Home, 26 Church Road, Bolton
  • Elizabeth Ashmore Children's Nursery, 291 Chorley New Road, Bolton
  • Braxmere Children's Home, 358 Belmont Road, Astley Bridge, Bolton
  • Family Group Home, 37/39 Stanworth Avenue, Bolton
  • Family Group Home, 50 Church Road, Bolton
  • Family Group Home, 53/55 Archer Avenue, Bolton
  • Family Group Home, 571-573 Chorley Old Road, Bolton
  • Family Group Home, 576 Darwen Road, Dunscar, Bolton
  • Burnthwaite, Burnthwaite, Old Hall Lane, Lostock, Bolton
  • Home for Boys, Crompton House, 228 Wigan Road, Bolton
  • Bolton Union/Council Hollins Cottage Homes, Plodder Lane, Farnworth, Bolton*
  • Moss Nook Observation and Assessment Centre, Radcliffe Road, Darcy Lever, Bolton
  • Bolton Union/Council Receiving Home, Townleys's House, Farnworth, Bolton*
  • Home for Working Boys, Townleys's House, Farnworth, Bolton
  • The Poplars, Withins Lane, Bolton
  • 37 Southfield Drive, Westhoughton
  • Family Group Home, 52 Washacre, Westhoughton

* indicates link to pages on www.workhouses.org.uk.
indicates homes at some time also run by a county council.

Records

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 Bolton Council homes may exist at:

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.

Bibliography