Orphan Girls' Home, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire
The idea for Bradford's Orphan Girls' Home (also known as the Bradford Industrial Home for Orphans and Deserted Girls) was proposed in 1864 by five members of the Workhouse Visiting Society, to help 'friendless girls' residing in workhouses. The scheme became a reality in 1865 when a small house was taken in Roberts Place, initially with just three girls. Four more were added in the course of the first year, and a larger house was taken in Brunswick Place, with the number of inmates gradually rising to twenty. The home was originally intended just for workhouse girls, but the committee subsequently decided to admit, on payment, a few girls who were orphans but who had never been inmates of a workhouse.
In 1866, a disastrous explosion at the Oaks Colliery, near Barnsley, resulted in a number of children being left fatherless. Eight girls were admitted from Barnsley in 1867, with others following later. By the start of 1871, forty-two girls had been received into the Home whose ages ranged from 8 to 18 years. Of these, seventeen had lost one parent, twenty had neither father nor mother, and the rest were deserted children. Half of them came direct from the Bradford workhouse, thirteen from Barnsley, and the remainder were sent and paid for by friends.
By 1870, it was clear that larger premises were needed, which would include accommodation for girls out of place, and for any who might fall ill. A fund-raising effort was launched for the £3,000 required to build new premises. The new home was formally opened on April 14th, 1871, at 230 Manningham Lane (later renumbered as 24 Keighley Road), Bradford. The home could accommodate 32 girls, aged from 5 to 8 at their date of admission. A payment of three shillings a week was required for girls from Bradford, or seven shillings a week from elsewhere.
All the girls were prepared for a future life in domestic service. Their training included baking and bread making, laundry work, needlework, knitting and dressmaking.
In 1926, the running of the home was handed over to the Waifs and Strays Society who re-opened it as their St Hilda's Home for Girls.
The Manningham Lane building is now in private residential use.
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- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by surname.
- Index of the Society's first 30,000 children's case files ordered by date of birth.
- The Children's Society Records and Archive Centre is at Block A Floor 2, Tower Bridge Business Complex, 100 Clement's Road, London, England SE16 4DG (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Files for children admitted to its homes after September 1926 were microfilmed in the 1980s and the originals destroyed. Some post-1926 files had already been damaged or destroyed during a flood. The Society's Post-Adoption and Care Service provides access to records, information, advice, birth record counselling, tracing and intermediary service for people who were in care or adopted through the Society.
- The Society has produced detailed catalogues of its records relating to disabled children, and of records relating to the Children's Union (a fundraising body mostly supported from the contributions of children).
- 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.)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- 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.
- 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)
- Hidden Lives Revealed — the story of the children who were in the care of The Children's Society in late Victorian and early 20th Century Britain.
- The Children's Society
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