Cumberland/Cumbria County 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. Cumberland County Council took over three such institutions. These were:
|Lark Hall Cottage Home, Robinson Street, Penrith||Penrith||26|
|Petworth House, Cockermouth||Cockermouth||25|
|St Bees Children's Home, 24 Main Street, St Bees||Whitehaven||20|
By 1934, however, the Cockermouth and Whitehaven homes had been replaced by a new home for 50 boys at Englethwaite Hall, Armathwaite, while Lark Hall was used to accommodate the girls. A second girls' home providing 20 places was opened in around 1947 at Scotby House, Park Road, Scotby.
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, Cumberland County 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 Lark Hall, Englethwaite Hall and Scotby House homes. Within a year, however, Lark Hall had closed and been replaced by a new mixed home at Orton Park, Wigton Road, Carlisle, together with the residential Sandath Nursery at Fell Lane, Penrith. The Committee now also had responsibility for the Mill House Remand Home at Brunstock.
By 1950, a new home had been opened in a large house known as Greenhill, at Red Dial, Wigton. Another large property, Geltsdale, at Wetheral Plain, became a home in around 1952.
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. In 1959, the council made its first step in this direction with Wedgewood, a mixed eight-bed 'family group' home at 14 Hollins Close, Whitehaven. It was quickly followed by a similar home at 71 Wastwater Avenue, Workington. Both properties were on new council housing estates. Further family group homes followed in 1965 at 21 Huntley Avenue, Penrith, and in 1970 at 30 Overend Road, Whitehaven, and Allerdale, Longthwaite Road, Wigton. The Greenhill and Geltsdale homes were closed The council's stock of children's accommodation in 1972 is listed below.
|Leaside (aka Allerdale?), Longthwaite Road, Wigton||15|
|21 Huntley Avenue, Penrith||8|
|71 Wastwater Avenue, Workington||8|
|Wedgewood, 14 Hollins Close, Whitehaven||8|
|30 Overend Road, Whitehaven||10|
|Scotby House, Park Road, Scotby||20|
|Sandath Nursery, Fell Lane, Penrith||20|
|Mill House Remand Home And Assessment Centre, Brunstock||19|
As part of the local government reorganisation that took place in 1974, the new Cumbria County Council took over the all council-run homes in the former counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, including those previously run by councils such as Carlisle, Barrow in Furness and Westmorland. Some homes were subsequently closed and a few new ones opened. The establishments in operation in 1977 are listed below.
|15 Tyne Road, Barrow-in-Furness|
|Dunlop House, Abbey Road, Barrow-in-Furness|
|Newbarns House, Hollow Lane, Barrow-in-Furness|
|Mill House Remand Home And Assessment Centre, Brunstock|
|14 Lesh Lane, Barrow-in-Furness|
|Pelham House Community Home with Education, Calderbridge|
|1 Meade Road, Carlisle|
|30 Raiselands Road, Carlisle|
|5 Brunswick Street, Carlisle|
|54 Westrigg Road, Carlisle|
|The Grange, 12-16 Wood Street, Carlisle|
|Cragbank, Grange Fell Road, Grange-over-Sands|
|Morningside, Beetham Road, Milnthorpe|
|21 Huntley Avenue, Penrith|
|Sandath Nursery, Fell Lane, Penrith|
|Scotby House, Park Road, Scotby|
|Edmond Castle Community Home with Education, Wetheral|
|Wedgewood, 14 Hollins Close, Whitehaven<|
|30 Overend Road, Whitehaven|
|Leaside, Longthwaite Road, Wigton|
|71 Wastwater Avenue, Workington|
Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Cumberland/Cumbria County Council.
- Home for Boys, Englethwaite Hall, Armathwaite
- Mill House Remand Home, Millbrooke Bridge, Brunstock
- Pelham House School for Boys, North Drive, Ponsonby, Calder Bridge
- Family Group Home, 1 Meade Road, Harraby, Carlisle§
- 30 Raiselands Road, Morton, Carlisle§
- 5 Brunswick Street, Carlisle
- 54 Westrigg Road, Morton, Carlisle§
- Mill House Remand Home, Linstock, Carlisle
- Orton Park, Wigton Road, Carlisle
- The Grange, 12-16 Wood Street, Carlisle
- Edmond Castle School for Boys, Garden Walk, Hayton, Wetheral, Carlisle
- Cumberland County Industrial School for Boys, Strawberry How Road, Cockermouth
- Petworth House, Cockermouth*
- Family Group Home, 21 Huntley Avenue, Penrith
- Sandath Nursery, Fell Lane, Penrith
- Lark Hall (Girls), Scotland Road, Penrith
- Scotby House, Park Road, Scotby
- Geltsdale, The Plains, Wetheral
- Family Group Home, 30 Overend Road, Whitehaven
- Family Group Home, Wedgewood, 14 Hollins Close, Whitehaven
- Family Group Home, Allerdale/Leaside, Longthwaite Road, Wigton
- Family Group Home, Greenhill, Red Dial, Wigton
- Family Group Home, 71 Wastwater Avenue, Workington
- Family Group Home, 14 Lesh Lane, Barrow-in-Furness§
- Family Group Home, 15 Tyne Road, Barrow-in-Furness§
- Dunlop House Reception Home, Abbey Road, Barrow-in-Furness§
- Family Group Home, Newbarns House, Hollow Lane, Barrow-in-Furness§
- Family Group Home, Cragbank, Grange Fell Road, Grange over Sands
- Morningside, Beetham Road, Milnthorpe
* indicates link to pages on www.workhouses.org.uk.
§ indicates homes at some time also run by a borough 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 Cumberland/Cumbria Council homes may exist at:
- Barrow Archive and Local Studies Centre, 140 Duke Street, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria LA14 1XW.
- Carlisle Archive Centre, Lady Gillford's House, Petteril Bank Road, Carlisle CA1 3AJ.
- Kendal Archive Centre, Kendal County Offices, Kendal LA9 4RQ.
- Whitehaven Archive and Local Studies Centre, Scotch Street, Whitehaven, Cumbria CA28 7NL.
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.