Halifax Council Homes
In 1930, following the abolition of the Halifax Poor Law Union, the Halifax Borough Council took over responsibility for the administration of poor relief in the town. It is not clear whether it inherited any children's accommodation from the union, but by 1933 the council had a home for 36 children at Westfield House, King Cross Street, Halifax.
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.
By 1949, the Westfield children's home had been joined by the Willowfield Nursery on Burnley Road, Halifax, which provided 30 places for the under-fives. A year later, Lyndhurst, a home for 24 children was in operation at 72 Victoria Road, Elland.
By 1957, family group homes had been opened at 91 Cousin Lane, Ovenden, and 57 Alloe Field View, Illingworth, each providing 10 places. In 1959, another home, again with 10 places, was in use at 182 Mixenden Road, Mixenden.
In around 1960, a second residential nursery was opened at West Garth (or Westgarth), 79 Victoria Road, Elland, with 12 places. The Willowfield nursery closed shortly afterwards.
In 1971, local authority children's departments were absorbed into their new social services departments. At around that time, an additional home was opened at 45-46 West Bank, Illingworth.
Following the local government reorganisation that took place in 1974, responsibility for local government in Halifax passed to Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, with its headquarters in Halifax. All the existing children's homes continued in operation under the new administration.
Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Halifax Council.
- 172/182 Mixenden Road, Mixenden, Halifax
- 45-46 West Bank, Illingworth, Halifax
- 57 Alloe Field View, Illingworth, Halifax
- 91 Cousin Lane, Ovenden, Halifax
- Lyndhurst, 72 Victoria Road, Elland, Halifax
- Westfield House, King Cross Street, Halifax
- Residential Nursery, Westgarth, 79 Victoria Road, Elland, Halifax
- Residential Nursery, Willowfield, Burnley Road, Halifax
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 Halifax Council homes may exist at:
- West Yorkshire Archive Service - Calderdale, Central Library, Northgate House, Northgate, Halifax HX1 1UN.
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.