Shirley Oaks Cottage Homes / Residential Schools, Shirley, Surrey
In 1903, the St Olave's Poor Law Union erected a large children's cottage home "village" on an 80-acre site at 121 Wickham Road, Shirley. There were 38 children's cottages, making Shirley one of the largest cottage homes developments in the country. Some children stayed there for just a few weeks, some for up to fifteen years. As well as the children's houses, other buildings included a sick bay, swimming bath, laundry, and workshops. A large school stood at the north of the site. By 1929, over 600 children could be accommodated at the establishment.
In 1930, the running of the homes was taken over by the London County Council (LCC).
On 24 July 1937, the Shirley Residential School, as it had become known, was certified to act as an Approved School. The establishment formally ceased to have this role on 23 May 1951.
By 1959, the site had been renamed Shirley Oaks Residential Schools. It now included the Almond House Hostel which provided accommodation for twelve girls aged between 15 and 18 years who had begun employment outside the homes.
In 1985, the running of the site was taken over by Lambeth County Council. The Schools continued in operation until 1983. Most of the cottages have since been demolished. Those that remain are now in private residential use.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB. (The Ancestry website also has LMA records relating to workhouses and other institutions — more details.)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Morrison, Kathryn Cottage Home Villages (1998, in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, Volume 42, 81-102)
- Chance, William Children Under The Poor Law (1897, Swann Sonnenschein)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.