Southport 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. In the case of Southport, which had previously been part of the Ormskirk Union, there appears to have been no suitable establishment for its council to inherit. Instead, it took over a property known as Lincoln House, on Lincoln Road, Birkdale — possibly the former tuberculosis sanatorium — which was converted to house up to 24 children.
By 1940, the home had moved to new premises known as Cavendish House at Liverpool Road, Woodvale, Southport. In 1944, it occupied premises at 41 Leyland Street, Southport, described a a 'temporary reception house'. By 1946, the reception homes was at Eversley House, 15 Cambridge Road, Southport.
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, Southport 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 the management of Eversley House.
By 1950, a residential nursery had been opened at 69 Albert Road, Southport. By 1952, a second children's home was in use at 53 Scarsbrick New Road, Southport. By 1959, Eversley House and the Scarsbrick New Road homes had been replaced by 37 Links Avenue, Southport. The Albert Road nursery had also been closed by that date. By 1968, an additional children's home had been opened at 27 Cherry Road, Ainsdale. In 1973, the Christina Kirwan Observation and Assessment Centre, also known as Kirwan House, was in operatio on Fleetwood Road, Southport.
As part of the local government reorganisation that took place in 1974, the new Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council took over the provision of children's residential care in an area which encompassed boroughs of Bootle, Southport and Crosby, the districts of Formby and Litherland, and part of West Lancashire. The Sefton Council took over Southport's three children's establishments.
Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Southport Council.
- Eversley House, 15 Cambridge Road, Southport
- 27 Cherry Road, Ainsdale, Southport
- 37 Links Avenue, Southport
- 41 Leyland Road, Southport
- 53 Scarsbrick New Road, Southport
- Residential Nursery, 69 Albert Road, Southport
- Christina Kirwan Observation and Assessment Centre / Kirwan House, Fleetwood Road, Southport
- Lincoln House, Lincoln Road, Birkdale, Southport
- Cavendish House, Liverpool Road, Woodvale, Southport
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 Southport Council homes may exist at:
- Lancashire Archives, Lancashire Record Office, Bow Lane, Preston PR1 2RE.
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.