Bedford and County Girls' Home, Bedford, Bedfordshire

A branch of the Branch of the Ely Diocesan Association for Preventive, Rescue and Penitentiary Work was formed in Bedford in 1908, initially based in rooms in Ford End Road, Bedford.

In September 1910, the Association opened a shelter for up to eight 'fallen and preventive cases' at 32 Brereton Road, Bedford.

During the First World War, the operation of the shelter was taken over by the St Albans Diocese. In 1919, its work was transferred to larger premises at 'Woodleigh', 97 Ashburnham Road, Bedford, which had previously housed St Audrey's Home for Girls, a branch of the Waifs and Strays Society. What now became a Mother and Baby Home was formally dedicated by the Bishop of St Albans in December 1920 and adopted the name 'The Bedford & County Home for Girls'. The home had twelve places and had its own maternity ward. A weekly charge of 10s. was made for each mother.

St Audrey's Home For Girls, Bedford, 1908. © Peter Higginbotham

Former St Audrey's Home For Girls, Bedford, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

The home remained at Ashburnham Road until 1932 when it relocated to 1 Hill Rise, Park Road North, Bedford, a property previously used by the Bedford Training Home for Girls. Accommodation was provided for up to 16 mothers and 16 babies.

Between 1922 and 1948, the home's Lady Superintendent was Miss E.E. Mumford.

The home closed on 31 March 1957. The Ashburnham Road house has now been converted to commercial use. The Park Road North premises no longer exist.

Records

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.

  • Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service, Borough Hall, Cauldwell Street, Bedford. MK42 9AP. Holdings include: Annual reports (1925, 1928-31); Service register (1952-56); Various committe minutes; etc. Babies born at the homes were baptised at Holy Trinity (Ashburnham Road era) and St Martin's (Park Road North era); these records are held at the Bedfordshire Archives but access is restricted.

Bibliography