Dewsbury Council Homes
In 1930, following the abolition of the Dewsbury Poor Law Union, the Dewsbury Borough Council took over responsibility for the administration of poor relief in the town. Although the children's cottage homes at Healds Road, Staincliffe, were taken over by the West Riding County Council, children from Dewsbury continued to be received there under under an arrangement between the County Council and Dewsbury Council's new Public Assistance Committee. The six homes each accommodated twelve children.
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.
The arrangement with the County Council appears to have continued. By 1956, Dewsbury had opened a home of its own at Ash Tree (or Ashtree) House, Orchard Street, Savile Town, where twelve children could be accommodated.
By 1968, two family group homes were in operation at 56 The Crescent, Ravensthorpe, and 18 Moorcroft Drive, Dewsbury Moor, each housing nine children.
In 1971, local authority children's departments were absorbed into their new social services departments. Following the local government reorganisation that took place in 1974, responsibility for local government in Dewsbury passed to Kirklees Metropolitan District Council, with its headquarters in Huddersfield.
Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Dewsbury Council.
- Family Group Home, 18 Moorcroft Drive, School Lane, Dewsbury Moor, Dewsbury
- Family Group Home, 56 The Crescent, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury
- Ash Tree House, 36 Orchard Street, Savile Town, Dewsbury
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 Dewsbury Council homes may exist at:
- West Yorkshire Archive Service - Kirklees, Central Library, Princess Alexandra Walk, Huddersfield HD1 2SU.
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.