Sunderland 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. The Sunderland Council's Public Assistance Committee took over the Sunderland Union's Highfield Cottage Homes at 235 Hylton Road, Sunderland, where 153 children could be housed, and the nearby home for 38 boys at Havelock Tower, 188 Hylton Road.

Highfield Cottage Homes, Sunderland, 2002.
© Peter Higginbotham.

In 1945, the council was running nine wartime nurseries. One of these, at Hexham Villa, Birtley, continued in operation as a residential nursery for many years after the war.

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 Public Assistance Committees. The Committee took over responsibility for the existing homes on Hylton Road. The council also gained responsibility for the Girls' Remand Home at Church Street, Seaham. The following year, 1949, saw the opening of a hostel for working boys at 14 The Esplanade West, Sunderland, and a residential nursery at Burdon Hall, Bishopton Lane, Darlington. In 1950, a reception hostel was opened at Ashbrooke Towers, Alexandra Road, Sunderland. By 1953, a hostel for working girls was in operation at 3 The Esplanade, Sunderland.

The 1948 Act had recommended that where children needed to be in residential care, they should be in homes, which ideally accommodated no more than eight children, or twelve at most. In the mid-1950s, Sunderland began to adopt this policy with the gradual opening of eight small 'family group' homes, each providing ten places, located on new council housing estates being built around the city. The first of these were at 12 Godfrey Road, 17 Goodwood Road, and 59 Cotswold Road, all on the Grindon Village estate. By 1958, they had been joined by 8 Anthony Road and 9 Aston Square, both at East Herrington. The final additions in around 1960 were at 12 Toronto Road, 24 Rennie Road, 18 Revelstoke Road and 7 Columbo Road. The completion of this building programme allowed the closure of the old cottage homes on Hylton Road to take place. At around the same time, the working boys' hostel on Esplanade West was relocated to 15 Thornhill Park, Sunderland. The working girls' hostel then moved to the former boys' premises, while its own building at 3 The Esplanade became another children's home. In 1971, the Burdon Hall nursery moved to a site of Viewforth Road, Carley Hill.

The council's children's accommodation in 1972 is listed below:

LocationPlaces
Reception Hostel, Ashbrooke Tower, Alexandra Road, Sunderland25
Carley Hill Residential Nursery, Off Viewforth Terrace, Sunderland15
3 The Esplanade, Sunderland18
12 Godfrey Road, Grindon Village10
17 Goodwood Road, Grindon Village10
12 Toronto Road, Thornley Close, Sunderland10
18 Revelstoke Road, Sunderland10
24 Rennie Road, Sunderland10
59 Cotswold Road, Sunderland10
7 Columbo Road, Sunderland10
8 Anthony Road, East Herrington, Sunderland10
9 Aston Square, Sunderland10
Hostel for Working Boys, 15 Thornhill Park, Sunderland18
Hostel for Working Girls, 14 The Esplanade West, Sunderland18
Greystones Remand Home for Girls, Church Lane, Seaham16

In 1974, the Metropolitan Borough of Sunderland was formed by the merger of the county borough with the adjacent urban districts of Washington, Houghton-le-Spring and Hetton. Following the merger, the Sunderland council took over several homes in its extended area. Its stock of children's homes in 1984 comprised:

Location
9 Aston Square, Sunderland
98 Avenue Vivian, Fencehouses
12 Godfrey Road, Grindon Village
17 Goodwood Road, Grindon Village
12 Toronto Road, Thornley Close, Sunderland
18 Revelstoke Road, Sunderland
24 Rennie Road, Sunderland
59 Cotswold Road, Sunderland
7 Columbo Road, Sunderland
131 Coach Road Estate, Washington
Gilpin House, Blind Lane, Houghton-le-Spring
Thorncliffe, Home for Adolescent Boys, Newcastle Road, Boldon
Children's Centre Residential Unit, Durham Road, Sunderland
Witherwack House Individual Care Unit, Woolwich Road, Witherack
Penshaw House Community Home, Station Road, Penshaw
Wellesley Community School, Links Road, Blyth
Holmewood Independent Unit for Young Persons, 14 The Esplanade West, Sunderland
Emsworth House Assessment Centre, Emsworth Road, Sunderland

Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Sunderland Council.

County Durham

  • Sunderland Day Industrial School, 9 The Green, Bishopwearmouth
  • Residential Nursery, Burdon Hall, Bishopton Lane, Darlington
  • Family Group Home, 98 Avenue Vivian, Fencehouses
  • Gilpin House, Blind Lane, Houghton-le-Spring
  • Community Home, Penshaw House, Station Road, Penshaw
  • Greystones Remand Home, Church Lane, Seaham
  • Family Group Home, 12 Toronto Road, Thornley Close, Sunderland
  • Hostel for Working Boys (later Girls), 14 Esplanade West, Sunderland
  • Holmewood Independent Unit for Young Persons, 14 Esplanade West, Sunderland
  • Hostel for Working Boys, 15 Thornhill Park, Sunderland
  • Family Group Home, 17 Goodwood Road, Grindon Village, Sunderland
  • Family Group Home, 18 Revelstoke Road, Sunderland
  • Family Group Home, 2 (later 12) Godfrey Road, Grindon Village, Sunderland
  • Family Group Home, 24 Rennie Road, Sunderland
  • Parker Memorial Home, 25 Kayll Road, Sunderland
  • Hostel for Working Girls, 3 Esplanade, Sunderland
  • Family Group Home, 59 Costwold Road, Sunderland
  • Family Group Home, 7 Columbo Road, Sunderland
  • Family Group Home, 8 Anthony Road, East Herrington, Sunderland
  • Family Group Home, 9 Aston Square, Sunderland
  • Reception Hostel, Ashbrooke Tower, Alexandra Road, Sunderland
  • Children's Centre Residential Unit, Durham Road, Sunderland
  • Emsworth House Assessment Centre, Emsworth Road, Sunderland
  • Sunderland Union Receiving Home, Havelock Tower, 288 Hylton Road, Sunderland*
  • Sunderland Union/Council Cottage Homes, Highfield, 235 Hylton Road, Sunderland*
  • Carley Hill Residential Nursery, Off Viewforth Terrace, Sunderland
  • Witherwack House Individual Care Unit, Woolwich Road, Witherwack, Sunderland
  • Family Group Home, 131 Coach Road Estate, Washington
  • Thorncliffe Home for Adolescent Boys, Newcastle Road, West Boldon

Northumberland

* indicates link to pages on www.workhouses.org.uk.

Records

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 Sunderland Council homes may exist at:

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.

Bibliography