Industrial Home for Orphan Girls / Killay House, Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales

Swansea's Industrial Home for Orphan Girls was founded in around 1859 and for many years was based in premises on Northampton Lane (sometimes given as Northampton Place or Longland Place) in the middle of Swansea.

Killay House site, Swansea, c.1879.

In 1912, the home — by now referred to as the Swansea Home for Girls — could house forty-five 'orphan and friendless' girls aged 7 to 16 years. A payment of 2s.6d. per week was requested for girls from South Wales, or 5s. a week for those from elsewhere. The girls were trained for domestic service, with needlework being taught as a particular skill.

The location and cramped conditions of the home were causing increasing concern and the trustees of the charity that ran the institution began to look for new premises. In 1918, the local steel magnate and charitable benefactor, Roger Beck, presented them with a house called 'Brooklands', formerly the residence of William Talbot Rice, Vicar of Swansea. Rather then employ the house as new premises for the girls' home, the trustees sold it to Swansea Corporation in 1922. The proceeds from the sale were then used to acquire another property, Killay House, located at 365 Gower Road, in the Killay district of Swansea. After its removal to Killay House in 1March 930, the home could accommodate up to 44 girls, with the age range now being from 4 to 14 years. The home was also certified by the Ministry of Health to take in girls who were in the care of Boards of Guardians or local councils. The location of Killay House is shown on the 1956 map below.

Killay House site, Swansea, c.1956.

In 1948, the trustees of the home offered it to the National Children's Home (NCH). Under its new management, the 21 girls at the home were gradually joined by boys to make three family groups of ten children, each under the supervision of a Sister, or house-mother. George Thomas House, a hostel for young people leaving care, was later built in the grounds of the home.

The home's fund-raising garden fêtes were very popular occasions.

At holiday times. the children were able to use a camping site in Mary Twill Lane in Newton.

The home closed in 1985 and the house was then used for respite care for handicapped children, with the two-storey George Thomas House used for the Stepping Stones Project for children under five. Eventually Killay House became uneconomical to run and was put up for sale. Local opposition thwarted plans for a supermarket, so the mansion was demolished in 2003, and the houses of Stephenson Road, Millwood Gardens and St Nicholas Court erected on the site.

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.

  • Action For Children (formerly the National Children's Home). Can provide access to their own records for individuals who were adopted through the charity or who resided in one of its homes. Help also for those searching for family history information.

Bibliography

  • Bradfield, William The Life of the Reverend Thomas Bowman Stephenson (1913, Kelly)
  • Curnock, Nehemiah The Story of the Children's Home (C.H. Kelly, 1901)
  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Horner, Francis Shadow and Sun (Epworth Press, 1920)
  • Howard, Philip J Philip: a Strange Child (Dalkeith Publishing, 2007)
  • Philpot, Terry Action For Children (Lion, 1994)
  • Walpole, Cecil F. Golden Links (Epworth Press, 1941)

Films