Blackburn 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. Blackburn Council took over the cottage homes on Queen's Road, formerly run by the Blackburn Union, together with two other homes in the town at 108-110 Cherry Street and 61-63 Hickory Street. By 1936, 108 Cherry Street had become a Home for Working Boys, while 110 Cherry Street was no longer in use.
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 Queen's Road and what was now referred to as 100 Cherry Street, while the Hickory Street home was apparently closed.
The 1948 Act had recommended that where children needed to be in residential care, they should be in 'family group' homes, which ideally accommodated no more than eight children, or twelve at most. By 1954, the council made its first step in this direction with a mixed 'family group' home in a terraced house at 134 Shear Brow, Blackburn. This was quickly followed by further homes at 594 Whalley New Road, 28 Cleveleys Road, 16 Fielding Crescent, 129 Pilmuir Road, 21 Whitby Drive, 62 Whitebirk Road, and 4 Dunoon Drive. All but the first of these were on new council housing estates that were being erected around Blackburn. In about 1963, a reception centre was opened at 215 Shadsworth Road, Blackburn. A further family group home was opened at 9 Orkney Close in 1971.
As part of the local government reorganisation that took place in 1974, Blackburn's social services provision, including its children's residential care, was taken over by Lancashire County Council.
Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Blackburn Council.
- Home for Working Boys, 108 Cherry Street, Blackburn
- Blackburn Union/Council Scattered Homes, 108-110 Cherry Street, Blackburn*
- Family Group Home, 129 Pilmuir Road, Blackburn
- Family Group Home, 16 Fielding Crescent, Blackburn
- Family Group Home, 21 Whitby Drive, Blackburn
- Family Group Home, 28 Cleveleys Road, Blackburn
- Home for Working Boys, 4 Audley Range, Blackburn
- Family Group Home, 4 Dunoon Drive, Blackburn
- Family Group Home, 594 Whalley New Road, Blackburn
- Blackburn Union/Council Scattered Homes, 61-63 Hickory Street, Blackburn*
- Family Group Home, 62 Whitebirk Road, Blackburn
- Family Group Home, 9 Orkney Close, Blackburn
- Blackburn Day Industrial School, Mayson Street, Blackburn
- Blackburn Union/Council Cottage Homes, Queen's Road, Blackburn*
- Blackburn Union/Council Receiving Home, Queen's Road, Blackburn*
- Reception and Assessment Centre, Wilkinson House, 215 Shadsworth Road, Blackburn
* indicates link to pages on www.workhouses.org.uk.
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 Blackburn 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.