Huddersfield Council Homes
In 1930, following the abolition of the Huddersfield Poor Law Union, the Huddersfield Borough Council took over responsibility for the administration of poor relief in the town. This included The Leas, the children's cottage homes at Scholes, near Holmfirth, which now came under the management of the council's new Public Assistance Committee. The Leas, which had been opened by the union in 1925, accommodated 100 children.
In around 1937, The Leas site was taken over by the West Riding County Council. In its place, Huddersfield Council opened new home at Springwood Hall, an old mansion off Greenhead Road, Huddersfield, accommodating just twenty children.
By 1942, Springwood Hall had been been replaced by Fieldhead, a large house at 1 Lidget Street, Lindley, with accommodation for 52 children.
Soon afterwards, an additional temporary home for 25 children was opened in a property known as The Headlands, at Clare Hill, Huddersfield. By 1947, The Headlands had been replaced by Briarcourt, a large house at 30 Occupation Road, Lindley, a short distance from Fieldhead.
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.
By 1949, the council's two homes at Lindley had been supplemented by Oakfield Lodge, on Bryan Road, Huddersfield. The Fieldhead site was subsequently developed to provide two residential nurseries, known as Fieldhead and Oakmead, each providing 30 places, and a semi-detached pair of cottage homes, named Holme Lea and Church View, each housing eleven children. By 1954, a new home for 15 children was in operation at Fartown Grange, 28 Spaines Road, Fartown, and a hostel for working boys had been opened at Laurel Bank, 4 Cowlersley Lane, Milnsbridge. In 1959, three further homes had been added: Ash Villa, at 3 Wood Lane, Newsome, provided 20 places, while the other two — Fernside, 84 Aldonley, Almondbury, and 6 Copthorn Gardens, Bradley — were 9-bed 'family group' homes.
Ash Villa had closed by 1964 and three further 9-bed 'family group' homes had been opened: Dryclough, 2 Ballater Avenue, Crosland Moor; Reinwood, 47 Burfitts Road, Oakes; and Haigh, 76 Grosvenor Road, Dalton. All the family group homes used the same basic design, one that had also been adopted by by the Leeds Council. Another small home, Caldercliffe, was opened in around 1970 at Calder Drive, Almondbury.
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 Huddersfield passed to Kirklees Metropolitan District Council, with its headquarters in Huddersfield. As well as inheriting the homes previously run by the Huddersfield Council, Kirklees also took over several homes previously run by the West Riding County Council: The Leas at Scholes, Follingworth House at Gomersal, and Gomersal House at Gomersal.
Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Huddersfield Council.
- Clare House Hostel, 19 Clare Hill, Huddersfield
- Holme Lea, 1A Lidget Street, Lindley, Huddersfield
- Church View, 1B Lidget Street, Lindley, Huddersfield
- Oakmead Residential Nursery, 1C Lidget Street, Lindley, Huddersfield
- Dryclough, 2 Ballater Avenue, Crosland Moor, Huddersfield
- Huddersfield Union/Council Receiving Home, 24/32 Ramsden Street, Huddersfield*
- Briarcourt, 28 (later 30) Occupation Road, Huddersfield
- Hostel for Working Boys, 4 Cowersley Lane, Milnsbridge, Huddersfield
- Reinwood, 47 Burfitts Road, Oakes, Huddersfield
- Bradley, 6 Copthorne Gardens, Bradley, Huddersfield
- Haigh Home, 76 Grosvenor Road, Dalton, Huddersfield
- The Headlands, 8 Clare Hill, Huddersfield
- Ash Villa, 3 Wood Lane, Huddersfield
- Oakfield Lodge, Bryan Road, Huddersfield
- Caldercliffe, Calder Drive, Berry Brow, Almondbury, Huddersfield
- Home for Teenagers, Fartown Grange, 28 Spaines Road, Fartown, Huddersfield
- Residential Nursery, Fernside, 84 Aldonley, Almondbury, Huddersfield
- Residential Nursery / Hostel, Field Head, 1 Lidget Street, Lindley, Huddersfield
- Springwood Hall Home, Greenhead Road, Huddersfield
- Huddersfield Council Home, Lindley Moor, Huddersfield
* 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 Huddersfield 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.