Ancestry UK

Ilkley and Wharfedale Orphanage and Children's Home, Ilkley, West Riding of Yorkshire

The Ilkley and Wharfedale Orphanage and Children's Home was established in 1881 by Mr William Henry Conyers, the Treasurer and benefactor of the Headingley Orphan Homes in Leeds. Conyers originally conceived that a small home in the spa town of Ilkley would be a useful adjunct to the Headingley Homes, providing a place where any of the children could be sent during convalescence after illness, or when a change of air seemed desirable for them.

The new home came into operation in January 1881 in some farm buildings adjoining Wharfedale Grange, a large property in Ben Rhydding which was now Conyers' own residence. After completion of conversion work, which was paid for by Conyers, the premises provided accommodation for a matron and up to a dozen orphan and destitute girls, who were to be trained for service. Coincidentally, in February 1881, the Conyers' 16-year-old son died suddenly at school in Scarborough, and in May of the same year, their infant son also died.

In April, 1884, the establishment moved to a house at 10 (now 21) Richmond Place, Ilkley. The new home was formally opened by Canon Jackson and its management handed over to a committee of ladies and gentlemen representing the various religious bodies. The new premises could accommodate around 15 girls. No strict limit was placed on the age of those admitted but those above 12 needed to provide a certificate of good character. A payment was required (in 1888) of not less than £10 a year, together with a decent outfit if possible. On leaving for a situation, an outfit was provided for each girl.

Former Ilkley and Wharfedale Orphanage, Richmond Place, Ilkley, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

By 1888, the home had outgrown its Richmond Place premises and relocated to a large detached house at Weston Road, Ilkley. The building had been built by as the St Margaret's Convalescent Home by the Miss Frances Conyers at a cost of £2,000. Following Miss Conyers' death in 1887, the Orphanage's committee were able to purchase the building for £1,300. The home could now accommodate up to 30 girls. By 1897, entry was open to orphans or partial orphans, aged 5 to 10 years, with a charge of £12 per annum, although a few free cases were granted admission.

Former Ilkley and Wharfedale Orphanage, Weston Road, Ilkley, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

The home closed in around 1920. It was subsequently converted to residential use and renamed Ivy Leigh.


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  • None identfied at present — any information welcome.


  • None identified at present.