Wallasey 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 Wallasey Council's Public Assistance Committee took over two homes in the town previously run by the Birkenhead Union, one housing 12 children at 66 Falkland Road and one for 25 children at 59 Albion Street, the latter also acting as a reception home. The Falkland Road home ceased operation in about 1941.
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 Albion Street home.
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 1952, the council had taken this path with the opening of 'family group' homes at 150 Edgehill Road (also sometimes referred to as Digg Lane), Moreton, and at 35 Curlew Way, Moreton. Both were located on new council new housing estates and using an identical building design. By 1954, a residential nursery had been opened at 7 Salisbury Road, Wallasey.
Further new-build homes followed by 1964 at 46 Shackleton Road, Leasowe, Moreton, and by 1968 at 78 Union Road, Egremont, Wallasey. By 1972, the Wimbrick Hey Reception and Assessment Centre had opened at 613/63 Burnley Road, Moreton.
In 1974, as part of a reorganisation of local government in England and Wales, the Wallasey and Birkenhead Borough Councils were abolished and replaced by the new Wirral Borough Council. The new council became responsible for the provision of social services across the Wirral and took over a number of children's homes previously operated by the Wallasey and Birkenhead Borough Councils.
Composite list of children's establishments run (at some time in their history) by Wallasey Council.
- Birkenhead Union Scattered Home / Wallsey Council Receiving Home, 59 Albion Street, Wallasey*
- Birkenhead Union Scattered Home, 66 Falkland Road, Wallasey*
- Residential Nursery (later Children's Home), 7 Salisbury Road, New Brighton, Wallasey
- 78 Union Street, Egremont, Wallasey
- Family Group Home, 150 Edgehill Road, Moreton, Wirral
- Family Group Home, 35 Curlew Way, Moreton, Wirral
- Family Group Home, 46 Shackleton Road, Leasowe, Moreton, Wirral
- Wimbrick Hey Reception and Assessment Centre, 61-63 Burnley Road, Moreton, Wirral
- Overchurch Children's Home, Moreton Road, Wirral
* 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 Wallasey Council homes may exist at:
- Wirral Archives, Cheshire Lines Building, Canning Street, Birkenhead CH41 1ND.
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.