Ancestry UK

West Riding of Yorkshire County 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 West Riding County Council's Public Assistance Committee took over the work previously carried out by twenty-four Poor Law unions, although not all of these had operated their own children's homes. After reviewing the stock of accommodation it had inherited, the council initially kept twelve homes in use. These were at:

Bilbrough (previously run by Tadcaster Union)24
Clayton (North Bierley)60
Dewsbury (Dewsbury)72
Hemsworth (Hemsworth}38
Keighley (Keighley)74
Knaresborough (Knaresborough)30
Pontefract (Pontefract)106
Rawcliffe (Goole)34
Selby (Selby)19
Skipton (Skipton)30
Todmorden (Todmorden)25
Wakefield (Wakefield)86

Former Aireview Children's Home, Broughton Road, Skipton, 2010. © Peter Higginbotham

The list was extended in 1933 with the addition of Lane End House at Chapeltown, near Sheffield, with 25 places. In 1938, the Bilbrough and Rawcliffe homes were closed following the council's acquisition of the 104-bed children's cottage homes at Scholes, near Holmfirth, originally established by the Huddersfield Union and then run since 1930 by Huddersfield Borough Council.

Lane End House, Chapeltown, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Scholes Cottage Homes, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

The Todmorden home was closed in 1939, with Wakefield following in 1940. In 1946, three new homes were established: Sandal Hall, near Wakefield (26 places); Elm Grove Nursery, Pontefract (20); and Cubley Hall, Penistone (20). Another nursery, Wheatley Lawns, at Ben Rhydding, near Ilkley, was opened the following year.

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. As well taking over management of the council's existing children's existing accommodation, the Committee opened several new homes and nurseries. The establishments for which the Children's Committee was responsible in 1949 is shown in the table below.

Greenhow Hill, Pateley Bridge20
Wheatley Lawns, Ben Rhydding24
Leadhall Grange, Harrogate14
Elm Grove, Pontefract20
Skellow Hall, Skellow, Doncaster15
Children's Homes
Aireview House, Skipton22
Fairholme and Sunny Lea, Knaresborough30
Ainsty Lodge, Wetherby20
Bramham House, Boston Spa32
Beaconsfield Road, Clayton54
The Mount, Dewsbury72
Oakroyd Hall, Birkenshaw33
Sandal Hall, Wakefield30
Eastwell Lodge, Carleton77
The Cedars, Hemsworth30
Greenawn, Goole22
230 Lane End, Chapeltown27
Cubley Hall, Penistone18
The Leas, Scholes97

Former Bramham House Home, Boston Spa, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

Considerable expansion of the council's children's accommodation took place during the 1950s. Its provision in 1959 is shown below.

Harlow Court, Harrogate22
Wheatley Lawns, Ben Rhydding24
Leadhall Grange, Harrogate30
Elm Grove, Pontefract20
Wyndthorpe Hall, Dunsville24
The Elms, York24
Sandal Nursery, Wakefield30
Children's Homes
Burnside House, Skipton18
Holly Bank, Knaresborough37
Ainsty Lodge, Wetherby19
Bramham House, Boston Spa36
Beaconsfield Road, Clayton43
The Mount, Dewsbury72
The Court, Burley in Wharfedale22
Tong Park House, Baildon23
Hill Top, Ilkley26
Dryfield House, Batley17
Waterloo Manor, Garforth19
Follingworth House, Gomersal12
Skellow Hall, Skellow, Doncaster28
Daneshill, Rotherham24
Gomersal House, Comersal28
Sandal Hall, Wakefield30
Eastwell Lodge, Carleton74
The Cedars, Hemsworth25
Greenawn, Goole22
230 Lane End, Chapeltown30
Cubley Hall, Penistone18
The Leas, Scholes85
Inglewood, Otley16
4 Cromwell Drive, Sprotborough10
69 Pinewood Avenue, Armthorpe10
Westfields Reception Centre, Mirfield26
Southville, Sunfield Place, Stanningley17
Crawshaw House, Crawshaw Road, Pudsey12
14 Morrison Drive, Rossington10
41 Stonehill Rise, Scawthorpe8
85 Shaftesbury Avenue, Woodlands8
140 Green Lane, Rawmarsh7

Former Dryfield House Home, Batley, 2014. © Peter Higginbotham

Hill Top House, Ilkley. © Peter Higginbotham

Following the 1948 Children's Act, the recommended practice was for children in residential care to be placed in 'family group' homes, with at most twelve residents in each, though ideally eight. In 1959, relatively few of the West Riding Council's homes met or came near this target. By 1972, the number of residential nurseries had increased by one with the addition of Sherwood House, Rotherham. One home, The Cedars had closed. The main change during the 1960s, however, was the opening of a dozen smaller homes with between eight and ten places. These are listed in the table below.

43 John Street, Great Houghton8
17 Highfield Place, Hemsworth8
13A Marton Avenue, Hemsworth8
2 Ings Road, Kinsley8
14 Morrison Drive, Rossington10
167 Amersall Road, Scawthorpe8
9 Marriott Place, Rawmarsh8
2 Goodwin Crescent, Swinton8
58 Quarry Hill Road, Wath8
46 Maple Avenue, Maltby8
18 St Edmund's Avenue, Thurcroft8
2 Millstone Drive, Swallownest8

Following the local government reorganisation that took place in 1974, the West Riding County Council was replaced by the West Yorkshire County Council. As part of the shake-up, several former West Riding Council homes were taken over by the new Leeds City Council. These included: Ainsty Lodge, Wetherby; Bramham House, Bramham; Inglewood, Otley; Southville, Stanningley; and Waterloo Manor, Garforth. Burnside House, Skipton, was taken over by the North Yorkshire County Council, while the two homes at Gomersal, Follingworth House and Gomersal House, were taken over by the new Kirklees Metropolitan District Council.

Children's establishments run at some time in their history by West Riding of Yorkshire County Council.


East Riding of Yorkshire

  • The Elms Residential Nursery, 160 Hull Road, York

West Riding of Yorkshire

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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 West Riding of Yorkshire Council homes may exist at:

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.