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Norwich children's homes and children in care

Guardians of the Poor 1834-1930

Norwich Incorporation was largely exempt from the terms of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. 

A local Act of 1863 later brought the Incorporation more into line with the 1834 Act.

A new workhouse was opened on Bowthorpe Road in 1859 and had accommodation for 1,000 inmates.

The site was bombed during the Second World War, but some of the pre-1942 buildings still survive and form part of the present Norwich Community Hospital.

During the 19th century children were usually accommodated in the Poor Law Union workhouse where, unlike most of their contemporaries, they did receive some basic education.

In Norwich, the Guardians of the Poor ran separate boys’ and girls’ homes from the 1850s.

On 1 July 1853 the Boys’ Home and Workhouse School Committee resolved:

“That children admitted with their parents into the Workhouse above the age of seven years be admitted into the Home” (see MS 4356).

The same committee resolved on 29 July 1853 that parents should be allowed to see their children for one hour, every second Wednesday in the month.

Half a century later, on 2 February 1904, the [Children’s] Homes Committee:

“Resolved to recommend the [Work]House Committee that the children to be allowed to visit their parents in the House once a month and that a room be set apart for these visits away from the General Visiting Room” (see N/TC 3/89).

The house committee responded favourably and a separate room was made available shortly afterwards.

The 83 and 85 Pottergate Street Mixed Home opened in July 1904. However, it seems that there were still many children in the workhouse.

The same homes committee minute book records, on 11 October 1904:

“Mr Scarlett moved That in view of the large number of children in the [Work]House this Committee ask the Board to at once take steps to carry out the Resolution of 10th February 1904 and in accordance with the Resolution to authorise the hiring of a sufficient number of Cottages to enable us to remove all the Children from the House.” 

Matters proceeded rapidly after this. A letter was read to the committee on 6 December 1904 from the Local Government Board:

“Authorising the establishment of Scattered Homes and the hiring of two houses on the North Walsham Road [later known as 10 and 12 Constitution Hill]”.

The Committee minutes record on 14 February 1905 that arrangements were to be made for children to be sent to the scattered homes.

Norwich and other Poor Law Unions started boarding [fostering] children out in the community in the early 20th century, as an alternative way of keeping children out of the workhouse. 

Records, 1834-1930 (general)

  • Board minutes,1834-1930 (N/TC 3/1-19) - minutes, 1834-52, available on microfilm MF/X 357/5-7)
  • Boys’ Home and Workhouse School Committee minutes, 1847-56 (MS 4356)
  • Children’s homes committee minutes, 1855-63, 1897-1930 (N/TC 3/87-97)
  • Boarding out sub-committee minutes, 1912-30 (N/TC 3/99-101)
  • Register of children in care, 1891-1906 (N/GP 4/4)
  • Creed register of children in care, 1911-32 (N/WE 3/27)
  • Register of children in homes, 1929-35 (N/WE 2/4)
  • Registers of persons receiving infants for reward (including name and date of birth of each infant and name and address of person from whom infant received), 1909-22 (N/GP 1/52-56)

Records, 1834-1930 (workhouse)

Children were often first admitted to the workhouse before being sent on to a children’s home.

  • Birth register, 1838-89 (N/GP 2/14, available on microfilm MF/X 358/3)
  • Birth register, 1890-1942 (N/GP 2/23, section 1890-1900 available on microfilm MF/X 358/6)
  • Baptism register, 1868-94 (N/GP 2/15, available on microfilm MF/X 358/4)
  • Death register, 1836-72 (N/GP 1/79, available on microfilm MF/X 358/2)
  • Death register, 1890-1909 (N/GP 2/16, available on microfilm MF/X 358/3)
  • Death registers, 1920-26, 1927-30 (N/GP 2/17-18)
  • Admission and discharge registers (all ages), 1848, 1852-69, 1874-85 (N/GP 1/62-69, N/GP 2/1-9, available on microfilm MF/X 358/8-361/2)
  • Alphabetical registers of inmates (all ages), 1850-64, 1866-1901 (N/GP 1/70-74, N/GP 2/10-13, available on microfilm MF/X 361/3-362/1)
  • Creed register of inmates, 1901-33 (N/WE 1/4)
  • Punishment books (all ages), 1846-64, 1866-1900 (N/GP 1/75-77, available on microfilm MF/X 362/2-4)

Records, 1834-1930 (specific homes)

  • 10 and 12 North Walsham Road [Constitution Hill] Children’s Home admission and discharge register, Feb 1905 – Dec 1934 (boys, Feb 1905 – Mar 1929; mixed, Mar 1929 – May 1931; girls, Dec 1934), with five entries (mixed) for Woodlands, Mar – Oct 1951 (N/WE 3/15)
  • Children’s home [probably Turner Road Receiving Home] admission and discharge register, Oct 1921 - Apr 1939 (girls, Oct 1921 – Aug 1932; mixed, Aug 1932 – Apr 1939), with pages loosely inserted (mixed), Jan 1953 – Nov 1956 (N/WE 3/16)
  • Children’s home [probably Turner Road Receiving Home] admission and discharge register, Oct 1921 - Sept 1936 (boys, Oct 1921 – Dec 1932; mixed, Dec 1932 – Sept 1936), (N/WE 3/17)
  • Children’s home, mixed [unidentified], admission and discharge register, May 1925 – July 1935 (N/WE 3/18)

Records, 1834-1930 (medical officer’s report books)

  • Medical officer’s report book relating to 10 and 12 North Walsham Road [Constitution Hill] Children’s Home (mixed) [wrongly labelled Thomas Anguish Home], Sept 1921 – May 1940 (N/WE 3/2)
  • Medical officer’s report book relating to Turner Road Boys’ and Girls’ Receiving Home, Dec 1920 – Feb 1928 (N/WE 3/3)
  • Medical officer’s report book relating to Turner Road Boys’ and Girls’ Receiving Home, Mar 1928 – Aug 1939 (N/WE 3/4)
  • Medical officer’s report book relating to 96 Aylsham Road Nursery (mixed), Aug 1921 – Sept 1941 (N/WE 3/5)
  • Medical officer’s report book [labelled ‘Llandaff’] relating to Botolph Street Girls’ Home, Oct 1921 – Sept 1922, Llandaff Girls’ Home, 80 Grove Road, Sept 1922 – Sept 1941 (N/WE 3/6) and Thomas Anguish Children’s Home (mixed), Oct 1941 – Sept 1950 (N/WE 3/6)
  • Medical officer’s report book [labelled ‘Boys’ Home’] relating to St Faith’s Lane Boys’ Home to Aug 1932 then Brooklyn House Boys’ Home, 58 Earlham Road, Nov 1921 – Nov 1949 (N/WE 3/7)
  • Medical officer’s report book relating to Turner Road Children’s Home Clinic (and including children from other Homes), Nov 1922 – July 1931 (N/WE 3/8)