Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text

St Chad's Home For Girls, Far Headingley

Photograph of St Chad's Home For Girls, Far Headingley

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St Chad's Home For Girls, Far Headingley

Weetwood Lane, Far Headingley, Leeds, West Riding, Yorkshire

(1889 - 1939)

St Chad's was established in January 1889, as the 29th Home in the Waifs and Strays' Society. To mark the occasion the local vicar, Revd Smythe, conducted a dedication ceremony. Many notable people were in attendance, including Lady Balfour who gave a short speech declaring St Chad's to be 'open'. Also present was Miss Stansfield, who worked as the Lady Superintendent of the Home.

At first St Chad's housed 30 girls, aged 10-15, and these girls were from the most deprived backgrounds, such as those found begging and wandering the streets. Unlike other schools for girls, St Chad's did not provide training for domestic service. The Home looked after girls who were considered unsuitable for this kind of work, because of disabilities or 'delicate constitutions'.

Instead St Chad's taught factory-based work, and the whole ground floor of the Home was used to make knitted stockings. They ran a very successful cottage industry, selling their goods around the country. Their work was produced to very high standard, and included fine quality silken hosiery, cashmere stockings and gentleman's shooting socks. In 1893 they even won a bronze medal and diploma at the World's Fair in Chicago.

Their little industry proved so successful that by 1890 it had taken over their entire house. Many of the girls slept in a different building called Monkbridge House, which was a few minutes walk from the St Chad's. This situation was not ideal and a larger Home, capable of housing 78 girls, was built in 1894. These premises, known today as Hollin Hall, were opened on 1 December with a dedication service conducted by the Bishop of Richmond. The ceremony was very popular, and the crowd included the local fire brigade and several reporters from Yorkshire newspapers. Also present was the MP for Whitby, Mr Beckett, who had donated nearly half of the building costs in memory of his late wife.

Hollin Hall was equipped with a brand new laundry, which was run as a successful business. More than 80 local families took their clothing here to be washed, dried and ironed. Their knitting industry also continued apace, and was especially busy during the Firts World War. In the space of six months at the beginning the war, they made more than 6,000 pairs of socks for troops on the frontline. Around this time their Matron of over 20 years, Miss Barter, retired from the Home.

The Home closed in 1939, when it was commandeered as an Air Raid Precaution station during the Second World War.

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