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

Children's Experiences

Ada Nash (Case file 7263)

Born: 1889 (Living in Grimsby at time of application)
Date of application: 1899
Age: 10 years

This case file is about a girl whose mother had no occupation and struggled to care for her children. Although her mother was living with Ada's father at the time of her birth, she left that home to live with another man who she later married. Ada suffered from disease of the hip and had to walk using one crutch. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) were concerned about the care given to Ada by her mother and were prosecuting her for neglect. A trial was due to take place soon after the time of the application to The Waifs and Strays Society (1899; as The Children's Society was known in the Victorian and Edwardian eras - called The Society throughout this case summary). Although Ada had a grandmother who had cared for the child in the past, she was no longer able to do so on account of the state of her health.

Whilst Ada's case was awaiting a decision from The Society, her grandmother died and so Ada was placed in the NSPCC Refuge. Ada and her sister Elizabeth were taken into the care of The Waifs and Strays Society, and were admitted into St Nicholas Home, Byfleet (September 1899). After Ada had been taken into the care of The Society, her mother complained to the Magistrate that she had been taken away and there was some concern that she would be sent back to live with her mother. However, this did not happen.

Ada was later transferred to The Society's home in Croydon, St Agnes' Home (November 1905), and then to the Home for Girls in Clapham (August 1911). The Home in Clapham tried to find girls a place in domestic service, but as a result of her hip disease, it was not possible for Ada to work in domestic service. As a result, Ada was trained in embroidery. Her training lasted 3 years with a woman called Miss Peard. Ada was said to 'be a good needlewoman' and it was suggested that she may be able to find employment as a sewing maid.

Miss Peard was able to offer Ada employment on the condition that she had board and lodgings near to the workplace. Ada could not return to the Home in Clapham and there was some difficulty in finding her a place to live. By now, Ada was 22 years of age, and The Society could no longer offer her a place to stay due to her age; any arrangement to stay in the Clapham Home could only be temporary.

Once her lodgings had been arranged, Ada began work with Miss Peard (October 1911). Yet she encountered difficulties within the first week. These problems related to the travelling required to and from the workplace. This was a strain on her hip and she found it difficult to get in and out of trams. She began work at 7 a.m. and did not return until 9 p.m., which also strained her. Although she received a wage, most of what she was earning was spent on fares. For these reasons, The Society decided that it would be better if Ada could find an alternative place to work, possibly one where she could work and live on the same site or at least where her workplace and lodgings were close together.

Work was found for Ada and she was taken on a trial for a month at Bayley's Industry for Physically Defective Girls Tapestry Studio (November 1911). Girls in the Home were taught various kinds of handiwork including silks for court trains, Altar hangings, woven carpets and tapestries. Ada stayed a while longer after her trial but later moved to the School of Embroidery at Leamington (November 1912).

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