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

St Hilda's Nursery, Beckenham

Photograph of St Hilda's Nursery, Beckenham

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St Hilda's Nursery, Beckenham

Beckenham, Kent

(1946 - 1975)

St Hilda's Nursery opened in 1946, at the end of the Second World War, in what was formerly St Hilda's Home For Girls. Residents came from Adbury War Nursery, and included evacuees from the Deptford Babies Hospital. At this point the Home specialised in helping 'weak and convalescent children'.

A new wing was added to the Home in around 1956 in which 24 babies under two years old were accommodated.

In 1963 there were 'about twenty' babies between three and 18 months old and six toddlers. In the 1960s the Home trained nursery nurses for their Examination Board Certificate and also had its own isolation ward and milk sterilising room. If children had not been adopted by the time they were aged three, they would be moved on to a family home which would begin with regular visits, accompanied by a nurse, before finally moving in.

In later years the Society reviewed the procedure of moving children on from nurseries to Homes in order to give more continuity to a child's life. At St Hilda's age limits were increased and children were raised in self contained family units. There was also less pressure to receive such a high number of babies because of a drop in the birth rate of illegitimate babies in the 1960s and 1970s.

In July 1975 the nursery was closed and The Appeals Committee organised a farewell Open Day and Garden Party.

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