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

St Benet's Home For Boys, Emmer Green

Photograph of St Benet's Home For Boys, Emmer Green

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St Benet's Home For Boys, Emmer Green

11 Kidmore End Road, Emmer Green, Reading, Berkshire

(1905 - 1980)

The Society's founder, Edward Rudolph, opened St Benet's Home for Boys on Wednesday, 27 May 1905. 'Amid pleasant surroundings on very high ground' the Home stood in six and a half acres of farmland and could accommodate 25 boys. Mr CM Powell, the Honorary Secretary, had paid for all the costs of building and furnishing the new home.

Mr Powell wanted the Home to train boys in agriculture, because he believed that 'a boy who went out into the world as a gardener was always sure of a good living and an interesting, healthy life.' St Benet's was certified as an industrial training home until 1903, and then as an industrial school until 1920. Superintendent and Lady Superintendent, Mr and Mrs HS Roberts, ran the Home with the assistance of a Matron who taught domestic skills to some of the boys.

All the boys went to school until the age of 11, after which they concentrated on their agricultural training. Some boys learnt cookery and laundry from the matron, and the Home held regular classes in shoemaking, carpentry and tailoring. The boys also boasted a talented cricket team that took on the Society's Head Office in 1911 and won!

In 1912 St Benet's published their very own magazine with stories from 'old boys' (those who had since left). They detailed their new lives and gave advice to the boys staying at the Home. Full of worldly and exciting stories of the big wide world, one letter even went as far as saying, ' I tell you in short, that to get in with the missus is the best thing in the world...'

St Benet's became a residential care home in 1921 and went on to become one of the Society's longest running homes, changing to a mixed unit in 1973 and finally closing in 1980.

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