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

Beckett Home For Girls, Meanwood

Photograph of Beckett Home For Girls, Meanwood

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Beckett Home For Girls, Meanwood

Greenwood Mount, Meanwood, Leeds, West Riding, Yorkshire

(1887 - 1934)

This home was designed by the architectural firm, Messrs Chorley and Connor of Leeds, and built on top of a 'most precipitous hill' called Greenwood Mount. The Bishop of Ripon opened the Home on 9 August 1887 and it could house 30 girls aged 7-15. The girls were looked after by the Matron, Miss Stansfield, two Under-Matrons and the Lady Superintendent, Miss Barter. The children were trained for domestic service and also machine knitting, which they would proudly show off to visitors every Tuesday afternoon. Their training extended in 1891 to include kitchen-gardening and every Saturday morning was spent weeding their flowerbeds.

They received many visitors. One lady was taken by surprise when she was asked if she would like to have a ride on a pony that had just been donated to the Home. Doubts rushed through her head, as she had not brought the right clothing, she was out of practice, and would the horse be tame? But she went down to see anyway and was greeted by nothing more than a tail-less rocking horse! Some kind friends of the home had sent it for the children to play with.

However some other events at the Home were not so humorous. On Sunday 30 July 1891 a fire broke out at the Home. There was a violent storm and a flash of lightning struck a telephone wire, causing it to hang down over the Home's entrance. The younger children had already been evacuated to a nearby church, but some older girls were trapped indoors. Summoning all the courage she had, the eldest girl grabbed buckets of water and extinguished the fire in record speed, saving the Home and everybody's lives as well. Another unwelcome event occurred in 1889 when the Home suffered an attack of Scarlet Fever and 19 girls had to be transferred to Leeds Fever Hospital.

In 1890 a new cottage home was built at Mirfield 'for the purpose of drawing off about twelve children' from the Beckett Home when it became too full. This later became known as the St Agnes' Home For Girls. The two homes worked in tandem until 1927 when St Agnes' began looking after babies. In 1934 the Beckett Home for Girls followed suit, and after refurbishment became the Beckett Home for Babies.

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