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

Prospect Lodge Home For Boys, Reading

Photograph of Prospect Lodge Home For Boys, Reading

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Prospect Lodge Home For Boys, Reading

Oxford Road, Reading, Berkshire

(1896 - 1975)

This home had already been running for some time when it became part of the Waifs and Strays' Society in 1896. The earlier years were marred by tragedy. On August Bank Holiday 1886, Mr G Murdoch, the Home's founder and warder, and the boys of the home were involved in a boating accident. Mr Murdoch drowned whilst trying to save the children, many of whom could not swim. From that day every boy in the Home was taught to swim, and many of the boys won awards in local swimming galas. The Home was transferred to the Society in 1896, along with 12 boys and the Lady Superintendent, Miss Vaughan.

Prospect Lodge was deemed too small by the Society, and the boys moved to Elm Lodge (also on Oxford Road) in 1902. The Home was renamed St Andrew's Home for Boys, and dedicated on 20 November 1901 by the Bishop of Oxford. Mr J Herbert Benyon, the Lord-Lieutenant of the County, then officially opened the Home on 14 May. St Andrew's could accommodate 40 boys aged 8-15.

Out of all four of the Homes in the Oxford Diocese, St Andrew's was the most financially successful. They had a bugle band that played at special occasions, and a Scout troop who organised fundraising events. The Boy Scout Movement was popular within the Society, because it was believed to help build up the 'physique and character of the rising generation.'

In 1914 the Home had a nice surprise when some 'Old Boys' (boys that have since left the home) came to stay for Christmas. They arrived a few days early to help decorate the Home, and on Boxing Day challenged the younger ones to a football match. Of course, the 'Old Boys' won 10-3!

The Home began admitting boys and girls in 1948, from when it was known simply as St Andrew's Home. In 1971 the Home was renovated and it reopened with a new family that included diabetic children. The Home finally closed at the end of July 1975.

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