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

St Katherine's Home For Girls, Southbourne on Sea

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St Katherine's Home For Girls, Southbourne on Sea

Southbourne on Sea, nr. Christchurch, Dorset

(1889 - c1984)

St Katherine's Home for Girls' origins can be traced as far back as 1889, when a small independent temporary Home for 12 girls was established in Southbourne. On Whitsun (the seventh Sunday after Easter) in 1892 it was officially opened as one of the Society's Homes after it had been transferred to our care.

The original home was built on the edge of a large sand cliff. However, the salty air and the waves were eroding away the children's playground and garden, getting ever closer to the Home. Even though the girls had marvellous beachfront views, the cliff was falling into the sea and soon the house would topple over too! A new extension was opened on 14 December 1900 to try and rectify the problem but this did not last. The Society decided to build a safer home on Church Road instead.

Work started on the new Home in 1914, but was delayed by the rising costs of construction caused by the Great War. Eventually General Page Croft laid the Foundation Stone on 13 June 1919 and the Rural Dean Canon Daldy dedicated the Home on 4 June 1920, in the absence of the Bishop of Southampton. Now St Katherine's could house 35 girls without the worry of falling into the sea! A chapel was built in 1939.

St Katherine's work with girls continued for the next few decades. By 1951 both the needs of the Society and society in general had changed. St Katherine's went from being a single sex home to also housing boys and in 1977 the Staff House was bought. By 1980 the Home was the Hillbrow Road House for Independent Living Units and closed in c1984.

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