Reading’s Scattered Homes: Lost and Found

During the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, a significant proportion of children in the care of the Reading Board of Guardians were sent to the Reading and Wokingham District School for the Boarding, Lodging and Educating of Pauper Children in nearby Wargrave. However by 1900, large institutions like Wargrave were perceived as expensive, old-fashioned and increasingly inappropriate. There was a growing emphasis on children being ‘boarded-out’, local authority adoption and emigration to Canada. The Reading and Wokingham District School closed in 1902, replaced (in part) with what were officially known as ‘Scattered Homes’.

Under the heading Reading Children’s Homes, Smith’s Reading Postal Directory of 1906, explained the new system:

These homes are established for the purpose of making provision for the destitute children coming under the care of the Guardians, instead of sending them to the Wargrave District School…Fifteen children are assigned to each Home under the care of a Foster Mother’ to ‘enjoy the benefits of home life and attend the public elementary schools in the town like other children.

If you are researching a child in care or even a foster mother, old street directories are a very good place to start. By way of example, I have compiled the following draft list of Reading’s Scattered Homes between 1906 and 1912 using a combination of local directories, Board of Guardians Minute Books and the 1911 Census:

Reading Board of Guardians Scattered Homes 1906-1912

Headquarters & Receiving Home
Address: (1906) Reading Union Workhouse 344 Oxford Road
Address: (1907-1912) 13 Milman Rd

Superintendent: (1907-1911) Miss Helen Mary ROBERTS
Superintendent: (1912) Miss JM COX

Foster Mother: (1907) Miss SPENDER then Miss MUNN (who left 10th October 1907)
Foster Mother: (1907-1911) Miss Hilda Beatrice BLOOMFIELD (when she applied she was of 19 Filey Rd, Reading)
Foster Mother: (1912) Miss H GILBERT

NB: Due to a shortage of accommodation, HQ doubled as a temporary home during this period, hence the need for a foster mother

Scattered Homes

Camarra House
Address: (1906-1912) 229 King’s Rd

Foster Mother: (1906) Miss A N WALKER
Foster Mother: (1907-1912) Miss Rachel NUTTALL

Rosemont House
Address: (1906-1912) 231 King’s Rd

Foster Mother: (1906-1912) Mrs Adelaide FOSTER

Alexandra House
Address: (1906-1909) 59 Queen’s Rd
Address: (1911-1912) 40 Russell St

Foster Mother: (1906-1912) Miss Ellen VICKERS

scattered home

40 Russell St, Reading. The location of Alexandra House 1911-1912

Wilson House

Address: (1906-1909) 77 South St
Address: (1911-1912) 82 Crescent Rd

Foster Mother: (1906-1912) Mrs Kate DRIFFIELD

scattered homes

82 Crescent Rd Reading. The location of Wilson House 1911-1912

Cifford House

Address: (1906-1909) 75 South St
Address: (1911-1912) 84 Crescent Rd

Foster Mother: (1906-1912) Mrs Matilda Mary EDMUNDS

84 Crescent Road, Reading. The location of Clifford House

84 Crescent Rd, Reading. The location of Clifford House 1911-1912

Palmer House

Address: (1906-1912) 11 Milman Rd

Foster Mother: (1906) vacant
Foster Mother: (1907) Mrs BEEDLE replaced by Miss ADAMSON (who left 10th October 1907)
Foster Mother: (1907-1909) Mrs M COOMBE (when she applied she was of Rugby House, Bexley, Kent)
Foster Mother: (1911-1912) Miss Elizabeth SCOTT

Sutton House
Address: (1906) 11-13 Milman Rd
Address: (1907-1909) 74 Southampton St
Address: (1911-1912) 77 South St

Foster Mother: (1906) Miss E T WALES
Foster Mother: (1907-1909) Miss RICHARDSON
Foster Mother: (1911) Miss Constance Margaret MABBS
Foster Mother: (1912) Miss A BARTON

scattered homes

74 Southampton St, Reading. The location of Sutton House 1907-1909

Ashberry House

Address: (1906-1909) 72 Southampton St
Address: (1911-1912) 75 South St

Foster Mother: (1906-1907) Miss N LOWE (left 24th October 1907)
Foster Mother: (1907-1908) Miss JJ SAVORY (when she applied she was of 71 Cotham Brow, Bristol. Succeeded in October but left 3rd January 1908)
Foster Mother: (1908-1912) Miss Ella LAIDLAW (when she applied she was of 10 Rose Lane, Mossley Hill, near Liverpool)

scattered homes

72 Southampton St, Reading. The location of Ashberry House 1906-1909

There’s lots of background information about the ‘scattered homes’ system on-line via a quick search on Google but the BBC Radio 4 programme on the subject (reviewed by Sheffield Libraries, Archives and Information blog in April 2015) and Peter Higginbotham’s Workhouse website are useful introductions. More locally, I would highly recommend Elizabeth Lloyd’s blog ‘Lost in the Past’, which includes a great article about Guildford’s Scattered Homes here.

© Emmy Eustace


Comments and Replies

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.