The Davison Children’s Home
Great Broughton Village Hall
Monday 24th April at 7.30pm
Colin and Heather Mather
In the year 2000, Colin and Heather Mather bought an old large derelict house in Ainthorpe, near Danby in the North York Moors. It was being sold by Middlesbrough Borough Council, but the Mathers knew nothing about its past. When they started renovating the house, local people dropped by and told them it had been a Children’s Home and they then researched its history, with fascinating results.
The idea of a Children’s Home originated in a Settlement founded in 1892 for “poor and crippled children” in industrial, polluted Middlesbrough. The Mayor of Middlesbrough, Thomas Dormand Stewart, and his employee and friend Robert Collinson Davison, supported the Settlement and also had the idea of a holiday home in the Moors where good food, fresh air and exercise would improve the health of the sickly children. Thus in 1915 a home was built and named after Davison, although he had died before seeing it completed. For nearly 70 years the home provided love and care for the children of Middlesbrough, who might stay for weeks or sometimes for many months depending on home circumstances. At one point children whose parents were being treated for TB in Poole Hospital were sent to the home to protect them from catching it (i.e. it was a “Preventorium” not a Sanatorium). The Mathers had traced people who had benefitted from staying there or who had worked there. An Open Day was arranged in 2005 which reunited many old friends and evoked many memories. All said that the home had been a very happy place. It finally closed in 1984, but the Davison Trust continues to support children with grants for needs outwith the scope of the welfare state.
The Mathers have written a book about their research and profits from sales go to the Davison Trust.
The talk stimulated much interest and discussion, with several people in the audience having worked at the home or having friends who had stayed at the home as children.