The story of Padcroft Children's Home in Middlesex, England, is a fascinating one, and unusually, one that has remained untold.
Padcroft was a home for boys situated in Yiewsley, Middlesex, England. It catered for approximately 45 boys at any given time and their ages ranged from 14 to 18 years old. Mr and Mrs Frank Green ran the home for 45 of its 47 years, eventually retiring at its closure in 1949. Between 1902 and 1949, 7,583 boys passed through the doors of Padcroft, and the home boasted an impressive 83% success rate. Perhaps then it should be left to Mr Green to sum up the operations and successes of Padcroft. This extract was taken from his last annual report.
I have much pleasure in presenting my report for the year ending 31st March 1948. I thought it would be interesting for you to know that I have completed 46 years service at 'Padcroft' 43 years as Manager and 32 years as Probation Officer at Uxbridge Court.
In addition to the above, I, on behalf of the Mission, opened the Boys' Garden Colony at Basingstoke in 1918 which was, up to the time I was relieved of the responsibility, a great success. I have dealt with over 9,000 difficult boys during this period. I think I can now say, without being conceited that I consider myself an authority on this work.
However, in spite of my vast experience, I have never been invited to give evidence, or take part in any Government Departmental Enquiry, where my experience would be an advantage.
Of recent years, 'Padcroft' has been used for the reception of problem boys, the difficult maladjusted type, who have caused all who were interested in them – Magistrates, Probation Officers, Social Workers and parents – grave anxiety. During their residence all these boys receive psychiatric treatment at the various clinics. These boys, in the past, looked with suspicion on all efforts to assist them, and would rather sink in the mire of despair, than grasp the hand of fellowship. Then again, there is the defiant aggressive boy, who refuses to recognize law and order, defies authority, and is a law unto himself. Every admission is studied and treated as a separate unit; each has his own peculiar weakness and requires individual treatment.
The class of boys admitted since 1939 is, in some respects, more difficult than before hostilities. This is due, in my opinion, to the apathy of the parents, and their lack of moral obligation and example. At the present time I realize that the number of offences that a person can commit is greater than before, but that is principally owing to restrictions and controls which, in turn, create 'Black Markets'.
During the year, the health of the boys has been generally good. We believe the physical efficiency brings moral tone, and the youth gains in alertness and self-respect. This is our motto, and Mr. Nicholls, our Physical Training Instructor, must be congratulated on his energy and example – the improvement in the boys' physical condition whilst in residence is remarkable. Regular meals, a balanced diet, and a well ordered life, make this improvement possible. The average weight gained per boy over a period of 6 months is 14 lbs.
Mr. H. Carn, our Horticultural Instructor, is trying out a system of plots, so many boys to each plot. The idea is to create healthy competition and enthusiasm, and I am looking forward to the result of this venture.
During the winter evenings, our boys have been fully occupied with their several hobbies, model making in metal and wood, artificial flower designing, etc., and quite recently they have founded an 'Artists Club' with some very good results. Our Winter Time Table was as follows:-
Monday. Hobbies (Woodwork). Mr. Bone
Tuesday. Gymnastics, boxing, recreational games. Mr. Nicholls
Wednesday. 'Quiz', Twenty questions, Discussion group. Mr. Piggin
Thursday. First Aid, indoor games. Mr. Carn
Friday. Hobbies or recreational games.
Saturday. Free evening, cinema.
Sunday. Church, writing home and free evening.
We are constantly receiving letters from old boys and their parents. I know and realize how very keen the authorities are in 'After Care' but my experience over a long period proves to me that, unless done diplomatically and with caution, it is not appreciated by the person concerned. Their argument is this:- 'I quite realize you are anxious for my future, and so am I, but I do not want to be constantly reminded that I have been in trouble. I want to forget it. Wouldn't you?'
Our principle throughout our work here at
'Padcroft' has been to 'Be just before being generous'. We have always
tried to instill into those placed under our care that 'Whatever is
worth doing at all is worth doing well.. '
The story of 'Padcroft'; is largely the life stories of two people, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Green. Forty-seven years ago, a young man who had already been a gold miner in Wales and had seen active service in the South African War, was appointed 'Manager' of this Home for boys. Mr. Green's qualifications for this work were perhaps by modern standards, slender, but he had character in abundance, a simple faith in God and in the essential decency of ordinary folk, a wealth of common sense allied to a sense of humour, a ready sympathy, and a belief in orderliness and discipline.
'Padcroft' closed its doors, but its work will live on for many years to come. It will live in the restored lives of thousands of men who in their youth had their first chance in life at 'Padcroft'