Caerynwch Residential Nursery, Dolgellau, Gwynedd

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Date:1943 - 1949 (c.)

Description:In 1941, attempts had been made to evacuate many of the children from the cottage homes to the countryside. Approximately 40 of the nursery-age children from Erdington Cottage Homes had already been sent to Dolgellau in North Wales – first to Kings Residential Nursery, and then to Garth Residential Nursery.

In 1943, however, with war still going on, there was still overcrowding in the cottage homes so the Special Schools Sub Committee (which oversaw children's homes at the time) were looking for further accommodation in the relative safety of North Wales. To this end, they negotiated the lease of Caerynwch which would accommodate around 40 children of nursery age (between the ages of two and five) from the cottage homes.

This is the event was recorded in the Special Schools Sub-Committee minutes:
“Residential school at “Caerynwch” near Dolgelley, for cottage homes children -
Your Sub-committee report that a provisional agreement has been made with the owner of the property for its rental at a charge of £360 per annum, plus rates, for a period of three years, the Committee having the right of terminating the agreement by six months’ notice. The owner reserves the use of three bedrooms and the library, rent free, on the understanding that an agreed sum is paid for subsistence.”

The following is written by Andrew Richards, the current owner of Caerynwch:

“You may be interested in a brief history of the house which was built by my (several greats) grandfather in 1780. It was occupied by succeeding generations of the family until the 1914-18 war when it was requisitioned as a military hospital run by my grandmother as a Red Cross matron. After the first war, the family returned to the house until the second war when the evacuee school took over.

My Grandmother was in the house at the time and had a flat up in the attic floor whilst the children were resident.

After the war the house was let out as an Hotel by my Father whilst he was away with the Royal Navy. My Father and Mother together with myself and my brothers returned to the house in 1962 when modernisation work was undertaken”.

In 1948, Caerynwch was still being used as a nursery for Birmingham children, despite the war being over but it was by no means full. It had, at this time, accommodation for 40 children, and 23 were living there.

The lease on Caerynwch was due to expire in 1949 and, while there remained problems of overcrowding in the cottage homes, it was decided not to renew the lease because of its distance from Birmingham. Caerynwch closed in June 1949 and the children were brought back to children's homes in the city.

Image: Caerynwch at approximately the time it was used as a residential nursery. Reproduced here with the kind permission of Hilary Richards.
Source: This history was compiled by the Birmingham Children's Homes Project, an initiative to explore Birmingham City Council-run children’s homes between 1949 and 1990.