St. Edwards Home for Boys
St Edward’s Home for Boys was opened in November 1906. It was designed by Henry Sandy of Stafford and was the first building on the complex and is the only true Edwardian building on the site. Extensions have been added with the Our Lady’s Home for Babes being added in 1910, The Chapel of St. John Bosco being added in the former rear courtyard in the late 1930’s/early 1940’s as was The Hall Range.
Despite the laudable intentions of Father Hudson in rescuing Catholic children in need, the Home was already considered old-fashioned in design when it was built and within a few years was something of an anachronism. By the 1870’s much smaller scale units of this type were becoming the norm to house pauper children. If anything, the interior is – and probably always was – bleaker than the exterior, with very little decoration of note.
As a Boys’ Home of the traditional Victorian type – despite its actual date - it shares the uncomfortable if not always deserved bad reputation of other orphanages and Dickensian institutions of the 19th century. Sadly, in this case, for an unknown number of its former inhabitants that reputation was all too real. Instead of a building that should be a memorial to the good works of the founder of the Boy’s Home it is, to many, a symbol of the way those ideals were betrayed by certain individuals resulting in a prison conviction. In a 1998 court case a priest received a seven-year sentence for abusing boys as young as six at the home throughout the Fifties and Sixties, and then standing by as they were beaten by nuns for complaining. The building is, to many, thus a symbol of despair rather than of hope.
A heritage report into The Father Hudson complex in 2013 concluded that St. Edwards Home for Boys is not worthy of being listed or neither is it a particular good example of early 20th Century architecture. This along with its tainted history has led to its proposed demolition.