St George's House,
Northern Police Orphanage. 1898-1956  Harrogate, Yorkshire, England.

 





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Thank You

The vision, drive and dedication that Catherine Gurney showed and the work involved for her to achieve her aims has already been referred to  on a previous page. Her influence touched and changed the lives of many children and their families, for which we are indebted. Some would look back on their time at the Orphanage with pleasant memories, whereas others, who had endured experiences of severe and excessively harsh treatment, would with some justification, think otherwise.
No matter which category one fits in,  it should be recognised that in times of hardship, wars and economic depression, we children were well looked after in many ways. We were well fed, clothed, housed and given educational opportunities unavailable to many, during those times.
The one thing that institutional care can not provide however is the emotional wellbeing of the child, no matter how well meaning the staff or carers may be. The 'family' was just too large for individual needs in that respect. Having said that, the many positive aspects of St George's outweigh any negative aspects and need to be recognised, with due gratitude recorded. Following are some of those that deserve a vote of thanks, apologies in advance for any undue omissions.

Contributions from the following Constabulary and Police Forces over many years.

 

CHESHIRE
BirkenHead
Stockport
Wallasey

CUMBERLAND &
WESTMORELAND

Carlisle

DERBYSHIRE
Derby

DURHAM COUNTY
Gateshead
South Shields
Sunderland
River Tyne

 

LANCASHIRE
Barrow in Furness
Blackburn
Blackpool
Bolton
Bootle
Burnley
Liverpool
Manchester
Salford
Oldham
Preston
Rochdale
Southport
St Helen's
Warrington
Wigan

 

LINCOLNSHIRE
Great Grimsby
Lincoln

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
Nottingham

NORTHUMBERLAND
Newcastle on Tyne
Tynemouth

SHROPSHIRE

STAFFORDSHIRE
Stoke on Trent
Walsall

 

YORKSHIRE
Hull
Middlesborough
Barnsley
Bradford
Dewsbury
Doncaster
Halifax
Huddersfield
Leeds
Rotherham
Sheffield
Wakefield

YORK
 

WALES
Anglesey
Caernarvonshire
Denbighshire
Flintshire
Merionethshire

PoliceTraining Centres

GLASGOW

Manchester & Salford
Police & Fire Brigade
Benevolent Fund

 

 

 

                                                                          
                                         
Address given to the Northern Police Charities, Harrogate
                                                 by Elsie Gale, formerly Pickering, nee Bradley.  July 1970


I entered St George's in March, 1942 when I was 10 years old. My father had died four weeks previously at the age of 41. He had served 22 years in Bolton Borough Police Force and he left my mother with five offspring and a Police widow's pension of 10s.1d per week. We had a roof over our heads but we had to be fed and clothed. Because of the rules laid down at that time concerning the wives of Police officers, my mother had never been employed, so suddenly, at 39 she had lost her husband and she was forced to be the breadwinner. The trouble was - who was to look after us while she went out to work or during air raids ?
My father's Chief Constable, Mr Howard, solved the problem and he made arrangements for us to enter St George's. This,I am sure, was the turning point of my life. I was no longer the apple of my father's eye, I was just one small child in Miss Knocker's family of nearly 70 children and I had to learn to stand on my own two feet. Believe me , I learnt very quickly. There was no time for self pity at St George's and this early training has more than helped me in my adult life.
I hated the discipline while I was at St George's but I often look back now and realise that those really were the best years of my life. Instead of being properly cared for at St George's I might have been roaming around the streets of Bolton while my mother was out working. I certainly would not have been so well fed and well clothed, especially during those war years. As St George's children we were always provided with more and better quality clothing than any private school in Harrogate - and we were very proud of our uniform, the red for St George and the blue for the Police. I know from conversations I had as a child with the girls from the Harrogate Ladies College, a very exclusive and expensive school, that we St George's children had far better food served to us than they did. We never went short of anything we needed - not anything we wanted, but anything we needed. I clearly remember how jealous the other girls were when they were told of the turkeys and the money and the presents that were sent to St George's children by the many generous Police officers. As Police orphans we always had that little bit extra - we were special. When we told the college girls of the Police concerts and film shows, the outings and the pantomimes, the Christmas presents and the parties, the sports days and the prizes, they used to say: 'Why, you're better off than we are and our fathers are rich'.
For the most part St George's children didn't have fathers, rich or poor, but we did have one thing in common at St George's, a family tie as it were. Every child had a Policeman father. It made absolutely no difference if he had been a Chief Constable or an ordinary Copper on the beat - we were all treated exactly the same - and voluntary contributions from many Police officers made that possible.
The Police have always looked after their own and they always will. There is a bond somehow, an affinity, something quite intangible, but it's there and it stays with us all through our lives.  This bond is very apparent at the reunion of St George's old boys and girls. There is an enormous feeling of belonging. As adults we have all taken different walks in life but we are still, through our Police connections, part of one big family and we feel very deeply about this. Our toast at these reunions is always the same: 'To every Policeman, everywhere, who made it possible for us to be proud to call ourselves St George's old boys and girls'. Until now, none of us has been given the opportunity to express our gratitude personally but today, through the kindness of Mr Ambler I am able to do this. I know that these words are very long overdue but may I, on behalf of all St George's boys and girls, past and present, offer to you, all of you, our very sincere thanks and our heartfelt gratitude which you all so richly deserve.


                                                                             


Excerpt from
a story about the Drummond family, written by Des Drummond (564) 14 February, 2011. See Memories page.

"I would like to express my thanks to everyone who was involved in the care of my brothers and I, particularly to Miss Knocker. I never gave it a thought at the time, but now that Iím a little bit older, and perhaps just a little bit wiser realise she was a truly amazing person.
But the bottom line is that none of the good things that all of the St. Georges boys & girls enjoyed, would have happened, without the help, generosity and support of the contributing Police Constabularies. 

To all of them I say a big Thank-you. Summing it all up in the fewest words possible, let me sayÖfor me, and I know I speak for many more, St. Georges turned Tragedy into Privilege."

Des Drummond

 


 

Acknowledgement and thanks for assistance and support over the years are due to:      

                                                                   
                                                                  
Miss Catherine Gurney O.B.E.

                                                                     
                                                                  
The contributing Police Forces                    

                                                                                                                                                
                                                                  
Formerly Northern Police Orphans Trust & St George Fund                    
                                                      The St George's Police Trust                                                                    
                                                     
St Andrew's,                                                                                           
                                                      Harlow Moor Road,                                                                                
                                                      Harrogate. HG2 0AD                                                                             
                                                      Yorkshire.     

                                                                  
                                                                  
The Management and Staff
                                                      The Police Treatment Centres
                                                     
St Andrew's 
                                                      Harlow Moor Road,
                                                      Harrogate.HG2 0AD 
                                                      Yorkshire.  
                                                      Tel: 01423 504448           
                                                                                 
                                                                                                              

                                                                       
                                                                  
The Trustees and Staff
                                                     
Ripon Museum Trust,  
                                                     
The Workhouse Museum, 
                                                      Sharrow View,  
                                                      Allhallowgate, 
                                                      Ripon.
                                                      Yorkshire,    Tel: 01765.690799

                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
                                                                  
Bradford City Police Force
                                                    
 Harry Ambler, former Bradford Chief Constable
                                                    
 Born 1908 died 1988                                                                                    

                                                      Bandsmen
                                                     
Wilfred Mcdonald  (Trumpet)
                                                      David Holdsworth
 (Drums)
                                                      David Abbot  (Keyboard)

                                                                  

                                                                    
                                                                 
 G.C. (Clarrie) East
                                                     
Author: The Constables of Claro                                    
                                                                    
                                                                                                                               
                                                                  
Supporters of St George's House, including: 
                                                     
Godfrey & Dorothy Harland                                                                 
                                                      David Holdsworth
                                                      Elsie Gale

                                                     
The above were instrumental in providing many of the photographs and information        
                                                                  
used on this website.

 

 

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Deus vult

                                         Email contact: stgeorgesharrogate@gmail.com