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



Home Page
Catherine Gurney
St George's Buildings

Miss E. Chapman
Miss E. M. Knocker
Miss E. Duke Turner
Boys & Girls
At Play
Sports/Phys Ed
Emergency Drill
Health/Work Duties
Leaving St George's
The Services
Life at St George's
List of Children
Thank you
Story of St George's
North meets South
News & Events

Police Connections
From the Past
Annual Reports
St Andrew's
Saint George-History
The Children Trust
Police Insignias






















































































































































































































































































































Valerie Partridge 464 Des Drummond 564 George Squires 210 Les Ball 637
Richard Peacock DFC 402 Arthur Deakin 597 Gwen George 394 Peter Taylor 560


A Few Memories of My Life by Valerie Partridge.


St George’s Old Girl 464.

My father, George Albert Lea, was born in Walton on Trent, Derbyshire, the youngest of ten children, in 1892.
When conscripted in 1914 he stated that he had been a valet for six years, the last two years for
Sir Sigmund Newman at 146 Piccadilly, London.

He became a member of the 6th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment aged 22 but was discharged as a Sergeant on August 8th, 1917 having been seriously wounded in the knee on July 16th on the Somme.

My mother, Muriel Jane Constable (born 1898) spent her childhood three miles outside Tetbury in Gloucestershire at Shipton Moyne. She later worked in the kitchens of the Mansion House, London.

The 9th Duke of Devonshire became Governor General of Canada (Quebec) in November 1916 (until 1921) and in 1917 both of my parents were employed there. My father as first footman and my mother in the kitchen, where she became the sauce cook, preparing banquets for the then Prince Edward of Wales. They met, played ice hockey together in The Maple Leaf Team, canoed, swam in the Canadian lakes and fell in love. They married in Quebec on February 11th, 1920 and returned to England in July 1920.

My sister Heather was born in Merrivale Road, Bearwood, on March 27th 1922. My father was a policeman serving in Brierley Hills, Staffordshire. I arrived four years later on March 20th.
I remember a warm, comfortable contented feeling. There were walks with Mum & Dad while Heather was at school. Obviously Dad worked different hours. I remember the cinema one afternoon and watching the beautiful dancing up and down the stairs (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers). I saw Dad on point duty, white gloved. I fed the red squirrels in Warley Woods. My world was a lovely place.

Heather and I both had natural shantung dresses with red spotted collars and cuffs. Heather’s had a waist whereas mine fell from a yoke. I was dressed but, because I didn’t like it, pushed myself back in the bath. I then cut round the brim of a hat I had, as I felt it improved the shape.
At age four and a half I started school. The room had a large doll’s house on a low table. How I longed to go and play with it – but nobody offered. Every morning I had to choose – ‘thread beads or plastercine’. I screamed and screamed. My poor sister Heather was constantly being fetched.

Just before Christmas 1930 we moved to 74 John Street, Brierley Hill, near the steel works and Black Country furnaces belching smoke.
Here I waited until I was five, to start school, and here I later threw my knitting at the teacher because I wanted red bone needles.

So many times in my childhood did we travel to Shipton Moyne. Grandma Constable, my maternal Grandmother, was sweet and gentle. She had a wooden leg and wore her skirts ankle length. She

made dolls’ cradles and fairisle socks for us and lavender bags for all her family. There was a well and a village tap for drinking water and oil lamps and fires for cooking. On either side of the huge  black range was a walk in cupboard with stable doors – a lovely place to play.

Heather and I had a little doll’s pram with slatted wooden sides, iron wheels and handle. A monk’s bench in the stone floored hall held balls, bats and skipping ropes. We made Bulb Bowls by placing black gramophone records on top of basins in the oven.

We collected the milk from the farm – straight from the cows. We crayfished in the Fosse Brook.
I searched and expected to find roman swords and shields in the ditches, and we yelled happily down grandad’s ear trumpet.
One day, returning home in our motor bike and side car, I sat with a paper windmill on a stick in my hand and watched it whirl in the breeze. I dropped it! Dad stopped and picked it up. Again I dropped it and he stopped. I was warned that next time he would not stop. I was shocked when we left it in a leafy road.

One of the things that happens very differently today was this. I had to have my tonsils out at the school clinic. It’s there to this day a large white painted house by St Michael’s church in Brierley Hill where a small cannon rests high above the road. There were about twenty children I think.
We all wore pyjamas and stayed in an upstairs room without food all morning.  Then the jackets were removed and a cape and a tight cap of rubber were put on each child. I walked to the theatre, sat on the table while my throat was inspected, was told to lie down and a rubber mask was clapped on my face. Gas!
A little later I watched as each child was walked (in front of a nurse) with blood all over their faces.
We were two to a bed until everyone was done and then half the boys and girls were taken into another room. We stayed all night but Dad came to see me for a minute. Policemen were special compared with other parents.

My sister Peggy Alberton Lea was born in 1932 and we moved to Cradley Heath Police Station, Staffordshire. It was a lovely house with coach house, stables and two large walled gardens. The rear garden was entered by an oval gate in the high wall.
We had chickens and our own vegetables.

In April, 1935 when the tulips grew in rows specially for cutting, Dad died.

Policemen lined the roads for his funeral. St Luke’s church was over the road. I was sent to school.

I think my mother was given two weeks to leave. We stayed in a small modern house until July.
Policemen’s wives were not allowed to work in those days so mother had quickly to earn money.
Her pension was £30 a year and £10 for each child. My Aunt had Peggy for a while.
Mother worked in the local laundry, in the office I think.
There were no school meals in those days so I was letting myself into our house at lunch time to find sandwhiches and milk, often getting wet when it rained.Mum was concerned.
Inspector Davies of Old Hill, also in Cradley Heath, told mother about St George’s  ‘The Northern Police Orphanage’ and advised her to think about it for me.
In July we put everything in storage and went to Shipton Moyne, although my grandma had died the previous year.


One day came a knock at the door. It was Miss Carne the Junior Matron from St George’s who offered to take me to Harrogate to save Mother going. Mother said she would rather take me herself.

In September 1935 we journeyed to Harrogate. I was fortunate to always have some lovely clothes as Auntie Nell was nannie for a very wealthy family in High Wickham. The daughter must have been a little older than I was. I had a Jaeger dress, fine brown tweed coat and matching hat with a little feather and a beautiful pintucked heavy silk dress and jacket with lots of tiny covered buttons in soft grey blue. Auntie Nell sent parcels to Mother telling her how much or how little she must pay if she wanted them.It was my shoes which made me remember these at the end of the day.

We arrived late afternoon I think. Miss Knocker met us and quickly showed us around. I’m amazed when I look back! I think she must have sized me up as sensible or maybe she didn’t think!
“Take your mother” she said “and put her on the bus”. We went out of the side door, past the kitchen and Sister Batty’s surgery. I knew I must smile.
I can see my mother’s little face (she was only 4’11” and a half) trying hard not to cry. I kissed her, smiled happily and waved her off and then walked back inside. How aware a nine year old can be.

I was stripped, weighed, measured and my clothes were taken away. Combinations! I’d never seen such things. Gym slip, liberty bodice, navy knickers, black woollen stockings and shoes that pinched with every step. Muriel Watson joined St George’s the same day and we giggled for days about our pinchy shoes.

We slept in No 4 dormitory in iron beds on horse hair mattresses. There were brass plates at the head which read ‘Subscribed by Bradford City Police’. Counterpanes were uniformly folded every evening by two older girls and then placed over the footrail of the beds. We all had embroidered cases for our nightdresses and a white embroided bag tied to the side rail to hold a hair brush.
Under each bed was an oblong basket in which to place the day’s clothes. We all had clean clothes on Sundays. We had a collection of many beautiful blouses. For example there was blue viyella, white with a white silk stripe, and all made with lovely fabrics. Even party blouses of pink apple blossomed lawn and the original gym blouses were silk with bishop sleeves,  navy gym slips with navy girdles,  short gym slips for gym with red girdles etc etc.
Shoe parade was held every Saturday morning when we stood in a row behind our shoes, either for them to be repaired or to be passed on to others.
Older girls wore lisle stockings – black of course.

We rose by a bell at 6am, washed, dressed, made our beds and knelt for morning prayers with the matron in attendance. We wore coarse aprons and went about our allotted tasks. We polished and dusted and shined the wooden floors with ronuk. All the brass bed plates shone like mirrors and the baths and basins sparkled. Then the bell was rung for breakfast – lumpy porridge and bread and marge. Lunch was always a good meal with lovely Cornish pasties, lentil cakes etc. Banana compote for pudding, with lots of second helpings. Tea was bread and marge and jam, or no jam, with cake only on Sunday.
Boiled sweets were counted out on Wednesday and Sunday (about 5 each time).

Boys and girls were always divided. Girls walked in crocodile round the town (the Valley Gardens, Birk Crag ?). Sometimes people would stop and ask admiringly which school we were from.
“The Police Orphanage”, was the reply. I saw the pity and could have sunk through the floor.

I remember all the musical festivals we entered as girls’ choirs. We used to win them all ! Pontefract, Leeds, Ilkley, Harrogate, Bradford, we sang to them all.
The first songs I learned were: ‘A Lake and a Fairy Boat’ and ‘It was a Lover and His Lass’.

Every Saturday evening we had entertainment such as lantern slides, or films such as Lassie or Rintintin or there were Police concerts from Manchester and Bradford City Police etc which were always enjoyable. The outings were many. Every year we went to Scarborough for the day. We called at York on the way and once were allowed to slide down the poles at the fire station. Each small group had an adult with us and all the rides were free. We had lunch in a large hotel and everyone stared as we stood and sang grace.We also went to see Fountains Abbey. I felt it had a wonderful atmosphere. It was surrounded by flowering garlic. I loved it. Bolton Abbey too was visited and Peasholme Park in Manchester where we saw an ice show. We were also taken to a Leeds Tattoo.

On Sundays lunch was always cold. We had prayers in the bedroom and church in the morning and at night. We could not knit or sew though texts could be crayoned. I used to love making bible clocks. A clock face was marked on a nine or ten inch stiff white card. I chose a word such as ‘lamb’ and then found twelve sentences from the bible which included the word. These were written in the twelve spaces, with the book and the verse in the space where the hour was usually placed. Then came the decorating and my clock would have skipping lambs and flowers everywhere.

At times we held services in the gymnasium and in my older years I sat on the stage and read the lessons and the prayers.
One Sunday morning it suddenly poured with rain while we were in church. Our summer panama hats were collected and returned to St George’s and exchanged for others.

I loved Sunday tea times when Miss Knocker would sometimes read to us, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Pilgrims Progress.

We all went home only once a year for six weeks. Suitcases were sent in advance. Every year we wore a button hole of sweet peas but leavers were given a red rose. After singing ‘Lord dismiss us with thy blessing’ we set off. Everything was well organized. We were met in Leeds by police women if we were travelling that way. They escorted us to the toilets, even having to pay our pennies as none of us carried any money. We were then put on the right trains for home.
My mother met me in Birmingham and I was taken to a strange home which I had never seen before. There was nothing there which had ever belonged to me.

In September the journey was repeated in reverse and ‘Lord receive us with thy blessing’ was sung.

Christmas was very special. In November a red post box stood in the hall beneath a beautiful divided mahogany staircase.  We were told to write to Father Christmas asking for two gifts from the Christmas tree. Whatever age we were, it must be ‘Dear Father Christmas’. The first Christmas I was there I asked for a baby doll and a conjuring set. The doll was dressed in white satin trimmed with white fur round her cloak and bonnet. Another of the days before Christmas we all gathered in the gym to stir the pudding. When Christmas arrived we all decorated our bedrooms and a programme was pinned up in the hall, showing the many days of special occasions.

On Christmas morning, Miss Knocker dressed as Father Christmas, woke us all by blowing a trumpet and when we were dressed we gathered at the top of the stairs. The girls were then told to go and search for their stockings which were hidden in the playroom. These were quite large and made of red paisley cotton with our names on a label. Invariably they held chocolate or toffee, or a drawing book with pens and pencils or a small game. There was always something in there which made a noise!

We all then put on warm coats and scarves and silently walked through the gardens to the Police Convalescent Home which shared our grounds. We crept into their hall and then burst forth with song..’Christians Awake’ ! The policemen, all in dressing gowns came smiling to the top of their stairs. Then it was back for breakfast and afterwards to church… lunch with Christmas pud and we all managed to get a silver threepenny piece. In the afternoon we gathered in the gym where our gifts from home were given out.

During the Christmas festivities we performed a play at The Incurable Home. Yes, that’s really what it was called. Beds were wheeled into the room holding strange shaped beings who shrieked and laughed and made noises. We were not warned or ever spoken to about this. I think we performed well but with a feeling of hysteria.

We always had a special concert by one of the police concert groups. For two years we had a fancy dress party and could borrow from the dressing up cupboard. I insisted against all advice on being Cinderella in rags with a dirty face and rags in my hair. The second time we had more notice and Heather sent me an Oxo Cube costume. This was a dark red dress with a large webbing cross and a cardboard O on each shoulder. It also had a cube as a hat.

As we were never normally allowed to mix with the boys, a party with them was bound to be a bit odd. After the first half hour the boys were supposed to wait on their partners with refreshments but suddenly we were all sent to bed. I never knew why!

Another day was “Christmas Tree Day”. The tree was set up in the gym on the stage. One year four men dressed as cooks came through the hall carrying a large Christmas pudding. With great hilarity they cut it open and out stepped Father Christmas. Our names were called to receive our two gifts.

On party days we wore our pretty pink blossom blouses with puff sleeves. In November we had firework displays. I never liked fireworks but the parkin and treacle toffee were fine.St George’s Day meant a huge cake and an outing and each Whitsuntide or Easter we cooked our lunches on the field. I remember rhubarb and custard and toffee.

For the St George’s A.G.M. we always performed. Was it the Jubilee or Coronation when we had red dresses with a small apron and red, white and blue fissues (a small triangular scarf – neckerchief or kerchief which could be worn around the neck or on head) and we danced the Irish Jig and The Sailors’ Hornpipe with appropriate hats. Another year, we formation marched, being taught by a sergeant major ending with us forming the St George’s flag.

Sports Day I hated. I never had the breath to run. I tried every year to break my leg by jumping from high places, but it never happened. Swimming sports – I always won the first race and was then finished for the rest. I probably had asthma then as I do now.

War broke out when I was thirteen while we were still at home. We had no holiday at home the next year. We spent hours making camouflage nets, knitting seaboot stockings in oiled wool and I made navy sweaters and helmets.
We practiced manning the fire hose around the building. They were very heavy even without water in them.

One night at about 9 o’clock Joyce Barrington and I were wakened from sleep and told to get dressed. We were accused by Miss Knocker of not drawing the blackout curtains correctly and made to scrub the girls’ toilets – about ten of them, on our hands and knees. At that time Joyce and I were going out every day to the Technical School and Art School together. I attended both although I belonged to the art side. My sister Peggy (526) joined me at St George’s in October 1939. She had been evacuated but the place where she had been sent to was not very satisfactory. Peggy later had meningitis and was very, very ill. In those days children often did not recover. Mother was sent for and stayed at St George’s for a while. The illness affected Peggy in later life unfortunately. Although she had previously obtained a builder’s certificate after attending Moseley Art School for three years. She became an Architect’s assistant designing windows in London and also produced beautiful miniature portraits of children painted on ivory. She has one son but her little girl sadly died.

I left St George’s in July 1942 with an outfit of clothes chosen by Miss Knocker and me on a visit to Leeds. I value the work Miss Knocker did at St George’s. I remember her telling us that when she first arrived the tables and benches were old and battered and children drank from enamel mugs.
She it was who changed all that and ever after fine china was bought. She also insisted on the Northern Police Orphanage changing its name to St George’s House. One forgets she was employed by the police and had to do what they required, having to report constantly at monthly meetings.

We were well brought up, having plenty of confidence, knowing how to behave in any situation, even though we may have felt a little different from the rest of the population.
I think we all remain as ‘lookers on’. I became a display artist for Marshall & Snelgrove, attended Birmingham College of Art and Handsworth School of Dress Design for some classes.

All young people were called up at eighteen during the latter years of the war. I became, for a short time, a telephone engineer which was a ridiculous position for me as I’m useless with gadgets. Nevertheless I attended Post Office School and was supposed to be capable of building a switch with my tool kit. At the end of the war I returned to M & S until I married in 1952. My husband became an innkeeper for about three years. I cooked meals for large groups of old people. I also catered for many people for Bed and Breakfast, ran ladies darts teams and whatever else was required – but it was not a particularly happy time.

Later I was employed by Queen’s College, Stourbridge to teach College of Preceptors Art & Needlework, Cookery and History of Art. However I gradually found myself teaching history, cooking, country dancing and even… football! You name it.. I did it! I then took on the small Kindergarten.

In 1964 my husband Eric was found at the foot of his office stairs with a severe fracture at the base of his skull. He was in a coma but came home after surgery many weeks later with brain damage. Life changed. He died in1980.

In 1965 I became a class teacher at Elmsfield School, Stourbridge, which is a Rudolf Steiner school based on the Waldorf system – teachers moved up the school with their classes. I also taught upper school needlework and started cookery classes for boys and girls. I remained there for twenty-five years having been a Class Teacher for five different groups of children. Three times I stepped in to take classes for a term when the school had problems. 

I retired when I was sixty-four and proceeded to tutor children at home. I also volunteered to work one day a week at the local hospice. So here I am now! I have had a very fortunate life. I was very lucky in my lovely family and with wonderful friends, so life has treated me very kindly.

There has been so much beauty surrounding me.

Valerie Partridge nee Lea.
St George’s Child number 464

What is privilege ?

A story about the Drummond family, written by Des Drummond (564) 14 February, 2011

My Father, Adam Robertson Drummond (ARD) was born of Scottish parents in Wark on Tweed, Northumberland, directly south of Coldstream, which is near Berwick upon Tweed.
My mother, Agnes May Carr
was born in Barelees on 23rd May 1900.
Barelees is a farm next to Flodden Field, an ancient battleground.  Close to Wark and Coldstream.
My mother and father knew each other from childhood.

                                                                                           Royal Artillery badge

ARD became a volunteer soldier at the age of eighteen, when he responded to the call of the Recruitment Sergeant in 1914, at the very beginning of the First World War. He became Private 63897 Drummond, and was attached to the Royal Garrison Artillery.
After training, Gunner Drummond served from March 1915 until December 1919; the entire period of the war, in Belgium and on the Western Front in Northern France.
Whilst in Belgium, he was at Ypres, Passchendale, and other locations, when in Northern France he was engaged  in continuous offensives in the Somme Valley.
He lived in trench conditions for all of that time, and only once in the four and a half year period of his service did he manage to get back to ‘Blighty’.
After a very short break, he was sent back to the ‘Front’. 

                                                    Howitzer 9.2 inch, used by the Royal Garrison Artillery during WW1

ARD was lucky to survive the war, and probably did so because he was an Artillery Gunner. It was usual for the big guns to be located just behind the Front Line, although their actual positions were changed at very at short notice, to avoid being pinpointed, and shelled in retaliation.
Artillery Officers understood the techniques of heavy bombardment, and set up the long range guns on secured ground. Two of the large guns, each 9.2 inch diameter shells, were nicknamed Charlie Chaplin & Vesta Tilley by the Gunners. They were the  celebrities of the day; Charlie Chaplin the film star and Vesta Tilley a well known music hall entertainer.
These big guns could fire a shell up to 4 miles with great accuracy, shelling the enemy with such force as to keep them underground in their bunkers, allowing the British and French forces to advance to new forward positions.
The Germans hit back at every chance, with German observation aircraft spotting for their own artillery, investigating the British gun positions and bringing retaliation fire. The answer was to move position regularly to avoid this being successful, but there were still casualties. ARD lost friends in these bombardments, when the enemy returned fire.
On one occasion he was called to Field HQ to receive co-ordinates for the next days assault, only to find on his return that shrapnel had killed one of his pals in his squad.

was wounded very slightly during his service. A piece of shrapnel struck him between the forefinger and thumb of his left hand, passing right through the fleshy part of his hand but without breaking any bones. He managed to keep the wound clean, and continued on, grateful that he didn’t contract ‘Lockjaw’  as so many wounded soldiers did. Tetanus was common in the trenches, and caused the death of numerous wounded soldiers, even those with minor wounds.


The Armistice was signed in November 1918, but ARD wasn’t demobilized until March 1919.
After ARD and his  brother William who had served as an infantryman in the DLI on the Western Front were demobilized, they each returned home to their parents who were living on a small farm at Scremerston, a tiny village just south of Berwick upon Tweed. By now their father; my grandfather; was quite elderly, being 65 years of age, and he had virtually retired from his small business as a rope-maker. The brothers had each hoped that they would rejoin their family and work alongside each other, but it couldn’t be. The British economy was in poor state, especially so farming, where most of the rope and rope nets made was used, so hopes of a decent wage, enough to support a wife and family wasn’t possible.

knew, that if he  wanted to marry his childhood sweetheart  he had to have a job. He found temporary work with a small building concern in the next village, Cornhill, not far from Norham.

My mother and father married in December 1919, and for a short time they lived in Norham on Tweed, which was the home village of mothers’ family. 

Desperately needing a career, ARD decided to join the Police Force. The nearest big City to his home was Newcastle upon Tyne, and they needed policemen.
He walked sixty miles to get to Newcastle, taking a couple of days to do so. When he arrived, he went straight to the Newcastle upon Tyne Police Station in Pilgrim Street, where he was examined by the resident Police Surgeon.
He failed his entry medical examination, not because he was unwell in any way; he just wasn’t tall enough!!
Newcastle upon Tyne Constabulary at that time would only engage recruits who were 6’ 2.5” tall; as did the City of London Police.
Advised to walk the short distance over the High Level Bridge to Gateshead on Tyne, just the other side of the river, where they too were recruiting, he did so, and passed his medical without problem.

Borough of Gateshead Police                       Gateshead Police Helmet
          Photo: courtesy of                     

Enrolled into the Gateshead County Borough Police, as Police Constable 79 in January 1920; he was in his early days, the shortest man in the ‘Force‘, even though he was over 6’ 1” tall. 

In his early days of police service, PC 79 Drummond had the fortune to be allocated a police house, conveniently next door to the police station at Blyth Terrace, Gateshead. 

                                                                      Blyth Terrace Police Station, Gateshead.
Photo: courtesy of

When war was declared in September 1939, mother, father and some of the younger members of the family were on holiday in Norham, staying with our twin Aunts Eve and Ethel. I remember the sirens being sounded and the sense of impending doom. Later as the air raids became more regular over Tyneside, some of us stayed in Norham in a form of self inflicted evacuation, but we the kids loved it. At the far end of the village were the ruins of an old border fortress, Norham castle, we played there every day. 

Many of my older brothers and both sisters were born in Norham where mother had the benefit of her twin sisters to help with the birth, and care of the other youngsters.
Norham was a regular weekend destination  for the Drummond family, and numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins were regular visitors to Gateshead, by return.
As the family grew, so did the need for a larger house, and the move to Low Fell  (a residential area of Gateshead on the south side) in 1934, saw the Drummonds move into their own home, at  number 6, Loraine Terrace, a large lovely old sandstone property which still stands today. 

During the early years of World War 2 Adam Robertson Drummond was now the head of a large family.

The eldest, a daughter, Margaret Carr Drummond was born in Norham in 1920.
A son, Adam Robertson Drummond was born in 1922.
Next, Isobel Carr Drummond was born in 1924.
Richard Drummond was born in 1926.
James (Jim) Gregson Drummond was born in 1930.
Desmond Charles Drummond was born in 1935.
Douglas Hamilton Drummond was born in 1937.
Edmund (Eddy) Martin Drummond was born in 1939.
Albert Alexander Drummond was born in 1941. 

The blitz was an everyday assault on Tyneside during the early war years,  insistent nightly  bombing of the riverside, the main targets for German bombers, trying to destroy the shipyards, bridges and factories, as well as the berthed Naval and Merchant shipping. 

As young as I was at the time, I remember the raids, the bangs, and the searchlights, sometimes even the sight of the German bombers overhead, and how when the sirens sounded, being rushed into the air raid shelter which was part of the cellar of our house. On our way to school we would look out for bits of shrapnel. My brother Jim had quite a hoard of it. 

During the spring of 1944, a Diphtheria epidemic hit Gateshead, and the effect it had upon the Drummond family was traumatic. Mother, and eldest son Adam (who was at home on leave; from the Army.) Desmond, and baby Alby, were all infected and taken to hospital. Adam and Alby were soon released, being judged clear of the disease, but Mother and Desmond (the writer) were detained in quarantine, severely infected.  The Diphtheria strain was particularly virulent.
Sadly Mother died after only a few days in hospital. It was May 1944. 

 Gateshead Borough Police Constabulary badges
 Photos: courtesy of

Imagine the trauma that my Father ARD faced at the news of his wife’s death. A serving Policeman with a large family. The war on. Duties including regular nightshifts away from home. Four children under the age of ten, and one child just three years of age. 

My two eldest sisters were both working away from home. Margaret engaged in the war effort making the fabric that was used to make parachutes for the Army. Isobel was a Nurse in an isolation hospital. Adam was in the Royal Marines, serving in North Africa. Richard was in The Royal Army Service Core, serving in France. Jim was only fourteen, but in those days could choose to leave school if he wished to. 

Brother Jim went to live with my father’s brother James, and his wife, who had a small building concern in Workington, Cumbria, and served his apprenticeship indentured to his Uncle Jim along with his cousin, also called Jim.   Three Jim’s in one household!!!  All of them called after my Grandfather. 

My father’s youngest sister, my Aunt Maggie, lived with her husband, my Uncle George, on the western edge of Newcastle upon Tyne. They had no children.
It was agreed that Des, Doug, Eddy & Alby would spend the summer months of 1944 with them. 

Unbeknown to me and my younger brothers, the Gateshead Police Chief Constable, Edward Bainbridge  was already planning the next move, which would completely alter the rest of our lives. 

                                                               Chief Constable Edward Bainbridge 1937 - 1958
Photo: courtesy of

He took my Father and my Great Aunt Aggie, (Paternal Grandmother’s sister, and head of the family) to Harrogate, to view St Georges House. He recommended that their considerations should favour the invitation that was given to them; that we, “the four boys Des, Doug, Eddy & Albie”, should move to, and live at St. Georges.
Great Aunt Aggie agreed, and persuaded my father that it was for the best.
We arrived for the new term starting in September 1944. We soon settled in to this new way of life, and quickly made friends with the other boys. Everyone had a common bond because most of us had lost at least one parent. 

                                 Des Drummond 564       Doug Drummond 565      Eddy Drummond 566      Albie Drummond 567

Miss Knocker was the Head, and did all she could to ensure that we were well cared for. Looking back as a parent myself, I now appreciate more than ever the wonderful job she did as the Principal of a well oiled organization with her concerns not only for the children in her care, but also for all the Old Boys & Girls too, and how they were fairing. She was a wonderful example of selflessness, having dedicated her whole life to the benefit of the children in her care.

For a time my Aunt Maggie got a job at St. Georges with the intention of ensuring that we ‘the boys’ were being well cared for. She wasn’t allowed to work in the Boys wing, as that might have been described as preferential treatment, so she worked in the Girls wing, but managed to keep an almost daily contact with us, often waiting for us to pass her in the corridor, when she would slip us a few sweets. She had no cause for concern, St. Georges Boys & Girls were well cared for. After a couple of months she was able to go home to Newcastle assured that all was well. 

Visiting day was the first Saturday in the month, and at morning assembly we would be told who the visitors would be. My Fathers name was almost always called out. He seldom missed a date, and when he did, he would send some other member of the family in his place. Visiting day would be spent in Harrogate, perhaps with a walk around the Valley Gardens or a trip to the cinema, but it always finished in Standings, a restaurant at the top of a long flight of stairs in a shop in James Street; where we could have things we didn’t get at St. Georges, like pop, and chips.  

A lot of people have asked me the same question…”what did you do at St. Georges, what was it like ?”
Well… apart from going out to school, where we met and mixed with other kids, back at St. Georges, we had a football pitch, a cricket pitch, a tennis court, a gymnasium, and the use of two public swimming pools nearby. We had our own Cubs & Scouts troops, whilst the girls had Brownies and Girl Guides.
Sport was always encouraged, and games were arranged with local schools and clubs of which there were many. In the common room we had billiards, snooker, and table tennis, although these latter attractions were brought in with the advent of Miss Duke-Turner, who greatly relaxed the discipline that previous generations probably experienced.
We were smart in our uniforms, all kept neat and tidy by our House Masters/Mistresses, we always had to wear the right attire for the occasion, whether it was Sunday best for church, or ‘whites’ for cricket. Some of us sang in the church choir, others chose to take piano lessons.
Entertainment varied from occasional summer trips to the seaside arranged by a County Police Force, or to the theatre, cinema, and even on one occasion that I recall, to the Opera.
Food was good and plentiful, perhaps a little plain, but rationing was still the order of the day. Much was grown in our own gardens tendered by the two gardeners whose job it was to grow vegetables, but also to keep the flower beds nice. I particularly remember Nellie’s (the cook) pasties, usually served on Tuesdays for lunch, not forgetting the apple jacks and custard at Sunday lunchtime, and rock buns or a piece of fruit cake for Sunday tea. Sweets which were always called ‘Spice’ were served at teatime on Sundays and Thursdays. They became currency. You could always sweeten a swap with the addition of an odd spice or two.

Were we deprived kids (?) …never. We were taught to be independent, to be a good sport, that honesty was the best policy; that good manners counted, always encouraged to do well at school, and to respect others.

Looking back…there was a degree of elitism, a pride in being from St. Georges.  

With the retirement of Miss Knocker, and the appointment of Miss Duke-Turner, there was a relaxation in the strictness of the way of life at St. Georges, but in the main, things went along as normal. As far as the boys were concerned, we were a fairly happy bunch with strong friendships between us, and plenty to keep us occupied. Christmas was the ‘most looked forward to’ event of the year, and I think that most of us given the chance to go home for that holiday, or to stay at the school, would have chosen the latter. We all had a great time with lots of treats.  

Did it do us any harm? … Of course not, quite the contrary. It bred independence in all of us, proved by the lives that the ‘Old Boys & Girls’ built for themselves after leaving. Studying careers we can see Doctors, Solicitors, Clergymen,Schoolteachers, Journalists, Police Officers, Civil Servants, Military Servicemen; some of esteemed rank; Engineers,  Nurses, Managers, Hotel Proprietors, Business Owners, Trade Union Executives, and best of all Good Parents. 

The Drummond brothers all left St. Georges at the same time, in July 1951. Our father had remarried, and retired from the police force at much the same time, so a normal home life was available to us after many long years of being away. Going home for good was a welcome but strange thing. We all missed our pals. It took some time to settle into a new way of life.

My father had a long and happy retirement which he spent on his smallholding, which we always called
‘the farm‘. We didn’t live there, we lived in the family house my parents had bought in 1934. The farm was about a mile from our house, on the edge of town, but sufficiently into the country to keep  chickens, a couple of cows,  lots of pigs, and a cat or two. There were always dogs around.
I worked with my father on the farm, during which time I passed my driving test, often driving Dad around the various markets on a weekly basis, buying and selling whatever, enjoying every minute of it.
Often, one or two of his old Police pals would call at the farm to see him, have a chat and a smoke,  and go off with a dozen eggs. 


Around my eighteenth birthday I received my call up papers from the MOD. Shortly after  the medical and the interview which followed, I was conscripted into the RAF where I served my two year stint as a Snowdrop… A Royal Air Force Military Policeman. .. I enjoyed my time in the RAF, it was similar to the way of life I had left behind at St. Georges; lots of friends and a well ordered life.  

During my spell in the RAF, I met my future wife Eileen, and we married in March 1957. We have two children; Andrew, born in 1959, and Sarah, born in 1966. Andrew married Belinda in 1985, and they have two children. Katy the eldest, born in 1992, is at present at University in Warsaw, Poland, where she is studying to become a veterinary surgeon.  Amy, born in 1995, is presently preparing for her school exams. My daughter Sarah is unmarried, but has a long standing boyfriend, Mike. They each work for the BBC.  

After some years working within Private Enterprise, I eventually started my own business, manufacturing a range of products for the Packaging and DIY markets, with an emphasis on Plastic and  Chemical products. My son Andy now runs the business, and Eileen and I are retired, living a quiet life together in Mildenhall, a small County Town situated between Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.  

My brother Doug, very successfully ran his own automotive engineering business in Newcastle upon Tyne for many years, before retiring to Spain, where he lived until his untimely death in 2004. We all miss him.
My brother Eddy’s career was within the Trade Union movement, where he achieved much on behalf of his members. Located in Derby, he also worked at National level. His opinions were often sought by Government.
My brother Alby also ran his own business, specializing in Industrial Cleaning. After his retirement, his son Carl took the reins. 

And so back to my time at St. Georges.
I would like to express my thanks to everyone who was involved in the care of my brothers and me, particularly to Miss Knocker. I never gave it a thought at the time, but now that I’m 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. George's 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 say…for me, and I know I speak for many more, St. Georges turned Tragedy into Privilege.

Des Drummond.
14th February 2011

                               A tribute to George Squires, Leeds, child admission number 210

When St George's old boy George Squires died, his good friend Harry Lunn wrote an obituary for him which was published in the Harrogate Advertiser. Harry Lunn, like George Squires, was a member of the local Home Guard and was also Secretary of Harrogate Hotspurs Football Club.
This is what he had to say:      

 Mr George Squires - A Tribute

Sir, may I, through the auspices of your paper, be allowed to pay a small tribute to the late George Squires ?
When one reads about the "backroom boys" of local organisations, this generally conjures up the names of the various chairmen or secretaries, but very rarely does one think of the other backroom boys, those who do the rough work for the clubs and for youth which they serve. George Squires was that kind of backroom boy who tackled the rough work with the same enthusiasm as those of us who acted as secretaries and so forth. It is with thoughts of that kind of work that George did for so many years, especially with the Northern Police Orphanage, Harrogate Boys' Club and Harrogate Hotspurs, that George will be most remembered.

During my years as secretary for the Harrogate Hotspurs A.F.C. George was my right hand man and many's the time that I have been indebted to him for the rough jobs he did for the club.

George was probably a law unto himself, straightforward, decisive and independent. He did what he set out to do without fuss and bother, and with no thought whatever of praise or thanks, and whatever job he set out to do, whether it was erecting the posts, blowing up the footballs, marking out the ground, or any other menial task, in whatever kind of weather the job was done, and done well.

When, during the last war, hostilities threatened to put an end to local football, George Squires for a long period was the one man who kept the Hotspurs going, and to a big extent his work at this time must have had a big bearing on the existence of the present Harrogate Town Football Club.

I pay this small tribute, not only for myself, but, I am sure, for the many friends he had made throughout the years, and I know that they will all express with me their heartfelt sympathy to those whom George has left behind.


34 Dragon View,

George Squires (210)


 My Recollections:  written by Les Ball, child admission number 637 

Life at St George’s

Following my Police Sergeant father’s death in December 1951, life at home in Sheffield was financially tough for my mother. It was with great reluctance and sadness that the decision was made for me and my brother Raymond to go to St George’s House Police Orphanage, Harrogate. We moved there in September 1952.  I was given the number 637 and Raymond 638. 
The Orphanage at the time was under the governance of the third Lady Superintendent, Miss Elisabeth Duke Turner.
I thought it was a regime dominated by “early to bed”, “early to rise” discipline, with scrubbing of floors before breakfast and school, overly admixed with heavy doses of religion, the order of the day. However the religion was all “empty” as I never witnessed much active Christian application from the staff. While Biblical stories and parables were thrust at us all, none of us ever had an opportunity to challenge any of its interpretations. No wonder I’ve been agnostic since the mid 1950s. 

I looked forward to mail from home, playing football / cricket on Saturdays and crab-football in the gym, and to the monthly visits by family and friends. Being from Sheffield I was particularly interested in watching a Sheffield engineering firm, Henry Boot & Sons, build the covered reservoir opposite. 

Naturally, friendships were made at St George’s and these often sparked new interests & hobbies which last to this day. For example, my interest in playing snooker and spotting aircraft types originated at St George’s. 

Food was reasonable, though I admit to having an instant dislike to “Marmite” such that I’ve never touched it since 1954. We all tolerated doses of Cascara pills once a week, but much preferred our own food, which usually included Farrah’s Harrogate Toffee, that we smuggled into our dormitories for the last night of term.

None of the staff ever asked about how new residents were settling. There was really nobody with whom I could discuss my circumstances or my questions about life in general. Friendships were made but amazingly that did not always prevent “friends”from marking ones freshly scrubbed corridor with black shoe polish or rubber. Nor did it prevent them from ridiculing anyone who had any slightly deviant physical feature. I should know, I was ridiculed every time we went for a walk simply because my legs were not growing straight ( a problem that was totally resolved by surgery in 1961 when I was 21). This situation greatly affected my confidence during my teenage years and it’s regretfully one of the main reasons I hated St George’s. It is the only time in my life that I have kept a calendar simply to cross off the days to the next holiday. That really tells its own story. 

Harrogate Grammar School           

I attended 2nd year stream at Harrogate Grammar School (HGS) while Ray attended the junior school in Cold Bath Road.  

Once I had settled in and began to know a few of my new classmates, I enjoyed HGS. Compared to life at St George’s, which was often confrontational, I found HGS to be a welcoming well-structured school, with good teachers. Moreover I found it refreshing to have pupils and teachers of both genders, and to witness the tremendous mutual respect across the teacher pupil boundary. I cannot recall any pupil disciplinary problems nor teacher tantrums. There was a vast curriculum of science, literature, history, geography, music, and wood/metal work. It was enjoyable – I now wished I had done more justice to the opportunity. 

It was somewhat unfortunate that the time restrictions placed on us at St George’s made it difficult to socialise with fellow HGS pupils to any extent, ie apart from occasional Saturday soccer matches. Of course none of my classmates could believe that I had to scrub floors etc before arriving at school. It was probably very appropriate that our study book for English Literature was Dickens’ “David Copperfield”.

Sundays were dreadful. It seemed to be all church and bible, intersected by an afternoon walk. When I eventually heard the news that the Otley Road St George’s was to close down in July 1954, I could hardly believe my luck. 

Leaving St George’s

We both finally left St George’s in July 1954, just prior to it being relocated (1955) to smaller premises, Albany Lodge, Hereford Rd, Harrogate. I returned happily to my former Grammar School in Sheffield (High Storrs), obtained GCE “O” levels in 1956, “A” levels in 1958, then worked in Sheffield for 3 years before entering Leeds University (LU) in 1961 to study Chemistry. I left LU in 1965, married Mary in the August and almost straightaway we emigrated to Canada. After a year in Toronto, where I worked in the paints research industry, we moved west to Edmonton for me to study for a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Alberta. Our son Stephen was born in Edmonton in 1967. In February 1971 we returned to the UK, where I took up university posts in Sussex (Brighton) then Sheffield, before beginning Research work with a company based on the Wirral peninsular, in September 1974.  

Throughout all of this time I had never forgotton about St George’s where I had made good friends, neither did I forget my two years at Harrogate Grammar School, which I enjoyed.

As mentioned previously, I hated my time at St George’s and couldn’t wait for each term to pass so that I could return home for a brief holiday of real life with original friends who accepted me for what I was. Initially, I simply could not begin to accept how / why, over a period of nine months, I had moved from a normal happy home life to one where I was expected to carry out menial duties at 7.30 most mornings. 

Return visit to Harrogate Grammar School

Years went by, our son Stephen finished university in 1989 and found employment as a Civil Engineer – based close to Harrogate. Naturally our visits to Stephen and his wife reopened my “Harrogate history” and I used to purposely walk past St George’s (or at least where it had been) en route back from fetching my Sunday papers and thinking “If only I could have known in 1952/54 how marvellous my life would turn out”.

It was on such a visit in June 2001 that I arranged for a noon visit to Harrogate Grammar School – but more of that in a minute. On my drive into Harrogate that morning I noticed “Police Station” so I called in and asked the Desk Officer “What ever happened to St George’s and all the residents’ documentation”. He replied “You need to talk to the Superintendent at St Andrew’s Police Convalescent Home” . So, being early for my HGS visit, I called in to St Andrew’s. I was flabbergasted when within 2 minutes I was given access to documentation about my 1952 arrival at St George’s etc. I was asked if I attended any reunions, to which I replied “never knew they existed”. It was  recommended that I get in touch with Sheila Stephenson (the St George’s old girl who organised the reunions), and within days I received a telephone call from St George’s old boy Arthur Boschi (in Stockport). The rest is history and I was able to catch up with a few friends of the past at subsequent (emotional) reunions.  

Now back to my 2001 meeting with the Headmaster’s Secretary at Harrogate Grammar School. I had an interesting trip right round the school and given access to various “Speech Day” and “Annual” booklets of the 1952/54 period. Accordingly I am in possession of a full list of teachers of that period and I must say that I remembered all of the ones that had taught me. I was even provided with school group photographs of all the teachers, some of which might be suitable for inclusion in the website, on the Education/Religion page.

Although I still regard my two years at St George’s as being the worst of my life, I realise that the experience helped me become a wider more understanding person. I feel St George’s made me recognise the problems of others more intensely, value friendships, and made me appreciate the good times more deeply. I suspect the early death of my father, coupled with St George’s, forced me to stand on my own feet at an early age. I believe it taught me to have more faith in my own ability and to really work for something if you wanted it. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to attend university despite only being rather average at school. While I accepted that I was not naturally academically gifted, there was no way I was going to be denied if hard work could get me there. So it turned out, and I suspect St George’s seeded my driving enthusiasm.

Recollections.  Written in 2008 by Les Ball (637)


                                   A Tribute to Richard Peacock, DFC. (402)


                                                                                    Richard Howden Peacock. (402)         
                                                                                    Born 6.4.1923

Eldest of two sons, Richard and Max Peacock.

Both boys entered St. George’s, Harrogate, in February 1930. Their father H Peacock was a Police Constable with the Middlesbrough Police Force. I believe, from my memory of my chats with Richard, that his father, who was a mounted policeman at the time of great unrest in the north east, caused by the ship building yard workers being sacked in droves, was assaulted whilst on duty, injured, and later died from his injury.  Richard was at St. George’s for 10 years. I know nothing of his brother, Max’s life. Richard attended Harrogate Grammar School. From St. George’s he went to work in Middlesbrough Town Hall for two years until he was old enough to join the RAF, and was posted to Canada, where he earned his wings. He returned to the UK, serving in Bomber Command for the duration of WW ll, during which time he was awarded the DFC. At the end of the war he served as a Bomb Disposal Officer in Indonesia for eighteen months. In 1947 he returned to Middlesbrough, where he again took up a post at the Town Hall. Having missed the opportunity of University because of the war, he instigated his own four year part time programme of professional development, culminating in a successful entry into the Chartered Institute of Secretaries, which allowed him to take up the position of Chief Executive of Stokesley. Altogether, Richard served fifty years in Local Government.  

He met his wife, Pearl, in 1949, when they were both serving  in the Auxiliary Air Force at Thornaby, and they were married at St. Barnabas Church, Linthorpe in 1950. They were married for fifty four years and had two children, Susan and Simon. Simon is married  to Sian , with two daughters, Mara and Lucy. 

Richard was ill for the last three years of his life, with a Parkinson type illness, but even that didn’t dampen his zest for life and his love for his family and friends.  He enjoyed his work, hill walking, amateur dramatics and the friendships he had made, especially during his time as a St. George’s boy and later as a St. George’s Old Boy and was a staunch and loyal supporter of St. George’s Old Boys’ and Girls’ Reunions. He died in Stokesley, 30.1.2005, aged 81 and Pearl died 12.12..2007, aged 83. He is greatly missed, as is his wife, Pearl.  

Tribute written by Elsie Gale nee Bradley. (541)   



                     Following the awarding of the D.F.C. to Richard Peacock the following letter, dated 30/9/1945,
                     was written to him, by Miss E. Knocker.


Text from Miss Knocker’s letter (reproduced above) to Richard Peacock. 

St George's House

30th Sept, 1945

My dear Richard,
First of all I want to tell you how proud I am of you, in fact we all are, that you have gained the DFC. Olive Thornton (Whitfield) sent me the cutting from the Middlesbrough paper, and Max wrote also. Now I want to know what you have gained it for, what brave thing you have done. I do feel so glad, Richard and so proud - now go on, here is a proof you can do things when the effort is demanded of you. I always tell you I expect great things from you. I do.
 I was so glad to have your letter. It arrived about a day before I heard of your decoration. I was most interested in your journey. What a lot of the world you have seen already. And to have seen Jerusalem is a wonderful thing, I think. I would love to see the Holy Land.
You will probably be in Mysore when this reaches you, but I have sent it to the address on your letter. The RAF are very good in forwarding letters, I find. Cyril Madew is in Ceylon. Here is his address in case you can meet, as you are both flying men-

1167145 W/O Madew C
Section X1.   RAF Ceylon Air Forces.

You all talk of the lovely blue of the Mediterranean, and of swimming in it, it must be very different from our grey green seas. I have heard that Tel Aviv is a wonderful modern, very up to date Jewish city. Is that so?
The boys have begun football but have not played any matches yet. They were playing a scouting game all over Birk Crag yesterday morning.
I wonder where you are going to be stationed. Are you flying?
I have not seen any old boys lately, except Lawrence Madew, when I was at home.

Let me know when you can, how you got your DFC. 

With best wishes,

Yours affectionately,

E M Knocker.

How Arthur Deakin (Archie) got his nickname. Child admission number 597

During my National Service in the RAF we attended a lecture given by the Padre. I was unfortunate to be the only one to know
the exact words to 'The Lords Prayer' (relic of St George's).

Because of that I was promptly given the nickname 'Arch Deacon' and the first part stuck !!

Memories of St George's 1929-1939 Written by Gwen George nee Mitchell (394) 

In September 1929 my mother took me to St. George’s. The next few weeks were emotionally traumatic. Eventually I settled and began to appreciate the companionship of other girls. The busy school life together with evening and weekend activities helped to assuage my homesickness.

Then came Christmas. Suddenly, a change took place, there was laughter and even happiness. The Hall Dining Room, corridors and Playrooms were ablaze with lovely colourful decorations. The Christmas trees were heavy with tinsel and miniature toys.  A large notice was in the Hall, in the form of a calendar of forthcoming events.

Christmas morning began with “Find your Stocking”, then breakfast, then Church and then Christmas Dinner. Delicious turkey and all the trimmings, rich fruit pudding in which threepenny pieces had been hidden. I still have my coins.
Entertainments during the holiday included a film of “Rin Tin Tin”, a concert by the Bradford Police and a concert by the girls and boys for the girls and boys. In 1929 we all enjoyed a visit to Leeds Theatre to see “Cinderella”.
Towards the end of the holiday we had The Party. We all assembled in the Gym in the afternoon. The huge Christmas Tree was decorated with presents which were handed out to us by Dr. Yeoman dressed as Father Christmas. Each child received a main gift and a smaller one. In 1939 I received a tennis racket which lasted many years. All too soon the holiday was over and we quickly fell into our rigid routine once more.

Our lives continued to be busy with school, Guides or Scouts, hockey or football, tennis or cricket and gym. We were taught to sing well and won many music competitions. In the Starbeck Baths we learned to swim. Some of the girls became strong swimmers but I wasn’t one of them.

The next break in our routine was the Easter Holiday. Church on Good Friday and as always, Church morning and evening on Sunday. Religion played an important part in our lives. Come Easter Monday though, we all enjoyed our chocolate eggs.
Some weeks later we were at Camp for Whit Week. We all loved the freedom from routine and each day we cooked our own sausages over the camp fire. It was a joy not to be woken up at 6.30am by the bell.  

During each year we had visits to such places as Brimham Rocks, Bolton Abbey and best of all, Scarborough. We were given two shillings to spend. Great fun was had, especially at Peasholme Park.

For the celebration of King George V’s 25 years on the throne, in 1935, we were taken to Manchester. It was a wonderful day. After a five course meal we were given the freedom of Belle Vue, a combined Amusement Park and Zoo. All the fun of the fair was there, the Big Dipper, roundabouts, swings and coconut shies. For me the best of all was a ride on the top of an elephant.

A few weeks later came the much longed for ”Going Home Day”. Great excitement and six wonderful weeks of holiday. How quickly the days slipped by. The last few days were heavy hearted as we knew it would be forty six weeks before we saw home again. As the years went by we were able to cope with the new St. George’s year more easily.


Looking back after so many years, I still feel sad at the total lack of love from the Staff. People who were put in charge of children had no idea of how to treat a child. There were two notable exceptions, one (Miss Carne) looked after the little girls and left in the mid 1930s to be married. The other (Mr Styan) looked after the boys and took them for games and gymnastics. He too, left in the mid 1930s.

On the other side of the coin we had plenty of food, plain but wholesome. Our clothes and shoes were of good quality. We were held up to high standards in all we did. Many lessons were learned from communal living which helped us in later life.
We had the opportunity to gain a place at the Grammar School, the Commercial School or the Art School. I have been able to benefit from my education.

Most important of all I made friends, good friends. The Reunions in Harrogate show very clearly the tight bonds that bind us all together in friendship and love,

St George’s and all it represents is UNIQUE.


                                                       Written by Gwen George (394) nee Mitchell, 2009. 

Peter Taylor writes about some of his St George's memories


My father Ernest James Taylor died in 1942 at the age of 52 whilst serving in the CID with Sunderland Police Force, he left behind Hilda (my mother) and five children, Dennis, Christina, Reg, Peter & Pamela. Two other brothers Ernie and Worthy had joined the Army and Air Force so were no longer living at home. During WWII times were not easy for anyone and constant air raids and food rationing were commonplace conditions which were felt by families all over the country.

Hilda Taylor                            Reg & Peter Taylor standing outside of the Anderson shelter in Sunderland

Ours was a Police family through and through, in addition to my father I also had three uncles and a  brother who served in Police Forces around England  and to this day I have two nephews who serve in the Force. For practical reasons our mother Hilda reluctantly accepted the offer from St George’s (Northern Police Orphanage) to care for my brother Reg and I and we entered the institution in 1943.                                            
Reg was 7 years old and I was 6 at the time, the adventure of travelling by steam train from Sunderland to Harrogate was soon forgotton when we saw our mother leaving us in new surroundings in the care of strangers. It was the same for all of the orphans, being medically checked, allocated a bed, new clothes and introduced to a strict and controlled regime all driven by religious principles and teachings, which in retrospect probably didn’t do us any harm. After a short while we all made new friends and learned how to ‘stand on our own feet’ and yet remain part of a large family with some 70 children.

Personally, I accepted the situation quite rapidly and soon felt proud to be part of St George’s, wearing the uniform also developed the feeling of belonging to a family like group – boys or girls, we were all looked after in a similar manner, there were no favourites or special treatments allowed.The routine of walking to school and church in pairs in a crocodile line no matter what the weather was like was unquestioned, just like the sports days, the assemblies, carrying out our work duties, the daily dining room ritual of sitting on hard benches at tables and eating whatever was placed in front of us was accepted as being completely normal.

  Peter & Reg wearing St George's uniforms, sitting with their sister Pamela
                                       (Pam did not attend the orphanage )

To this day the greatest joy for many of us came with Christmas and its celebrations. Gifts and presents were very limited and many children would have received perhaps one gift and maybe a piece of fruit. This made the occasion all the more memorable, I can recall opening up my present one year to find I had been given a Kaleidoscope, I was overjoyed and treasured it for a long time.

In our case visitors were rare, this is not surprising given the distance and circumstances our family had to negotiate. Sadly over time this separation from family during the formative years inevitably brought about not so much a division but a loss of closeness which in retrospect is only to be expected. It just wasn’t possible for St George’s to replace the loss of family emotional support for such a large number of children and we had after all been taught to not only cope, but to think for ourselves and learn how to be independent.   

As I mentioned earlier my brother Reg and I entered St George’s in 1943 and left to travel to New Zealand in 1947. Some of the children at the orphanage spent many more years in care than us, in some cases entering as toddlers and leaving in their late teens, they could well have a different point of view to orphanage life as they experienced it.

If I was asked to sum up my time spent at St George’s House I would have to say that it was  beneficial and a good experience for me and not one that I would want to change. Coming to live in New Zealand at the age of 10 however meant that I lost contact with my orphan friends for a period of about 57 years – when I eventually reconnected with them in 2004 a virtual lifetime had passed and, after my wife Vera and I attended two of the annual reunions, although we were all by that time elderly, the friendship bonds were renewed. It was fascinating to hear about the lives and achievements of those I had known as children so many years ago, most of whom had found success in their chosen occupations and lifestyles. I should mention that thanks to our organizing  Chairperson and Committee, reunions are still held every year in Harrogate, as close to St George’s Day as possible, long may that last.  

The enthusiasm of the old boys and girls for St George’s has led me to build and manage a website: which records information from and about anyone connected with the orphanage, this includes not only the orphans, but our founder Catherine Gurney, the Lady Superintendents, various contributing Police Forces that generously supported the institution, The St George’s Police Children Trust, Orphanage Staff and The Police Treatment Centre, to mention just a few. The site was launched in Sept 2007 and to date has been visited 100,000 times.
This website would not have been possible without the help supplied by many of the old boys/girls and others who provided photographs and background material for unrestricted use within the categories that make up the site. I extend my thanks to you all and in particular our sister organization, The Police Treatment Centre, for sponsoring the hosting cost of the website.

Catherine Gurney OBE

Finally I want to make special mention of Catherine Gurney OBE, a woman who achieved so much in her lifetime that she warranted her own special category on our website, I recommend that you view  and arrive at your own conclusions.
While you are viewing the above page, enjoy the equally interesting articles which briefly describe the accomplishments of some of her relatives, the Gurney family was extraordinary.
The unfortunate thing is that not many people in the UK (or around the world) have heard of or would be aware of Catherine Gurney and the organizations she founded, some of which still operate to this day.

I say thank you St George’s.

Peter Taylor
Old Boy 560







Remembering St George's Old Boys/Girls and friends.

479                     604                                                                      442                    272                    338
            P.Gilbert           A.Burgess       C.Uffindell       P. Peacock      J. Shepherd     E. Suggett      A. Cantwell
                               formerly Fox                                                                  nee Owen       nee Bridge
                               nee Wheatley

269                     270                   573                    392                                            597                      565  
 B.Oley             I. Howe          J. Redpath       G. Kirk             A. Geraghty   A. Deakin          D. Drummond     
          nee Owen
          nee Owen                            nee Thorpe  

445                     434                    478                    542                                            312                     515
R. Ruddick        O. Brett          F. Gilbert         N.Green           M. Madew     Jessie Curtis     Jean Dougan
                                nee Hewitson                       nee Bradley                         nee Webster     nee Williams

531                       541                                               325                                           535                     341
           B. Scrivener       E. Gale            G. Stephenson  H. Jones        Eileen Conolly  Marion Longley  T.Berry
                                nee Bradley                                              nee Collins      nee Bewick    

           602                     394                  554                          593         
           R. Bassett        Gwen George  Sheila Stephenson  Diane Lomas  Mary Waddington
                              nee Mitchell    nee Potts

Return to top of Page


Deus vult

                                         Email contact: