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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): MCC/CH/B
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1930-1952
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.45 linear metres
Name of creator(s): MCC | Middlesex County Council x Middlesex County Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Children's Department of the Middlesex County Council was set up under the Children Act 1948 which embodied the findings of the Curtis Report of 1945-1946. The Act took effect on 5 July 1948; the first meeting of the newly formed Children's Committee took place on the next day, taking over from the Interim Children's Committee, formed of the members of the thereafter defunct Children's Care Sub-Committee of the Education Committee. The first Children's Officer, Mr Ainscow, had in fact been appointed in anticipation, with effect from 1 May 1948. The duties of the Department had previously been distributed across several County Council departments (the Public Assistance, Public Health and Education Departments), as well as bodies (education authorities outside the MCC and the County Maternity and Child Welfare authorities) not part of the County Council at all.

The activities of the Children's Department may be summarised as follows: i) Care and welfare: this comprised of the provision of care for a) children under the age of 17 if they had no parents or guardians; if they were abandoned or lost; of if their parents were unable to provide for their proper upbringing, provided that such care was in the child's best interests: and b) children committed by a court to the care of the County Council under a Fit Person order. This involved inter alia the running of homes and nurseries, the maintenance of the boarding out system for foster homes, and in some cases the assumption of full parental rights until the child should attain majority. The Department also undertook the care of children as delegated by the Welfare Department when dealing with problem or evicted families.

ii) Child Life Protection: this was a long standing local authority responsibility. After the passing of the Children Act 1948 its effect was to render it an offence for any person other than the parent, legal guardian or a relative to undertake for reward (whether or not for profit) the care of a child below school leaving age (15 in 1948) without notifying the County Council as a welfare authority. The Children's Department publicised the legal obligations upon such persons, supervised placements, inspected and regulated foster homes and so on. After the Adoption Act 1950, a similar duty to notify the Council rested upon anyone placing a child in another's care (with the same exceptions as above).

iii) Approved schools and remand homes: a child could be committed by the courts into the care of the Council either by a Fit Person Order, the effect of which was to put the child into the care of the Children's Department or by an Approved School Order, which placed the child under the care of managers at an Approved School. It should be noted that placements were made under the aegis of the Home Office nationwide, and that although the Council, through sub-committees of the Children's Committees, ran two approved schools, by no means all Middlesex children would be allocated places there. The Committee also ran two remand homes. The Children's Department were involved in briefing judges on cases: sometimes in bringing themselves in order to gain the powers by which to afford children under threat the care and protection they needed; and as the executive arm of the County Council on receipt of Fit Person Orders. Staff were also responsible for the supervision and after-care of "licensed" Middlesex children.

iv) Under the Adoption Act 1926, the County Council had since 1943 to oversee the compulsory registration of adoption societies in the county (not an onerous duty: two were registered in of which only one, the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society, continued for any length of time). Compulsory notification to the County Council of all adoptions in the county was not introduced until the Adoption Act 1950. Also, from that point of view the Council had to supervise every prospective third party adoption in its area, whether or not involved in any other capacity. After the 1958 Act the Council had the power to place children for adoption even if those children were not in its care. Its powers of supervision were widened to include all adoptions in the county.

Health areas of the County of Middlesex, also used as administrative areas by the MCC Children's Department: Area 1 Enfield and Edmonton; Area 2 Southgate, Potters Bar, Wood Green and Friern Barnet; Area 3 Hornsey and Tottenham; Area 4 Finchley and Hendon; Area 5 Harrow; Area 6 Wembley and Willesden; Area 7 Ealing and Acton; Area 8 Ruislip-Northwood, Uxbridge, Hayes and Harlington, Yiewsley and West Drayton; Area 9 Heston and Isleworth, Southall and Area 10 Feltham, Staines, Twickenham, Sunbury.

Approved schools and remand homes:
In the first half of the nineteenth century, child offenders were sent to gaols along with adults; no differentiation was made. In the late 1840s and 1850s however, largely as a result of the Ragged School movement, various philanthropic groups and individuals began to experiment with schools for the reformation of delinquent children; also advocated were industrial schools where the children of the poorest classes whose mode of life was such that there was the probability of their becoming offenders might be fed and gainfully occupied in the acquisition and exercise of some means of making an honest livelihood. The movement bore fruit in the form of the Reformatory Schools (Youthful Offenders) Act 1854 and the Industrial Schools and Reformatory Schools Act 1857 reinforced by two further statutes of 1866. Under these acts, county justices were obliged to commit young offenders to such institutions, and local authorities to maintain them there, as well as being empowered themselves to maintain or contribute to the maintenance of such institutions (most were run by philanthropic or religious bodies).

On the creation of the Middlesex County Council in 1889 it was allotted the justices' functions regarding the maintenance of juveniles in reformatory and industrial schools. These functions were made the responsibility of the Industrial and Reformatory Schools Committee (after 1908 the Reformatory Schools Committee) until 1933.

The 1908 Children Act in effect abolished the difference between industrial and reformatory schools, which had more or less ceased to exist in 1899, when the Reformatory Schools Amendment Act did away with the requirement that juveniles committed to a reformatory school should spend a preliminary period in prison. More importantly the 1908 Act set up juvenile courts as an integral part of the legal system and redefined the reasons for which children might be brought before the Courts to include a much wider range of welfare (as opposed to punitive) committals. For example children being non-offenders might be brought before the juvenile courts as needing protection, if found begging in the streets; wandering and having no proper guardian; destitute, with parent(s) in prison; in the care of drunken or criminal parents; the daughter of a father convicted of the carnal knowledge of any daughter under 16; frequenting the company of a reported thief or prostitute; living in a house frequented by prostitutes or living in circumstances likely to lead to the seduction or prostitution of the child. Such children would then be committed if necessary to an industrial or reformatory school and maintained by the County Council. Further, whereas juveniles awaiting trial had previously been kept in prisons, it was now incumbent upon the police authorities to provide separate places of detention.

In the case of Middlesex the police authority was the Standing Joint Committee, who provided the Place of Detention, Willesden, located at 49 Church Road, Willesden. It opened in 1911 for the accommodation of remanded boys and girls. In 1913 the London County Council agreed to place the girls and the establishment thereafter was for the boys only. It closed in January 1921, when the LCC agreed to accommodate remanded boys for Middlesex County Council.

Major reforms were brought about by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 which remained in force with amendments for the rest of the Council's existence. This Act replaced places of detention by remand homes, and reformatory and industrial schools by approved schools (i.e. approved by the Home Office). Juvenile offenders were committed by the juvenile courts by an approved school order to the care of the managers of an approved school. The placements were ultimately under the aegis of the Home Office, and could in theory be made anywhere in the country. The County Council was responsible for children and young people in its area. It was also responsible for making good any shortage in approved school accommodation, at the direction of the Home Office. Middlesex children might thus be committed to an approved school anywhere in the country, including those maintained by the MCC; the approved schools maintained by the MCC might receive children from and maintained by any authority in England and Wales. These new duties were given to the Education Committee, and the Reformatory Schools Committee was wound up.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Middlesex County Council Children's Department transferred from Hornsey and Tottenham, 1930-1952, comprising medical officer notifications of births and deaths in Hornsey; and reports of the Infant Protection Visitor, register of foster mothers and children, index of adoptions, register of approved schools and foster parents and case files for Tottenham.

Hornsey and Tottenham were boroughs which prior to 1948 had run their own child life protection service and through their education committees had been responsible authorities under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, like many other Middlesex local authorities. When these powers were transferred to the MCC Children's Department Hornsey and Tottenham were jointly administered as Area Three. For unknown reasons some records of the previous administration were transferred to the MCC instead of remaining in the boroughs.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

MCC/CH/B-1: Hornsey; MCC/CH/B-2,3: Tottenham.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the Corporation of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired with the records of its parent authority, the Middlesex County Council, and with successor authorities.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

For further information on the history of the Middlesex County Council please see Middlesex by Sir Clifford Radcliffe (2 editions, 1939 and 1953), LMA Library reference 97.09 MID; and The County Council of the Administrative County of Middlesex: 76 years of local government, 1 April 1889 to 31 March 1965, by Middlesex County Council (1965), LMA library reference S97.09 MID.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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