NOTE - New on this page is a list of pupils 1890-1911. CLICK HERE to go there
The Beginning
      The Police Orphanages in this country were started by Catherine Gurney. Born on the 19th June 1848, she was the youngest daughter of Joseph Gurney of Tyndale Lodge, Wimbledon, a member of the firm of W B Gurney, shorthand writers to Parliament, and grand-daughter of William B Gurney who played a leading part in the abolition of slavery. In her early life she worked amongst the poor in Wandsworth and became aware of the work of the Police Force. It is said that her work for the force began after she once heard a policeman tell another that much was done for the welfare of soldiers and sailors but nothing for policemen. She decided to do something as an act of gratitude to the Police Service and to the constables who, in long hours of duty, had to endure considerable danger and temptation. In 1883 Catherine Gurney founded the International Christian Police Association, which was initially at her home, Resington Lodge. It grew into the International Christian Police Association with branches in many countries. The Christian Police Association is now based at John Williamson House, Leicester.
.           A Police Institute was subsequently founded in London where Officers could call for a welcome and warming drink. In 1889, Miss Gurney found a place in a convalescent home for a young policeman. She later heard that he had left the home and returned to work early. When she enquired into the reason she found that the officer had been given a bed next to a violent criminal whom he had recently arrested. Miss Gurney decided that a convalescent home dedicated to police officers was the answer and a home in Brighton was bought in March 1890 - in the first year, over 100 officers attended. This home was too small, however, and Miss Gurney raised 8,000 for new premises. A house in Portland Road, Hove, was bought in July 1893 and in its first year of opening 457 officers visited. It seems that it also became an orphanage, becoming the home for five children of a police constable that Miss Gurney found in a country workhouse. After a number of years at Hove, the orphanage was relocated to Sutton and then to Redhill in 1895 where it became known as the Southern Provincial Police School.

.....................Gatherine Gurney died in 1930 and this memorial tablet was in the chapel at Redhill
.           'The Lodge', at Gatton Point, Redhill, was the accommodation chosen in 1895 (see note 2 below) and the orphanage remained there until 1901. In 1901 the orphanage was again moved, this time to 'The Woodlands' off London Road. Enlargements were made in the form of two additional buildings known as the Gurney and Victoria wings wherein there was accomodation for 56 boys and 44 girls. A foundation stone for these was laid by the Countess of Chichester on July 3rd 1901 (see the story of the foundation stone further down this page). A sanatorium was also built and opened on the 9th July 1904 by Princess Christian, a
daughter of Queen Victoria who had married Prince Christian. There was no school at this time, children being educated at Merstham School and, from 1906, at Frenches Road School. During that time there were inter-school football and cricket matches between the Police Orphanage and Merstham School, and possibly between the Police Orphanage boys and other local schools.
          Children ceased to attend Merstham School when, in 1916, an elementary school was opened and run on a temporary basis at 'The Woodlands' until after the First World War when the Victory Memorial Fund was raised and the large house called 'Frenches' in Frenches Road, was bought and converted into a school. Mrs Campion, its last resident, had for a number of years lived at Frenches and had died in 1914.
          The name of the Southern Provincial Police Orphanage lost its 'Orphanage' status when that word was replaced by ‘School’ in 1926. Miss Catherine Gurney died in 1930 aged 82.

1 - The Lodge' was the last house on the west side of London Road, its grounds now being occupied in part by the Texaco garage. A little further down the hill - to the left of this picture, stood a large house that became the Gatton pub. (Picture courtesy Mrs Tilly)
2 - I have a list of pupils from 1890 - 1939 which makes 1890 a rather more certain start date

Woodlands as a Private House  
This 1871 map shows the site of Woodlands, the house and estate that was later to become the site of the Police Orphanage. The main house is coloured red in the centre of the map and faces southeast, although its main entrance was on the northeast side (see later picture). On the left is the London-Brighton Road. On the bottom right is Frenches Road (here called Battlebridge Lane).
The Woodlands building stood back 150 yards from the main road and was approached past a lodge by a private drive. On the left of the drive was a wood and on its right one of the school meadows, the other meadow being further east. In 1861 the estate was the property of Philip Hanbury, a member of the Hanbury banking family. It is possible that it was he who built the house. He was born in June 1802, and in 1843 married
Elizabeth Christina D'Escury (dau of James Charles D'Escury, Baron Collat D'Escury of Rotterdam). He died in July 1878. In the 1880s the house was occupied by S.W.Paddon.
Woodlands as the Police Orphanage  

This map dates from 1913 and shows the same area after the Provincial olice orphanage had moved onto the site. The surrounding area has been developed and the Orphanage has added considerably to the original house. The sanatorium has been built as a separate building to the northwest of the house.

Pictures of the buildings appear further down this page.


Visitors to the orphanage included Princess Christian (a daughter of Queen Victoria), who came on July 9th, 1904 to open the sanatorium. She was received on the down platform of Redhill station by the then Mayor, Mr Conolly. On Friday October 23rd, 1908, Lilla, Countess of Chichester, opened the new wing (see below). On July 9th 1911, the Duchess of Albany came. She was entertained to lunch at Gatton Hall and presented prizes and received purses to the value of 561 on behalf of the institution. On July 17th, 1913, the Earl and Countess of Athlone also lunched at Gatton Hall.before receiving a welcome at the Town Hall from the Mayor, Mr Lemon. They opened new central buildings at the orphanage. Another notable visitor was the Home Secretary, Edward Shortt, who came on July 9th, 1919, when the announcement to buy The Frenches was made. On the last Tuesday of November 1923 HRH the Prince of Wales came to Redhill to open a new chapel at the Provincial Police Orphanage.

.....................................................................................(4) The Duchess of Albany's visit in 1911
The New (1908) Wing (picture also appears later on this page as picture 34)
5 The new wing was opened on Friday October 23rd, 1908, by Lilla, Countess of Chichester. The Surrey Mirror of the following day devoted two long columns to the event and in doing so gave quite a full amount of information about staff, guests and children.
.....The guests included many patrons of the Orphanage as well as a number of local dignitaries. The areas represented mainly by their Chief Constables but in a few instances by other police ranks included Somerset, Hampshire, Kent, Oxford City, Hastings Borough, West Sussex, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, East Suffolk, Hereford City, Peterborough, Eastbourne Borough, St Albans, Brighton Borough and Birmingham City, giving some idea of the area served by the Orphanage.
....Staff names are given as Miss Johnson (Superintendant), Miss Bateman and Miss M. Bateman, Miss Mabel Pelly, Miss Constance Bowyer and Miss Broad.
....Children's names appeared in the part of the article dealing with the prize giving (prizes were distributed by Lady Colman) and included Eva Freed, Frances Betty, Evelyn Strangoe, Lily Smithers, Dorothy Gorton, Eva Holdoway, Clara Halsey, Elsie Price, Dora Archer, Amelia Price, Bertha Franklin, Mabel Preen, Ada Cooke, Elsie Thorne, James Griffiths, William Elsworth, Frank Woods, James Beggin, Evelyn Allan, Joseph Walklett, Frank Pigott, Leslie Rowe, Fred Purton.
....The new wing (a plan appears below as picture 40) consisted on the ground floor of a large dining hall having a floor area of upwards of 1,500 square feet and giving accommodation at four large and four small tables for 130 children. The kitchen, 20 feet square, was connected to the old block by a corridor 6ft wide. On the first floor, approached by a wide staircase, was a large dormitory 50ft long by 20ft wide, and a smaller one 20ft by 20ft, with matrons and staff rooms between, and overlooking the large dormitory. There were baths and lavatories. Communication was made through the old dormitory (presumably in the old building) with the rest of the premises. The New Wing was wired for electric light. The dining hall was heated by two stoves and two gas radiators. Some of the floor areas were tiled; others laid out with pine blocks. The builder was G.Martin of Redhill. the total cost was about 3,000.
Frenches, an Addition to the Orphanage Buildings  


.(Pictures 5&6) Frenches, which stood in Frenches Road, is pictured above in the mid-1920s when it was the Southern Provincial Police Orphanage School. Left is the front view, on the right the rear view. It is not to be confused with the Frenches Road School mentioned later on this page.
.A schoolroom at Frenches. In the distance is the football field.
After the First World War the Victory Memorial Fund was raised and a large house called 'Frenches' in Frenches Road, was bought and converted into a school. Mrs Campion, its last resident, had for a number of years lived at Frenches and had died in 1914. It was converted into a school for all the Police Orphanage children. Wednesday and Saturday afternoons were devoted to games. The ground floor contained two form rooms, a science laboratory and the School office. The first floor consisted of the headmaster's residential accomodation and sixteen of the senior boys had accomodation on the second floor. A separate building at the rear consisted of three large form rooms but could be converted by the use of three mobile screens into a large hall for concerts, lectures, boxing competitions etc. On a small hill in the grounds a bungalow was used for lessons for under eight year-olds. The school was 'mixed', which means that boys and girls took lessons together.
         Ages were from 3-16 and a full secondary curriculum was provided. Children were prepared for the Cambridge Junior Local Examination and for the Cambridge School Certificate as from 1926. Those not fitted for the latter of these examinations took and alternative course of education, including woodwork, painting, gardening and domestic science. Additional workshop calasses at the Redhill Technical School were attended.
         The school was organised on the house system, houses being Bell, Gurney, Drummond and Dunning. Bell was named after Miss Bell who provided substantial financial assistance with the purchase of at least two premises used by the Police Orphanage, one being the Lodge near Gatton Point, Redhill. Gurney was after Miss Catherine Gurney, the instigator and main mover of the Police Orphanage. At the time of writing the significance of the other two names is unknown. These houses competed in sports activities, conduct and school work. The first eleven football field was at Frenches, the cricket field at Woodlands.
         These arrangements continued until 1932 when it was decided that the children should be educated at local schools. The Frenches was sold and the school closed. Houses in the grounds that were collectively known as 'The Grange' were used for some of the accomodation moved away from Frenches.
A ground floor plan of the Memorial School at Frenches
The Prince of Wales Visits Redhill  
The Prince's arrival
On the last Tuesday of November 1923 HRH the Prince of Wales came to Redhill to open a new chapel at the Provincial Police Orphanage in London Road, and afterwards to visit the Ex-Servicemen's Club in Cromwell Road. His Royal Highness passed through Merstham en route to the Orphanage, the village bedecked with flags as a welcome. Redhill was similarly decorated, the tradesmen of the High Street and Cromwell Road having put up more than 3,000 flags and private houses being decorated by residents. Crowds lined the royal route and school children were given a half-holiday. In London Road a guard of honour was provided by the 5th battalion the Queen's Royal Regiment and by Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. Members of all ranks of the police were present for the arrival of the Prince at the Orphanage's London Road entrance at 3 p.m. The Prince drove down from the direction of Gatton in a grey car. As it neared the orphanage he threw a cigarette end out of the window and there was an immediate scramble of onlookers to retrieve it.

A number of local dignitaries were present, including Lord Ashcombe, the Bishop of Southwark, the Duchess of Sutherland, Miss Catherine Gurney O.B.E. (founder), Miss B.J.Johnson and many others. From the Corporation were the Mayor, Charles Woodroffe and the Town Clerk, Alfred Smith, who read a loyal address of welcome to the Prince. The Mayor asked the Prince to accept the address, and when he had done so presented him to members of the Council.

.(Picture 10) Left - The Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII before his abdication, at the Provincial Police Orphanage in Redhill in 1923. He was accompanied by the Chief Commissioner of Scouts and Lord Ashcombe, a forefather of Camilla Parker Bowles.

The Orphanage children then sang for the Prince, after which Colonel Sir Hildred Carlisle Bart. CBE, Chairman of the orphanage, presided over the speeches.

There was then a presentation of purses, some made by small children, and it was reported that a sum in excess of 2,000* was raised towards clearing the debts of 3,000 or more incurred by conversion of the Frenches premises into the Orphanage School. The Prince presented medals to some of the children.

* A letter from the Orphanage dated 4th December 1923 to one of the purse donators puts the sum received from purses at 'over 1,200'. There may have been money raised by other means.

.(Picture 11) Left: The Prince makes an inspection

.(Pictures 12a & 12b) Right: Miss Gurney, presumably at the same ceremony as the lady with her appears in the picture on the left. (It is possible that she was the then Superintendent of the Orphanage)
    .(Picture 13) The Prince unlocks the chapel door       
The Prince then formally opened the chapel. The children sang a hymn as part of the service conducted by the Bishop of Southwark. Afterwards the Prince had a tour of the Orphanage, taking tea in the drawing room and enjoying a cigarette. After this the Prince travelled the short distance from the Orphanage in London Road to the School at Frenches, arriving there at 4.45 p.m. Again there were huge crowds to welcome him. Here the Headmaster, Mr H.Cooper, conducted him around the classrooms
............................................................ .................................(Picture 14) A portrait of the Prince
            As the Prince was driven away from Frenches there was a hold-up at the junction of Frenches and London Roads where the crowds were so dense that a way for the car had to be made by the police. As he was driven towards the centre of the town the crowd tried to follow but was stopped at Nicol's shop where cadets formed a barrier across the road, standing with crossed rifles. The Prince's destination this time was the Ex-Servicemen's Club in Cromwell Road. Here there were ex-servicemen proudly wearing medals, not just from the Great War but from many other campaigns. Men from Reigate, Dorking, Caterham, Merstham, Westcott, Coulsdon and Kenley Ex-Servicemen's Clubs were also present. Many officers of the various clubs were also there, including the Rev. Maurice Daniell, President of the Redhill branch and Hon. Chaplain to the Forces, and Major-General Sir John Moore, treasurer of the Reigate branch. The reason for this part of the Prince's visit to Redhill seems to have been more as a courtesy call rather than for any specific purpose. 'God Save the King' was sung on his arrival and 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow' on his departure. In between there were speeches but it was reported that those present were delighted with the informality of the Prince's words.
              That this visit was a particularly important one is not in doubt, being the Prince's first and possibly only visit to the
Borough. Thousands crowded the streets for a glimpse of His Royal Highness and a great effort was made to ensure its official success. The Surrey Mirror devoted a whole page to the write-up of events and another whole page to pictures of it. The Police Orphanage's presence in the town has since ended. Its Frenches School has been demolished and the London Road Orphanage became St Nicholas' School. St Nicholas' has also departed and the site is now partly a housing estate. The Prince himself became more famous for his love for Mrs Simpson and his 1937 abdication than for any other of his deeds.
           Police Orphanage Institutions provided homes for orphans of all ranks of the police of the County, City and Borough forces in the southern and south-Midland area of England and of Wales. In 1923 the police had provided five-sixths of the income required for the upkeep of the premises and its children but there was a debt of 3,900, at least some of this being wiped out by the Prince's visit.
.(Picture 15) The Prince talks to Lord Ashcombe. With them is Miss Gurney  


.(Picture 15&16) A pictureof the main building, each including the chapel on the left. It is believed that the picture on the left shows the old chapel that burnt down and the one on the right its 1923 replacement



A dormitory either at Frenches or Woodlands


Following the death of Miss Gurney in 1930 it was realised that those children at the Police Orphanage who remembered her in life would soon be outnumbered by those to whom she would be but a name. To this end a memorial tablet of her was put in the chapel in 1932.


  Police Orphanage Scouts.
(Picture from the 1938/9 annual report courtesy Mr M. Hedges)
.Boys of 1939 (Picture from the 1938/9 annual report courtesy Mr M. Hedges)
Girls 1939 (Picture from the 1938/9 annual report courtesy Mr M. Hedges)


Rhythmic execises, senior boys
(Picture from the 1938/9 annual report courtesy Mr M. Hedges)
Maypole, juniors
(Picture from the 1938/9 annual report courtesy Mr M. Hedges)
Country dancing
(Picture from the 1938/9 annual report courtesy Mr M. Hedges)


It will be seen from above image that the main London Road entrance to the Southern Provincial Police Orphanage at Redhill changed at some time, the top left picture of this group of four being of the entrance before the change. The picture bottom left is from a postcard issued by the Redhill Orphanage, its caption stating 'New Entrance and Gates - Gift of Old Scholars'. No date is given further information suggests that it was the gift of ex-pupils to commemorate others who died in WW1. The bottom right picture is from 1938-9 showing the hedge matured.
In 1934 there occured the death of both Mr and Mrs William Botting.
Mr Botting had been an old boy who had gone on to be the head gardener from 1913.


.(Picture 25) The Provincial Police Orphanage, Redhill - the house and gardens from the front (date unknown)
28 29
.(Picture 27) Some of the senior girls at the Police Orphanage (date unknown) .(Picture 29&30) The Gardens at Woodlands




.(Picture 32) The Police Orphange Brownies (First Redhill) in 1926


.(Pictures 35&36) A view of the house and gardens from the front. On the left of the lefthand picture is the original chapel that was destroyed by fire c1920. The main Woodlands block of the Orphanage, presumably the original house that stood on the site, has the Gurney wing, opened in 1913, on its right.
.An aerial view of the Provincial Police Orphanage, Redhill. On the left is the chapel that was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1923 after the previous one burnt down. The two larger buildings left of centre are the ones in the above picture. It seems that the lefthand one of the two, with anther building behind, formed the original 'Woodlands' house. The righthand building in the same style was built for the orphanage in 1913. Buildings further on the right were the Victoria and Gurney wings. The sanatorium is behind the other buildings at the back of the picture. All buildings except for the sanatorium have been demolished. The part of the site where the buildings were site is now occupied by the East Surrey College. (picture courtesy Surrey Mirror)
. Another aerial view, this time of almost the whole of the grounds, showing London Road running across the top of the picture and Claremont Road on the right.
. Plan of the orphanage main buildings at Woodlands
41 42
.Two views of the dining room shown on the above plan
43 44
.(Pictures 43 & 44)The sanatorium (which can also be seen in aerial views above) was originally built in 1901, probably as a house without the wings either side. Additions, probably the wings, were added in 1904 as the gift of Sir Jeremiah Colman. In 1935 the extra room was added to its front, again as the gift of Sir Jeremiah Colman, this time to mark his own golden wedding and the silver jubilee of King George V.
.Plan of the Sanatorium.
The old Sanitorium stands on ground earmarked for housing. As it may be demolished in the near to meduium future these photos of it were taken in September 2008.
The building is currently used as the East Surrey College's Painting
and Decorating classrooms with much of the inside divided into
separate rooms for practical work.
This part is the original girls'
ward and sanitary block.
The main house was built in 1901 and girls' ward dates from 1904 and was added to the main building. The fire escape that has been added since.
The front of the main building with the ground flor room that was added in 1935. The centre window has been blocked up due to the interior being divided into separate workrooms.The boys' ward. A new porch has been added.
A close up of the doors into the boys' ward, now under the new porchThr remainder of the boys ward and its sanitary block
The cupola on the roof houses ventilation panels through which air could be drawn by and electric fan and ciculated through the wards.One of the ventilation panels inside a ward
A view of the rear of the north side of the main building through
one of the girls' ward windows
The old surgery was a very small room, there's just room for a desk and chair behind the door. The old fireplace now houses a filing cabinet and there are shallow cupboards above.
Another view of the surgery fireplace and cupboards. The cupboards were no more than a foot deep. 
Either side of the main entrance and staircase doors lead into the wards. On the left was the girls ward, on the right the boys' ward. Both wards have been partioned into smaller rooms used by the college pupils as the whole site is part of that used for East Surrey College building and decorating courses.
A side on view of the building from the southThe rear of the main building and boys' ward from the south. The outside area is used for storage of builing materials
A longer view of the sanatorium and from the south be seen here still standing in the yard at the rear of what is now the grounds
50 51
(Picture 50) This drawing of the buildings on the site from a postcard, date unknown .Another postcard, this time showing the Police Orphanage Company of Girl Guides (1st Redhill)
The Foundation Stone    
When the ground was being prepared for the building of the new East Surrey College in the 1980s a foundation stone was uncovered. Hidden by undergrowth it was dated 1901 and commemorated its laying on 3rd July 1901 by the Countess of Chichester in a building that was 'for the benefit of the fatherless children of the police'. The stone had come from the old Police orphanage buildings when they had been demolished and had been left at the site. The inscription read:

To the glory of God. In memory of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria and for the benefit of the fatherless children of the police, this stone was laid by the Countess of Chichester, July 3rd 1901. Bless the LordO my soul and forget not all.His Benefits. Psalm C.111."
        Spencer Grant Architects, C.B.Roberts & Co. Builders

Once the origins of the stone were fully realised the stone was taken to the Gurney Fund office in Worthing where it was re-installed.

.(Picture 54) Above: Workman Mr Bob Foden-Tunney of Miller Construction with the stone (picture courtesy of the Independent newspaper)
.(Picture 55) Right:   The stone in its new position at 9, Bath Road, Worthing, the HQ of the Gurney Fund for Police Orphans

The Gurney Fund for Police Orphans - Katherine Gurney's work goes on.
The Gurney Fund is administered from offices at Worthing. Twenty-two police forces subscribe to the fund. Income is derived from regular Police subscriptions, donations from the Police and members of the public, police collecting boxes, deeds of covenant and Inland Revenue repayments. Further revenue is raised fom the investment dividends. Money from the fund is used to help children whose fathers have either died or who have been forced to take early retirement on ill-health grounds within the 22 subscribing forces. The allowances are reviewed each year and all families are paid according to need, although there is a 'basic' weekly allowance which again is reviewed at regular intervals. Grants may be made for items which families might not otherwise afford, such as educational trips, musical instruments, books and school uniforms. The fund is administered by a Committee of elected Managing Trustees, comprising of 10 serving police officers, (two from each rank) and two ex-officio Officers. The Committee meets regularly four times a year to discuss outstanding applications.
The patron of the fund is Her Majesty The Queen. For further information contact: The Director, The Gurney Fund for Police Orphans, 9, Bath Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 3NU tel: 0903 237256
Reminiscences of Ex-Pupils - (1) Terry Heydon
Terry Heydon was resident at the above orphanage between 1939 and 1947 when it closed. He visited it sometime in the early sixties when it had become a special school. Below are his memories of it.

'I am afraid that you will be disappointed with my input because despite spending eight years living in Redhill I scarcely knew the place.  The reason is that except for a very few specific reasons we were not allowed out of the orphanage.  We walked in a crocodile morning, noon and afternoon backwards and forwards to school, but apart from those back streets I didn't really know my way around the place.

'The orphanage existed for the offspring (boys and girls) of serving police officers who died whilst in service.  I was sent there aged four, in the summer of 1939 and was initially in the nursery section, looked after by a matron.  The next year I started in the infant section of Frenches Road School.  This was situated at the far end of the girls' playground, which in turn was immediately below the boys' school in the same block.

'The orphanage was in the charge of a man called L W Terry-Jupp, but as everyone called him Mr Jupp, we assumed that the 'Terry' was a third christian name.  Our Housemaster, when I joined the older boys was a Mr Moon.  No initial I'm afraid, and all I really know about him was that he was an ex-soldier who had fought in World War One. I really don't know how many boys and girls were there when I arrived but I would hazard a guess at about forty of each.  Very few arrived after me and as the children left at 16, there was a steady depletion until the place closed in 1947. Discipline was strict even by the standards of those days and there was a lot of religion involved.  The whole orphanage (boys and girls) used to march up to the big church on the hill (London Road) every Sunday morning and we had another service for all of us on Sunday evenings, conducted by Mr Jupp in the gymnasium.  In addition we also had a service every Saturday morning in the orphanage chapel.  Mr Jupp used to don a surplice for this, though there was much speculation as to whether he was entitled to wear this!

.(Picture 56) Above: - L.W.Terry Jupp in 1936. Mr Jupp was the Reigate Division District Commissioner of the Boy Scouts and is wearing a medal of merit, an award for good service. (AJM)

'Our Headmaster at Frenches Road was a Mr Dale.  His love in life was music and he soon formed most of us into a choir and we even gave a couple of concerts in what I believe was Redhill Town Hall. During the war a large Anderson shelter was erected in the playground at school but I can only remember using it on a couple of occasions.  At the orphanage we had a very big dug out shelter fitted with bunk beds. Initially we would go to bed in the dormitories as normal, but would be got up if the sirens sounded and herded across a large playground and spent the rest of the night in the shelter.  We boys thought this was wonderful because we had magnificent views of the searchlights scanning the night sky and we could hear the anti-aircraft guns firing and see the shells exploding.  When the air raids became bad we started spending the whole night in the shelter. Another wartime memory is of watching the build up of parked military vehicles on every possible inch of space in the roads we passed or walked along on our way to school.  Early in June 1944 they suddenly vanished. During that same sort of period our lessons were frequently interupted by the roar of low flying squadrons of heavy bombers which seemed to take forever to pass overhead.  In addition the railway line passed literally yards away from the school and the military trains loaded with tanks and trucks were very nearly as noisy as the aircraft.  Later on we had the V1 and V2 rockets, and on more than one occasion they were heard to cut out apparently over our heads.  We were told that they would crash in another 20 odd miles, but they were still a bit nerve wracking.

'I was slightly disappointed to hear that none of my contemporaries had contacted you.  I would love to know how they settled down to normal home life, especially as I was unable to do so and in fact joined the Navy at age 15, where I stayed for the next 25 years (and never heard a shot fired in anger!)

'Please feel free to use any of this information and don't hesitate to contact me again if you have any queries.
Regards, Terry Heydon'

And there's more
As a result of creating this web page I was contacted by a lady who was organising a reunion of ex-pupils of the Southern Provincial Police Orphanage. I was able to put Terry Heydon in touch with her and he attended. Afterwards I received a report and pictures of the reunion and a follow-up on it from Terry - both appear below.

The reunion of the Southern Provincial Police School, Redhill – 7th August 2005

Sunday 7th August 2005 proved to be an extremely special day for 60 people in Tring, Hertfordshire. Former pupils of the Southern Provincial Police School/ Orphanage, Redhill, gathered after 60 years apart. The fathers of all of the pupils had died whilst serving as police officers in the 1930s and 1940s.
The weather on the day could not have been more perfect and was an ideal setting for the day. Pupils gathered at the Red Cross Hall in Tring from all parts of the country. There were displays of old photos and a buffet lunch was provided. Grace was said by Mr Don Axcell, Director of the Christian Police Association. During the afternoon there was a reminicence session with guests telling of their experiences of the school. These experiences inevitably included the ‘cane’ but there were also happy memories of the Redhill police force dressing up for Christmas and bringing presents on a sleigh and outing to the seaside and millitary tattoos.
Mr Axcell then gave an address on the work of the Christian Police Association and proposed a loyal toast to the Queen. The Queen is patron of the Gurney fund. The Police School became the Gurney fund in 1947. Chief Superintendant Miss Carol Pople of the Gurney fund gave a toast to friendship and gave an address on the work of the Gurney fund as it is today.
A cake decorated with a photograph of the Police School building in icing was cut by Mrs Lucy Freeman and Mr John Spooner. It was the photograph of Mr Spooner as a little boy, kept by Mrs Freeman for 60 years that had inspired the reunion. A donation from the pupils was given to the Gurney fund to help them continue the good work.
(see also note from Tery Heydon below pictures)

The cake with a picture of the orphanage buildings
Pictures from the reunion to mark the 2007 60th anniversary of the closing of the Redhill Orphanage appear further down the page
In addition to the reunion report above, Terry Heydon emailed the following: -
There were 16 ex boys and 12 ex girls, the oldest 85 and the youngest 67. All the boys we spoke to seem to have prospered and I was impressed to find a Concorde pilot, a doctor, 2 solicitors, 2 police sergeants and a senior bank official.  The Police Area Padre gave a short speech about the work of the Police Christian Association and a lady Chief Superintendant of Police told us about the continuing and impressive work of the current Gurney Fund. They apparently continue to support Police widows and offspring even to the extent of paying tuition fees for any aspiring university students. Many reminiscences were exchanged of course but oddly the majority ended up with the participant appearing in Mr Jupps office for a beating - and this was the girls as well.  A show of hands indicated that almost all of us had suffered from L W Terrys' prediliction for caning young people and the general consensus seems to have been that had he been operating these days he would certainly have finished up in prison.
Reminiscences of Ex-Pupils - (2) Maurice Hedges
This is where Mr Hedges' account of his time at The Southern Provincial Police Orphanage at Redhill ends. It gives a wonderful insight into life there. Grateful thanks to Mr Hedges for allowing it to be reproduced here.
Subsequent to the above being completed the following has been received: -
I can tell you that my grandfather and his older brother were both at the orphanage at the time of the 1901 census.  Their father, a policeman from Suffolk had died prior to this date and the rest of the family (mother and five younge children) seem to have been put in the workhouse locally, but the two older boys were sent to Redhill.  My grandfather, Hugh, was 12 at the time, his brother, Ivan, I believe slightly older.  It seems my grandfather, however, was not that impressed and is supposed to have walked to London to join the police force!  I have no further information concerning his brother.  My grandfather went on to become a police inspector but sadly died at the age of 57, so unfortunately I never met him.  He was always regarded as a gentle man, as well as a gentleman and always explained to my mother, his daughter-in-law that, if she were ever worried or in need of advice, she should speak to a policeman.  We all hold him in great affection and respect in our family. I have been searching for the exact address of the orphanage and none of this history came to light until the 1901 census was available.  All a bit of a surprise, really.
Thank you for your interesting article. Regards, Julia Klemkerk (nee Garrod)
Reminiscences of Ex-Pupils - (3) Gordon Verran
Together with my older brother we both were resident at the SPPO as we called it, until it eventually closed down in 1947. After our father died in 1942 so we went there in 1943 leaving our younger brother at home, because he was born in 1939 and he was considered too young, he joined us in 1945 but he was resident in another section for the younger children, they were looked after by a nanny who was Mrs Doughty, she doubled up as the housekeeper, dealing with all our clothes and attending to minor bruises and scratches etc. for more serious problems we were sent to the sanatorium, or ‘The San’ as we called it, where there was a trained nurse.  For the record my name is Gordon Verran, my older brother Rowland (although his real name is William Rowland, that was so he was not confused with dad, who was also William), my younger brother is Bryan, with his help we have located some old photographs. Bryan Verran is on the left as you view the picture (immediately below) of the five boys, I have no idea of the names of the other boys, but to fix the date this photograph was taken in 1947 just before the orphanage closed down, it will be noted that all the boys are wearing SPPO uniforms.  Then a second picture (lower down on the left of the page) of us three, with me on the right.
.....The large building looking like a big detached house was where Mr Jupp’s office was, each time we passed it we had to touch our forelock, regardless of whether or not he was actually there. The one thing that sticks out in my mind was not so much the use of the cane - yes there was plenty of that from Mr Moon and Mr Jupp - no, the worst thing was the awful shirts we had to wear, grey in colour and made of the most rough material very sensitive to the skin, it was always a relief to take them off since they itched so much.

.(Picture 59) Bryan Verran on the left of the group in 1947, names of other boys not known

....Food was very repetitive each day of the week the same menu as the week before, the war years with everything on ration, but we did get seconds sometimes, there were some good stews and puddings, we also got a sweet allocation which wasn’t bad, that was always something to look forward to, that was a Saturday treat, although I am not sure we got that every Saturday. Bread had to be examined very carefully as all sorts of creepy crawlies had fallen into the baking process, it was a daily occurrence to find half a cockroach sliced in the bread, the boy across the table got the other half.  You didn’t complain, - you didn’t dare! 
.....For some reason Friday was fish day, always the same, revolting fish pie, I always promised myself that when I finally left SPPO I would never eat fish pie again. How times change! Supermarkets today sell a fish pie and it is now one of my favourite meals. It was war time and we were constantly reminded not to waste food, when I attempted to abandon the fish pie I was told that there were people in the world who were starving, so I said “Send it to them then, I don’t want it”, my remarks were relayed to Mr Moon who called me an ‘ungrateful little boy’, I was sent to bed early for that. What food did go to waste was kept as pigs swill, I never saw the pigs, but my guess was that even they would have no stomach for that pie. I wondered if the pie got some of the extra protein that had avoided the bread, it doesn’t bear thinking about!  To be fair to SPPO I think the bread came in from a bakery. Suffice it to say whoever produced that fish pie should have stood trial for war crimes!  Mrs Jupp nearly always supervised meals, it sticks in my mind to this day her expression “You do not play trains”,  this would be her remark if she ever caught you sliding perhaps the salt across the dining table, one had to pick it up and pass it properly, to slide it was bad manners.
....Our mother would visit once a month and take us out, often we would go to a park near Reigate (Earlswood Lakes?) where she would hire a rowing boat, which terrified my brother since she knew nothing about machinery!  He was always convinced she would turn the boat over. She never did but I am reminded about years later when my mother obtained a petrol driven motor mower, we had large lawns at home, she would start the motor then wrestle with the machine at full throttle, time and time again she careered through the flower beds, she never did get the hang of just turning off the power. This would have been a perfect sketch  for Thora Hurd in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’, who would have then blamed Wesley for not getting the thing house trained,  but I digress.

.(Picture 60) The three Verran brothers, Bryan, William and Gordon around 1944/5

....Trips to the air raid shelters faded away towards the end of the war but I remember one occasion when we had to dash to them. I was in the middle of a hair cut, the air raid went on for quite a long time, by the time it was over the barber had gone home so next morning I was the butt of all the jokes at school with my very odd hairstyle. Frenches school was not bad, yes we walked in crocodile formation, the headmaster always said he had a soft spot for us boys, I think he knew the strength of the regime back at SPPO. He was very artistic and musical; he would made paintings with a palate. Our form master was Mr Bonner nicknamed ‘Bonzo’ by all of us, completely bald but not a bad teacher, he also had a very good sense of humour.  We had another teacher, Mrs Fallon, whose son was also in the class, she would take us for PT, one of the exercises was to ‘lunge and recover’, as though you were engaged in sword fighting -  unforgettable!  During those exercises her voice would echo through the school, to the amusement of all those in the other classrooms.
....Mornings for us boys always stared with a cold shower, regardless of the time of year. The girls were in another part of the building so the only contact we had with them was in the dining hall or out on the sports fields. I subsequently went into the Grenadier Guards where the discipline and training was very strict, no problem for me, I was used to it. As has already been said the cane was frequently in use, I felt it quite often, once again you got used to it, but if the punishment included also being sent to bed after tea that really did hurt, mind you everybody else had to be in bed by 7pm;  8pm if you were over 14, imagine imposing such rules today!
....After the war for some reason all the pupils at Frenches school were given a pack of Chocolate powder. Why we received it or where it came from I do not know, probably from the Red Cross, but all pupils got it not just orphanage children. On our way ‘home’ most boys could not resist the temptation to dip their fingers in the delicious powder, so by the time we got back to SPPO ninety percent of the chocolate had been devoured. Mr Jupp got to hear of this, he was not amused,  we were expected to hand the in to the kitchen. Nobody had actually told us to do this, and it was akin to giving a nice juicy steak to a hungry dog and expecting him not to eat it until he got home – no chance!  We were all lined up in age order, that was the norm, you stood in your place in the day room, Mr Jupp charged up and down the room having the mother and father of all tantrums, not a single boy escaped his wrath. I was a bit lucky, when his turn came to me halfway through his tirade he spotted the boy next to me who had Brylcream on his hair, which was very much in vogue with the RAF who were known as the Brylcream boys. Well Mr Jupp did not approve of ‘that filthy muck’ on the boy’s hair,  his temper transferred rapidly to the other boy, so I got off rather lightly.  I am sure we were all punished for our greed, but what that was has long since left my memory.
....I hope I am not giving the impression that everything was bad, there were good times, the staff including Mr Jupp and Mr Moon were well meaning if a little pious. We played a lot of sport, in the day room there were board games for us to play with, but I do remember the monopoly game being confiscated, that was considered dangerous as it was teaching us to gamble. Dick Barton was the fictional detective on the radio, we would listen to his adventures, a bit like a watered down James Bond, the action always took place in or near a milk bar, the BBC could not bring itself to mention public houses, the fifteen minute radio programme came on at 6.45pm, but we had to be in bed at 7pm so we often missed the end, we had to wait until the next night to see if he had survived the drama which he encountered daily. SPPO as an institution was a cut above the workhouse, more like a friendly concentration camp!  There was entertainment at Christmas and parcels would come in from parents, usually mothers since most boys had lost their dads. Our mother would send fruit which did not travel too well, but whatever survived the post had to be shared with all the other boys. When we finally returned home and went to ordinary schools again, we were ribbed for being ‘Too posh’ with our accents.
....Gordon Verran
This third personal reminiscence of life at the SPPO brings history to life. Thank you. Gordon, for taking the trouble to write it all down and send it in; it makes wonderful reading. Thanks also to his brother, Bryan, whose help smoothed the way.

Reminiscences of Ex-Pupils - (4) Brian Hopper (From the BBCs People's War website)
I spent the war years in the Southern Provincial Police Orphanage in Redhill, Surrey and remember as if it was yesterday, watching the Battle of Britain in the September of 1940 from our dining hall window. As a lad of seven years old I marvelled at the dog fights taking place with the vapour trails criss-crossing the blue sky, pock-marked brown by bursting ack-ack shells. I remember cheering like mad when a jerry was shot down and booing when one of our lads zoomed out of the sky. The noise of battle was like a symphony to the ears of the small boys as they followed the gyrations of the fighter pilots. Like swallows they ducked and dived about the sky, staccato bursts of machine gun fire heralding the death of yet another machine.
.....My friends and I had watched spell-bound as, amid all the cacophony of destruction, white silk parachutes gently billowed in the air wafting a few airmen, friend and foe alike, down to the safety of the good earth. Before long a prefect grabbed me by the collar and shoved me under one of the heavy tables for these were the days before the powers-that-be built the air raid shelter in the football field.
.....It is strange how the memories come flooding back and such scenes linger on. Eventually they built the shelter and whenever the siren sounded out we would trundle from our building along the drive and into the shelter in the football field. We boys were divided into three dormitories according to age. The small fry, including me initially, were in the ‘Little Vic’ and if there was a night raid, bearing in mind we were in Redhill, only 20 miles form London, a master, Mr. Moon, would ring a large firebell. This was located in the passageway on the other side of the wall right behind my bed, and when it first started clanging in the middle of the night it scared me out of my wits. After lights out someone always kept watch while we had a bit of a lark about and would warn us when he say Mr. Moon’s lit cigarette come round the corner.
.....Eventually they built large shelters we called The Trenches with wooden bunks and we slept all night in them during the Blitz. At first they would hang a wet blanket over the entrance in case of a gas attack and I remember a craze for French knitting, four small nails in a cotton reel that produced a long round tube of wool we made into teapot stands and the like.
The above was taken from the BBCs People's War website according to the conditions laid down there. This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Anastasia Travers a volunteer with WM CSV Actiondesk on behalf of Brian Hopper and added to that site with his permission. Brian Hopper fully understands the sites terms and conditions. People in story: Brian Hopper. Location of story: Surrey. Background to story: civilian. Article ID: A5316761. Contributed on: 25 August 2005. Copied to this webpage with thanks to Brian Hopper, the BBC and all others concerned, 20 February 2007.
Reminiscences of Ex-Pupils - (5) Gordon Mabb 1941-45
......My father was a police officer in Brighton who died in 1941, the year I went to the Orphanage as a 7-year-old.  I had no brothers or sisters but, after the initial traumatic few weeks, I settled in.  Almost immediately, I developed chicken pox and spent a week in the Sanatorium with three or four others.  I had not been at the Orphanage long enough to develop the universal antipathy to beetroot already referred to, so I was favoured with everybody's portion!  After that, it only took a few days to establish a lifelong aversion to beetroot that only now in my 70’s am I beginning to overcome.  Not all the food restrictions should be regarded negatively.  The “bread and scrape” immortalised in the Orphanage anthem was of course bread and margarine, which I am pleased to say I quite liked.  To this day I am happy to spread margarine on my bread rather than butter!
.....Most of my memories will reinforce those already recorded, but I would like to give a different slant on the Orphanage.  In most of the articles, it comes across as a Dickensian establishment with a Principal who could be abusive.  I don’t recall it that way. I never felt that I got to know L.W.Terry-Jupp who remained a somewhat aloof figure, but he never struck me as unfair.  Pious he might have been, he would not have got the job otherwise, but I did not regard him as abusive.  Certainly the cane was in use, as it was at Reigate Grammar School which I attended for the last year of the War, but I did not suffer unduly.  Perhaps I was adept at staying out of trouble!  I don’t think I particularly liked Mr Moon, but most of the other staff must have been doing a good job and there was nobody that I especially disliked.  There was plenty of opportunity for sport and it was noticeable that the local School teams relied heavily on well-trained Orphanage boys.  I developed a liking and ability for football which gave me many happy times into my 30’s (and has left me with osteoarthritis now!)
.....The authorities were remarkably successful at keeping the sexes apart, so much so that I cannot now remember if I ever got to know the names of any girls.  Social occasions involving both girls and boys must have been few and far between and made little impression on me.
.....I certainly remember those revolting and highly irritating grey shirts but the rest of the uniform was of acceptable quality.  I also well remember the trenches!  I suffered with a form of hay fever and the stuffy atmosphere in the trenches was purgatory.  It was a relief when it was deemed that we no longer needed to spend the night in them.  My direct experience of the war came later on from watching the doodlebugs fly overhead.  There was the usual frisson when the engines stopped, but we were fairly confident that they would come down well north of Redhill by then.
.....My Mother used to come to visit me once a month and, in the summer, we had exciting trips to Earlswood to take a boat out on the lakes.  On one occasion my Mother came with a Canadian airman and she later asked me how I would like to go to Canada after the war.  I regret to admit that I strongly opposed the idea and it was never mentioned again.  We also enjoyed excursions to Croydon with the highlight being a visit to Kennards store (now Allders?).  One of my last visits to Kennards near the end of the war left me with a vivid memory of huge queues for an ice-cream cornet, ice-cream not having been available throughout the war.
.....I left the Orphanage shortly after V.E. day in 1945 so I was still there for those victory celebrations.  We had a late night party round a bonfire at which we were all required to perform a party piece.  Mine was a recitation which I prided myself I could do well.  Unfortunately the end of the recitation contained the word “finale” which I had never come across before and I have ever since recalled with shame that I pronounced it “fine ale” – a source of some hilarity at the time!
.....By the end of the war my Mother had obtained employment as the daily cook/housekeeper to the Deputy Chief Constable of the Brighton Police, a widower who lived only two streets away from us in Brighton, and this, together with funds provided by a lodger, enabled me to be brought home.  So I became a “latchkey child”, albeit without a front-door key of my own.  The key was hung on a string behind the letterbox – what innocent times they were!
.....Looking back, I think my Mother (one or two of the Children only had a Father and I recall none who had no parent) treated the Orphanage as a preferable alternative to evacuation far away to the West Country at a time when, in any case, she could not afford to keep me at home.  Having read since of the lottery of evacuation, I think she was probably right and I have never regretted her decision.
.....Gordon Mabb .....5th April 2008
It's been some years since this webpage was started and yet still information is coming in. Thank you, Gordon, for putting pen to paper an giving us extra insight into how the school really was.
Reminiscences of Ex-Pupils - (6) Joan Spriggens 1942-46
....My brother Harry and myself were in the Orphanage sometime between 1942 and 1946 I'm unsure of the exact time. My father was a retired Police Sergeant of the Gt Yarmouth Police Force at the time WW2 broke out so volunteered for the Police force again and rejoined as a Constable as the rules were then. At the time my father was killed in 1941my brother and myself had been
evacuated to North Wheatley and my Mother and younger sister went to Worcester - why I don't know. We had all come together again as a family in Wheatley at the time he was killed but soon after my brother and myself were "booked in" to the Orphanage in Redhill.
....Mr Leonard William Terrance Jupp was superintendent, a bit of a bad tempered man, and his wife Mrs Jupp a very nice gentle lady. Mr Jupp had loud booming voice and seemed to talk using his mouth in a unusual way. Mrs Jupp put on very good stage plays. Very popular with the local community and well attended by them. They showed for two nights I seem to recall and to packed houses (the orphanage gym).
I won a book token for selling the most tickets, I can picture the book cover but cannot remember what it was called or what it was about. I auditioned for a singing part in the play one year - a market stall scene and I had to sing "Tea of finest brand ma'am from the hills afar". My fame never came about and I played a part in the market crowd. I could sing though but was a bit shy.
....Back stage at one of these shows I found small packet on the floor and as Mr Jupp walked past I held it up to show him and he knocked it clean out of my hand and walked on. I sure got the message! If I was called up to his office being suspected of doing something wrong, which I hadn't, after some questioning and denying the accusation he would get up and rattle these canes he had on top of the cupboard to the left just inside the door. He would select one and put it on the desk in front of me and I sure confessed quickly to something I hadn't done and took the punishment. Usually standing in the hallway in the dark at night not far from his office and even though there was a form behind me I dare not sit down for fear he caught me. I stood there for long hours in the dark about a couple of times I recall but have never had the cane in my life. Surely it is too late now at 77yrs. I was a bit of a quiet sort being more towards the timid side and I think he picked on me.
....One night there was a quiz in the dining room, for the boys and girls , all about book titles and the answer was a colour.My question title was - How ___ is my Valley?, I did not know the answer so Mr Jupp said "it's what you are now , 'Green' ,which caused laughter but I was humiliated plus hurt.
....My brother and myself did leave the orphanage once and went home as my mother had remarried. I don't know why to this day but she wanted my brother to go back to the Orphanage but Mr Jupp would not take Harry without me so back I went. I remember a Miss Clarke looked after us girls in our wing, a tall slim very nice person.
....The orphanage was set in beautiful surroundings with a big sports field on one side. I once entered the longest flat race round the entire circuit. To me it was all flat out running or nothing no strategies or tactics in my world then. .Bad decision, I was a good way ahead all the first half -all down hill- but on the turn and on the home straight it was all uphill and I flagged badly and lost my lead. Where we sat on the forms at the side of the field just over the fence there was a beautiful Mulberry bush I don't remember being brave enough to sneak one.
....Boys and girls had separate wings but we all came together in the dining room but on different sides and on certain nights, after the meal was finished, we were allowed to have a few minutes chat with our siblings. My brother and another boy had the job of carrying the hot tea urn into the dining room at meal times and one time my brother did not appear and as I later found out the tea urn succumbed to an accident and my brother got scolded but not badly as he bore no scars. Warren Tupper used to sit next to Harry at the long dining table and I thought he was a bit of alright and took a peep at him now and again. Poor boy!
....I just hated cabbage and still do and at the main meal at mid-day I was often left sitting behind until I finished eating all of it and soon got the message of getting it all down or be late for school and be disgraced.
....We attended Frenches Road School and had a short walk there and back. We walked in Crocodile form two by two each behind the other looking very smart in our uniforms. Wonder if the locals ever said 'here come the Orphans'? Miss Brewer was the Headmistress and we got on well. I liked her a lot. She showed us her partly webbed toes and she was an excellent swimmer. She did her best to teach me, which she did but diving in I decided was not for me but to get my length certificate I had to jump or dive in at the start. So it was decided that to give me encouragement one of the adults there would hold out this extra wide broom for me to grab onto as I jumped in. Guess what? As I finally got the courage to jump in to grab the broom it was whisked away leaving me to splutter and gasp myself to the other end of the
pool with great encouragement from Miss Brewer. I did get my Certificate which has got lost over the years. I enjoyed my time at that school and was a shooter in the Netball team. Any baking we did we had to show it to Mrs Jupp before being allowed to eat it, she always gave us a nice comment.
....On our Birthday we had to go to Mrs Jupp's room, I think it was, to collect our birthday cake, my birthday was 14th Oct. along with another boy whose surname, I think, was Crosby, and we'd turn up outside together for our cakes..
....I only saw my Mother once during my years at the Orphanage. One day I was told my Mother was coming to see Harry and myself and take us out for the day - this lady turned up and off we went. I didn't know her from Adam really but in those days you did as you were told and that was it. Of course she was my Mother but I had forgotten what she looked like.
....Once on our way to the air raid shelter at the Orphanage, during a pitch black night we had a short walk down this stony pathway edged with white posts with the a white chain hanging between them. It was my misfortune to land bottom down feet up in the garden beyond one of the chains it was just so dark because of the blackout. This shelter was equipped with wooden bunks as we had to sleep there at times, even days on odd occasions and between raids during the day we would come out and sit on the grass.
....There were many happy times of course and as I look back we were so much better off than lots of other people. We were well looked after and cared for in warm, clean and nice conditions. Two together at a time in the weekly bath for us.
....In 2000 I went back to the UK and did a look round of all the places I lived as a child after evacuation., and also visited Gt Yarmouth where I was born. Although the Frenches Road school was still standing it was derelict, the site which was the entrance to the school air raid shelter was still visible but now tar sealed over. It was a very basic shelter with forms down the side and the toilets had Hessian hung up for the doors as far as I recall. As I tried to walk the route to the Orphanage it was blocked by a housing estate and I was told the orphanage had gone.
....All this is a world away now and I have been very lucky travelling to many places plus to the war torn countries that I wouldn't think of going to now. It was just a stab in the dark that I thought I would try on the internet for any news of the Orphanage. I am very interested in Genealogy and I wanted to see what relatives I had but did not know about in my childhood and to try to piece together dates of where I was at different stages of my life back then.
...............................................Joan Spriggens October 2009
This is yet another lovely look back at life the Provincial Police Orphange at Redhill. As Joan says it is a world away but is clearly well remembered by her. Thank you, Joan, for sharing it with us,
The Other Side of the Coin - The story of two boys who did not go to the Police Orphanage.
The following was sent in by John Mitchell who, but for a decision made by his mother, might have been an ex-Redhill Police Orphanage boy
.........To one who did not become a resident of the orphanage, I found the personal reminiscences of some orphans disturbing because they could easily have been mine but for the love and devotion of my mother. I too was a Police orphan. My father was in the then Plymouth City Force (Also a Fireman as the Chief Constable had dual responsibly at that time). My father died after only 10 years service at the age of 32 leaving my mother, myself (7) and my brother (4). After her death I found a letter from the orphanage offering places for my brother and I but at the time she simply told us of the offer and, probably because of our protestations, she did not accept, opting instead, to provide for us herself.
.........Shortly after my father’s death we moved from our Police house to a bigger house shared with her widowed sister-in-law. They hoped to use the dwelling as a lodging house and so make sufficient profit to maintain both families. Unfortunately they had not done their homework very well even though my mother tried to augment the income by scrubbing the floors of a dairy. Soon they closed the lodging house and each family moved to separate rented flats.
.........My mother’s income was a small Police pension for herself and two boys, because my father had only 10 years of service when he died. My mother continued with her floor-scrubbing job but moved to a larger Co-op shop where the hours and also her wage were higher.  After “helping out” as a shop assistant during a Christmas period her natural ability to sell was recognised and she remained a shop assistant until she retired. My mother was actually in a Gents Tailoring Branch, and as such she was able to purchase some of our clothing at reduced prices, augmenting our clothing needs with her knitting and sewing. But her maintenance work for us continued each day until the early hours.

The letter sent to John Mitchell's mother

.......So it was that our Mother kept the family together. We went to normal schools, did our homework and went out to play as if we were 'normal'. but the timescale that we are talking about included the war and the Blitz on Plymouth. I suppose that rationing as such helped my mother because with food shortages for everyone her food bill was lower than it might have been had there been no war and we kept healthy, albeit that I was an asthmatic. Implications of events are sometimes not appreciated until you grow up. In particular I remember that bombing destroyed my mothers’ place of employment and for a period of about nine months she gave up our flat and we moved to a farm in Somerset where a relative was farm manager.  We now realise that my mother had become unemployed and that probably our relatives maintained us. .......Commensurate with our age my brother and I helped on the farm when we were not attending the village school. This was an enjoyable time until my mothers former employer offered her a temporary job in a Cornish branch. My mother accepted the job and rented a flat but unfortunately the landlady would not accept two boys, the solution was to leave my brother on the farm for a few more months until a flat was found in which the family could be reunited.
........In 1944, the rebuilding of blitzed Plymouth was well under way and my mother was able to transfer to a new large establishment, we lived in yet another rented flat a few doors from our previous home. My brother and I both succeeded in entering a Boys Grammar School and went on to serve apprenticeships and eventually with our respective families have successful careers in the professional Civil Service serving at several stations home and abroad.
........My brother and I had a happy and varied childhood with the benefit of living at home with our little family, together with our wider family and friends. I believe that my mother considered that she had made the right decision not to send us to the Police Orphanage but in doing so she had to suffer much hardship on our behalf.
Yours sincerely,
John Mitchell.
The above shows us the alternative difference a single decision can make to the lives of people in adverse conditions. Grateful thanks to John Mitchell for sending it in.


The Northern Provincial Police Orphanage was at St. George’s House, Harrogate.   The St. George’s Old Boys and Girls have been attending Annual Reunions in Harrogate for over 40 years. Some of them attended the Redhill SPPO 60 years’ Commemorative afternoon held at St. Andrew’s Northern Police Convalescent and Treatment Centre, Harlow Moor Road, Harrogate on Wednesday, August 15th. 2007, where they met their Southern “brothers and sisters” and exchanged memories of their childhoods, which appeared to have been so very similar (pictures below). Since then a new website for the Northern Provincial Police Orphanage has been set up containing a great deal of information and many photographs. It can be visited at www.stgeorgesharrogate.org

Redhill SPPO 60 years’ reunion at St. Andrew’s Northern Police Convalescent and Treatment Centre, Harlow Moor Road, Harrogate on Wednesday, August 15th. 2007
Catherine Gurney's new headstone at her Rose Garden graveside in All Saint's Church, Harrogate
(picture courtesy Maurice Hedges)
Catherine Gurney's original headstone is now in the Rose Garden at St Andrew's Northern Police Convalescent and Treatment Centre, Harlow Moor Road, Harrogate (picture courtesy Maurice Hedges)
Ex-pupils at the reunion (picture courtesy Maurice Hedges)
Email exchange wtih Briony Hancock May 2010
have been forwarded details of your website by the curator of the Surrey Police Museum. I have found out that my great uncle, Edmund Arthur Bryon was at the police orphanage in Reigate, and wondered if there were any records of children who lived there? I don’t know any details as to why he was there, as his father did not die until after leaving the police. However he is listed in the 1911 census as being there. My grandfather (Edmund’s brother), who was younger, stayed with his mother. I’d love to find out more and wondered if you can help.

Dear Briony,
I have a list of all pupils from 1890 to 1939. Edmund Bryon was admitted to the Provincial Police Orphanage, London Road, Redhill (not Reigate – the census registration area for 1911 could well have been Reigate) in October 1905 aged 4. The number in the family is given as two. I am not quite sure what this may mean but so far have assumed that it means what it says, so the other member would have been a brother, sister or one of the parents. Having said this you talk of a brother who stayed with his mother, so that makes the number in the family at least three. Sometimes siblings went to the orphanage together but only Edmund Bryon is listed.  The police force he came from is Kent. There is one other item of information listed and that is ‘present occupation’. This I assume must be after 1939 when the list is ended. It shows Edmund’s occupation as Police Force. Southend Boro. The list doesn’t say when Edmund left but as he had already been there for about five and a half years in 1911 and would then have been around ten years of age he may have stayed until he left school at 14 and went to work.

Dear Alan,
Thank you so much for a quick and informative reply! My Great Grandfather was in the Kent force from July 1901 to around Sept 1903. He was discharged due to an incident (!) but then died two years later from heart disease. Edmund was born in 1901 and my Grandfather was born in 1902. I know my Great Grandmother went to work but I wonder why only one child went to the orphanage? Interesting that he then joined the Police. Perhaps I may be able to find more from Essex Police.

NOTE - It was good to be able to help in the above case. As a follow up I sent Briony a copy of the entry for her great uncle and decided to publish the list for others to see and use in their own researches. AJM

(Since the above was written it has been brought to my attention that the publication of the list may infringe the rights of those pupils still living. I am waiting to hear eactly what can and what cannot be published here. Until the position is clarified I have applied the 100 -year rule so that the list stops at 1911).

FROM 1890 TO 1911
Page 1 . . . . . 1890 - 1899


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