Barlow Home for boys was opened in 1935. It was a separate building to the north of the institution.
In our archive of oral histories we have memories from men, many of whom remember living there as a young boy. We are adding these recollections to the website.
£10,000 was given for the building of Barlow Home by the Trustees of the Colonel JC Barlow, MVO, of Bury. It was opened in on September 14th 1935 by SH Renshaw OBE to accommodate 50 of the younger boys. In the end, it cost £9,773.
More research is needed, but perhaps the building of this separate unit for young boys reflected a need to separate them from the growing adult population in the institution?
In its early years, for instance, The Royal Albert mainly admitted children and young people. In 1909 there were 662 residents, of whom 85% (563) were aged under 15 years old. So most of those living there at that time were children and young adults.
However, from 1916 onwards the institution was told by the state that it had to take more adults. The 1913 Mental Deficiency Act forced the Royal Albert, a voluntary institution, to get into line with state policies on people with learning difficulties. It had to take people of all ages, and of all abilities. It did not want to do this! The state, in the form of the Board of Control, from 1916 insisted that only a small number of those living at the Royal Albert could be under 16 years old.
By 1948, nearly half of the Royal Albert’s 886 residents were aged over 35, with only just over a tenth aged under 15 years old. So within around 30 years it had become an institution mainly for adults, not children.
The building of Barlow Home may have been a way of making sure that boys did not live in the same wards as men. This had probably been less of an issue up to about the 1920s.
(Thanks for statistical references and information on the founding ceremony and opening of Barlow Home:
Alston, J. and E. Roberts (1992). The Royal Albert Hospital: Chronicles of an era Centre for North-West Regional Studies, University of Lancaster
Roberts, E. (1992). The Royal Albert Hospital: An introduction. The Royal Albert: Chronicles of an era. J. Alston and E. Roberts. University of Lancaster, North-West Regional Studies: 1-10)