|Title ID||1588||Collection ID||41|
|Title||[Southern Railway Orphanage - Life at the Home]|
|Collection||Southern Railway Orphanage|
|Keywords||Beaches Camping Charities Children Communities Games Leisure Time Activities Old Age Play Railways Social Welfare Sport Youth|
|Duration||32 min. 30 sec.|
|Copyright & Access||Copyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details|
This is a colourful portrait of the children of the Southern Railway Servants' Orphanage at Woking enjoying various leisure pursuits. The amateur film uses extracts from a child's letter as intertitles, providing a narrative for the images.
A girl composes a letter in the Southern Railway Servants' Orphanage - the camera returns to her across the course of the film, using extracts from her letter to introduce new scenes. Exterior shots of the Orphanage and its gardens follow - girls smell the flowers as a train passes along the railway line which boarders the Orphanage. Children congregate in the playground of a local school - the teenage orphans return to the Orphanage for lunch, conscious of the camera and somewhat embarrassed by it. A boy reads a comic in the garden whilst the other children play with each other and their pet mice. Some of the older boys play roller hockey and light fires in their woodland campsite. A lengthy outdoor gymnastics display sees teenagers skillfully vaulting over a wooden box. Fun is had on the annual Whitsun camping holiday - the children exercise and play rounders at the campsite, paddle in the sea and explore the nearby beach. Exterior shots of Missenden House, the Southern Railway home for the elderly, follow. The elderly male residents pose for a photograph and lead toddlers through the home's gardens. Toddlers have a picnic and a play in the grounds of the Orphanage. The girl completes her correspondence and the film comes to a close.
The production context of [Southern Railway Orphanage - Life at the Home] (1952?) is unknown, but it is a well-constructed amateur record of the Southern Railway Servant's Orphanage and old people's home. It is of interest to compare this film with The Southern Railway Servants' Orphanage (1928 - 1933?). The earlier film has a more regimented feel to it, reflecting perhaps on an institution entrenched in gender division and routine. In contrast the post-war film focuses solely on the leisure pursuits enjoyed by the children, capturing some of them off-guard in what was an increasingly relaxed institution.
The history of the Southern Railway Servants' Orphanage dates back to 1885 when Canon Allen Edwards, supported by the workers of the London and South Western Railway, opened an orphanage in Clapham for the offspring of railwaymen. The institution moved to the 9 acre Woking site in 1909 - a £24,000 budget provided a home for 150 fatherless children. In the 1920s the Orphanage was opened up to children from across the Southern Railway. The building of a hospital block in 1930 was followed by a new accommodation wing in 1935 housing a further 90 children. During the Second World War the whole site was commandeered for a hospital, reverting back to an orphanage in 1946. Missenden House opened its doors to the elderly in 1947 - located on part of the Woking site it supported former employees of the Southern Railway. In the 1960s it became known as the Southern Railwaymen's Home for Children and Old People - today it is called Woking Grange and is part of Woking Homes which caters solely for retired railway and transport personnel and their spouses.
The Southern Railway Servants' Orphanage initially accepted children over the age of 6 who had lost their railwaymen fathers. Many were not orphans however - financial concerns forced the mothers to choose an orphanage upbringing for their children. As seen in The Southern Railway Servants' Orphanage (1928 - 1933?) mothers would visit their children at the Orphanage but this could be as infrequent as once a month. Typically, the children remained at the Orphanage until the age of 14 (later 16), leaving the institution with a hand-picked outfit and a guarantee of welfare support until the age of 21. The Orphanage was primarily funded through voluntary contributions, the bulk of which came from the employees of the Southern Railway. It also called upon the public to donate at Flag Days and at railway stations where dogs with collecting boxes publicized its work.
Screen Archive South East holds three other films about The Southern Railway Servants' Orphanage - [The Southern Railway Servant's Orphanage at Woking] (1928-1933?), [Southern Railway Orphanage. Sports and Fetes] (1950 - 1951?) and ["Blue Peter": Handing Over a Puppy] (1965). It also has a film entitled Southern Railway (1937 - 1938; 1946) which documents the network, trains and employees of the Southern Railway.
The Screen Archive South East film [Children's Society Home] (ca. 1952) looks at The Children's Society's homes for disadvantaged and vulnerable children; Beyond All Time (ca. 1963) films life at Reedham School (formerly Reedham Orphanage) in Purley, Surrey; and Fellowship of St. Nicholas Homes for Children, Christ Church, St. Leonards-on-Sea (1940s) records some of the work being undertaken by a local charity.. In addition God Speaks Today. Part III. The George Müller Story (1960s) offers a dramatised story of George Müller, an English evangelist and philanthropist who built orphanages in the latter half of the 19th century.