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Map Yeadon/ Rawdon
Map of Yeadon / Rawdon
This section of map shows the Yeadon & Rawdon area.
Refer to the following as to approximate date of map. Ref: Mitchell Memorial Home
The next phase of Knottfield’s history saw its development into the Mitchell Memorial Home. Though publicly funded, this was set in motion through the generosity of a local man and his wife, in response to two tragic family losses.
The first step was recounted by Mr Morrell’s friend, Councillor John Cross, at a meeting of the local District Council – as reported in the local weekly newspaper, the Wharfedale and Airedale Observer, on 26th July, 1918.
Councillor Cross told Council members that he was
“… going down to Leeds in the train with Mr Morrell some two months ago … discussing the great need that existed for the provision of some home for discharged sailors and soldiers. Mr Morrell thought for a little while, and, when we had got out of the train at Leeds he said ‘Well, there is a certain house … I shall be very glad to make it a gift for the use of sailors and soldiers’.”
Mr Morrell was true to his promise. Knottfield House was purchased by Mr George Medley Morrell a leather manufacturer from the Bradford and Leeds area and his wife Edith. They purchased the property to perpetuate the memory of their two nephews, Lieutenant George Mitchell (died 22 July 1915 France) and Major Tom Illingworth Mitchell (died 12 April 1918 France). They were the sons of the late Mr Tom Mitchell and Marion Mitchell. These young officers were casualties of the 1st World War conflicts.
George Morrell presented the property under a deed of trust registered on 13 August 1918 to the West Riding County Council and requested that it was to be used as a hospital for returning service men (Army and Navy) who were afflicted with Tuberculosis or for as long as the need exists; and thereafter, to be used as the County Council may decide. This property was to be known as the Mitchell Memorial Home.
The Wharfedale and Airedale Observer ran two articles about the ‘Generous Gift’ from the Morrell’s.
The first article appeared in Friday’s paper, of 26 July 1918 on page 3. The article was as follows: - (abridged)
APPRECIATION OF MR AND MRS MORRELL’S GIFT
‘Cr. Cross said that, with the council’s permission, he wished to propose, “That this council wishes to place on record its high appreciation of the services of Mr and Mrs George Morrell, for their generous and spontaneous gift of the memorial home for wounded soldiers, and afterwards for the children. They are gratified that the people of Horsforth are to benefit in the scheme.” This action on the part of Mr and Mrs Morrell, said Cr. Cross, was quite a spontaneous gift, in their thought for the sufferings of our soldiers and sailors. He (Cr. Cross) was going down to Leeds in the train with Mr Morrell some two months ago, and he was speaking to that gentleman of the great need that existed for the provision of some home for discharged sailors and soldiers. Mr Morrell thought for a little while, and when they got out of the train at Leeds he said,
“Well, there is a certain house. If you can buy that house for a certain sum (he did not limit me to £500). I shall be very glad to make it a gift for the use of sailors and soldiers.”
When they considered it, said Cr. Cross, it made them admire very much the simple and spontaneous way in which the gift was made.'
During the opening ceremony, Councillor Cross made a speech reflecting the spirit among those who had undertaken the task of making Mr Morrell’s gift a reality. As reported in the Wharfedale and Airedale Observer, he hoped that:
“… the Home might be managed as a home, rather than an institution. It would receive cases in the early stages of illness, and it was necessary, therefore, that it should be permeated with an atmosphere of hope and cheerfulness. There was room for many to help. They wanted a recreation room, a grand piano, gramophones, and other things to make the place cheerful and happy.”
After being restored, furnished and equipped, the Home was officially opened on Saturday, November 23rd, 1918 – less than a fortnight after the cessation of hostilities.
Amongst the dignitaries and distinguished individuals from the surrounding area, it was noted that it had been an appropriate and touching ceremony for the opening of the Mitchell Memorial Home. After the official opening performed by Mrs Edward Lascelles (Joan Eleanor Campbell, nee Balfour), there was the formal handing over of the title deeds.
It was reported as follows: - (abridged)
HANDING OVER THE TITLE DEEDS
‘Canon Phipps having offered a prayer of dedication, Mr Morrell handed to the Chairman, in a silver casket, the title deeds of the property, saying that it gave him and Mrs Morrell great pleasure to present the estate to the County Council.
……… The Chairman, accepting the gift, said that in the spring of this year Mr and Mrs Morrell, recognising that something needed to be done, and done quickly, generously offered to present this estate to the County Council primarily for the treatment of discharged soldiers and also to perpetuate the memory of their two nephews.’
The article also went on into detail as to the future of the home when it was no longer needed as a convalescent home. The County Council also acquired seven acres of additional land adjoining the estate, as extra land, when the home would eventually become a facility for ‘physically defective children.’ (It is conceivable that his land was Colonel Stanhope’s)
George Morrell lived at Rawdon Hall, Rawdon Leeds. It was unfortunate that he did not live long enough to see the good work and care that was being offered to the men who were at the home. George died on 8 January 1920 some 13 months after he gifted the property. He was buried on 12 January 1920 at St Peter in Rawdon. His effects totalled £80,000 which was quite a sum of money then. Edith, his wife lived for another thirteen years, and it was she who would have seen the changes happening to the home. Edith died on 22 July 1936 and was buried with her husband on 25 July 1936.
The old building’s new role created a poignant link with the Averdieck family; despite enjoying wealth and status, they had experienced tragedy too. George Hermann Averdieck and his wife Emma lost three of their four sons. In 1914, Percy was drowned at sea when the ship on which he was a passenger, sank after colliding with another vessel; then in 1916, the Great War claimed his two elder brothers, Godfrey Harold and George Gerald. The bereaved parents may have found consolation in knowing that an old family home was now helping to repair a legacy of this dreadful conflict.
The Mitchell Memorial Home continued to operate as a home for tubercular ex-servicemen for ten years, until the number of former servicemen arriving at its doors dwindled to such a low level that it became clear that the Home’s valuable service was now coming to an end. It is not known when the last of the ex-servicemen left the home.
On 2 October 1928, a meeting of the Elementary Education Sub-committee conferred with the Tuberculosis Sub-Committee of the Public Health and Housing Committee and the Governors of the Mitchell Memorial Home Rawdon, concerning the suitability of the home for the use of crippled children. This meeting was held as the number of ex-soldier patients had gradually been growing less and the building was not fulfilling as useful a purpose as it might.
Two months later, on 4 December it was reported that the conference had taken place and it was resolved that a scheme for the adaptation and extension of the home; as a home for crippled children should be prepared. Plans were submitted at a meeting the following year on 5 February 1929, nevertheless it took another seven years (as noted in the minutes of the board of Governors) of submissions, amendments and extra appointments of individuals to serve on the General committees and Sub Committees, that the home eventually opened as a residential school for delicate children during the summer of 1936.
In a newspaper article in the Ilkley Gazette of 1936 the following announcement was made:
“Change at Rawdon Home – Rawdon Mitchell Memorial Home, opened after the war as a home for tubercular ex-servicemen, is shortly to be used as a sanatorium for sickly children. Mr Brooke Pickard CC, who is Chairman of the Board of Governors, said this week that the number of ex-soldier patients had gradually been growing less, and it had been felt that the home was not fulfilling as useful a purpose as it might.”
After all the bureaucratic meetings, submissions, amendments and paperwork, the home finally opened as a residential school for ‘delicate children’ and appeared to fulfil its purpose well. However just nine years after the school opened, a meeting of the Board of Governors on 18 December 1945, resolved to close the home temporarily because of the shortage of staff. The board of Governors came together for their last meeting on 7 January 1946 and by March of 1946 it was resolved not to continue the home as a residence for delicate children, but to convert it to be used as a remand home for girls. Meanwhile, the 100-year-old building remained empty.
21 September 2019
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