Address: 1 Dukes Avenue, Muswell Hill, London N10 2PS
Open: ? 1971 – 1998
The entrance was a door round the side of the building. There were only about 7 rooms
Picture from Highbury & Islington Express, 19th March 1999

‘The man in charge got me so angry I smashed all the windows and gave him a big ‘box in the head’. .. I was sent to Detention Centre. When I returned to Colgrain I was told I was not welcome there and that my bed was taken. I couldn’t understand what was going on so I left Colgrain and where was I supposed to live? I took a bus to Archway to see my social worker. This was no help as social services was on strike. I was angry and confused. How could I be homeless? I had always had a home. Islington Council looked after me. They’re my so called parents.’ (Bobby Martin – 1978)

‘These children are in their third year at Colgrain and 46 highly disturbed children have passed through the home in that time. Children are increasingly unsettled at the number of children seen coming and going in Colgrain.’ Staff from Colgrain – file record 80s.

‘The Superintendent did Pin Down – he’d hold your arms up and put his knee in your back on the floor.’ ISN Survivor

‘I asked for tomato sauce – the worker said ‘What did you say?’ He said I didn’t say ‘thankyou’ and so I got beaten.’ ISN Survivor

‘One young boy was pinned down – he went beserk.’ 2 ISN Survivors who witnessed this.

‘Just before I went to Colgrain there had been an incident (July 84). It was empty as early in 1984 they had got rid of all the kids. One girl was sent to Middlesex Lodge.’ ISN Survivor

Number of ISN survivors that lived at Colgrain children’s home. 13: 6 men and 7 women

Numbers of children named by ISN survivors as living at Colgrain children’s home: 59: 36 boys and 23 girls

Residential staff  named by survivors as working at Colgrain children’s home: 38: 17 men and 21 women

Numbers of children named in council documents as living at Colgrain children’s home:

In 1975 a survivor’s file states that 3 children in Colgrain were ‘ autistic’ – yet it was not designated for the care of children with disability.

In 1981 the Daily Mirror reported on the impact of a strike on children in Colgrain. The article refers to 3 boys and 3 girls between the ages of 14 and 17 years.

In 1992 savings were being made by Colgrain, 29 Highbury New Park and Grosvenor having 27 places as Grosvenor was no longer having 3 bedded units.

LBI Council minutes 22.10.1992

In 1999 there were 6 long term placements for young people age 14-18 years (Islington Gazette 19.3.99)

‘Some children came from Dixton when it closed [1985].’ ISN Survivor 80s

Life at Colgrain children’s home 

In the 90s this home was the subject of investigation following the Evening Standard allegations about sexual abuse by staff and financial irregularities. The regime at this home was brutal and many of the survivors speak of sexual and physical abuse by staff. It was a small long stay home outside Islington – the age range of children was mainly 13 – 17 yrs but there were some younger children. One member of staff took a number of children to his home regularly – he is now deceased- and they were exposed to abusive images (animations).

‘I was beaten mercilessly.’

‘I had bruises from a member of staff – I was told I bruised easily.’

‘In the first year I was at Colgrain I was sexually assaulted 3 times.’

‘There were drugs at Colgrain.’

‘My sister was moved and I didn’t know where she had gone. No-one told me.’

‘I was only 9 years old – Colgrain was beatings and 100% sexual abuse.’

‘I was kicked and dragged and locked in for hours – that was regular.’

‘We were deprived of food as a punishment.’

‘Two of us were put on the pill by Brook Rd Clinic at Manor Gardens – we were only 14.’

‘For terminations of pregnancy we had to wait because Islington wouldn’t pay for us to go to a private clinic.’

Islington Council minutes, 1985
16.10.86 Council Minutes: Black and Ethnic Minority children almost exactly 50% of children in residential care. Less than 25% of staff from similar backgrounds. Implications for recruitment strategies.
Council Minutes 16.10.86: Colgrain retained as a long term unit
Highbury & Islington Express, 19.03.1999

Ivy Gale was a very brave residential social worker in Islington who blew the whistle on child abuse.  She worked in Colgrain children’s home and also at 114 Grosvenor Avenue and was sacked after raising concerns.


Children from Colgrain children’s home were taken to Spain and Wales in the 80s and survivors describe managers leaving them to look after themselves with one accident with the council van and another where a child was injured assisted to hospital by her peers. Survivors of these holidays describe neglect and some also speak of abuse. More information on the Holidays page.

Industrial Action

Islington Gazette, 26.03.1982
Daily Mirror, 12.03.1981, more info on Industrial Action page

‘Children abused by pimps in Islington’ 

Evening Standard, 1st August 1994

By Eileen Fairweather & Stewart Payne 

PAEDOPHILES, pimps and drug pushers preyed upon young people in Islington children’s homes, a damning report states today. Child sex abusers were able openly to telephone and recruit from the borough’s homes, “luring” boys and girls with offers of drugs, alcohol and money from under the noses of those entrusted to care for them. Children absconded and regularly stayed away overnight. Pimps were able to leave messages and money. Staff often had no idea of the whereabouts of children. 

Fears that they were being abused were not properly investigated and the report reveals astonishing naivety by those caring for difficult inner-city children. Quite simply, they were able to run rings around care workers. 
The report graphically highlights the plight of a 13-year-old boy who absconded 90 times and was feared to be involved in a paedophile ring. Yet it took the council 30 months to investigate his case, including holding meetings which no one attended. In the end nothing was done because “the trail had gone cold”. 

The official report, which Islington council tried to keep secret, accuses its social work management of shocking negligence and bungling incompetence. It goes to the very heart of an Evening Standard investigation into scandalous child care practices in the borough. Central to the newspaper allegations was the claim that children were victims of paedophiles. This is now confirmed. A series of earlier reports have already endorsed accusations of management incompetence, an unworkable organisation and a dogma-ridden administration. 

This latest independent report is highly critical of the council, particularly senior management. It also censures local police for their failure to investigate pimps targeting children’s homes and area police chiefs are now considering whether to take internal disciplinary action. 

And even when staff expressed concern there was little evidence of “senior management activity” in dealing with the matter, says the report by independent social services expert Emlyn Cassam. But, most damaging of all to the Labour-run council, is the appalling lack of senior management response to fears that network sex abusers were exploiting children in its own homes. Mr Cassam’s report concentrates on the handling of just one of the many abuse cases the Standard highlighted although it has many parallels. The boy, referred to as “A”, arrived in care at the age of 13 from a disturbed family life having been beaten by his mother. 

He was always going to be a difficult child to cope with. For this reason alone, Islington should have used all its skills and resources in attempting to rebuild his shattered life. Instead, he was further abused. Throughout his time at an Islington children’s home “A” regularly absconded, he played truant from school, his criminal activity increased and he used alcohol and drugs. 
He told an agency worker at the home that he was seeing a “big, fat Jamaican”, aged about 50, who gave him money. “He lured boys and girls with bribes of money and dope. After a while he lined up punters to go with them.” He named that man as “George”. He said he had not done anything with the man “yet”, was scared of him and afraid of being hurt rectally. 

This conversation should have raised sufficient alarms to spur the council into action. It didn’t. 
The worker acted correctly in reporting the conversation to a senior. Girls in care were also overheard talking about a man called “fat Alan”, who was known to give money for sexual favours and leave messages for boy “A”. The man was now making direct contact with children in other homes. 

The local police child protection team were informed and meetings between the council and officers were held. It became clear that George and Alan were probably the same man. From then on the inquiry dragged, even though there were by now young people from three different homes possibly involved and apparently more than one pimp. The Cassam report states that both police and council failed to instigate an overall strategy to investigate the evidence. In fact, there appears to have been a naive willingness not to investigate because boy “A” claimed he had ceased contact with “Fat Alan”. 

Yet concerns over the welfare of boy “A” remained. He continued to abscond. A report at the time stated: “Roughly speaking he has been missing 90 times. He goes to see a man…who we think is a paedophile”. 
THE Cassam report states that this was the first time that the plight of “A” he been reported to the local neighbourhood office of Islington social services. Not true. One of the Evening Standard’s informants Neville Mighty, a children’s home deputy, had reported the case of “A” a full year before to the then head of children’s homes Lyn Cusack. The council had no excuse for not acting at a senior level to investigate the case of “A”. It didn’t. Instead Neville Mighty, who had reported a pimp sleeping with a girl in care and 10 runaways from other Islington homes being introduced to child sex rings, was sacked. He claims this was in a bid to silence him. 

Cusack, married to a senior police officer formerly in charge of Islington child protection officers, resigned from the council last November in the wake of the Standard allegations. Throughout 1992, meetings were held to review the case of boy “A” and in August the council’s child protection co-ordinator Sara Noakes remarked that she would consider a joint meeting with police “when enough information has been gathered”. 

Finally police promised surveillance of suspects’ addresses but nothing happened. Pointedly Mr Cassam states in his report: “For six months staff in the neighbourhood services department believed that the police were pursuing enquires. They were not”. He adds that social services failure to chase up police “shows a surprising lack of urgency”. Instead memos were flying around requesting “a sharing of information” and a meeting was set up at which “nobody turned up or sent apologies – including the police”. 

Meanwhile, pimps were still contacting children in care and one girl admitted she had “been with older men for money”. During this time a children’s home closed after a “riot” involving boy “A”. The disturbance was said to be over drugs and money. 

Eventually, in February this year, 30 months after children’s homes head Lyn Cusack was first alerted to the fears over boy “A” and others, her deputy John Goldup, reported: “It appears that a man acting in an organised way, and possibly with others, ‘targeted’ children from at least one home”. Boy “A”, the victim of Islington’s indifference, is now in custody. 

Mr Cassam concludes that children’s homes were “unable to control or modify” children’s behaviour; case files showed that senior staff didn’t have “any grip on events”; and “there was no evidence of senior man-agement activity in dealing with the allegations of organised abuse”. Mr Cassam praised new child protection procedures set up by Islington follow the Standard investigation and subsequent independent reports. 

An Islington council spokesman denied that the Cassam report had been withheld to avoid bad publicity, stressing the decision had been made on grounds of confidentiality. “We acknowledge that things have gone wrong and are determined that, over time, we will build one of the best social services departments in the capital”. 

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said that senior officers had received a copy of the Cassam report and noted its findings. As a result new recommendations are to be made to child protection teams. There are no plans to discipline officers.

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