Islington Residential Holidays

There is no doubt that some survivors experienced sexual and physical assaults on holidays – 30 or 40 years later the experience, that promised to be a happy occasion which rapidly turned into a horror movie, stays strongly in their memories. Holidays provide an additional opportunity for abuse – boats, tents, forests, hotel rooms and vehicles provide hidden spaces, alcohol is easily available and children, in an unfamiliar environment, struggle to get help. They also have a heightened dependency on the residential staff for their basic care needs.

Fieldwork team managers were responsible for scrutinizing and managing the holidays – the finance, parental permission and safety. Most of the time they simply made a record on file of a holiday break for a child which they assumed was enjoyable. They did not question their assumptions and consider that the residential care managers might have had ulterior abusive motives. When the residential managers told the social workers that they would get the passports, inform parents, pay the costs and make all the arrangements, these tasks were generally accepted by social workers as something they did not have to bother to do.

There was an inequity in terms of which children went on holidays. ISN know of a number of children who were in boarding schools for whom the holidays were LBI children’s homes such as Sheringham Road, Grosvenor Avenue, Conewood St, Elwood St or Gisburne House. Some children were deprived of holidays as a punishment which would have left them isolated within the children’s home and more exposed to abuse.

The tell tale signs were there when questions could so easily have been asked. Why only one manager with one child going to Spain, Portugal or Jersey?
Why only boys on a holiday? Why only girls? Why were they staying in a ‘posh’ hotel? Which staff were going and what were the sleeping arrangements? Why did the children have to raise the funding themselves often by long sponsored military-style walks? What activities were organized and were these suitable for children? What attention was paid to disabilities and special needs?

Two postcards dated 1978, sent by a survivor who was taken to Jersey from Grosvenor Avenue children’s home. More on Jersey Holidays here.

There was a strong militaristic context to the holidays as one survivor said, ‘Walk, walk, walk, walk..’ . There are survivor accounts in 1981 when children from Gisburne House walked all the way from Watford to Islington clearly recalling going via Paddington, Marylebone, Euston and meeting the Mayor at the Town Hall prior to getting a lift back. They speak of blisters on their feet, thirst and exhaustion. Who were the blinkered dignitaries who met these children? It is obvious that, during this political event, no-one seemed to notice that for these children something was so terribly wrong.

In 1983, again from Gisburne House, boys walked 48 miles in 24 hours. In 1981 in the Scottish Highlands girls and boys walked 23 miles with a backpack. In 1981 theere is record of a walk in the Pennine Way which survivors say was an annual event. ‘We had, blisters on our feet and no socks, We did 24 miles every day – without a compass we walked in a circle – if we fell over we were kicked. They put rocks on our feet to break our feet so we couldn’t walk.’ The manager would give us a lift in his car on our own which was a ‘privilege’. There were night walks on the Pennine Way and the New Forest. There was no regulation at all of what the children would be expected to do on the holidays and whether the activities were suitable for their age. They were children. This was neglect.

The ‘Germans’ game is one description that took place on night trips into forests. Children from Elwood Street, Copthorne (Village Road) and Conewood Street were taken to Epping Forest and from Conewood St to the New Forest , from Gisburne House to local forests, the New Forest and to Llambeda in Wales. Grosvenor Avenue children were taken to Whippendell Woods. Survivors described counting cattle grids on the drive there in order to try and find their way back because on these trips children were abandoned to find their way back to a vehicle or campsite. They describe a high level of terror, people pulling up in cars to try and pick them up, hearing children’s screams and cries in the woods, feeling scared and hiding, huddled together, when they heard a noise. A survivor describes three staff jumping on him from behind and how he fled back to the campsite terrified. Another describes seeing a boy slumped over a car bonnet with his ‘hair literally standing on end’.

‘I was taken to Epping Forest at night to make my way through the woods to the centre having to walk in woods at night and through a cemetery feeling in fear for my life and feeling I would be killed.’ ISN Survivor

These were military style expeditions with a sinister purpose which was to enable strangers to access children. Of this we have no doubt. ‘The Islington case clearly identifies the enormous number of ‘back doors’ and other means that paedophiles could, if they so choose, use to access young people’ (White Inquiry p 64). White refers to a managerial vacuum in relation to residential homes – there was, ‘poor management which created the conditions where the sexual exploitation of children by the staff, pimps or paedophiles could have taken place… there was insufficient oversight of care practices leaving children vulnerable in a number of ways’ (p34). There is no doubt, from survivor accounts, that many residential children’s homes managers wielded absolute power over the children, their families, residential staff and field social workers and managers. They were manipulative using a range of strategies to maintain control and to enable themselves and others to access and abuse children.

A children’s home manager from Grosvenor Avenue home recruited two 10 year old boys, from outside the care system, to go on holiday with children from the home. This was exposed by a survivor at a council meeting on 28.9.17 and reported in the Islington Gazette (29.9.17). The manager was recruiting boys for sexual exploitation on a regular basis from a local Islington primary school.

“I wasn’t in care,” one survivor told councillors, “but when I was in primary school one of the leaders of one of the care homes used to take people on school journeys. He used to cherry pick people.
“I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones to go on the school journey – and for a week he sexually abused me. I have had to live with that for years.”
Previously, allegations of abuse have come from children who lived in Islington care homes, were sent to homes outside the borough by Islington Council, or had Islington social workers.
But the survivor said: “I think it’s a bigger thing than we even possibly imagine. […] I would like to know how someone from a care home can go into a school and cherry pick people. This guy would say: ‘You, pretty blond boy, can come along.’”

Council leader Richard Watts urged the man to speak to police emphasizing the need for an independent investigation but there was no justice as he found out that the manager was already deceased.

It is obvious that for one manager to have the power in the Islington education system to access children from outside the care system and take them abroad and convince parents – this was a well organized and repeated strategy.

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.

Financial concerns relating to a holiday from Sheringham Road to Rimini which cost £3670 were raised by Councillor Ann Page (The Times 4.9.92 (above left), Community Care 18.11.82 (above right)). The Director of Social Services, John Rea Price, initially objected to the holiday but councillors had overruled him and he finally agreed after hearing the children had missed out on a Christmas holiday which had been cancelled. One of these councillors was Victor McGeer brother of Peter McGeer who had been deputy at the children’s home and Anne Page said it was unwise of him not to declare a conflict of interest.

In 1992 a solicitor was asking for help regarding children abused on holidays in the early 80s (Islington Gazette 22.10.92) – ISN have not been able to establish what holidays this referred to.

Holidays abroad
Rotterdam 1969 holiday from Gisburne House: Postcard sent to a social worker

As early as 1969 children were taken to Rotterdam from Gisburne House and stayed in a hotel. The card was dated 10.11.69

Holidays in hotels in Latvia, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy should have caused managerial questions to be raised as to the real purpose. On some of the holidays survivors were abused. Other holidays could have been set up for the staff to get luxurious holidays for themselves particularly when one member of staff took a child on their own. Perhaps that one child was a way of justifying the expenditure. The key point is there was no managerial, financial or childcare oversight – or was it complicity?

On 1st December 1984, the Islington Gazette reported children on holiday in Spain, France and Holland. One councillor spoke of the ‘council throwing money around like confetti’ although acknowledged children in care ‘deserved the best’. There was discussion about the children attending a bullfight which offended against the council’s position on animal welfare – this matter was to be raised with the residential home superintendent. If only questions had also been raised about the care and safety of the children.

“Staff should also be ‘discouraged’ from taking children in care to their homes”

John Rea Price (Islington Council’s Director of Social Services)
Islington Gazette, 28th September 1989

ISN have numerous accounts from survivors who, as children, visited field and residential staff in their own homes, including staff council flats on nearby estates in Islington. For John Rea Price, Director of Social Services, to recommend only that staff be ‘discouraged’ from taking children to their home, demonstrates how management routinely placed children at risk of harm by their collusion with this unprofessional practice. Survivors explain how they were taken to the homes of residential staff for Christmas, holidays and weekends. Some were enjoyable experiences and others abusive.

There is no doubt this was a loophole in the protective systems which opened the doors wide to abusers and their networks gaining access to children. Here are some examples relating to children’s home managers:

  • On two occasions 4 survivors went to a country cottage and say they were made to do his building work.
  • Children were taken away to stay with the parents of a manager in the north of England
  • Groups of children went frequently to Nick Rabet’s ‘The Stables’ his country estate in Sussex

Full List of Known Holidays from Islington Children’s Homes

Date (Approx)Children’s home where the children came from (A-Z)Numbers of ISN survivors who reported HolidayPlace of Holiday
1970sConewood, Grosvenor Ave, Highbury Crescent Sheringham Rd, Sunshine Holidays. Stayed with families. ‘Wear your heart on your sleeve’
1971/2Ashbrook 103 Park Ave1Cromer, Norfolk
White low buildings in L shape. Field in middle. Farmhouses.
1977Ashbrook 103 Park Ave1New Forest Camping
25.2.77-11.3.77Ashbrook 103 Park Ave1Funchal Portugal Fuertoventura Hotel
8.10.77-21.10.77Ashbrook 103 Park Ave1Alicante, Spain Hotel
1983 SummerColgrain3Alicante Spain 7 children named
5.7.83Colgrain and Conewood2Wales ‘Therapeutic break’ 7 children named. Went in yellow transit van
1984 DecemberColgrain2Spain, Holland and France Local press 1.12.84 covered story of 8 children being taken to a bullfight.
1984Colgrain2Suffolk Project, Thornham Magna Estate, Eye. Camping
1978Collins Meadow1Great Yarmouth
17.7.80Collins Meadow1Child deprived of holiday as punishment
1-4.9.74Conewood1Isle of Wight
1974-6Conewood and Elwood1Savile taxi outings
1976Conewood and Elwood2Devon Liverpool Wales Camping and caravans 50 children on holiday from different homes 4 children named
8.1977Conewood2Scotland Camping
1977Conewood3Epping Forest Night time outings in vans. Every 2 weeks.
1979Conewood1New Forest ‘where Robin Hood used to rob people’. Bunk beds in air raid shelter 3 named
1982-3Conewood1Child sent to Conewood for holiday from a therapeutic community
1986Conewood (and Elwood)1Norfolk/Suffolk Holiday lodges 3 named. Big round buildings for girls and boys. Fire on first day – had to come home.
1987Conewood St1Riga Latvia 
1995Park Place (prev.Conewood St)1Camping
1966Elwood St1Savile taxi and boats
Late 70sElwood Street1Epping Forest.
Night time outings
1974Elwood St1Child sent to Elwood St for holidays
1975-76Elwood St1Devon holiday
Mr Mac had a house in Devon
1976-7Elwood St1Devon 50 children from Conewood St and Elwood St on this holiday with children from other homes
1976/7Elwood St1Brighton 3 named
16.8.1977Elwood St1Tunisia. Manager Bernie Bain took children in his vehicles. Same date Elvis died.
1983Elwood St2Camping in New Forest
1983Elwood St1Butlins
7.9.84Elwood St1Spain. Flight from Gatwick. 2 boys to a room. Went go karting 4 children on this holiday
1962Gisburne Reception Centre1Boy went there on holiday from his family
Took a flight. Camping. All boys. Nick Rabet. Sand dunes.
1969Gisburne1Gravenburg Rotterdam
Hotel. Child sent postcard to social worker.10.11.69
1970sGisburne1Visits to local forests. 6 children on this outing.
1970Gisburne1Austria. Children raised the money
1971 1-15 8.71Gisburne1Camping Army cadets
1971Gisburne1Isle of Wight
10.11.1972Gisburne1Camping with Derek Duker
1972Gisburne2Belgium France Germany Austria – visited Dachau former concentration camp.
Camping and trips to salt mine, Munich and the Alps 16 seater minibus 4 children named – one from Nottingham
21.2.1974Gisburne1Wales weekend
1974 -18-31 AugustGisburne1Camping
1974-6Gisburne1Wales, Talylebont.
Old school house. Long buildings in L-shape. Field in the middle. Playing field on the right. Camping 4 children named
Camping 2 children named
Haut de la Garenne children’s home
1974-6Gisburne /Cuffley1Jersey.
Scuba diving and visiting WW2 bunkers and underground hospital. Went by ferry from Plymouth or Portsmouth. Manager of Gisburne House had a boat
Savile taxi trip Camping
2-17.4.77Gisburne1Pennine Way Walking Photos in local newspapers
31.7.78Gisburne1Norfolk Broads Boating 3 children named
1980Gisburne1Llambeda, Wales Camping Went 3 times
1981Gisburne1Wales Caravan
1981Gisburne4Llambeda Camping Night time outing to forest 5 girls 8-10 boys
1981Gisburne1Devon & Penzance Youth hostelling
18.6.81-2.7.81Gisburne2Scottish Highlands Inverness Walking – 23 miles with backpack
1981Gisburne2Mousehole, Cornwall Cottage 4 boys
1981Gisburne1Rickmansworth – Paddington Watford to Euston Walking the whole distance. Van back after Mayor’s reception at Town Hall, Islington
Camping.5 or 6 boys to a car. 11 boys
14-28.8.81Gisburne3Pennine Way Every year Walking: 24 miles. Midnight runs 4 named
1981Gisburne1Norfolk Boating 7 children – boys
12-26.8.82Gisburne1North Wales Camping Army green caravan towed by minibus 2 named
12-22.10.82Gisburne2French Pyrennes Lourdes Took ferry and own tents Walking
1980-2?Gisburne1France A mixed group
25-30.10.82Gisburne3Norfolk Broads Boating Manager had his own boat Girls had separate boat
1983Gisburne1Costa Brava Hotel
Unknown dateGisbune1Liverpool
Unknown dateGisburne1Los Angeles
Unknown dateGisburne3Forest Night time outing. Ran miles to get back to campsite. Walking
May 1983Gisburne2New Forest Junior boys
9-10.7.83 also 8-11thGisburne3Lyke Lake, North York Moors Walking: 50 mile cross country run in 24 hours. Prior to going had mountain craft and survival lectures
Hotel 5 children named
? 1983Gisburne1Poole Dorset
14-23.7.84Gisburne5Calella, Cadiz  Spain.
Hotel Group passport
Aug 1984Gisburne1France Child deprived of holiday as punishment
3.4.85Gisburne1New Forest
1985Highbury Crescent/Gisburne2New Forest.
3-17.8.85Gisburne2North Wales Harlech Camping. Concerned family went to site and child was not there or in any other local campsite
1985Gisburne 1Norfolk Broads. Boating
14-25 .7.86Gisburne4Lido de Jessolo Italy Camping/orienteering Holiday planned for Benidorm then changed. Boys from Scotland and girls from Ireland on same holiday
10.7.-16.9.1994Gisburne  1Senior Social Worker ran a holiday scheme at Gisburne from Eastgate Intermediate Treatment group
UndatedGisburne?3Norfolk Broads Boating Girls boat and 2 boys boats
UndatedGisburne4Great Yarmouth
UndatedGisburne1Milton Keynes Camping/walking Canal walk
UndatedGisburne1Trips to abbatoirs and to Harpenden psychiatric hospital
1969Grosvenor Ave1Jersey. Camping with 2 young staff
1972-6Grosvenor Ave1Hotel in Mayfair
Overnight stay at birthdays and Christmas time. Got presents
1972-6Grosvenor Ave1Whippendell woods.
Night time outing
1972-7Grosvenor Ave2Butlins Bognor Regis Minehead Filey near Scarborough.
Went every year 2 children named
1972-7Grosvenor Ave1Bishop Stortford.
Home of member of residential staff. Rowing and football
1972-6Grosvenor Ave1Jersey
Haut de la Garenne 5 named
1972-7Grosvenor Ave1Jersey.
Haut de la Garenne 2 months stay Worked in the fields picking grapes
1972-7Grosvenor Ave1Jersey Visited Guernsey. Haut el la Garenne 2 weeks then at large white house on a hill near St Helier with 6 rooms
1972-7Grosvenor Ave1Norfolk Manager Nick Rabet’s  house near sand dunes – Georgian house with blue door
1972-7Grosvenor Ave1Sussex Nick Rabet’s  manor house and play centre ‘The Stables.’
1972-6Grosvenor Ave2Kursaal  Southend Amusement park Children called them ‘ Slide parties’ Savile taxi events. Every year 5 named
UndatedGrosvenor Ave1Hollywood, USA
2 weeks
1973Grosvenor Ave2Lake District Camping
August 1973Grosvenor Ave1Jersey.
Haut de la Garenne. Visits to WW2 tunnels Exchange. Staff from Jersey home went to Islington
1.9.1973Grosvenor Ave1South of France.
Camping. Drove from Calais to Brittany Went twice. Girls to France and boys to Jersey
1975-77Grosvenor Ave1Jersey survivor from Haut de la Garenne on holiday in Islington children’s home 6 children on exchange
1975Grosvenor Ave1Jersey survivors from Haut de la Garenne described childrens home ISN think fits the description of 114 Grosvenor Avenue Haut de la Garenne, 6 children on exchange
1976Grosvenor Ace1Jersey
17-23.4.77Grosvenor Ave1Canoeing
9.8.77Grosvenor Ave2Guernsey.
Stayed night in Boulogne Visited prison on a rock out to sea. Went by coach and transit van
? dteGrosvenor Ave1Epping Forest.
Night time outing Every 2 weeks
1977Grosvenor Ave1Swanage
1978Grosvenor Ave2Jersey.
Camping. Child sent Postcard from Gorey Bay close to Haut de la Garenne
1978Grosvenor Ave1Guernsey Day trip to Jersey and France.
Walked down hill to a prison on a rock out to sea. Walked to it. Camping
1978Grosvenor Ave1France Camping
1979Grosvenor Ave1Dover
2.9.1981Grosvenor Ave1Jersey.
UndatedGrosvenor Ave1France and Haut de la Garenne.
Took helicopter twice 2 children named
1984Grosvenor Ave1Torremolinos Hotel.
2 boys and 2 girls from Islington school and children from Grosvenor Avenue with Manager Dave Burrage
1986Grosvenor Ave2Jersey.
Camping in old lorry park and stayed at a house
1986Grosvenor Ave1Isle of Wight
1986Grosvenor Ave2Sussex .
Manor house ‘The Stables’ with Nick Rabet Manager Grosvenor Ave who owned the property
Oct.1987Grosvenor Ave2Blackpool – Alton Towers.
4 children
1987-8Grosvenor Ave1Holiday placement  for child in boarding school
22-24.2.72    Highbury Crescent1Llangower Bala North Wales.
Camping 2 children named
1974Highbury Crescent1Cuffley.
Camping 3 children named
1980Highbury Crescent2Norfolk.
Boys and girls were separate
1980Highbury Crescent2Epping Forest.
Night time outings
1983Highbury Crescent1Butlins
1985Highbury Crescent1Butlins.
2 named
late 1980sHighbury Crescent1Alderney with one RSW
1987Highbury Crescent1Barge trip.
Organised by Highbury Roundhouse
1997Crescent Family Centre1Cumbria
23-26.8.7229 Highbury New Park3Perren Sands Holiday Centre Perranparty Cornwall.
Minibus and 3 chalets were hired
1980s29 Highbury New Park1Wales Pembrokeshire
1980s29 Highbury New Park1Wales Abergavenny
198529 & 80 Highbury New Park3Benidorm.
Hotel. 7 named Both homes went at same time
198829 Highbury New Park1Margate.
Day trip
198829 Highbury New Park2South France.
Camping: Other schools there from the north 5 children named
196859 Humber House1Belgium
1968Hutton Poplars1Ski-ing
1972Mildmay1YMCA Camping
‘one boy did not enjoy the holiday because black children were stared at’.
1975-76Mildmay1Caravan Holiday
1976Mildmay1YMCA Camping
1982-3Mildmay2Aviemore, Cairngorms Climbing
1982-3Mildmay1Tryfan Snowdonia Climbing
18.04.85 -22.04.85Mildmay1Amsterdam.
12 young people. Holloway Neighbourhood Group.
1970New Park House1Majorca.
Hotel. 6 named
1970?New Park House1Minehead
1972New Park House2Jersey
1973New Park House1Bournemouth.
An old schoolhouse
1973New Park House1Wales.
House of Manager’s friend
1974-76New Park House1Jersey
1977New Park House1Cornwall.
1978New Park House2Swaffam.
Residential worker’s cottage
1978New Park House1Chalets.
Went in minibus. Slept in bunk beds 5 named children
1978New Park House1Bristol.
Bedminster Boys club
1979New Park House2Wales.
Residential worker’s cottage
17-21.12.79New Park House1Majorca
1980New Park House2Billing Aquadrome,
1981New Park House1Caravan
1982New Park House1Llandudno
28.5.83- 6.6.83New Park House1Loreto del Mar Spain Camping. 9 children
1977Northampton Park1Norfolk Broads.
Boating boats called Lady1 and Lady2. Patio door at back of boat. Went in minibus
April 1978Northampton Park1Boy deprived of youth hostel holiday as punishment
 Northampton Park1Isle of Wight.
Smelly cabins
1993Northampton Park1Caravan
1971-2Oak Lodge1Debden camp.
1975Oak Lodge1Kent
1970sSheringham Rd1Amsterdam
undatedSheringham Rd1Blackpool Flat 3 and 4 holiday flats  Sunningdale,
undatedSheringham Rd1Carnarvonshire
undatedSheringham Rd1Liverpool
28.7.72Sheringham Rd1Austria.
Scout trip 5 children
Sept 1972Sheringham Rd1Blankenberg, Belgium Camping. 8 children named
1972 -?Sheringham Rd1St Marys Bay
1972?Sheringham Rd1Margate
1972?Sheringham Rd1Ramsgate
1972?Sheringham Rd1Suffolk project
1972?Sheringham Rd1Skegness
1972?Sheringham Rd1Ship.
Lot of children all ages and ethnicities. Not a yacht. Cameras
3-14.7.73Sheringham Rd2Belgium, Germany, France & Luxembourg.
Mini bus tour
10.12.73Sheringham Rd1Llandeilo
5.10.74Sheringham Rd1Annual taxi drivers trip
1974Sheringham Rd1Jersey
1975Sheringham Rd1Holland
1976Sheringham Rd2Holland.
Camping in tents. 3 children named
28.5.76Sheringham Rd1Norwich.
Visit to theatre
1978Sheringham Rd1Sheringham Rd
Holiday placement from boarding school
1980Sheringham Rd1Sheringham Rd.
Holiday placement from boarding school
1980Sheringham Rd1Wales
1980Sheringham Rd2Isle of Skye
Stayed in hotel which had half burnt down. Visitors flew in in helicopters
1980Sheringham Rd1Greece
1982Sheringham Rd2Rimini; Local press 4.9.82 and Community Care 18.11.82 covered story of expensive holiday for 9 children. See also Council Minutes 21.12.82
1984 Sheringham Rd1Dorset Clay Pigeon Caravan Park
1985Sheringham Rd1Wales
28.10-1.11.85Sheringham Rd1Ipswich. Master Builder Ketch
UndatedSheringham Rd1Derbyshire
1977?Sickert Court1Diss, Suffolk
1979Sickert Court1Suffolk Project
1978-9Solna Rd2Shropshire Staff family house
7.6.1980Solna Rd2North Wales
1982Solna Road1Portugal Hotel Golfino
1976Village Rd1Sea cadets holiday
1966Widbury1Walton on Naze

This table is a summary of holidays ISN have learnt about from information on files, from survivor accounts and some former staff statements.  There are accounts of accidents during these holidays where supervision was lacking and of violence, physical abuse, sexual harm and neglect. Some of the most painful memories survivors have of abuse are in the context of these holidays. The change of circumstances embedded the experiences vividly in their memories. Witnessing serious accidents, feeling afraid and abandoned on night hikes, thrown into water when they couldn’t swim, being absolutely exhausted on military style walks and being abused in isolated situations such as caravans, cars, hotel rooms and tents – these are deep seated memories.  Some children told their social workers they ‘didn’t enjoy the holiday at all’ but this didn’t seem to lead to further questioning as to what had gone so very wrong.  

The policy of allowing staff to take children to their homes was with few exceptions, a disaster for the children – a policy ready made for exploitation by child abusers. It was not uncommon for a holiday to include a visit to the home of a member of staff or their family. After all no-one was looking.  Children’s home staff having unilateral control over the choice and organisation of holidays gave power to those whose aim was to harm children – field social work oversight was framed in a blinkered world of optimism – in a grossly mistaken belief that a holiday must by definition be a good experience for a child in the council’s care.

Night walks in forests

The numbers of night walks in forests after having been abandoned and left to their own devices to find their way back to a campsite or vehicle is nothing short of shocking.  These ‘trips’ are on record from Conewood St, Elwood St, Gisburne House, Grosvenor Avenue and Highbury Crescent and to different forests. The stories from survivors, both women and men, are similar. They speak of  absolute terror, of men trying to pick them up in cars and of hearing children crying. Some cannot even speak of what happened. ISN think that this was a very specific way of exposing children to abuse. One woman has described to ISN a boy returning to a vehicle with his hair  ‘literally standing on end’ and slumped over the bonnet of the car – she never knew what had happened but knew it was something terrible.

Savile taxis and Sunshine holidays

From 8 of the survivor’s files and interviews, ISN has learnt about the Savile Taxi outings which took place every year when a hundred London taxis took about 300 children to the seaside for a day out (The Times, 28th February 1973) These events are reported by survivors from Conewood St and Elwood St 1974-6, Elwood Street in 1966, Grosvenor Avenue from 1972-6, Sheringham Road in 1974 and Gisburne House in 1973 & 1977.  Survivors describe the ‘Slide Parties’ held at the Kursaal Amusement Centre in Southend. 

‘We went to a place where the children were given loads of presents and toys. Sat at tables with men. We had to sit on their knees and get kissed. I was kissed by Savile. Went in a convoy. 3 course meal. Remember Savile coming to taxi – clunk click.‘ ISN Survivor

Savile is also mentioned by a survivor in relation to 5 homes (Conewood, Grosvenor Avenue, Highbury Crescent and Sheringham Rd ) which were said to have sent children on the Variety Club Sunshine holidays.  There are no Islington child abuse allegations related to these Sunshine holidays although some were reported elsewhere. (ITV News, 13th October 2012)

The role of Jimmy Savile in the Islington child abuse scandal is unclear. The Telegraph article ‘Jimmy Savile sex abuse: ‘Islington is still covering up’ mentions 3 women who as girls were abused in an Islington children’s home who said the perpetrator procured young girls from the home for Savile.  In 1979 a survivor told ISN that children from Conewood St and Grosvenor Avenue were taken to the filming of Jim ‘ll Fix it. One survivor from Widbury in 1977 said Savile visited the home and children went to Top of the Pops.

ISN conclude that Savile did have some connection to at least 7 Islington children’s homes although the evidence so far is limited.

In 2014 The Islington Tribune reported that ‘ Education Secretary Michael Gove ordered Islington to investigate information uncovered in the historic police inquiry which links Savile to children’s homes in the borough in the 1960s, 70s and 80s’.

Scott-Moncrieff L ( 2015) Report   Independent oversight of investigations into matters relating to Jimmy Savile at schools and children’s homes. Independent report for the Secretary of State for Education p.14

The Government commissioned report in 2015 by Lucy Scott-Moncrieff however named Sheringham Road as a home that Savile was not involved with! When ISN asked the council about the government commissioned investigation they said it was all a big mistake. However ISN wonder why any mention would be made of Sheringham Road at all in that case?  Also questions asked of Education Minister Martin Howarth in an email ( 9.4.2016)  gained no response.

Dr Liz Davies letter to the government Minister for Education responsible for the Report.

Keith Harding, a member of the Paedophile Information Exchange who lived in Hornsey Road, appeared alongside Savile on a Christmas edition of Jim’ll Fix It. (The Express, 10th May 2015)

An Islington Gazette article from 1990 shows Savile opening a centre for adults with learning disabilities.

If you have additional information about Islington holidays for children in care (1960s -90s) please let us know – it has not been easy to draw these facts together from multiple sources and there may be some duplication or errors which we will amend.

Please also see separate pages on Jersey Holidays and the Islington Suffolk Project

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