Mildmay Park – ‘Macs Hostel’

Address: 75A Mildmay Park, London N1 4NB, and 35A Mildmay Park, London N1 4NA
Open: 1965-1987

‘Macs Hostel was physical harm from start to finish.’

‘We were thrown into the lions den – I didn’t know how to survive.’

‘The ultimate nightmare for a child.’

‘I was physically abused by several staff in several homes for reasons unknown to me. But they clearly got pleasure out of violence.’

‘I knew some boys at Sheringham Road – they would let me stay there.’

(ISN survivors who lived in Mildmay)

‘A general culture of intimidation and aggression.’

(Former Residential worker)

Please note that survivors have reported all forms of abuse from their time in Mildmay but it is not appropriate for ISN to disclose the detail they provided. ISN also note that the file records relating to time spent at Mildmay are incomplete. There are no log books on files from this residential children’s home and few child in care reviews , legal or medical reports

Photo and report below from Islington Gazette, 23.05.1986

35A was a semi-independent hostel with self contained flats for 4 boys aged 16 – 18 years. It was across the road from 75A and under the supervision of Mildmay staff. (Description 1982 from former residential worker)

‘Mackies had another annexe
In
Mildmay road
It was self contained units
Sharing bathhroom
Basically a house full of rooms
With their
Own kettles and little oven
And they all came to Macks
To eat
The annexe was for working employed
boys only.’

(Islington Survivor)

History

75A Mildmay Park was formerly known as Founder’s Lodge Approved School, there are some archive photos here, here and here.

Established in 1963 this residential establishment retained its extremely punitive culture when the responsibility was passed from the Home Office to the London County Council and later to London Borough of Islington as a home for ‘delinquent’ teenage boys. In the same policy change that affected a change of use for Widbury children’s home, Mildmay Park changed in 1977 to be for ‘older more difficult adolescents.’

Council Minutes 29.3.77
Council minutes: 16.10.86. Children’s Residential Review

75A Mildmay Park was designated as a basis for the Islington Family Placement Unit from 1987. In February 1987 a boy age 18 was given 7 days notice to leave Mildmay as it was being closed.

Numbers of ISN survivors who lived in Mildmay Park children’s home: 12

1965-69: 1 boy aged 6 years

1970-1979: 6 boys aged 11 -16 years

1981-87: 5 boys aged 11-18 years

(Also 1 ISN survivor, a girl, attended there in 1991 when the building became a Family Centre.)

Numbers of children named by ISN survivors and former staff as living at Mildmay Park children’s home: 48

1965 -1969 2 boys aged under 6 years

1970-1980 26 boys

1980-1985 20 boys

Numbers of children in Mildmay ( residential worker)

10 in the main house

Residential staff named by ISN survivors and a former staff member as working at Mildmay

1965-1985: 33

5 women, of whom 3 were the wives of the managers, and 28 men

Life in Mildmay Park children’s home

This stuff was a daily routine at Mildmay.

They’d put your arms behind your back and sit astride you to control you.

Two would hold you against a wall to control you they would push you to the floor and stand over you to stop others getting involved who were watching.’

Arm up your back – knee in chest – hold you down – knee on neck. Wait until you almost blacked-out/ choked out and then lift off the pressure but if you got angry the knee would go back on your neck. I had had an operation on my neck so the pain was terrible. It was best not to show the anger.’

They would bring staff in from another home to deal with us. This worker would grab your neck, punch you in the head, slap you. If you fought back he would lay into you and hold you down with his knee in your neck until you suffocate.

I saw a young boy beaten in the dining room. Mr X was giving him a right kicking. Chasing him around the room kicking him. This memory still haunts me.’

(ISN survivor)

A former residential worker gave ISN his description of Mildmay in the early 80s.

‘8-10 young people lived in the main house. The children shared rooms maybe 2 in each. Showers were in separate rooms on the landings upstairs. Mr and Mrs Mac’s accommodation was adjacent to the main home. They could access the home through a door leading into the kitchen. 2 staff stayed in sleeping in rooms one for a residential worker and one for the duty manager… both were upstairs. The boys were aged 12-18 and their social workers visited infrequently.’

In 1978 a file entry stated that Mildmay was very unsettled with staff changes and some heavy scenes necessitated room moves. Similarly it was noted that in 1980 there were ‘major changes in staff at Mildmay. ‘

A social worker asked at a meeting in 1982 if anyone at Mildmay had the boy’s confidence to discuss feelings and the manager replied that there wasn’t anyone.

A survivor who lived in Grosvenor Avenue children’s home told ISN that 2 male staff from Mildmay acted as ‘ Uncles’ to boys in Grosvenor Avenue and stayed overnight. They slept in a room next to the boys dormitory.

Holidays

In more isolated situations on holidays, survivors report extensive abuse in situations of camping and caravans but also violent attacks in full sight of other children.

A former member of staff described two climbing holidays in Aviemore, Cairngorms and Snowdonia where 2 members of staff took a few boys – ISN have no criticisms from survivors of these holidays

Survivors spoke of a holiday in Devon where Mr Mac had a house – it has been said they went there every year for 2 weeks with children from other homes and stayed in caravans and went camping. They also went to Liverpool.

Survivors of Mildmay report extreme violence by staff as routine

‘Mr Mac – whacks, punch, kick, bang.’

‘I witnessed a member of staff hit a boy over the head with a metal bullworker causing it to bleed. I cannot recall his name.’ (Adult witness)

‘We were beaten and locked up.’

‘I was made to stand up downstairs for part of the night.’

‘Thought I was going to die.’

‘Stripped naked.’

‘Mr Mac came to see me at Highbury Crescent and smashed my teeth.’

‘Mac was ex military.’

‘There was abuse by women staff.’

.They used straps.’

‘Some of the boys protected others.’

Children sent from Mildmay to Stamford House Secure Unit

‘We were captured and then sent to Stamford House secure unit.’

‘I was sent to Stamford House to shut me up.’

Being in Stamford House was ‘a sobering experience’ for this boy (Stated by staff at a review.)

Razor Smith (2004) A few kind words and a loaded gun. Autobiographyof a career criminal.Penguin Viking p77

From 1964 -1971 Clifford Heap was Superintendent of Stamford House secure unit prior to his appointment in Islington where he became in 1973 Assistant Director Social Services for Day and Residential Care until 1980. Heap prior to 1964 was Superintendent of Shirley Oaks children’s home.

In 1979, Heap took a child from an Islington children’s home to visit another Islington child who had been placed in Stamford House  [where Heap had previously been Superintendent] and threatened him that if he told about sexual abuse in the children’s home he would “end up in that secure unit”.Report #4: Morgan’s denial of organised abuse – Islington Survivors Network

Of the 12 ISN survivors, who came forward from Mildmay, 4 went directly from Mildmay to Stamford House (between 1976 and 1982). Others went there at a later or even earlier stage. The procedures for being sent to Stamford House were unclear from the survivor’s incomplete file records. To place a child in secure would usually require the agreement of the Assistant Director – who would have been for 3 of these children the aforesaid Clifford Heap. Although some children were sent to Stamford House directly as a result of a court hearing, the Mildmay children’s incomplete files are not always clear about psychiatric or social work recommendations to the court making it difficult to know why this extreme measure was recommended and by whom. Survivor’s comments about the impact of social work industrial action interestingly state that because their social workers were not present in court to speak up for them they got sent to secure units although one survivor appreciated that a social worker broke the strike in order to support ‘the boys’ in court.

As Razor Smith says in the excerpt from his book above – most children were there for petty offences. The Islington children’s files are bursting with examples of children reported and convicted for stealing among other things, food and drink when hungry and thirsty, clothes to keep warm in winter or items to assist their parents and siblings who were living in absolute poverty. Theft should have been seen as a likely indicator of abuse and neglct.

Children ran away from Mildmay to try and escape the horrors. They were labelled as ‘absconders’ which was given as a reason for placement in a secure unit. The reason for the children running away was not explored – but how else could they express what was happening to them? One Mildmay file record of a Review states, ‘Several aspects of his personality have been modified. He no longer says ‘I will tell my social worker’ when there is a conflict.’ How could this possibly be good development for a young child separated from his family and terrified by the abusive regime in the children’s home with no-one but a social worker to talk to. The children were silenced through fear being strongly warned what the consequences would be if they spoke out.

Social workers did not seem to recognise indicators of abuse in Mildmay. The survivor’s accounts of assaults and extreme abuse and the social worker’s perceptions as recorded on file are poles apart.

‘Mr Mac and the staff are very fond of him.’

‘He has a cavalier approach to authority.’

‘It could be that his behavior patterns ….. were exacerbated by living where he felt he was unhappy at 75A Mildmay Rd.’

Yet there is indication that the children were trying to tell their social workers what was happening …… it is difficult to imagine that some of the assaults as described would not have caused injuries. Many of the regular reviews and medicals required for children in care are not available.

‘He says he hates it here.’

‘Complains of cruelty – says won’t return.’

‘Mr Mac told him to ‘pack his bags.’

From a brutal children’s home regime to a life in prison

Naming 15 boys, one survivor said, ‘All in Macs Hostel – all in prison. We all knew each other.’

The proportion of boys who were in Mildmay who later spent time in prison is astounding. ISN consider this to be a reflection of the repeated and extreme violence of all categories – physical. sexual and neglect – that the boys experienced from some staff.

5 boys were in later life convicted of very serious crimes: 2 of murder, 2 of manslaughter and one of serious assault. These boys were at Mildmay between 1976 and 1983.

As one example:

A boy of 16 years was convicted of manslaughter on 21st February 1978. He murdered Edwin Peggs of Islington age 60 who he stabbed 54 times . Peggs ‘picked up’ the boy and took him to his flat. When he tried to ‘seduce’ the boy he was killed in a most gruesome manner. (Schoolboy killer jailed for life: Times 21.2.78,Boy killer gets life Daily Mirror 21.2.78) A survivor vividly recalls the boy coming back to Mildmay having just committed the murder. The Evening Standard (below) gave the boy’s address as Mildmay Park.

Evening Standard, 20.02.1978

Survivors have told ISN that Geoff Wylde Jones who was a residential worker in 29 Highbury New Park (1975) and Dixton (1985) as well as Supertintendent at Gisburne House (1972-84) was a regular visitor to Mildmay and a ‘friend’ of Mr Macmillan’s. He died in 1986. (See Evening Standard article, 17.11.2003)

ISN have proof that one child sex abuser Abraham Jacob – worked at Mildmay 1970-1972. No ISN survivors have mentioned this man who was found guilty of the most serious crimes against children. ISN do not know if there was an investigation by Islington Council and Islington police into victims/ possible victims of this child sex offender.

Islinton Gazette 23.5.86

Abraham Jacob was a houseparent at 75a Mildmay Park children’s home, between 1970 and 1972 and later worked for Islington caring for older people. In 1986, he was imprisoned for 4 years for running a network of child sexual exploitation in Piccadilly Circus. The Judge said Jacob’s employers did not know about his activities. He had previously worked for Lambeth council. He lived at Holland Walk, Upper Holloway.  He was a former schoolteacher and priest. He was arrested as one of 40 men under Operation Circus.

Press coverage

‘Boys for hire social worker guilty’, Daily Mail, 15th May 1986

‘Social worker in vice racket jailed’, The Times, 16th May 1986

‘End London’s vice boy racket’, Daily Mail, 16th May 1986

‘Vice boys king touted for mass killer’, The People, 18th May 1986

‘Boy prostitution – SSD ‘unaware”, Community care, 22nd May 1986

Daily Mirror, 12.11.1962
Daily Mirror, 26.04.1971