Oak Lodge

Address: 32 Alexandra Road, Hornsey, N8 (Also listed as N22)
Open: 1966 – 31.1.77
Council Minutes 11.1.66: Plans to open Oak Lodge
15.6.66 Conversion of a dewlling house to a children’s home
22.6.66 Legal instruction for conversion to a children’s home
Council minutes 26.3.77: Oak Lodge closed 31.1.77
Numbers of ISN survivors who lived in Oak Lodge children’s home: 8

3 survivors (2 women and 1 man) lived in Oak Lodge when they were children in the 1960s. 5 (men) also lived there as children in the 1970s. The youngest was 6 years old and the oldest 13 years.

Numbers of children named by ISN survivors as living at Oak Lodge children’s home: 21

1966: 3 girls and 2 boys

1970-7: 14 boys and 2 girls

Council documentation: Numbers of children who lived at Oak Lodge children’s home

In 1966 council minutes said the children’s home was designed for 14 boys

Residential staff named by ISN survivors as working at Oak Lodge

Joe Chapman was Superintendant and his wife Rene was Houseparent from 1966 until they retired in February 1977. They came from Yorkshire and had a self contained flat at the top of the house near Turnpike Lane. They were active in the Salvation Army and are described as an ‘older couple’. A Mrs Chapman is mentioned by survivors as a houseparent in Colgrain children’s home in 1975 but ISN is not sure if this is the same person as worked in Oak Lodge.

Council minutes 29.2.77 record Mr Chapman Superintendent and Mrs Chapman Houseparent as working for Islington Social Services for 11 years 193 days and retiring 22.2.77

ISN survivors remember the names of other staff between 1970-2:

4 women and 4 men. One man they say was a builder friend of the Chapmans.

Life at Oak Lodge children’s home

‘We were seen and not heard – it was very religious’ ISN Survivor

‘I don’t have any happy memories from there.’ ISN Survivor

‘His behaviour was excellent – no mean achievement in that setting’. Islington social worker

‘This couple were old enough to be his grandparents with extremely low tolerance for normal adolescent challenging. This placement was most unfortunate they perceived the boy as bad’. Islington social worker

‘The routine was too strict – children had to call them Auntie and Uncle but preferred to call them Mr and Mrs Chapman.’ Islington social worker

Survivors describe this as an old fashioned structured regime including being taken to Salvation Army activities such as in nearby Mayes Park. They also speak of a range of activities such as going to football, swimming, the cinema and playing billiards and pool. One boy got a snooker table from a friend and the Chapman’s let him put it in the garage. One survivor describes sharing a room with 4 other boys . He describes how he disliked the food and was not used to what they provided. He told his social worker that the windows were always open and it was very cold.

One survivor told the social worker that they were bored in the evening and another has a vivid memory of runny scrambled egg for breakfast which was ‘ horrible’ and brushing their teeth with Eucryl powdered toothpaste. There are reports of a high staff turnover (apart from the managers) and one survivor described it as a ‘horrible place’ and his social worker said he was ‘fearful how long he will stay in this placement and fears it could be years before he leaves.’ She said ‘ he had an awful time at Alexandra Rd.’

The Chapmans took children on holiday to Kent.

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