Stamford House

Address: 206 Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush, London, W12 9NT
Opened in 1935. Closed 2004.

Stamford House was said to have had a bad reputation in the 70s because of a much publicised paedophile ring discovered there in the 60s. It was a brutal regime for many years and had a lock-up section where some children as young as 9 were kept for long periods.

From ‘A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun’ by Noel ‘Razor’ Smith, 2004. Noel ‘Razor’ Smith after many years in prison is an author and editor at Inside Time, the national newspaper for prisoners and detainees.

Mid 70s: ‘I told my social worker I would die in Stamford House. I was sent there to shut me up.‘ Islington Survivor age 15

1967: ‘The bed was made of concrete – there was a steel door with a wooden door as well to contain the noise. It was a lock up and we were drugged morning, lunchtime and evening. One of the houses, Hanvey House, was known as the Paedo Unit and some boys were only age 9 or 10 years.’ Islington Survivor

80s: ‘One Worker used to punch to miss children but once he misjudged it and gave me a bleeding nose and black eye.’ Islington Survivor who was age 14 yrs

late 80s: Stamford House questioned Islington lawyers about the status of one boy because he was in voluntary care yet was locked up in Stamford House. The boy said the children’s home had put him there. Social work record

70s: ‘I was force fed with a tube that’s just what they did. I ran away and got put back into the secure section.’ Islington Survivor

Blog on Stamford House

To be ‘sent to Stamford House’ used as a threat

1974: ‘We went on a trip in a van and it tipped over – we were all told to keep silent or we’d be sent to Stamford House.‘ Islington Survivor

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

‘In 1971 in Gisburne House I had urine poured on my food, toilet paper in my food – it as blatant racism. Staff came to the dining tables to choose boys. We all knew. We were threatened with Stamford House.’ Islington Survivor

How did children get sent to Stamford House?

Of the twelve ISN survivors who came forward from Mildmay Park, four 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 accommodation would usually require the agreement of the Assistant Director – who would have been for 3 of these children – Clifford Heap. It was not uncommon for Islington children to be sent to secure units directly by the children’s home managers which was completely unacceptable practice.

‘Mr X of Stamford House was surprised that the boy had been placed there without the social worker’s knowledge.’ (Islington social work report 1985)

‘At 15 I was put into Stamford House by Mr Mac [Mildmay Park Superintendent].’ (Islington Survivor)

1981-2: ‘I ran away from Gisburne House because of the abuse then I was captured by police and taken to Upper St police station who sent me to Stamford House. Then I was in court and sent back to Stamford House and then back to Gisburne House.‘ (Islington Survivor)

The police arrested children for minor offences – they were getting arrested all the time.’ Islington Survivor

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.

Islington and Lambeth abusers

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 of Social Services for Day and Residential Care until 1980. Heap prior to 1964 was Superintendent of Shirley Oaks children’s home run by Lambeth.

Heap (now deceased) got a good send off from Islington Council when he retired in 1980 but in his previous role in Lambeth has been exposed by the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association who alerted the 2018 Islington inquiry of their concerns about him.

‘Although Mr Heap has only been with the London Borough of Islington for just over 8 years his career in the social work field goes back more than 33 years. He started in the probation service and from there in April 1960 he moved to the former LCC in the Residential Child Care Service originally as Deputy Superintendent and later as Superintendent of large cottage like homes with up to 440 children in his care.  In November 1964 Mr Heap was appointed Superintendent of Stamford House Remand Home and Classifying Centre. In this capacity he frequently came into contact with members of the council’s former children’s department and after 1st April 1971 the Social Services Department. He came to be known as an outstanding Superintendent who had created an exceptionally good atmosphere in the very difficult conditions at Stamford House.’ (Islington Council minutes 31.7.80 after Mr Heap’s resignation.)

Shirley Oaks Survivors Association alerted Sarah Morgan QC to their concerns about Heap and the connections between Lambeth and Islington abuse networks.

SOSA’s evidence of physical and sexual abuse on an industrial scale which remained unchecked for decades, is based on over 4 years collation of survivor accounts and meticulous research. This is a quote from their email to Morgan QC;

“We are sure you will be aware of links between convicted and known child abusers, as well as people of  influence, in Lambeth and Islington. We are certain that there were organised crime networks abusing and exploiting children which went across the authorities during the years covered by your Review. As just one example: Clifford Heap was the Superintendent of Shirley Oaks Children’s Home [1952-65] who subsequently became Assistant Director in Islington (1971-80). In our view it is relevant for you to explore, investigate  and include this information in your Review.”

Shirley Oaks Survivors Association email to Sarah Morgan QC 26.3.18

Shirley Oaks Survivors Association and ISN are aware of a number of abusers who worked or had connections with the care system in both authorities. The role of Clifford Heap as Assistant Director Social Services in Islington with responsibility for residential children’s homes and appointments of staff,  is central to an understanding of the networks that existed in Islington during those critical years of infiltration of the care system by child abusers.  Liz Davies had already alerted Morgan QC to this influential Islington manager in her Report.

“I began to build on my knowledge of the 90s and understand the extent of the networks that I had only begun to uncover. I also learnt of the links between Lambeth abuse networks and Islington. I began to liaise with Shirley Oaks Survivors Association e.g. Clifford Heap as Superintendent of Shirley Oaks children’s home and then appointed as ADSS Islington with responsibility for residential care.

Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 13.2.18:13.4

Press coverage

The Times, 14.08.1974
The Times, 15.08.1974
The Times, 23.02.1976
The Times, 17.03.1975
Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush Gazette, 29.01.1976
Acton Gazette, 31.08.1978
Acton Gazette, 31.08.1978
Hammersmith & Shepherds Bush Gazette, 12.04.1979