The Salvation Army established the Bayswater Boys' Home in 1897 at The Basin, to cater for boys who had been placed in legal custody. Bayswater was the name of the railway station nearest the Home.
There were a number of 'Bayswater Boys' Homes' at The Basin. As well as 'Bayswater Boys' Home No 1', there was a separate junior section (Bayswater Boys' No 2 Home). The No 3 Home operated from 1930 until 1947, and housed boys who were not classified as 'reformatory cases'. After its closure, boys were transferred back into No 1 Home, which was rebuilt and expanded in 1946.
No 2 Home catered for boys who could not be placed at the Salvation Army's Home in Box Hill, because they were too old and judged to be 'in danger of falling into criminal tendencies because of neglect'. The No 2 Home segregated its boys from older and more serious offenders in the No 1 Home.
Ensign T. Leech, who was sent by National Headquarters to help out at Bayswater No 2 for a couple of weeks wrote an account of his experiences in the War Cry in 1914.
He wrote about the need for 'constant strict surveillance', as the boys were so fond of absconding - 'on a foggy morning, one has to be more than usually vigilant, for some are strong, lithe and fleet of foot, knowing every inch of the ground, and able to get into cover like a rabbit or fox'.
Leech described his first impression of the boys at Bayswater: 'Such a variety of dispositions! So many with an unenviable past, which still leaves it mark, making it difficult for a stranger to fathom their motives and intentions, or detect their intentions.'
His article went on: 'Very soon I learned to feel a great affection for these little sons of misfortune and crime, entering into their many little troubles and temptations, thus sowing spiritual seed which, I believe, will in the future bring forth good fruit'.
This 'sowing of seeds' by staff at Bayswater was done in the hope of achieving the 'reform' of these boys, as well as their conversion to the Salvation Army faith. Ensign Leech wrote that:
'Once a week Mrs Staff-Captain McClure holds a special meeting for the boys who profess conversion, and I was delighted to have applications from thirty-one boys to be allowed to attend. One feature of the profession made by these boys is that they soon confess the fact if they backslide, and the difficulty is to get them to try again.'
Ensign Leech remarked that many of the boys were trustworthy and responsible and enjoyed tending their own patches of garden. 'Many can be trusted to go for the mail, about two miles, or bring up the cows, or go about a mile for the milk.'
He described the dormitories at Bayswater as 'spacious and beautifully clean, with their double rows of beds with snow-white covers. To see the boys tucked away, cosy and warm, or kneeling at their bedsides in their nightgowns as many do, asking God's protection, is a very pretty sight'.
The Age reported in 1937 on renovations at Bayswater. The article stated that 'considerable alterations' had been effected, providing better facilities for the boys who lived at the No 2 Homes.
The article described the Homes as accommodating more than 100 boys under fourteen years of age, who were educated on site. It also stated that meals were prepared at No 2, to feed the 30 older boys who lived at Bayswater's No 3 Home.
The new buildings were described thus:
'… a new lavatorium building … includes bathrooms and dressing rooms … erected around a closed playing area forming a quadrangle. A commodious recreation room with an open fireplace provides ample warmth when necessary.
A special up to date laundry and a drying-room have also been constructed, as well as improvements to the dining room and elsewhere. The general living conditions have been greatly improved, at a cost of more than £1000.'
From the 1950s, Bayswater Boys' Home No 1 received boys on fixed sentences from Turana.
No 1 Home originally focused on farming to provide training and direction, but expanded into a wide range of vocational training. It became known as the Bayswater Farm and Vocational Training Centre.
In 1960, it became the Bayswater Youth Training Centre.
At this time, the administration of the YTC and the No 2 Junior Home were combined and the whole entity given the name 'Bayswater Boys' Home'.
The No 2 Home transitioned to 'cottage' accommodation from the early 1960s, to act as a 'half way house' between institutional care and return to the community.
Clement Howard Broadstock and his wife Valda were Superintendents at Bayswater Youth Training Centre from 1968 to 1976. (Previously the Broadstocks had worked at Lyndon Lodge as managers from 1958 to 1964, and as Superintendents at Box Hill Boys' Home.)
In line with trends in the provision of 'care', Bayswater No 2 Home closed in 1980. Resources released by the closure were transferred to the Salvation Army Western Region Program.
The Bayswater Youth Training Centre closed in 1987, following a government decision to cease funding non-government agencies to run statutory facilities such as YTCs.
Bayswater Boys' Home became the 'Mountain Valley Youth Camp and Conference Centre'. The Youth Training Centre became part of the Salvation Army's Bridge and Employment Programs.
Several submissions by 'Forgotten Australians' to the Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care made reference to Bayswater Boys' Homes and their negative experiences there. For example, Terry Dean described Bayswater and other Salvation Army Homes as 'a sad reminder of a bygone age of degradation and cruelty', and 'the epitome of hell on earth'.
The Salvation Army subsequently issued an apology to all people who were hurt during their time in Salvation Army Homes.
14 January 2019
Cite this: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/vic/E000256
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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