A residential institution, Castledare, operated on a site in what became 100 Fern Road, Wilson (originally, Queen's Park) from 1934 until 1983. It was run by the Christian Brothers. Castledare was originally (1929-1934) a 'special' school for boys with learning difficulties; and from 1934 it became a more general educational and residential institution that accommodated boys from various backgrounds including wards of the State, child migrants, orphans and private admissions. Although it began with boys aged 6-12 years, it became more common for Castledare to admit boys aged around 8 to 10 years. British and Maltese child migrants, and Australian-born Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal boys lived at Castledare.
Barry Coldrey writes of Castledare (The Scheme 1993, p.67):
'Besides State wards it gradually attracted 'private' pupils and in a few years, there were about the same number in each class. Some parents found it convenient to place their children in Castledare because of some family emergency, and it served as a moderately priced boarding school. The school was periodically inspected by Officers of the Child Welfare Department.'
Coldrey also explains that to 'remove objections of parents' Castledare was called 'St Vincent's Preparatory School for Boys' in 1934. But that name does not appear in the Child Welfare Department Annual Reports. In that same year, 1934, 'Castledare School' was the name given to the institution in the annual report of the Child Welfare Department (p.4). In the annual report of the CWD, the Home is called 'Castledare' (p.3), 'Castledare School' (p.15); in the annual report CWD 1937, it is 'Castledare' (p.4) and 'Castledare Junior Orphanage for Boys (Roman Catholic) Queen's Park (p.6). In CWD annual report (combined years 1937-38 and 1938-39), it is 'Castledare' (pp.4,5) and 'Castledare Junior Orphanage for Boys, Queen's Park (Roman Catholic) p.6. The CWD annual report 1946 has the names Castledare Orphanage (pp.6,7,13), Castledare Boys' Home (pp.8,9,10), and Castledare Junior Orphanage, Queen's Park (p.16); the 1951 CWD annual report refers to Castledare Orphanage (pp.10,11, 15), Castledare Boys' Orphanage (p.12), Castledare Junior Boys' Orphanage (p.13). The 1952 CWD annual report refers to Castledare Junior Boys' Orphanage (p.10), Castledare Orphanage (p.12), Castledare Junior Boys' Orphanage, Queen's Park (p.15) and Castledare (p.15).
Government reports (Signposts 2004, pp.144-148) don't show the number of boys resident in every year, but it can be seen from published figures that Castledare's greatest period of growth was after World War II. In 1937, there were 42 boys at Castledare. Between 1957 and 1968, there were around 100 boys at each year's census. By 1975, there was accommodation for around 45 boys and in 1982, there were 32 boys.
Some boys stayed at Castledare for short periods, while others remained there for years at a time. Castledare's purpose when it opened in 1934 was to educate primary-school age boys who would progress to 'farm schools' at Clontarf or Tardun. Some boys, who lived most of their childhoods in Christian Brothers' institutions, did follow this path. But Castledare also seems to have been used to accommodate boys for shorter periods of time and in response to referrals from child welfare authorities or families. From the admissions data available, it seems there was always a high proportion of 'private' admissions to Castledare.
During World War II, the boys remained at Castledare and in 1944 the institution was inspected by Mr W. Garnett, from the British High Commission. According to Coldrey (the Scheme 1993, pp.177-178), Garnett was not impressed with conditions at Castledare and found it to be 'poorly equipped' with a 'low standard' of accommodation. As Garnett was inspecting Castledare with a view to sending post-war child migrants there, his negative report concerned authorities.
In evidence to the Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care, later known as the 'Forgotten Australians' inquiry, a man described (Forgotten Australians 2004, p.42), a life in Castledare that has left a deep impression on him: 'In 1950 aged 7 years along with other children, I was transferred to Castledare. This is where Hell on earth began. In 1954, aged 11, I was sent to Clontarf Boys Town a few miles away, where Hell continued for the rest of my childhood'.
Published, official, reports generally present a brighter picture.
The Christian Brothers' institutions Castledare, Bindoon, Clontarf and Tardun first received widespread publicity about child abuse in the early 1990s. In 1993, the Christian Brothers in Western Australia issued an apology and from 1995 have funded independent services to help with family tracing, counselling and remedial education for men who had suffered in their institutions. Many former residents of these institutions have shared their experiences and memories (bad and good) at government inquiries, in books and in oral histories.
In April 2014, sexual abuse of boys at Castledare was one of the matters scrutinised by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse.
Castledare closed in 1983, but the chapel remains open.
03 June 2021
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00048
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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