St Alban's Home for Boys was opened in the old Bishopscourt, Morpeth in 1920. The Home was owned by the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle, but day to day operations were overseen by the Sisters of the Community of the Holy Name until 1935. From 1935 until 1948 it was overseen by the Church Army. In 1942 St Alban's Home for Boys relocated to Murrurundi. From 1948 the Home was run by staff appointed directly by the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle. In 1952 St Alban's moved to 'Winncourt', Mayfield and in 1964 the Home relocated to Aberdare, a suburb of Cessnock. St Alban's Home for Boys closed in 1980 and became St Alban's Family Group Home in 1981.
'Bishopscourt', formerly known as 'Closebourne', had been the residence of the Bishop of Newcastle and was renovated at a cost of £3000 to become St Alban's Home for Boys. The official opening of the 'hostel' was performed by Mrs H Crotty, wife of the Dean of Newcastle, 9 October 1920.
While offically owned by the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle from its establishment, the Diocese appointed the Sisters of the Community of the Holy Name to oversee the day to day operations of the Home and provide staffing until 1935. The Church Army was then appointed to oversee the day to day operations of the home until 1948. The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle sunsequently assumed full management of the home, and staff were appointed directly by the Diocese from 1948.
The boys' home remained at Morpeth until 1942, when it was relocated to a property at Murrurundi. 'Bishopscourt' then became St John's College.
The Muswellbrook Chronicle reported in May 1942 on the relocation of St Alban's Home for Boys to a property called Myo'a in Haydon Street that had been bought by the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle:
Useful additions and alterations have been carried out, including two large dormitories and glassed-in verandahs. Rooms have been enlarged, making it a comfortable and suitable home for the boys and staff. There are 35 boys in the home. They are in the charge of Captain and Mrs Roberts. Later the grounds will be improved by the planting of trees and shrubs.
The home was officially opened and blessed by the Bishop of Newcastle. The Bishop was accompanied by Archdeacon Wood and the Rev M Redman.
The Murrurundi property proved inadequate for the needs of the Home, and it was moved in 1952 to 'Winncourt', Mayfield, which had formerly been St Elizabeth's Girls' Home.
According to CLAN, the University of Newcastle Archives states that the building occupied by St Alban's at this time was built in the 1880s by Charles Uphold. It was then bought by William Arnott, of Arnott's Biscuits, who were based in Mayfield, and renamed 'Arnott Holme'. In 1898 the house was bought by Isaac Winn, who renamed it 'Winncourt'. In 1921 the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle bought the house and converted it to St Elizabeth's Girls Home.
In 1964, St Alban's Home for Boys was relocated to Aberdare, near Cessnock. This new facility was purpose-built as a boys' home and was designed to accommodate 32 boys aged between 8 to 14. St Alban's Home for Boys was officially opened at Aberdare on Sunday 7 February 1965.
According to the Facebook group 'St Albans Home for Children - Cessnock, NSW, Australia' the home started to take girls as well as boys from 1976. St Alban's closed in 1980. 'Bishopscourt' was redeveloped in 1981 to become a community centre and new premises were built to house the St Alban's Family Group Home on the same grounds.
In 2013 'Bishopscourt' was converted to a retirement village called 'Closebourne Village' in Morpeth. 'Winncourt' also became an aged care facility called Annesley Court in Mayfield.
Numerous former residents of St Alban's Home for Boys have spoken out about the sexual, physical, and mental abuse that they endured at the Home. A former resident, "John", gave an interview for an ABC article in 2016 recalling his experiences at St Alban's in the 1960's.
""You had sexual abuse, you had physical abuse and you had mental abuse," John said."Apart from the religious bullshit that was thrown down our necks and how good they were [morally], the sexual advances were put on us."
John said he was abused at St Albans when the home was based in the Newcastle suburb of Mayfield in the 1960s. He alleged he had been passed around between clergy members and lay people.
"There were people who were somehow connected with the congregations, because I was billeted out one Christmas I think and I was manipulated in the bed" he said.
Allegations have also been made that records of St Alban's from this time have been lost or destroyed.
But there is little in John's records outlining his history at the home.
"They [the records] were that thin. There's nothing of my school life," he said. "There's nothing of anything, any description of my health, of my visits to a doctor or anything like that, nothing." (ABC, 2016)
University of Newcastle Archives subsequently advised that it had records in its custody relating to St Alban's (Wakatama, 2016).
1920 - 1980 St Alban's Home for Boys
1981 - 1986? St Alban's Family Group Home
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Converted to Children's Hostel', Singleton Argus, 12 October 1920, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/80773105; 'Boys' Training Farm', Singleton Argus, 26 May 1927, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81091749; 'Training Farm for Boys. Opened at Oakhampton.', The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 1927, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/16389622; 'Join Church Army: Farewell to Mr R Sansom', Northern Star, 22 December 1936, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/94677952; '280 enrolled at play centre. Free milk given every day.', The Muswellbrook Chronicle, 17 January 1947, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/107765863; 'Boys' Home at Murrurundi', The Muswellbrook Chronicle, 15 May 1942, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/107692780; 'St Alban's Muswellbrook', The Muswellbrook Chronicle, 28 August 1942, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/107694611; 'Rev AR McFarland inducted at Jerry's Plains', Singleton Argus, 12 May 1952, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/82767378; Closebourne at Morpeth, Lend Lease, 2013, http://www.retirementbylendlease.com.au/retirement-villages/new-south-wales-and-act/closebourne-village; Hanson, Dallas, Why are they in children's homes: report of the ACOSS children's home intake survey, Australian Department of Social Services: Australian Council of Social Services, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1979, 83 pp; Homes and Orphanages Listings, Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN), https://web.archive.org/web/20180421161802/http://www.clan.org.au/homes/all/; St Alban's Boys' Home, Mayfield, Newcastle [Image], Date: 1920? - 1955?; St Albans Home for Children - Cessnock, NSW, Australia, Facebook Website, St Albans Home for Children - Cessnock, NSW, Australia; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://insideblog.nma.gov.au/2011/02/11/connecting-kin/; Information provided by custodian of Newcastle Diocesan Archives, August 2020, held in Find & Connect project files.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 3 March 2011, Last modified: 17 August 2020