Dalwood Children's Home, at Seaforth, was a home for mothers and babies set up by the Food for Babies Fund in 1924. In 1931 it became a public hospital, and began to provide support to children who could not be cared for in their own homes. In 1989 Dalwood stopped operating as a children's home. Non-residential programmes continue on the same site.
Dalwood is named after A.E. Dalwood, who leased his property 'Clavering' to George Fitzpatrick, the Chairperson of the Food For Babies Fund in 1924. In 1928, Dalwood donated the property, placing the Home in trust to be utilised only for children's services.
It is located at Seaforth, but is sometimes described as being in Balgowlah, both of which suburbs are close to Manly.
The Home was formally opened in 1930 and guests were treated to the sight of Flight Lieutenant Charles Ulm demonstrating flying feats in his biplane.
In 1931 Dalwood Home was incorporated as a second schedule public hospital, and was expanded to support families who could not meet the needs of children in their own homes. It was managed by an independent community board.
Fundraising for Dalwood is carried out, in large part, by the Dalwood Dog Show Committee, which began operating in 1932. The Home has also received high level patronage - in 1934 the cricketer Don Bradman, the aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and the actress Gladys Moncrieff were made life governors.
In 1933, The Australian Women's Weekly described 'Dalwood Rest Home' as being 'for overworked mothers, girls, convalescent and under-nourished children, and children whose mothers are in hospital.'
The Home was expanded from the 1940s, as increasing numbers of children of servicemen were admitted. From 1931 to 1989 over 2,000 children resided at the Home, for short or long-term residential care. By 1966 the Home's residents averaged 56 at any one time. In 1978 a day care centre was established. In 1983 the Byrnes family donated funds for a residential cottage for disadvantaged children.
The residential programmes at Dalwood closed in 1989. Early intervention programs and other services for disadvantaged children and vulnerable families continue to be provided on the site in the legacy of the original Dalwood bequest.
In 1991 the site became the responsibility of the Northern Sydney Area Health Service (then known as the Manly-Warringah Area Health Service).
The work of the Dalwood Auxiliary continues to fund multidisciplinary services for families and children, through the Dalwood Spilstead Service.
Many photographs of children and carers from the 1930s and 1940s are held by the State Library of New South Wales and are available online.
The principal building, formerly known as 'Clavering', is heritage listed. It was built as a family retreat by Theodore Gurney, a Professor of Mathematics at Sydney University. He named it Clavering after the village in Essex where his father had been vicar. After Gurney's return to England in 1902 the building lay vacant for many years. It was acquired by A.E. Dalwood who sold off the land surrounding this grand home in 1922. Dalwood retained the house and a small acreage around it, but never lived in it. Reportedly Mrs Dalwood had concerns about isolation, snakes and bushfires. Theodore Gurney and A.E. Dalwood are remembered by street names in the suburb of Seaforth: Gurney Crescent, Clavering Road and Dalwood Avenue.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Survey of Social Agencies', Australian Women's Weekly, 15 July 1933. Also available at http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/48075198; Dalwood Auxiliary: supporting Dalwood Children's Home, Dalwood Auxiliary, https://web.archive.org/web/20160302101328/http://www.dalwood.com.au/; History of Dalwood, Dalwood Dog Show, n/d, https://web.archive.org/web/20190308221347/http://webs.dogs.net.au/dalwooddogshow/uploads/documents/History%20of%20Dalwood.pdf; 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; The Manly Heritage Plaques Walk, Manly Council, http://www.manlyaustralia.com.au/information/what_to_do/walks/plaques/plaques_pg4.asp.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 14 June 2012, Last modified: 7 September 2022