Clifden Children's Home was a privately-run Home for "destitute children" and Convalescent Home opened in 1891 in Smythesdale, moving to Wedderburn in 1894. The Home aimed to provide farm training for homeless and "neglected" children of Melbourne. From the early 1900s a number of state wards were placed in the Home. In 1923 the Home was purchased by the Try Boys' Society and renamed the Clifden Farm and Try Boys Home.
The Clifden Children's Home was run by two women who lived in the Home (Ms Colvin and Ms Brumby). The Home predominately took in children from Melbourne, with on average between 15 and 20 children from infancy to at least 13 years old living at the Home at any given time. Some of the older children at Clifden went to the local state school whilst the other children were home-schooled by one of the managers. All of the children were taught domestic and farm work at the Home. The Home was privately funded through charitable donations, and received some support from the Gordon Institute and the Try Society from at least 1896.
Clifden Home was initially located in a 6 room rented house on a 40 acre property 2 miles from Smythesdale. In 1894 the Home moved to a purpose-built 8 room house on a 12 acre property 2 miles from Wedderburn.
From the mid 1900s the Home received children placed there by the Victorian Department for Neglected Children and Reformatory Schools. The 1911 annual report of the Department describes the Home (which it refers to as the "Clifton Home") as a foster home for "delicate children" with "chest and tubercular diseases" that had been used by the Department for several years. The Department placed 8 children in the Home in 1911, and a further 10 children were placed there the following year.
In May 1923 the Clifden Home was purchased by the Try Boys' Society for use as a farm Home for boys. An article published in the Northern Star in 1923 stated that by this point over 300 children had passed through the Home in its 32-year history. It gave the reason for the sale as the failing health of the two managers who had run the home since its inception.
1891-1894: Clifden Children's Home was located at Smythesdale, Victoria.
1894-1919: Clifden Children's Home was located at Wedderburn, Victoria.
Sources used to compile this entry: Department for Neglected Children and Reformatory Schools. Report of the Secretary., Government Printer, Melbourne, 1888 - 1924; Farm for Boys, Victorian Venture: Society Wants Help, Northern Star, 22 August 1923, 7 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93613464; Colvin, Letitia S., & Brumby, Caroline A., Help for the Helpless, Bendigo Advertiser, 13 June 1894, 4 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88947281; Colvin, Letitia S., Home for Destitute Children, The Age, 1 June 1893, 7 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article193429622; Kinder, M. Ethel, A Cry from the Children, The Age, 2 September 1896, 6 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article193448240; Rinder, M. E., An Appeal for the Children, Bendigo Advertiser, 31 October 1894, 3 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88936025; Rowe, Theodora E., Clifden, Portland Guardian, 17 March 1893, 3 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65442489.
Prepared by: Constance Thurley-Hart
Created: 14 July 2021, Last modified: 28 July 2021