From 1890, in just a few years the Bradford Cinderella Club grew rapidly from a handful of people to become a well established and respected institution in the town.
National organisations such as the Labour Church acknowledged this, as is seen in an annual report of 1893 . “The Cinderella work is so well developed and organised that it covers the whole area of the town, it would only be productive of mischief for the Labour Church to interfere in it.”
The provision of a free meal for underprivileged schoolchildren in winter months rose to nearly 40,000 and had become such a successful activity that the Bradford Schools Board and the Corporation passed the Provisions of Meals Act in 1905. Free school meals as we know them today are the direct result of the pioneering work of the Bradford Cinderella Club.
By the outbreak of the Great War [1914 – 1918] the Bradford Cinderella Club was not only providing special treats and day trips. They were also providing clothing and footwear (usually clogs).
They had also purchased land at Hest Bank just outside Morecambe and built a holiday home on the sea-front. This operated from April until October and could cater for up to 40 children at a time. The children went for a fortnight each and all food, accommodation and activities were funded by the Club. The cost for the year of 1914 was just over £1000 or about £25 per available bed. That's roughly what it would cost for a day's food and accommodation in similar places today.
In the mid-1920's the Great depression was sweeping the industrialised world; in England the General Strike was about to start; and in Bradford the Cinderella Club was going from strength to strength. The city council were hard pressed to find the resources (and experience) to cope with the welfare problems of the day. So they called on the help of the Cinderella Club's committee and helpers.
In 1926-27, the year the General Strike took place, Bradford Cinderella Club were kept busy helping families with assistance in the form of food, clothing and footwear. Children were given Christmas treats and toys, and trips to the countryside.
All this and the continuing trips of up to 40 children every two weeks to the Club's Holiday Home at Hest Bank made such a call on the Club's resources that, like many others, they went into debt but fortunately successful fund raising by the committee quickly overcame this problem and it was business as usual the following year; the club's 38th.
By 1940 Europe was embroiled in another great war. Bradford provided many resources in manpower for the forces as well as maintaining the vital industries such as food and clothing.
Meanwhile the Cinderella Club was coping with the additional pressure of families whose bread winner was away in the forces leaving them in reduced circumstances.
One notable action by the club was the conversion of its Hest Bank Holiday Home into a centre for evacuees, children who had to be moved away from Bradford because of the threat of enemy bombing. For the first time it was kept open during the winter months and some children spent more than a year at the Home.
1949 was not only the Diamond Jubilee of the Cinderella Club but it was also the silver anniversary of it's Hest Bank Holiday Home. Although the demand's on the club for clothing and footwear were slightly less than in the war years assistance was still provided to almost a thousand families.
Special treats were still being organised including Cinema as well as Theatre trips and Day Trips to the countryside. However the fortnights at Hest Bank were still the highlight of the year for many of the children we helped out.
The difference these visits made in the children's health can be seen by the fact, carefully recorded by the Matron at the time (Mrs R. Stanway), that almost all the children gained weight in their time at Hest Bank despite the many physical activities such as hiking, sport and swimming that they indulged in. Some of the children went home almost half a stone heavier (3.5 Kg).
In the early 1960s the United States and Russia were spending millions to be the first to put a man into space and on Thursday 12th April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became that man.
In Bradford the Cinderella Club was spending £3 per person to send children on holiday to the seaside or even less for a day out in the countryside.
Although all school children of school age received clothing and footwear from the government allowances it was still found necessary to purchase over 170 pairs of shoes for children under school age who were in desperate need .
In the 1970's the Cinderella Club, with the help of Mr Wally Keay and the Bradford and Ilkley College, began providing a series of camping holidays in the Yorkshire Dales in addition to its other activities in Bradford and at the Holiday Home at Hest Bank.
These camps for 40 children at a time were “staffed” by volunteers mainly drawn from the students at the college. The first few were held on a working farm near Pately Bridge. The children lived under canvas in groups of a dozen in “scout tents” and ate in a large marquee tent. The cooking was mostly done by the children under the supervision of the students.
Severe storms and gales in 1977 caused severe damage to the Cinderella Club's Holiday Home at Hest Bank.
Depending on the time of year the children were able to see rural activities such as lambing and harvesting at first hand. A great novelty for the majority who had rarely been more than a mile from their inner city homes before. Extra activities such as canoeing, swimming and other sports were provided by staff at the nearby Bewerley Park Outdoor Centre.
Storms had been so severe and caused extremely high tides which lifted the indoor swimming pool the club had built in the grounds of the home. In all nearly £50,000 worth of damages were done to the home but fortunately no-one was injured.
Since not all the damages caused by the storm could be recouped from the insurance companies the Cinderella Club were unable to effect full repairs and although they did open the home again in 1978 it soon became clear that we would be unable to fully restore or repair the premises and the Home had to close after nearly 70 years of service and having provided holiday accommodation for close to 50,000 underprivileged children from Bradford.