Company Servants' welfare

The Railway Convalescent Homes

Book published in 1954
The Railway Convalescent Homes

Book published in 1986
The Railway Convalescent Homes

Book published in 1954
The Railway Convalescent Homes

Book published in 1986
The Railway Convalescent Homes

Before the days of the Welfare State many charitable schemes, insurances and company backed institutions were set up to provide much needed physical and financial support to those who required it. One such charitable organisation was the Railway Convalescent Homes which provided free accommodation for either one or two weeks for railway employees to recuperate following illness, accident or an operation. Founded in 1899, as the Railwaymen's Convalescent Home they started with one specially built home in Herne Bay which opened in 1901. The prime mover behind it, and the establishment in 1899 of the charitable organisation supporting it was John Edward Nichols, a cashier with the London, Chatham & Dover Railway. Other homes were added over time, but as the need diminished during the 1950s they began to close. The last home to remain open, Bridge House in Dawlish, finally closed in late 2020 as falling use and finally the effects of Covid-19 made its continued operation no longer viable. The Railway Convalescent Homes celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1951 and in 1954 they published a book written by John L.Salmon with the title A Proud Heritage which detailed both the early challenges and the continuing story over the next 50 years. This was followed in 1986 by The Unfinished History of the Railway Convalescent Homes. Written by John Whitehouse, this later book moved the story on a bit but, as suggested by the title, the organisation was still going through a period of consolidation and change. It is not intended to preçis those books here, but to simply paint a broad picture of the organisation's valued work and bring it up to 2021.

Other charitable organisations were set up for the benefit of employees of the railways. One such was the London North Western Railway Hospital Fund, later called the L.M.S. Hospital Fund, which was started in Crewe Works in 1877. This Friendly Society went on to become The Transport Hospital Fund.

The birth of the Railway Convalescent Homes

Through his own charitable interests John Nichols had become acquainted with the philanthropist Passmore Edwards. Nichols was aware of an area of land of about three acres adjacent to the Passmore Edwards Friendly Society Home then under construction at Herne Bay. Passmore Edwards had intended to build a Nurses Home on the site but after mutch lobbying by Nichols he agreed to not only give the land but also £6,000 towards the cost of building a railwaymen's convalescent home on it. A condition of the gift was that 'Nine men of good standing with their respective railway companies ... be assembled and informed of the scheme'. The Railway Herald published a letter from Nichols seeking representatives in early January 1899, and he soon had sufficient replies to arrange a meeting at which the selected representatives unanimously acceptanced the motion that 'We the Railwaymen, representing the men employed on the nine principal railways having termini in London, do hereby signify our willingness to become trustees of the 'Passmore Edwards' proposed Home, subject to his approval'. The Trust Deed had been signed by April 1899 and the process of setting up the organisation which was going to be essential to attract the regular flow of subscriptions and donations needed to support the home was begun. On 31st August 1899 the trustees met to consider tenders for the building and at the same meeting it was agreed to accept a representative from the Great Central Railway as an additional trustee.

Rising costs, not least brought about by an increase in the planned number of residents from 50 to 100, led to a growing financial shortfall. Matters came to a head when the builders obtained a writ for posession of the unfinished building pending settlement of their account. Amongst other efforts to raise much needed funds a fête was held in the grounds of the unfinished home, but things were looking bleak. Eventually an approach was made by the trustees to their bankers, Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co for an overdraft of £2,000 which was readily granted and this allowed the building to continue, and the home was formally opened on 8th June 1901. On 24th July 1907 Princess Louise opened a new wing which provided a further 50 beds. Even this extra capacity did not satisfy the growing demand for admission and so a search for further premises began. By now, debts had been cleared and subscriptions and donations were more than covering the cost of both running the home and providing up to two weeks of free accommodation there.

Rising and falling demand

In 1910 the Trustees purchased Leasowe Castle on the Wirral. Standing in about 30 acres it cost, including furniture, £12,000. Opened in 1911 it was followed in 1915 by the Ilkely Home and in 1919 by Bridge House at Dawlish. Before WW1 Mrs. Bruce Culver, wife of the Secretary of the Railwaymen's Convalescent Homes, had been given the Old Wool Hall at Lavenham, by Princess Louise, and this had been converted and opened as The Railwaywomen's Convalescent Home. In 1921 Mrs. Culver offered this home to the Railwaymen's Convalescent Homes and the organisation was renamed the Railway Convalescent Homes.

At the outbreak of WW1 the homes were made available to the War Office and Herne Bay became a military hospital. In the years between the wars the number of patients and contributors rose steadily. From 1922 the railway companies provided free travel to the homes where previously patients had to fund their own travel arrangements. Further homes were added to the estate with Ascog manor, near Rothesay, in 1924, Trenython near Par, Cornwall, in 1925 and a home solely for women at Shottendane, Margate in 1927.

Following WW2 further purchases were made with a home at Buxton, an administrative building, Speen House in Baker St., London (up to this point offices had been rented at 116 Victoria Street in London) and finally The Old Abbey Hotel, Llandudno opened as a home for employed women only, on 9th May 1950. The immediate post war years saw the nationalisation of the railways, which reduced the number of employees, and the introduction of the National Health Service which brought better healthcare and reduced the need for Convalescent Homes. A programme of reduction in the number of Homes but modernisation of those that remained was introduced. In the early 1970s Herne Bay closed for major refurbishment, but the Home was never reopened. By 2000 only two homes were still being supported, that at Dawlish and the one in LLandudno. The latter was reopened in 2001 by Princess Anne, who was at the time a patron of the charity, following a £1.5m refit. By then the two homes had been opened, on a paying basis, to male and female workers from any industry who were referred there by their GP, their union or company. The Llandudno home was closed in March 2005 and it was decided in August 2020 that the last home, Bridge House in Dawlish which was closed earlier in the year due to Coronavirus restrictions, would not be reopening and officially close as from 31st October 2020.

Fundraising and operation

Click or tap to scroll through a gallery of pages
Balance Sheet 1934
The Railway Convalescent Homes

As has been mentioned, oversight of the operation of the organisation was undertaken by a board of trustees with members representing the employees of all the regions and railway companies with an interest in it. The geographical spread and number of companies involved meant that there were many regional representatives on the General Committee. All these rôles were voluntary and performed in addition to normal duties and it is interesting to note that of over a hundred committee members listed for 1934 just nine were female.

In August 1899 the Board of Trustees appointed their first permanent secretary to assist them with the growing burden of administration. This first secretary, Mr.W.R.R.Culver, was to stay in post for the next thirty-four years. Temporary office accommodation was found in London and then more permanent office space was rented before headquarters were established after WW2 in the newly acquired Speen House, just off Baker Street, in London. By 1954, now responsible for ten homes, headquarters staff had increased to nine full members including the Secretary and an Assistant Secretary. All aspects of admissions, travel passes, accountancy, maintenance and all matters relating to the staff employed in the homes was dealt with by them. As the number of homes decreased the number of headquarters staff was necessarily reduced, Speen House disposed of and headquarters moved to different offices including ones at Uxbridge then Portsmouth, ending up being based at the one remaining home in Dawlish. The organisation was incorporated as a private limited company at the end of December 2009, still overseen by a board of trustees.

All this had to be paid for and funds were generated from many different sources. Amongst the these sources of income were bequests, personal donations, monies from locally arranged events, donations from unions, and subscriptions from the railway companies. Each year a booklet was produced which listed all the committee members and trustees for the coming year, the numbers of patients and their respective companies, and a list of public donations. In our collection is an example for the year ended 1934 and attached at the back is a fold out balance sheet which details expenditure at each of the homes. Click or tap on the thumbnail to see some pages from this booklet.

Arrangements were put in place for subscriptions to be taken automatically from an employee's wages or salary by the L.N.E. and L.M S. in 1923, the G.W.R. in 1926 and finally the S.R. in 1928. In our collection there are two very fragile folded papers

Click or tap to see a gallery of these papers
which were published by the two GWR Trustees in 1939 in order to encourage a greater number of subscribing members. The first paper gives information about the various homes and facilities they offered whilst the second, printed on very thin paper, promotes the benefits and low cost of membership. For those wishing to join, the second paper bears two forms of application, one copy for the pay-clerk and the second to be forwarded to Mr.R.F.Buck (one of the two GWR Trustees) at Swindon.

Also in our collection is a leaflet dated November 1951

Click or tap to see this leaflet
which includes photographs and some details of the rules and facilities of the ten homes then run by the scheme. Whilst now very firmly within British Railways days, this leaflet makes specific mention of the L.M.S. Hospital Fund, contributors to which were automatically members of this scheme.

Metal badges were sold to help raise funds. Their design was taken from the logo of the organisation which changed over time with shields representing each home being either added or removed to reflect the changing number of homes supported.

Railway Convalescent Homes badge Railway Convalescent Homes badge Railway Convalescent Homes badge Railway Convalescent Homes badge

Railway Convalescent Homes badges in our colection
All badges shown approximately full size

Around the Homes

Below is a brief outline of the history of each of the ten homes presented in the sequence of their opening.

The Railway Convalescent Home, Herne Bay
The Railway Convalescent Home, Herne Bay, Front View
Undated postcard published by Photochrom Co. Ltd.

Herne Bay

As already noted this, the first home in the eventual estate of ten, was formally opened on 8th June 1901. It was purpose built on land donated by the philanthropist Passmore Edwards who also gave a final total of £7,000 towards its building and furnishing costs. The home was extended by the addition of a new wing containing an extra 50 beds which Princess Louise opened on 24th July 1907 and was further extended in 1914 and 1928. Situated on the cliffs just east of the town, the home boasted many amenities including its own bowling green. The home at Herne Bay was made avaiable to the War Office during WW1 to be used as a Military Hospital. During WW2 the home was for the most part a grade two hospital then a Military Hospital for a short time before reopening as a convalescent home on January 1st 1946. A process of modernisation had been put in hand during the 1960s and the home at Herne Bay, the last to benefit, was closed for an extensive upgrade in the early 1970s. A great deal of money was spent bringing the home up to standard but the harsh economic climate at the time together with an ever decreasing demand meant that the home did not reopen. Always hoping that fortunes would improve to allow its reopening as a railway convaescent home, the Trustees let it out on a 21 year lease, however it was eventually sold. After closure the building was first used for sheltered accommodation and at the time of writing is a private nursing home and has been renamed Elliott House. It was given Grade II listed status on 13th March 1998. The adjacent Friendly Societies convalescent home had been demolished in about 1985.

The Railway Convalescent Home, Leasowe Castle
Leasowe Castle
Undated postcard, unknown publisher

Leasowe Castle

Situated on the north coast of the Wirral Peninsula overlooking Liverpool Bay, Leasowe Castle was originally built in 1593 by Ferdinand, 5th Earl of Derby, who was second in line to the English throne and a patron of William Shakespeare. Much of the surrounding area is at or even below sea level and is protected by embankments. It is reputed that the tower was built to provide a good view of the Wallasey races which took place on the sands and, it has been suggested, was the first permanent horse-racing course in England. After the death of Sir Edward the Castle had a very mixed life, passing through several members of the family, was abandoned then used as a farmhouse before once more being restored as a residential mansion. For a few years around 1828 the building was used as a hotel. The ceiling of the Star Chamber at the Palace of Westminster was brought to the castle in 1836 along with panelling and other furnishings salvaged during a building project there in 1806. The oak panels were removed about fifty years later and the building became Leasowe Castle Hotel in 1891.

Leasowe Castle bookletClick or tap to scroll through a gallery of pages
Leasowe Castle 1912
The Railway Convalescent Homes

The trustees bought the hotel and thirty-two acres af land in 1910 and it was officially opened by the Lady Mayoress of Liverpool in 1911. During the First World War, Leaseowe Castle was initially used by British troops then to house German prisoners of war, some of whom were employed in strengthening the sea defences. Initially used for railwaymen only, between 1920 and 1925 it took in both men and women but reverted to men only again until 1928. From 1929 onwards it was used exclusively for women and mothers and babies. Between 1939 and 1945 Leasowe was used as a grade two hospital under the Ministry of Health. The building was given Grade II* listed status on 20th May 1952. The home was closed in April 1970 and sold but was left empty until it was bought by Wirral Borough Council who sold it on and it reopened as a hotel in December 1982. Since then it has changed hands a few times and has benefitted from sympathetic refurbishment projects but, at the time of writing, remains a popular hotel and venue for weddings and other functions.

The cover of this booklet really says it all. A chat about Leasowe Castle, Wallasey, Cheshire "The Castle by the Sea". The proceeds of the Sale of this Book will go to the Funds of The Railwaymen's Convalescent Homes, Herne Bay, Kent, and Leasowe Castle, Cheshire. Costing fourpence (4d) it is dated 1912 and was written by Thomas Ling who represented the Great Western Railway on the Board of Trustees of the Homes. It offers a fascinating insight into both the history of the building and the facilities which it offered to those convalescing there.

Bridge House, Dawlish
Bridge House, Dawlish
Undated postcard published by Chapman & Son, Dawlish

Bridge House, Dawlish

Bridge House was built in 1793 for newly weds John Davy Foulkes and Elizabeth Fortesque, daughter of the Lord of the Manor of Dawlish. Foulkes was the commander of an East Indiaman ship and, in 1795, captured seven Dutch East Indiamen off St Helena buying another house in Exeter with the resultant prize money. Bridge House was put up for sale in 1814 following his death in 1813. The house was eventually sold in 1829 to a retired vicar from Dublin. He enlarged the house to accommodate his seven children by adding the bow fronted extension and several generations of the family lived there until 1898. For several years thereafter, the house was leased out to summer visitors. It is believed that Charles Dickens wrote parts of Nicholas Nickleby (published 1838) whilst staying here and made Dawlish the birthplace of its main character. Another famous guest at the house was Edward VII, who visited Dawlish with Lily Langtry in the early 1900s. In 1906, the house was bought by Sir William Gordon-Cumming, a retired lieutenant Colonel of the Coldstream Guards, who fought in the Zulu Wars and Egypt. The family had estates in Scotland and owned Gordonstoun (later to become the public school). The family returned to Scotland in 1913 and sold the house to Lady Fairlie-Cunningham who went on to rent and subsequently sell it to the trustees of the Railway Convalescent Homes. The Dawlish home was opened in June 1918 and in 1929 it was substantially extended with a games wing being added in 1935. An additional storey was added to the games wing in 1954 to provide a writing room, rest room and veranda. During WW2 the home was placed at the disposal of the Ministry of Health for use as a Grade II hospital.

Closing for nine months in the early 1980s, the Dawlish Home was the subject of a major upgrade. It opened its doors again in June 1982. Bridge House became the last home to remain open when the Llandudno home closed in 2005. Having already been forced to close its doors early in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the decision was made in the August to permanently close Bridge House as its continued operation was considered to be no longer viable. The official date of closure being 31st October 2020. Administrative functions of the Railway Convalescent Homes are still based there, but at the time of writing the longer term future of Bridge House is not known.

The Railway Convalescent Home, Lavenham
The Railway Convalescent Home, Lavenham, Suffolk
Undated postcard published by Photochrom Co. Ltd.

Lavenham House

Lavenham was once a very rich and important centre for the wool trade, known primarily for the blue cloth produced there. Four Wool Guilds were formed as a result of this trade and one, the Guild of the Blessed Virgin, built what was to become Lavenham House during the reign of Henry VIII. It was converted into a Wool Hall in the late seventeenth century. Purchased in a dilapidated state by Princess Louise in about 1911 it was donated to Mrs. Bruce Culver, wife of the Secretary of the Railwaymen's Convalescent Homes, for use as a convalescent home for railwaywomen. Mrs. Culver formed a small committee to adapt and run the home but, feeling its interests would be better served, the home was offered to the Railwaymen's Convalescent Homes in 1921. During WW2 the home was placed at the disposal of the Ministry of Health for use as a Grade II hospital. It continued to be used exclusively for the benefit of railwaywomen or the wives of railwaymen and was given protected status as a Grade 1 listed building in 1958. The home closed in 1961 and was sold in the October of that year. The building was acquired by Trust Houses in 1963 and incorporated into the Swan Hotel.

The streets of Lavenham were used as a background for the scenes in Godric’s Hollow in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. The buildings were filmed and then had their appearance altered using CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) so the actors, who never actually visited Lavenham, could be filmed in a studio and then superimposed onto the background.

The Railway Convalescent Home, Ascog Mansion
The Railway Convalescent Home, Ascog Mansion
Undated postcard published by Photochrom Co. Ltd.

Ascog Mansion, Isle of Bute

Ascog Mansion was once the home to Lady Margaret McCrea, sister of the Marquess of Bute. It is situated in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute and in 1919 was being advertised as a Yachting Residence, then owned by Major Colin W.McCrae, to be sold at auction. It must not have sold at that time as it was once again being advertised for sale, with him still the owner, in 1921. It would appear that the building and grounds were bought and converted for use as a hotel. This venture must not have been too successful as the Ascog Mansion Hotel and grouds were advertised as being offered for sale by auction in early 1924. The property was in fact bought prior to the auction by the Railway Convalescent Homes and was opened on 28th August 1924 by Mr. William Whitelaw, then chairman of the London & North Eastern Railway Company. Ascog was reputed to have enjoyed the best winter climate of any of the homes as the Firth of Clyde is warmed by the Gulf Stream and snow is rarely seen there.

When the Railway Convalescent Homes faced financial difficulties in the late 1960s, many of the English Railway Convalescent Homes were sold but Ascog was retained together with those at Dawlish and Llandudno and benefitted from a major modernisation project which was completed in October 1984. Closing in 1997 it was converted into a number of large residential dwellings and renamed Ascog Mansions. The ornate whitewashed gateway whose archway bears the words 'The Railway Convalescent Home' remained as a reminder of the building's former use.

The Railway Convalescent Home, 'Ardenlea', Ilkley
The Railway Convalescent Home, 'Ardenlea', Ilkley
Undated postcard published by Photochrom Co. Ltd.

Ardenlea, Ilkley

Ardenlea was built in 1881 as the elegant residence of Bradford draper George Thorpe, it was designed for him by Thomas Hope of Bradford. Set within its own leafy grounds, the house commanded panoramic views across the valley. Ardenlea was purchased in 1914 with money largely made available from a fund associated with the North Eastern Railway Company, and opened as a convalescent home on 18th May 1915. It suffered a major fire in 1946 caused, it was believed, by a lighted cigarette left in the smokeroom. One wing was destroyed but the rest of the home was saved. It was decided to replace that wing with a new much larger one and to refurbish and modernise the rest of the building at the same time. Ardenlea was reopened in September of 1953.

Closed in June 1962 the home was bought by the Marie Curie Memorial Foundation to become a hospice. The building was put up for sale in 2000 to help pay for a brand new purpose-built hospice in Bradford. It was saved from demolition when gived Grade II listed status on 27th September of that year and sold to developers who renamed it Thorpe Hall and converted it to apartments in 2003.

The Railway Convalescent Home, Par
The Railway Convalescent Home, Par, Cornwall
Undated postcard published by Photochrom Co. Ltd.

Trenython Manor, Par

Overlooking St. Austell Bay on the south coast of Cornwall, Trenython Manor was built shortly after 1860 by an Italian architect commissioned by General Garibaldi and gifted to local military man Colonel Peard for his part in the Alpine Campaign against the Austrians in 1859. He had given up law to organise and captain the Fowey Militia, as part of the Duke of Cornwall’s volunteers. Garibaldi gave him command of the 'English Thousand Legion'. King Victor Emmanuel awarded Colonel Peard the Cross of Valour. Within three years of settling at Trethynon the Colonel had died and so Bishop Gott, the third Bishop of Truro, came to buy the house in 1891 and it remained a Bishop’s Palace for 15 years. He panelled the dining room walls with some panelling originating from York Minster and some from Worcester Cathedral. Amongst the other treasures at Trethynon are two Egyptian pillars standing inside the entrance hall which were said to have originated from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, built in 650 B.C., and a chandelier reputed to have once hung in the Vatican. Upon his death the property was inherited by his son who sold it to the railway Convalescent Homes. It was opened for use on 16th October 1925 by the Rt. Hon. Viscount Churchill, chairman of the Great Western Railway.

A sympathetic updating of the house was completed in 1969. A new glade of maples was planted and a natural stream dammed to form a lake in the large grounds. After closure as a convalescent home the property passed through private hands and in 2006 it became part of CLC World Resorts & Hotels Group and now operates as a resort with the mansion house hotel and self-catering lodges set in its grounds.

The Railway Convalescent Home, Margate
Shottendane, Margate
Unattributed photograph from the 1934 Balance Sheet booklet

Shottendane, Margate

Shottendane was built in 1910 as the retirement home for a local doctor, Arthur Rowe. He had been a brilliant medical student, and after qualifying declined several prestigious London appointments choosing instead to return to Margate and work alongside his father, who had a medical practice in the town. In addition to his general medical practice Dr. Rowe was surgeon to the Royal Sea Bathing Hospital and the Margate Cottage Hospital. In 1887 he had married into a very wealthy family, which allowed him to retire early and devote his time to his various hobbies. He amassed a vast collection of fossils which was bought by the British Museum following his death. Arthur Rowe died on 17th September 1926 aged 68.

The house and its five acres of ornamental gardens was bought by the Railway Convalescent Homes, converted into a convalescent home for women patients and was opened on 29th October 1927 by the Hon. Everard Baring, chairman of the Southern Railway. During WW2 the home was sceduled as a grade two hospital on standby to relieve Margate Hospital should the need arise. From April 1945 it once again operated as a convalescent home a railway convalescent home until it was sold for housing development in 1988. Later that year it became Shottendane Nursing Home, and operates as such to the present day. Some of the grounds were subsequently developed for residential housing.

The Railway Convalescent Home, Buxton
The Railway Convalescent Home, Buxton
Undated postcard published by Photochrom Co. Ltd.

The Bedford, Buxton

The Bedford was one of the many hotels built in Buxton during the Victorian period. Situated on St. John's Road and almost opposite the Pavilion Gardens, it was a relatively short distance from the railway station and town centre. It was purchased by the board of Trustees in 1943 with the intention of using it for patients convalescing after rheumatism or 'nervous diseases'. Between August 1944 until the end of 1945 the building was lent by the Trustees as a rest home for nursesClick or tap to see three photographs from the Imperial War Museum archive and so did not open for its intended purpose until early 1946. During that year it was announced that the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organisations had donated no less than $73,000, which equated to over £18,000, to cover the purchase price of both the Bedford and the staff annexe known as Portland House. On 20th September Mr. Paul Felix Warburg, special representative of the American Ambassador, formally handed the home over to the Trustees and unveiled a bronze memorial plaque commemorating the gift. Also present was Sir Robert Burrows, president of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway Company. A large new wing was added to the building in 1949.

The Buxton home was closed and disposed of in June 1964 when it became a residential home for people with Cerebral Palsy run by The Spastic Society. The charity was renamed Scope in 1994 and continued to operate the Bedford until the home was closed in 2008. The Buxton MuseumClick or tap to see the photograph from the Buxton Museum collection has in its collection an unattributed photograph of the home taken around the time it changed use in the mid 1960s.

The Railway Convalescent Home, LLandudno
The Railway Convalescent Home, Llandudno
Undated postcard published by Jarrold & Sons, Ltd. Norwich

The Old Abbey, Llandudno

The building is situated where Llys Helig (or Llys Helyg) Drive leaves Marine Drive on the southern side of the Great Orme. It is not known when the hotel was first built, but it is probable that it was sometime during the 1890s. Marine Drive, the toll road which goes around the Great Orme, was opened in 1878. Before that time there was a simple path which was rather dangerous in places. In the grounds are the surviving remains of Gogarth Abbey. This was never a monastic house but a Palace of Bishop Anian of Bangor, built on land given to the bishop by King Edward I in 1284 following the baptism by the bishop of the first (English) Prince of Wales. The Palace was burnt down by Owain Glyndwr in around 1405 but it was not rebuilt and gradually many of the remains were lost to the sea through coastal erosion. What was left of the ruins was sold with its surrounding land by the church in 1891. During the Second World War it was requisitioned by the Royal Artillery’s Coast Artillery School which was originally based at Shoeburyness. When the school became operational in September 1940 it offered courses in gunnery, searchlight operation, wireless and radar. It is estimated that 20,000 cadets passed through the training facility in the five years it was in Llandudno.

In 1949 Staffordshire County Council tried to purchase the building and its four acre grounds for £25,000 with plans to use it as a childrens' holiday home. For some reason that sale never went through, and in 1950 it was bought for £22,500 for use as a convalescent home for women employees of the new British Transport Commission. This became the tenth, and last, home to come under the umbrella of the Railway Convalescent Homes. The home was opened on 9th May 1950 by Lord Latham, chairman of the London Transport Executive. The president of the L.M.S. Hospital Fund in Crewe, Mr. R.Shepherd, handed Lord Latham a cheque for £30,000 to cover the cost of buying and furnishing the home. The grounds of the home gve onto the sea foreshore and sea bathing was promoted as being one of the many advantages of a stay there, although the waters may well have proved too cold for many to take up the opportunity.

Various repairs and improvements took place up until 1961 when it received internal and external renovation. The Old Abbey stayed open only to women until 1981, when falling numbers of rail employees caused the home to open its doors to men and non-railway workers. The home was closed in late 1999 for a major refit and the building of a ten bedroom extension at a cost of £1.5m. The home was reopened in 2001 by Princess Anne, who was at the time a patron of the charity, and the new wing was named the Graham Jones Wing, after a former RCH trustee and British Railways Board accountant who died that year aged 53. By that time, this home and the one at Dawlish were the only two remaining open. The Llandudno home was closed in March 2005 and became the Ateres Chana mother and baby home.