Maghull Homes – Now Parkhaven Trust – 125 years of social care in Maghull

From the age of 17 to my mid 30’s I worked on a part-time basis at what was then the Maghull Homes which was originally set up as an epileptic colony. My job was assisting the disabled residents to participate in social and sporting activities such as snooker (I was taught to play this by residents of the Maghull Homes), cricket and football on the charity’s Liverpool Road South site.

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The second site, located off Deyes Lane, was where a school for children with epilepsy was based and which operated until the mid 1980’s, if I recall correctly. The Liverpool Road South site is substantially intact and still serving the needs of those with disabilities but the Deyes Lane site is very much smaller these days with grand houses covering some of what was attractive parkland that the epileptic residents helped to maintain. Indeed, the redevelopment of a large part of the Deyes Lane site, which also had a number architecturally pleasing buildings, was recently approved in extremely controversial circumstances I am sorry to say. I think it is also fair to say that those who fought the redevelopment will never forgive those local socialist politicians who allowed it to happen in the way that it did. We have indeed lost a significant green lung in the Maghull community.

Anyone living in Maghull when I was growing up (1968 onwards for me as I came to live in Maghull then at the age of 10) will have been used to seeing the residents of the colony out and about on Maghull’s streets going to the shops etc. Of course, being epileptics they had attacks and a group of folk surrounding someone on the floor in Maghull inevitably meant one thing – someone was having an epileptic attack.

You can imagine that this was all new to me as a 10 year old lad and not easy to get your head around but I quickly began to resent the remarks and attitude of some of my fellow school children who would make fun of the residents of ‘The Homes’. I appreciate now that the poor taste remarks were little more than fear of the unknown and a childlike reaction to such but never the less those reactions have never left me.

At some point whilst I was a young teenager my Mum started work at the Maghull Homes organising holidays and social activities so I found out more about the charity, its residents and indeed epilepsy. I got to know many of the residents and in due course enjoyed working with and helping them.

Some of them had been put there many years previously as having an epileptic in your family particularly during Victorian and Edwardian times was an embarrassment; hence the setting up of epileptic colonies such as the one in Maghull. There were others and Langho, up Blackburn way, was another that I became aware of. Indeed, when Langho closed some of its long-term residents came to live in Maghull.

The majority of Maghull Homes residents that I knew throughout the 1970’s, 80’s and early 90’s have now passed on but I like to think of them as my friends who were both unfortunate to have a condition that was hard to control and which in some cases made their families find them to be an embarrassment. Of course some had other disabilities as well but a more cheery group of folk you would look hard to find.

I know that those residents had a profound effect on me and the way I look at the world and I would not have missed the opportunity to work with them for the world. I lost count of the number of huddles of folk on pavements I came across when driving around Maghull. Of course I stopped, had a look and often put the Homes resident in my car to take them home. On the odd occasion the attack would lead to a serious injury as the epilepsy sufferer hit a hard object as they fell and medical attention would be required.

And my reason for relating this? The Maghull Homes, now a social care charity catering for all kinds of disability called the Parkhaven Trust, is 125 years young in 2013 having ben established in 1888.

These days epilepsy is well controlled by medication and we may all know a person well who has epilepsy without ever being aware of their condition. Indeed, I know two people well who take medication for this condition and they have no connection what so ever with the friends I made at the Maghull Homes many years ago.

http://www.parkhaven.org.uk/

4 thoughts on “Maghull Homes – Now Parkhaven Trust – 125 years of social care in Maghull

  1. Dear Tony,
    I have just read your report about the Maghull Homes and a child who went to Chilton School I resent you calling it a colony we were not lepers although as you say your fellow pupils thought we were. We were not Epileptics but people with Epilepsy.
    Get it right in todays society one knows that people are not a product to be labelled.
    Janet.

    • I am so sorry to have offended you, that was certainly not what I intended. Both my closest friend and his mother have epilepsy as does a lady I work with at the Council so I can assure you I do care about it.

      The label ‘colony’ was very much used to describe it when I first became aware of the Maghull Homes in the late 1960’s and when I later became aware of Langho it was also referred to using that term. It was, I assume a throw back to less progressive thinking. The only reason I used it in my posting was because it was a phrase in common use when I was a child and teenager.

      May I wish you well, it is good to here from you. I counted a number of adult residents of the Maghull Homes as my friends and whilst most have now passed on I regularly run into a chap who was one of the youngest that I regularly came into contact with. He is now living in Bootle in his own flat despite other disability issues as well as his epilepsy. I would add that I did not have any contact with Chilton School as my work was always on the Liverpool Road South site across Maghull.

      Best wishes

      Tony

  2. Don Coldwell says:

    I used to live very near the Epileptic Homes on Liverpool Road South/Sefton Lane. I had much contact with the residents when I was young, and often had to take a number of residents home at night. Often from the Meadows Hotel 🙂 The use of the word “Colony” by Tony is not controversial, it was how both the Residents and the Staff described the complex of homes around Maghull.
    I would,however,take great exception to one statement that Tony made.
    “I think it is also fair to say that those who fought the redevelopment will never forgive those local socialist politicians who allowed it to happen in the way that it did”
    Local SOCIALIST Politicians….in the Labour Party, today? Oh that there were!!

  3. Michael Westall says:

    Hi. I have just come across this discussion, in particular the reference to Chilton House in Deyes Lane. I was resident there for 30 months from April 1965. I arrived just prior to the arrival of the McDonalds who went on to manage the home during my stay. Although I have some bad memories of that time in my life, I also have many good memories of the kindness I received from both the staff and residents in the local area which I encounted on my many days out into the community. I value my time there and recognise it as key to my adult development, I also recognise that it provided a break for my widowed mother who had spent years caring for my whilst still recovering from the recent death of my father. (My Mither and Father where aged 29). I f I could comment about Tony’s words. I appreciate that he carries fond memories of that period and don’t actually care about his choice of words. Life goes on and you have to deal with the cards you are dealt. Not worry about PC language and people being upset. Enjoy life and learn to see the better side of people, it’s worked for me. I have had a happy life, I have a beautiful wife and a wonderful son. Who has grown up to value friendship and appreciate people for who they are not what they have wrong with them. Thanks for your time Regards. Michael Westall aged 63.

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