In 2021 we celebrated that we have been operating for 50 years! Some of our staff have been with us for over 35 and 25 years and this is something that wonderfully represents our family ethos.
Sue Farr (top left in above photo), one of the founders, looks back on 50 years of running nurseries in Bristol…
In 1971 I was a senior Nursery Nurse in a Bristol day nursery in the grounds of Southmead Hospital; I was getting married to Bruce who was skilled in transforming buildings. In Bristol, young mothers were planning to return to work and the only private day nursery was closing for domestic reasons.
Once we had persuaded the Social Services (then our registering and inspecting body, undertaking the role that Ofsted now has) that Mornington House basement could provide day-care for at least 12 children, in February 1971 we opened our doors. Within two weeks we had a growing waiting list. Some parents I can remember came from the University, the BBC, the Coach and Horses pub over the road and a Park Street hairdresser. After a year, we were able to double our size to 24 children, aged 2-5 years, and we increased our staff accordingly, from just myself and a colleague; we had looked after the children, cooked fresh meals and cleaned up at the end of the day.
In 1981 we opened The Priory Day Nursery in Filton; on the first day Bristol came to a standstill in heavy snow and the first child and members of staff had to be collected in our Land Rover! Around the same time, Bristol University was struggling to open a nursery for staff and student families, so we opened it for them and ran it for two years.
The registration for babies in private day nurseries did not start until the late 1980s when we were looking to open a third nursery on the Wells Road, in Knowle. By buying two adjoining houses (in 1987), we were able to open the first private nursery with a baby room in Bristol. The Social Services, still our registering body, had little idea what it would entail so it took a little time for us all to find the correct staff ratio and area, to give the kind of care we were aiming for, while trying not to be overwhelmed by the huge numbers that were trying to register a place with us. By this time numerous nurseries were opening all over Bristol.
When I look back at photographs, I see that the children have never really changed; they look the same, wear the same clothes and like to play and learn from the same materials. Saffia, our daughter, who now runs Bristol Childcare, joined Mornington House in 1976 and loved it. (Photo below: Saffia, aged 2)
The nurseries have always been happy places, and have seen numerous staff come and go, some staying for many years. Every year ex-pupils return, to visit, to look for a job or to enrol their own children.
Justine Richardson (left) who has
worked for us for over 30 years
Sally King (right) who has worked
for us for over 20 years