Page Compiled February 2008

All images and text copyright © to Goldings Old Boys reunion members

"No destitute child ever refused admission." These words were written above the door of the first Barnardo home in Stepney the door that never
closed against a child in need day or night. It was a vital part of Dr. Thomas John Barnardo's whole attitude to caring for children.
Today Barnardo's is a household name. But how did this great voluntary society start? And who was Dr. Barnardo? To find out "how" we must
first study "who". Thomas John Barnardo was born in Dublin and as a young man attended religious revival meetings as a result of which he
became a Christian. He offered himself for missionary work and was advised to study medicine. To do so he went to London and became a
student at the London Hospital, in White-chapel, in the heart of the East End.
It did not take him long to discover the terrible conditions in which young children existed in the poorer areas of this great city. We have only
to read Charles Dickens or, indeed, Dr. Barnardo himself to get some idea of the East End of that time. Gas-lit streets, horse-drawn traffic,
murky back streets where you carried your own lantern if you rashly went out after dark. London was a city of contrasts great wealth and luxury,
extreme poverty and hardship unlike anything we know today, great refinements and gross ignorance and coarseness.
There was no free schooling, no "Welfare State". There was much unemployment, babies died in large numbers, and hundreds of people were
hungry and undernourished. Illnesses such as tuberculosis (commonly called consumption) flourished in the insanitary conditions of many
dwellings. Many diseases now curable or scarcely known were rampant and often fatal.
It was a cholera epidemic which really brought home to Thomas John Barnardo the plight of East Enders. When the sickness struck, victims
frequently died within twelve to twenty-four hours. Doctors and nurses were almost overwhelmed, and offers of help from volunteers, such as
the young Irish medical student, were speedily accepted.
Barnardo did more than help fight the epidemic. He took the Bible through the back streets, into the pubs and doss-houses, selling copies at cut
prices. In the three months of the cholera he sold 30,000 books. He also preached at street corners. And he opened a small ragged school for the
children in a disused donkey stable at Hope Place, Stepney, where they were taught to read and write a step on the way to. earning a living.
That stable stood until the years of the Second World War when it was bombed. All that remains today is a plaque set in a nearby wall.
His pupils sometimes rioted and threw him out, he was mobbed, pelted with refuse, laughed at but still he hung on, with great faith and courage.
One night he was locking up the stable-schoolroom when he noticed a boy who had not yet gone. Barnardo suggested that the lad went home.
"Aint got no 'ome" came the reply.
"Well, then," said Barnardo, "Your mother or father will be expecting you, surely?"
"Ain't got no muvver or farver" replied the boy. And he pleaded to be allowed to stay near the schoolroom fire for warmth during the night.
Instead Barnardo took him to his lodgings and gave him a meal, and then he found him a bed with a family he knew. Jim Jarvis, the waif
without parents or home, led him in due course to the haunts where homeless and destitute boys huddled at night for shelter on rooftops by the
chimneys, under tarpaulins, in barrels, on straw anywhere where the policeman with his lantern would not see them and haul them off to the
workhouse. These lads were sharp-witted they had to be for they lived by their wits they were tough, they had their own brand of humour, and
they had pluck.

"No destitute child ever refused admission."

The first Stepney Causeway' home

Barnardo was determined to open a home for such boys. In 1870 his dream came true. No. 18 Stepney Causeway was acquired and the Home
for Working and Destitute Lads came into existence. Once the street had housed retired seaman, then it had gone down in the world. When
Barnardo found it the houses were dirty and dilapidated, and the property was cheap. "The house was old and tumbledown, every floor of which
shook under a heavy tread, in a narrow and squalid street hard by Stepney Station on the Commercial Road," wrote Barnardo.
It was, in his eyes, an adjunct to what had become the East End Juvenile Mission, grown from the ragged school, where preaching and teaching
were combined with an attack on poverty and despair in its many forms, by all sorts of means then considered unconventional. He ran a trade
school for the boys, a clothes club and sewing-class for the girls, a miniature labour exchange, a savings club, a library that was free once you
had saved a shilling in the savings club, a reading room, earnest Bible classes and jubilant Sunday services filled with song.
Eventually he was able to acquire a gin palace, the "Edinburgh Castle", which he converted to a Coffee Palace. He started a free medical
mission (after a penny admission had been paid) and founded a remarkable "order of deaconesses", gentlewomen who gave their lives in the
service of the poor and needy.
When 18 Stepney Causway was bought Dr. Barnardo was granted an option on adjoining premises "if needed later on", which was just as well
for 18 soon overflowed into 20, and then into 22 until within a few years the home occupied numbers 18-26. By 1877 what had begun as one
small house had grown to six large ones, and the freehold was bought with money given by the public. In the beginning the home catered for 35
inmates seven years later it was home to 253 boys.
In 1874, following the death of a boy whom Barnardo had been forced to turn away for lack of space, the first "Ever-Open-Door" was opened
at 10 Stepney Causeway. It was open all night and for many years a lamp with the words "Children's Shelter open all night" shone over the door.
No child was ever turned away. A bath, a bed, and a breakfast were always ready, and the next morning the child was passed on to the home a
few doors away. In due course this accommodation became crowded and numbers 6 and 8 were added.
By 1876 rebuilding of numbers 20-26 had become a necessity they were old and made of wood, and had fire broken out there would have been
a major tragedy. The buildings were condemned by the parish authorities. In any case there was not now enough room for the boys and new
admissions were being received daily. An overdraft was obtained, which was to plunge Dr. Barnardo's homes into debt until the Doctor's death
in 1905, and a new four storey brick building was erected. This remained in use, latterly as the international headquarters of Barnardo's, until
1968. In 1970 the buildings were finally demolished in a local authority clearance
scheme to make way for council housing.
In 1877 Dr. Barnardo had written of the opening of the Infirmary for Sick Children on freehold land opposite the homes.

The dining-room at Stepney

"The Edinburgh Castle"

The number of residents in 1885 varied between 300 to 450, and school rooms and workshops were provided where they were educated and
taught a trade. The buildings also housed the Central Offices where between seventy and eighty people were employed. In 1887 a new
dormitory was supplied by adding another storey to the Stepney Causeway building, split into four, each section containing an average of 100
beds. Then eleven small houses in Bower Street, running parallel to and behind the Causeway, came unexpectedly into the market, were bought
up, and the site cleared. A four-storey addition to the homes was built giving a library, swimming pool, uniform room and play rooms, school
rooms, Director's and secretaries' rooms, an extensive gymnasium, offices and stores for the emigration departments.
The previously too-small playground was now of adequate size and the drill yard, where the boys exercised every morning, extended. A covered
bridge linked the Bower Street and Causeway building.
The trade block catered for carpentry, brush-making, tailoring, shoe-making, baking, and engineering, with workshops for wheelwrights,
tinsmiths, printers, blacksmiths, and for mat-making and harness-making. There was, too, the famous boys' band. In the autumn of 1887 the
patients were moved out of the Infirmary temporarily while a new brick building, of three and a half storeys, arose on the site Her Majesty's
Hospital for Sick Children, and designed as the town memorial to the Queen's Jubilee. A dispensary, mortuary and kitchens were in the
basement, wards and accommodation for the matron and nurses were on other floors, and the resident physician had his quarters on the fourth
floor where there was also a boys' playroom, and a large asphalted open air space for convalescents. An underground tunnel linked the boys'
home with the Hospital, and in due course there was also a bridge In 1895 the number of trades taught rose to twelve and the Bower Street
gymnasium was sacrificed to provide more workshops.
Some of the shops, notably the tailor's, were manned almost exclusively by boys who were crippled, maimed, or handicapped. During 1898
number 12 Stepney Causeway was purchased, and in 1899 numbers 14 and 16 which housed the Marie Hilton Creche.
Barnardo kept the Creche, and until 1939 the organization continued to look after the East End's babies whilst their mothers worked.
In 1903 Barnardo's spread to beyond the railway line and bought number 30 Stepney Causeway for use as an isolation house for children
suffering from ringworm, measles, suspected infectious diseases and eye troubles.
Even in 1912 the then Senior Medical Officer maintained that Stepney was "marvellously healthy" the continuous current of air along the
Thames, the gravel soil, and the good health of the boys being his chief argumentsó even though the premises were cramped and overcrowded.
However, the Council searched for country premises not too far from Stepney and bought in 1921 an estate known as "Goldings" in Hertford.
This was renamed the William Baker Technical School and in 1922 some three hundred of the Stepney boys moved to their new surroundings.
Only eighty-two crippled boys remained but by the following year they, too, had gone to pleasanter surroundings.
The Hospital was no longer needed as such and so became an office block, being renamed Barnardo House. New admissions were still being
accepted in numbers 6-18 but these houses needed rebuilding. A rebuilding fund was opened and in 1933 modern premises were opened. Two
relics of the old homes were preserved a fireplace which was presented to the London Museum, and the doorway to number 10 (the original
"Ever-Open-Door") which was for long the entrance to the Barnardo Museum and is now on permanent loan to the London Borough of Tower
Hamlets, together with Dr. Barnardo's desk, chair, and the personal items he kept on his desk.
With the coming of war in 1939 the Receiving Houses, the "Ever-Open-Door" and the Creche closed for the duration, it was said, but in fact
they never reopened. In 1940 number 4 was opened as a working lads' hostel and remained as such until 1966.
Dr. Barnardo's work, though originally for boys, extended, on his marriage, to girls. To begin with he and his wife housed girls in the back of
their home at Mossford Lodge, Barkingside, but later The Village was built in its day a pioneer scheme of small houses or cottages, each with
housemothers, built in landscaped surroundings with its own hospital, school, church, and shop. Girls were here brought up in loving, Christian
homes, educated and trained in domestic arts, laundry work, and sewing. Later the all girls' rule was relaxed to prevent the separation of brothers
and sisters. The children in The Village did not wear uniform. Barnardo also arranged for children to be boarded out, under the supervision of
trained visitors and local supporters, in private families.
His work for sick, crippled, blind, deaf and dumb, and otherwise afflicted children was famous. He founded his own children's hospital and a
number of special branches for their care. One of the proudest days of his life was when the Chief Surgeon of the London Hospital visited 170
of these children and said: "I never saw such a sight as this. Everything has been done for them that surgery can do."
It was a major problem to find work for many boys and girls leaving Barnardo's each year. There was acute unemployment in Britain. It was
this that caused Dr. Barnardo to introduce an emigration scheme whereby boys and girls went to> Canada, where they were placed in homes
and employment, and given a far better chance than they would have had in their homeland. This scheme continued until the early 1920s.
Emigration to Australia was then arranged in a similar way.
When Dr. Barnardo died in 1905, worn out by his work for children in need, he had helped 60,000 of them and raised some £3 million in
voluntary gifts.
Today nearly two hundred and twenty-five thousand children have been helped. There are about one hundred homes and special schools in
Britain, together with a Family Care Service for those children remaining with their own parents (often in single-parent families), foster-care
and, in England, an adoption society. In Kenya there is a large home and training centre in Nairobi. In Australia there are eleven homes and a
Farm Training School. In New Zealand plans are in hand for a centre near Auckland.

The carpenters' shop at Stepney

The schoolroom at Stepney

The last photograph of Dr. Barnardo at The Village, Barkingside, in 1905

The Duchess of York 1935

H.R.H. Princess Anne 1970

H.R.H. Princess Margaret 1975

H.R.H. Princess Diana 1985

Royal Visitors

Looking through the gates 1800s

Visit Cambridge Cottage

Barnardo Memorial Dedication Ceremony October 2008


Child emigration


150 years Celebration 2016 at Buckingham Palace

Barnardos 1886 to present day