Labour House, Commercial Road, London
Barnardo's Labour House was opened in 1882 in premises at 622-626 Commercial Road, London E1. It provided lodgings and work for up to 120 boys aged seventeen or over who were too old for Barnardo's children's homes. Activities carried out at the establishment included wood-chopping, the manufacture of fire-lighters, and the operation of an aerated water factory.
The regime at the Labour House was tough. The boys were woken at 5.30am and worked from 6.00am until 6.30pm with half-hour breaks for breakfast, prayers, dinner and military drill. Following a thirty-minute recreation period, supper was served at seven and followed by evening classes until 9.15pm. Bedtime prayers were followed by lights-out at 10pm.
An important role of the Labour House was the preparation of boys for emigration to Canada, with many ending up at Barnardo's own Industrial Farm near Russell, Manitoba. From 1888 to 1907, the farm received around 1,660 British youngsters, with others sent to work on other farms in Manitoba.
The Labour House closed in 1909. The building no longer exists.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Barnardo's 'Making Connections' and Family History Services — for enquiries relating the records of children formerly in the care of Barnardo's and those of other organisations absorbed by them.
- Barnardo, Syrie Louise, and Marchant, James Memoirs of the Late Dr Barnardo (Hodder & Stoughton, 1907)
- Batt, J.H. Dr. Barnardo: The Foster-Father of "Nobody's Children" (S.W. Partridge, 1904)
- Bready, J. Wesley Doctor Barnardo (Allen & Unwin, 1930)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Rose, June For the Sake of the Children: Inside Dr. Barnardo's: 120 years of caring for children (Hodder & Stoughton, 1987)
- Wagner, Gillian Barnardo (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1979)
- The Barnardo's website.
- The Goldonian Website — memories and information from former Barnardo's children.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.