Passmore Edwards Teachers' Orphanage, Sydenham, London
The Passmore Edwards Teachers' Orphanage was opened in 1899 at Sydenham. The new home, which housed the sons of teachers whose fathers had died or who had become permanently incapacitated, replaced the previous establishment at Peckham which had become inadequate for its purpose. The search for replacement premises was given a considerable boost in 1898 when the newspaper owner and philanthropist John Passmore Edwards offered to contribute up to £6,000 for the cost of a new building. This was on condition that the home's operators, the National Union of Elementary Teachers, paid for a suitable site and the cost of furnishing the establishment.
In the end, an existing property was adopted for the purpose in the shape of the magnificent Westwood House on West Hill (now Westwood Hill), Sydenham, which was offered by its owner, Mr C.J. Whittick Rabbits, at the generous price of £10,000. The new home was officially opened by Mr Passmore Edwards on September 23rd, 1899, with a silver key bearing the words 'Old and young in the years to come will rise up and call you blessed.' Those in attendance at the proceedings included 1,200 members of the teaching profession.
In its new location, the orphanage could accommodate up to sixty boys. Despite the grandeur of the house, whose features included a music salon with a minstrel's gallery at one end, elaborately carved mahogany doors, and winter gardens with domed roofs, a few alterations were necessary for the building's new role, such as the conversion of the coach houses into workshops and a gymnasium.
The home was closed at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 and never re-opened. The building was demolished in 1952. The teachers' orphanage for girls in Sheffield subsequently became a mixed establishment.
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- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
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