Ancestry UK

Ever Open Door, Bristol, Gloucestershire

On August 21st, 1894, Dr Barnardo opened an 'Ever Open Door' receiving house at 34 Park Row, Bristol. It was the eighth such establishment to be set up in Britain's provincial cities and followed on from those opened in 1892 at Bath, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Plymouth. The Ever Open Door houses, with their slogan 'No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission', were open twenty-four hours a day and provided short-term shelter for homeless youngsters while consideration was given to their future, which would generally be in a long-term Barnardo home or emigration to Canada.

Bristol Ever Open Door, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

The Park Row Ever Open Door could hold up to thirty children, with 16 being the upper age limit for admission. By 1920, the Ever Open Door had relocated to smaller premises at 33B Whiteladies Road, Clifton, with capacity for fourteen children. The home continued operating into the 1950s, now termed a Reception Home.

Neither of the above properties still 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, 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)