Ancestry UK

Ever Open Door, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire

In February 1892, Dr Barnardo opened an 'Ever Open Door' receiving house in Leeds at 24 Kirkgate. It was one of seven such establishments being set up in Britain's provincial cities at that date, the others being in Bath, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool 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.

24 Kirkgate, Leeds, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

In around 1912, the home moved to a new location at 25 Blenheim Terrace, Leeds. It could house up to twelve children, with a maximum age of 15.

25 Blenheim Terrace, Leeds, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

The home relocated again in 1936 to a property known as Kirkstall Lodge at 56 Morris Lane, Leeds.

56 Morris Lane, Leeds, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Morris Lane closed during the Second World War then re-opened in April 1946 as a home for school-age children. From 1950 to 1960 it served as a boys' hostel then became a boys' home. After its final closure in September 1966, operations were transferred to the Wood Nook hostel on Outwood Lane, Horsforth, near Leeds.

Former Wood Nook Hostel, Horsforth, 2015. © Peter Higginbotham


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)