Ancestry UK

Friends' Orphan Homes, Leominster, Herefordshire

The Leominster Orphan Homes (also known as the friends' Orphan Homes) were founded in 1869 by a Quaker, Henry Stanley Newman, to give orphan boys and girls religious instruction, industrial training, and elementary education. In 1873, the charity erected new premises on Ryelands Road, Leominster, to accommodate up to 40 children. The building, whose construction cost £1,250, was of brick with stone dressings, in a plain style, and comprising two houses under a single roof, for boys and the other for girls.

Applicants for admission were required to be under ten years of age and to have lost both parents. The children were cared for and educated until they were capable of taking situations. In 1890, a payment of £15 a year was required for each child, although destitute cases were received at a lower rate. By 1907, admission had become free. By 1939, a payment of 10s. a week was requested, except in special cases, and the Homes now offered facilities for secondary education if the fees were paid or a scholarship obtained. Also by 1939, special funds were available for post-school training.

In 1873, Newman set up The Orphans' Press in separate premises on Broad Street. It was equipped with a gas-powered press valued at £100. The Press was intended to support the Homes by: providing industrial training for some its inmates; generating useful income; and publishing material which would act as a force for good. The Press developed into a successful business and several of the Homes inmates later became employees. After Newman's death in 1912, it became a limited company and is still in operation today.

Former Friends' Orphan Homes, Leominster, 2020. © Peter Higginbotham

The Homes closed in about 1951 and was taken over by Leominster Borough Council. Renamed Newman House, the council continued to operate it until 1955. The property was subsequently converted into flats.


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