Ancestry UK

Ever Open Door, Liverpool, Lancashire

In February 1892, Dr Barnardo opened an 'Ever Open Door' receiving house in Liverpool at 142A Islington. 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, 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.

One day's admissions, c.1906. © Peter Higginbotham

The premises at 142A Islington could accommodate up to ten children, with 15 being the upper age limit for admission. By 1912, the Ever Open Door had moved across the road to 171A Islington. In 1920 it was operating at 17 Falkner Square, Liverpool, still housing up to ten children. Neither of the Islington premises still exists. The Falkner Square property is now in residential use.

In 1937, the home moved once again to 16 Alexandra Drive, Sefton. It was briefly used as a boys' home in 1946-7, then became a girls' home until 1953 when it was again mixed. Apart from a period of closure in 1955-7, the home continued in operation until 1968. The property is now in residential use.

16 Alexandra Drive, Liverpool, 2013. © 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)