Ancestry UK

The National Children's Home Story

Bonner Road

In 1871, the Children's Home moved from its original premises at 8 Church Street, Lambeth, to a new location, a former stone-yard at Bonner Road, Bethnal Green. The site included a row of houses along Bonner Road itself, plus a collection of buildings around an enclosed yard. Continuing Stephenson's ideal of a family-style structure, the children's accommodation was divided up into a number of single-sex households, with girls now being admitted to the Home for the first time.

84 Bonner Road, Bethnal Green, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Instead of just the wood-chopping that had occupied the boys at Church Street, Bonner Road allowed a wider variety of industrial training to be provided, including baking, carpentry, plumbing and shoemaking. The printing department provided another training opportunity as well as producing a wide range of printed materials.

Over the following decades, the buildings were modified and extended, with the number of children eventually reaching more than 300. Bonner Road was also the national headquarters of the growing organisation that in 1908 became the National Children's Home.

Thomas Stephenson retired in 1900 and was succeeded as Director by the Rev. Arthur Gregory. Gregory held the post until his sudden death in 1912, the same year that Stephenson died. It was the end of an era.

Rev. Arthur E. Gregory. © Peter Higginbotham

With the Bonner Road site unable to expand any further, a move had become inevitable and in 1913, the home transferred to a new location at Harpenden in Hertfordshire, while the administrative offices relocated to 'temporary' premises at 104-122 City Road, London EC1.