British Seamen's Orphan Boys' Home, Brixham, Devon
The British Seamen's Orphan Boys' Home was established in 1859 by William Gibbs of Tyntesfield, Bristol. In 1863, the charity opened a home for the orphaned sons of British seamen at Berry Head Road, Brixham, Devon. The building was designed by E. Appleton. After Gibbs' death in 1875, the home was placed in the hands of the Bishop of Exeter.
Admission to the home was through a periodic election bye the management Committee who decided upon the most deserving candidates. Alternatively, any person could nominate an orphan upon payment of and entrance fee of three guineas and an annual payment of fifteen guineas a year. Those applying were required to provide certificates of baptism, death and calling of the father, health and fitness for future service at sea, good conduct from clergyman or schoolmaster, a general statement of present circumstances and condition, and the number and means of support of the applicant's family. Entrants were required to be between 8 and 14 years old. At the latter age, arrangements were made for any boy volunteering to enter the Royal Navy or be apprenticed in the Mercantile Marine.
The home was enlarged in 1873 and a school room added in 1875. A new wing was built in 1888-9 and a second in 1912, with a further enlargement made in 1913.
The location and layout of the home in 1906 is shown on the map below.
The home's chaplain occupied his own residence, known as Rock House, just to the north-east of the main building..
As was the usual practice in such establishments, the home had its own drum and band.
The home closed in 1988. In 1990, the premises became a Nautical Venture Centre, and are now occupied by the Grenville House Outdoor Centre.
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.
- Brixham Heritage Museum, The Old Police Station, New Road Brixham, Devon TQ5 8LZ.
- Walford, Road In the Mirror of the Sea (2011)
- British Seaman's Boy's Home website (archived).
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.