The Little Wanderers' Home (Mr Fegan's), Greenwich, London
In 1879, James Fegan established a home for young orphan and destitute boys at 137 Greenwich Road (now Greenwich High Road), Greenwich in south-west London. The property, an old three-storey Georgian house, had 'The Little Wanderers' Home' in large letters placed across its frontage. The first thirty-seven young residents, each with a kit-bag slung across his shoulder, arrived on February 3rd, 1879. In total, the home could accommodate up to 80 boys.
The boys from the home were taken on a summer holiday each year. In 1883, they visited Walton-on-the-Naze, where they spent time on the beach, swimming in the sea, or on sailing yachts that had been lent for their use. The boys' fife and drum band was much applauded. In the evenings, they held services on the Green, near the Clifton Hotel, which were attended by local inhabitants and visitors. The boys sang to the accompaniment of a harmonium. The summer outing to Clacton on Sea in 1884 was marred by tragedy, however, when three boys from the home drowned while bathing. The event aroused great sympathy amongst local people and after the group returned to Greenwich, the sum of £8 10s. 6d. was raised to erect a memorial stone in the parish churchyard of Great Clacton. The stone, which was sculpted and installed by Mr L.J. Watts, of Colchester, carried the inscription:
By 1900, the location of the home was increasingly felt to be unsuitable for its purpose and it was relocated to some former school premises at Stony Stratford in Buckinghamshire.
The Greenwich Road house no longer exists.
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.
- Fegans Child and Family Care, 160 St James Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN2 1HE. Holds the organisation's children's case files.
- Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery, Civic Centre, Mount Pleasant, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1JN. Acquired Fegan's non-case archives in 2015 — contents currently being processed.
- Library and Archives Canda, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario. Holds microfilm copies of Fegan Home settlement records (1885-1939).
- Fullerton, William Young J.W.C. Fegan: A Tribute (1931, Marshall, Morgan & Scott)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Sharp, Syd Black Boots and Short Trousers (1995, Syd Sharp)
- Tiffin, Alfred Loving and Serving: An Account of the Life and Work of J.W.C. Fegan (1976)
- The Fegans Child and Family Care website
- From Gruel to Gourmet: the story of Fegan's homes for boys in Stony Stratford — a school project, including vintage video clips.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.