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:

To the memory of William Charlwood, aged 11 years; Albert Gostling, aged 11 years; Ernest Bedwell, aged 10 years; of the Little Wanderers' Home, Greenwich, who were drowned while bathing at Clacton-on-sea, 3rd July, 1884. Jesus said, 'Feed my Lambs.' John xxi 15." Erected by Clacton friends,

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.

Other homes run by Fegan were located at Deptford, Ramsgate, Southwark, Westminster, Goudhurst and Toronto.

Records

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Bibliography

  • Fullerton, William Young J.W.C. Fegan: A Tribute (1931, Marshall, Morgan & Scott)
  • 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)