'The Red Lamp' (Mr Fegan's), Westminster, London
By 1912, the location of the boys' home run by James Fegan at Southwark had become unsuitable for its purpose and a site for a permanent replacement was found at 62-64 Horseferry Road, Westminster. The existing slum property on the site was demolished and the foundation stone for the new building was laid by Lord Kinnaird on May 20th, 1912. The land for the new venue cost £2,495 and the building £13,855. The square, four-storey house, with its imposing facade, was open day and night for any boy in distress. The establishment was known as 'The Red Lamp' because of the light — a sign of hope and welcome — that burned above its door all through the night.
The new premises housed a number of separate facilities, namely: the organisation's General Offices; an Enquiry and Advisory Bureau to give information, advice and practical help to parents, guardians and clergymen in cases of 'boy-need, boy-peril and boy-difficulty in all classes of life; a Receiving Depot for new cases waiting to be distributed to other branches; and a Working Lads' Hostel — the first rung on the ladder of independent living — for 32 working boys aged from 14 to 16.
The operation of the Red Lamp was soon curtailed by the outbreak of the First World War. After the war, Fegan's administrative offices remained in the building but most of the premises were let out for other purposes.
Since 1995, the property has been occupied by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
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.