Ancestry UK

Ever Open Door, Birmingham, Warwickshire

In 1894, Dr Barnardo opened an 'Ever Open Door' receiving house at 23-24 Digbeth, Birmingham. It was the ninth such establishment to be set up in Britain's provincial cities and followed on from those already opened in Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Plymouth. The Ever Open Door houses, with their slogan 'No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission', were open twenty-four hours a day and provided short-term shelter for homeless youngsters while consideration was given to their future, which would generally be in a long-term Barnardo home or emigration to Canada. The Digbeth Ever Open Door could hold up to twenty children, with 17 being the upper age limit for admission.

23-24 Digbeth, Birmingham, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

By 1918, the Ever Open Door was located at Oriel House, 198 Stratford Road, Sparkbrook. Then, by 1930, it had moved to premises at 78 Alcester Road, Moseley, now with accommodation for up to forty children.

78 Alcester Road, Moseley, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

The Digbeth and Sparkbrook premises no longer exist but the Alcester Road property survives, being used as offices in more recent times.


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.


  • Barnardo, Syrie Louise, and Marchant, James Memoirs of the Late Dr Barnardo (Hodder & Stoughton, 1907)
  • Batt, J.H. Dr. Barnardo: The Foster-Father of "Nobody's Children" (S.W. Partridge, 1904)
  • Bready, J. Wesley Doctor Barnardo (Allen & Unwin, 1930)
  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Rose, June For the Sake of the Children: Inside Dr. Barnardo's: 120 years of caring for children (Hodder & Stoughton, 1987)
  • Wagner, Gillian Barnardo (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1979)