Ancestry UK

Ever Open Door, Plymouth, Devon

Plymouth was home to one of Thomas Barnardo's 'Ever Open Door' shelters, famous for their slogan 'No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission'.

Plymouth's Ever Open Door was first opened in 1892 at 13 Buckland Terrace, Plymouth. The building stood to the north side of the present-day Crescent but no longer exists. The shelter provided temporary accommodation for up to sixteen children, with girls admitted up to the age of 14 and boys up to 20.

By 1920, the Ever Open Door had moved to new premises at 2 North Devon Place — one of a block of houses on North Hill, opposite the end of Clifton Place. The shelter still accommodated up to sixteen children but now with a general upper age limit of sixteen. In recent times, the premises were occupied by a property letting agency.

In 1934, the shelter moved to a new home known as Welby, located on Pridham Lane off Outland (then known as Tavistock) Road in the Peverell district of Plymouth. The same premises were also used to provide ongoing accommodation for boys and girls aged three or over.

In 1956, Welby became a reception home for the homes in the region then from March 1961 again briefly acted as a permanent home. The home finally closed in August 1962 with its then residents moving to the Tamar House home. The property is now used as student accommodation.


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)