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In the June 2007 issue (FHM 144), columnist Andrew Cropper wrote about the Seamen’s Orphanage. My grandfather, born in 1884, attended this school and I am trying to find out about him and his father, who was a ship’s carpenter. Of course I am having no luck. My question is, do you know how I would be able to get in touch with someone about the orphanage? 

Gail Cleave


The Liverpool Seamen’s Orphanage Institution at Newsham Park, Liverpool, was the result of the concerns of a group of Liverpool merchants and ship owners who, in late 1868, discussed how to help the children of dead seamen. Children entered a temporary orphanage in the city centre on 9th August 1869. By the end of the year, 46 boys and 14 girls were being cared for. In April 1870, Liverpool City Council donated a plot of land in Newsham Park for a purpose-built orphanage, with much improved facilities. The new building opened in January 1874. At the orphanage school children were taught to read and write, as well as receiving some vocational instruction. Girls were taught knitting and needlework and boys learned carpentry and shoemaking.

In 1875 the orphanage and the training ship Indefatigable agreed on a scheme for training boys as seamen. In 1939, the children were evacuated from the orphanage to Frankby, Wirral. Although some returned after the Second World War in 1948, the introduction of family allowances and the launch of the National Health Service meant that the orphanage’s services were not needed by so many families. It closed on 27th July 1949. Despite this, the institution still continues as ‘The Royal Liverpool Seamen’s Orphan Institution’ (Unit 3a, Ground Floor, 22 Water Street, Liverpool L3 1AB).

Records that are held by the Institution include: minute books and indexes, 1869–1969; annual reports, 1869–1997; and registers of children, 1768–1948. Additionally, The Maritime Archives and Library (Merseyside Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4A) holds further material related to the Institution in miscellaneous collections.

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