Kingston was opened in 1933
Clapham Scouts returned from summer camp 26th August. The home housed boys
from eight to 14 years of age. In 1967 the home was
moved to 10 Galsworthy Road, Kingston. Kingston finally closed August 1968.
The Boys were sent to
Childhood Memories a photographic history of Dr Barnardo's
The well known piper band with
its Stuart tartan started at Clapham and was transferred to Kingston 26th
I enjoyed your website, its very well done I'd
like to pass on some info on the home at Kingston I was there from approx
1954/1955 to 1961 it was a boys only home with no schooling done on site, so
we all went to different local schools the home was actually named "Dalziel of
Wooler house" but was known to all the inmates as "Dickies" it was on the
corner of Gloucester rd and Kingston hill and looked out over Kingston
hospital the mound of earth and grass in the bottom left of your photo was an
old disused air raid shelter while I was there the governors name was Vernon
Paul there was more of the building going back from the tower and the grounds
backed onto Coombe golf course I believe it has all been knocked down now to
make way for housing. A famous inmate who was there before my time was
Thomas who wrote "the virgin soldiers" he also wrote a book about his time in
Barnardo's called "no time for tears" keep up the good work
So what was
it like at the Kingston home, My half brother David stayed at this home for a
short while prior going to Australia.
Daniel sent an email after
reading the section on Kingston, he wrote
"People do change and may wish to forget those days if they
induce sad memories into their mind."
When I first arrived at the end
of October 1959 it had been an unusually extremely hot and humid day in
Westminster after getting off the train from Liverpool with my brother at
Euston station, which made me wonder if it was so hot because I was further
south, and if it was going to be hot all of the time. I had never been to
London before that day. We were both escorted by a man, who had taken us from
another Barnardo's home in the Wirral area, and after walking down Oxford
Street for a short distance, he suddenly decided to get a Taxi to the Kingston
home instead of a Kingston bus he was searching for. The journey from
Liverpool for a 13-year-old seemed a tremendous distance and my first thoughts
were on how to get back home to Liverpool for a journey of exactly 208 miles
in a direct line..
Click here to read Daniels full story >>>>>>
One other old
boy wrote of a time in March of 1943 aged 13 years old.
I shuffled along from the
station beside the man who had brought me. The man did not talk. I kept up
with him. I was carrying a blue sack, like a pillowcase, over my shoulder and
it contained very nearly all I had in the world. The big houses in Gloucester
Road stood vaguely behind their misty trees.
Towards the end of the
road there shot up a sudden high wooden fence and I knew we had almost
arrived. A few more shuffles and there was the gate. The man turned in and I
followed. Then I stopped. It may have only been for seconds, because the man
was walking on. But I know I stopped and looked up at it. A quick loneliness
came over me like a pain. No boy has ever felt so much by himself as I did in
I am not going to
pretend that the years that followed were hard, or cruel, or even unhappy.
This was not so. This could never be an Oliver Twist story or it would not be
true. But standing at the gate, in the drizzle, and the man walking ahead up
the path unconscious that I had even stopped, left me afraid and wondering
what was going to happen to me from then on. The place filled the horizon.
Yellow bricks and blank windows; a tower at the centre capped with a pointed
roof, a horror built, it seemed, from some architect's nightmare. Across the
front of the building were the words "The Dalziel of Wooler Memorial Home"
blazoned in golden letters, of all things, like an advertisement. In the
middle of the tower, in more modest gold, was "Dr. Barnardo's Homes".
I jerked myself to some
sort of movement and followed the man who had brought me. He went up some
stairs in the foot of the tower and I went in through the door after him. We
were in an entrance hall reeking of floor polish. There was a boy standing
there picking his nose. The man told him to go and fetch Mr. Gardner, the
superintendent, and he went.
The man stood a couple
of yards away looking around him. Drippings from our coats made liquid
explosions on the red floor and settled like small rubies at our feet. The man
still did not look at me, or speak. I might have been by myself. Down the
corridor echoed the Gaffer. He turned the corner of the hall into our view and
approached with military stride and granite expression. He shook hands with my
escort, a brisk once-up-and-down, and then led him into the office.
I remained there, still
damp with rain and unhappiness, resting my blue bundle on the floor, and
croaking a parcel of books in my other arm. With two fingers of this hand I
hooked on to a small package holding a tin half-full of toffees. The full tin
had been sent to me by an elder brother, just after my mother died, with
instructions that half of the sweets were for me and the other half for my
younger brother. I never heard any more from the elder brother, and I did not
see the younger brother for another year and a half. Despite wretched and
returning temptations I never ate the sweets. I kept them for him.
Standing in the hall was a
little like being at the entrance to a temple, but with your nostrils full of
floor polish instead of incense. Boot falls and distorted calls sounded from
the landing up inside the tower. A few yards from where I stood there was a
pedestal topped by a marble bust wearing a layer of dust and a slightly
annoyed expression. There was quite a lot of dust clogging the inside of the
eyes and I attempted to cheer my miserable self by trying to imagine what
would happen if the head came to life and found all that muck in its eyes. I
don't know who the head was or if I did, I have forgotten-but the gentleman in
the picture on the wan, the one with the watch-chain and' the lion tamer
moustache, was Dr. Barnardo, the Father of Nobody's Children.
Excerpts from Leslie Thomas book
'This Time Next Week' reproduced by kind permission.
Leslie was evacuated to
Goldings in June of 1944 (the date could be wrong) with 20 other boys from
Kingston. This was to escape the doodle bugs and what do you think he heard on
his first night? You will have to get a copy of his book for that answer. Or
was sent to Kingston 21st August 1941 he writes:
There were a good many
differences the two Homes. Kingston was far less rural, there were only boys
there, the staff were almost entirely male though there was one house matron
who took care of the clothes and the younger boys. There was also a nursing
sister who took care of our ailments. The Superintendent, known officially as
the Governor, was named Mr Gardener. Of all the people I met in the Homes, he
remains the most difficult to fathom. He smoked voraciously, and seemed only
interested in the band and Brentford football team (it was advisable to give
him a wide berth when the team had lost a match of a Saturday afternoon). He
left the running of the place to the rest of the staff and I saw him rarely.
But the greatest difference
between the Bedford and Kingston Homes was that at the latter we went to an
outside school. It was at this school that the real stigma of being brought up
in an orphanage was made clear to me. There were many fights with the
'outside' boys, who also went to the school, particularly when they referred
to us as Dr. Banana Boys!' We were also rather looked down on by the teachers
and parents. If there was ever any trouble (which there almost always was) we
invariably got the blame for it.
think this was mainly because we were usually responsible for it. The war was
now at a critical stage: the sirens wailed almost every day, warning us of
enemy aircraft overhead. To be caught without your gas mask was a punishable
offence, and fire drill was as regular as going to church on Sundays. We
learned how to use a stirrup-pump and spent a good deal of our time in
air-raid shelters. Any progress that I might have made at Bedford was soon
lost; I came bottom of the class in just about every subject in the
curriculum. Instead of being mentally retarded I now became a nasty little
boy, always in trouble and hating everyone I came into contact with, both boys
and staff. I was savagely beaten times without number, the punishment which at
Bedford had always been administered to my backside now moved to my hands.
During my three years there I was caned so often my arithmetic was' never good
enough to keep count. On one occasion I was given a stinging stroke of the
cane on each hand for being a couple of minutes late for school, actually it
was almost a daily ritual for I was late at least four out of five days in a
week. But this particular morning it was bitterly cold, which made the pain
doubly hard to bear, for my fingers were already numb from the icy wind. In
pique I suddenly turned on the master and snarled: 'When I grow up I'm going
to come back here and kill you!' But I never did and I expect he is dead
anyway by now, for he was quite an old man then (all the young teachers had
gone off to the war). Of course my remark was reported to the governor of the
Home, who gave me another thrashing that evening.
There were about two hundred
boys at the Home (maybe a few less) their ages ranging between eleven and
fourteen, which in those days was school-leaving age. At fourteen many were
found situations and let out into the world to fend for themselves, while
others were sent to technical college to learn a trade. The Home could
therefore be looked upon as a place between junior school and grammar-school,
but in fact all it was was a house full of boys being kept as safely as
possible from the dangers of war. This of course was no fault of Barnardo's,
but us kids who were later to be known as 'products of the war' suffered for
it greatly. Though few bombs were actually dropped on Kingston there were many
air-raid warnings and a good deal of our time was spent in air-raid shelters.
Therefore we received very little schooling though we attended classes every
day, for almost as soon as we were seated at our desks, the siren would go and
down we would march into the bowels of the earth in orderly fashion, safe from
all but a direct hit.
My greatest ambition at the
Kingston Home was to join the band, and learn to play the bagpipes. I applied
to the governor several times but was always turned down flat, despite the
fact that I had been a dab hand with the baton in Miss Love's tambourine band
a year or two before. Instead I got all the terrible jobs. I built flower-bed
walls with clinkers from the furnace and was then made to whitewash them. For
a time I was put to work in the lavatory: every day I washed down the urinals
with foul-smelling disinfectant that was so strong that it burnt your hands. I
would then scrub the floor with a yard broom. One day the cook found out that
the same broom was being borrowed from the lavatory to scrub the mud from the
potatoes, which were always steamed and served up in their jackets because the
skins were said to be good for us. My own opinion is that they merely wished
to save the trouble of peeling them. The handle of the lavatory broom was
immediately painted red, in order that the same mistake would not happen
again, if indeed mistake it was. One morning I found one of the lavatory pans
blocked with excrement, and full to the brim with foul water. The master in
charge took one look at it and then at me: 'Come on lad! Don't just stand
there!' he bellowed 'get your hand down there and fish it out! it's all your
own!' it was my command performance of the war.
Frank Norman recounting his
days at Kingston, from his book page 51 Banana Boy 1969
house and sports master Jim Guertin made the young Leslie Thomas captain of
the Kingston football team in 1948, he recognised him as 'dedicated and
talented'. Leslie Thomas obviously thought highly of Jim Guertin as well.
Because when he published his book, based on his time in Dr. Barnardo's titled
‘This Time Next Week” he gave a section of it over to memories of World War
Two veteran Jim Guertin, himself a former Barnardo’s boy (Boys
Garden City 1931-33 and
In the book,
Leslie reminisces on a day when Jim took Leslie and a group of lads swimming:
'It had been hot all through the day ... the river was like a bale of silk
unwinding ... We swam for an hour or more until the river was darker and
mistier, and running more into the sky every moment.
this night because I swam on my back among the stumpy green islands in the
middle and collided with one on which sat a regal swan. I paddled there, face
upwards in the water, looking him straight in his black eye. He made a grating
noise just as though he were sharpening something; I flipped over and swam
like fury for the bank.
was squatting there, looking vaguely in the direction in which the day had
drained away. "Sir," I said dramatically. "A swan nearly had me." "Hhmm," he
said. "What do you think of Miss Chalk?" I looked at him hard and was about to
go back to talking about the swan when I realised he wouldn't be interested.
"Miss Chalk?" I said. "Well, she's all right." I had not given her a thought
that night, but she was a small, pretty button of a girl, easily the youngest
and most attractive of the matrons in Dickies * She had never had much to do
with us because she looked after the very smallest boys. Mr Guertin didn't say
any more until we were on the bus and on our way up Kingston Hill. "You think
she's all right, then?" he said eventually. "Who?" "Miss Chalk." "Yes," I said
impatiently, while the other two or three who had been with us looked at him a
bit strangely. "That's what I thought," he said. There was a silence, which
was funny when you were with him because he was always talking. Then he said:
"You were lucky that swan didn't get you." Not long after he and Miss Chalk
said they were going to get married, and they did too.'
When Jim and
Dorothy married at St Peter's Church, Kingston on Thames, the happy event was
watched by all Kingston's staff and boys. The couple recently celebrated their
50th wedding anniversary, and Jim tells After Care: 'Our years of marriage
have been very happy and fruitful'. Both are still fit and well and very
active churchgoers and ramblers. Jim adds that he and Dorothy feel they have
to thank Barnardo's for its emphasis on four essentials: religious
instruction, education, sport and moral principles. 'These have stood us in
good stead over the years since leaving Barnardo’s,’ Jim declares.
Reproduced from The
Barnardo Guild Magazine Summer 1998
Below is a
photo of the Kingston Hill team 1948, with Leslie Thomas (front row centre)
whom Jim describes as 'a great captain, dedicated and talented as were all the
right. front: K. Tasker, N. Taylor, G. Cantrell, D. Baker, L. Thomas, G.
Bosley, R. Morris, N. Crowther, D. Williams.
Back Row: R. Mills, D Jones. D. Price, A. Turtle, Jim
Guertin, N. Jephcott.
the name Dickies boy and the meaning:
wrote: Through generations of boys a slang had been evolved at Dickies, an
insular language that left strangers mystified, and you had to learn from the
start. Yet, strangely, the very word '"Dickies" had grown without anyone being
able to recall or even guess its origin. It was just caned Dickies and
nobody knew why. A boy was a kid or,
more generally, a guy. Thus a boy from the home was a Dickie guy. Once a lad
called Frank Knights, who went to a grammar school, wrote a letter to' 'the
London Evening News and signed it Dickie
Guy and it was published with that name under it.
Note from the webmaster: My
view the term "Dickies Boys"
originated from Kingston 100% true. Kingston had a member of staff who had been
working for Dr Barnardo's for some 40 years Richard (Dick) Gardener so when old boys would return they
would say they were one of Dickies boys and from that the name stuck over the
years, It also became the nickname for Kingston.
When the boys moved out to other
homes, mostly Goldings the name sort of stuck for all us boys who were brought up in Dr.
Barnardo's. I know it was used at
Goldings. If you have a view let us have it.