Monday 16 September 2013

Inside the Orphanage

From a distance this Grade II listed building looks stately - perhaps an important and prestigious academic institution.Closer examination reveals that the huge building is derelict with all its windows boarded up. The location is the lovely Newsham Park, Liverpool - well worth a visit if you've never been. The building is the Seamen's Orphanage (later the Royal Liverpool Seamen's Orphanage) which was opened in 1874 to provide support and education for the orphans of British seamen. It could accommodate up to 400 children. The orphanage closed in 1949 and was sold to the Ministry of Health in 1951. It became Newsham Park Hospital until it finally closed in 1988. It is now derelict and in private ownership.

There are plans to reopen part of the building (around the main assembly hall) for leisure purposes. In order to test the public's interest, access to parts of the building (ground floor only) was made available over the weekend of 13-15 Sept 2013 as part of Liverpool Heritage Open Month. There was a great deal of interest - the first time in over 100 years that the public had been allowed access to this important building. Inside, it was like stepping into a time warp.

The balcony of the assembly/dining hall. Perhaps a hospital governor looking down at 25yrs of dereliction,

The walls with their flaking paintwork and plaster, the old hospital beds and equipment, ancient wheelchairs and commodes - all evidence of its latter function. Hopefully the leisure project will be successful - this is a very important part of Liverpool's maritime heritage. Twenty five years of closure and neglect is not what the Seamen's Orphanage deserves!

Project Newsham Park is a useful website if you would like to learn more about Newsham Park (and the orphanage)