Dr Barnado’s Star In The East

The Jack the Ripper murders, in a way, helped draw the nation’s attention to the condition of the poor and destitute in the East End of London. The fact that Jack the Ripper’s victims had all belonged to the transient class of drifting paupers that, for the most part, inhabited the common lodging houses located in the likes of Flower and Dean Street and Thrawl Street, meant that newspapers began reporting on the social conditions in this enclave of the East End of London.

There was a consensus that something should be done to ease the plight of the poor of the district, the problem was that not many people could come up with a solution as to what that something should be.

One person who was, most certainly trying to bring some relief to the area’s poor, was the philanthropist Dr. Thomas Barnardo, and, on the 8th of December, 1888, with the district still reeling from the shock and horror of the recent atrocities, The Penny Illustrated Paper treated its readers to an article in which it extolled the virtues of the work of Dr Barnardo, and which showed that he was at least trying to bring some Christian cheer to those who had suffered so much :-


“As we have over and over again pointed out in The Penny Illustrated Paper, there is a bright side even to life in the generally deplorably dull and miserable East-End of London.

The Star in the East to which we beg to call attention to at present is not the Shadwell Sailors’ Institute, for pecuniary assistance to which the millionaire Lord Brassey has pleaded in the Times when it would have been the easiest thing in the world for him to put his hand in his own pocket, and at once discharge all the debts the institute has incurred.

No; our sturdy merchant seamen are sufficiently in funds at the end of each voyage, and are certainly independent enough, to maintain their own institute – as are some other classes, such as the members of the Young Men’s Christian Association, for the muscular gymnasts of which institution we were shocked to see the hat passed round the other day.


The great benefactor of the East-End we refer to now is Dr. Barnardo, who merits all the monetary aid the benevolent public can render him, because he helps those who cannot help themselves.

It is the Christian custom of Dr. Barnardo to rescue waifs and strays from the gutters, and so train them in his various Homes as to put them in the way of becoming honest men and women.


When funds will permit him to indulge in the luxury, Dr. Bamardo periodically cheers the hearts of hosts of the East-End adult poor by feasting and entertaining them in the seasonable manner illustrated by our Artist.

Dr. Barnardo (sketched in the right-hand comer of the Dinner scene – the bespectacled gentleman) on the occasion in question made glad the hearts of no less than twelve hundred poor guests in the well known hall of the Edinburgh Castle, his headquarters in the Rhodeswell-road, Stepney.

An illustration shoiwng the poor eating their meal watched by Dr Barnardo.
From The Penny Illustrated Paper, Saturday, 8th December, 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board and Richard Jones.


Thus, large numbers of the unfortunate class to which the Whitechapel victims belonged were gathered from the Flower and  Dean Street lodging houses and the neighbourhood, and were regaled with a substantial meal of roast beef and potatoes, pudding, and a cup of tea.

We counsel those of our well-to-do readers who would have this truly Christian feast repeated this coming Christmas to hasten to send their subscriptions to Dr. Bamardo, 18, Stepney-causeway, E.

By innumerable acts of charity to the Poor and Helpless has Dr. Barnardo made good his claim to be regarded as one of the greatest practical philanthropists of the age.

A lady singing to the diners.
From The Penny Illustrated Paper, Saturday, 8th December, 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board and Richard Jones.


By his spread of tangible Christian Charity of the kind here illustrated Dr. Barnardo is not only doing a great deal of immediate good in the poorest districts of East London. His strenuous battle against Despair cannot fail to infuse Hope into the breasts of many who, without his helping hand, would almost inevitably drift into the ranks of Vice and Crime.

What sad histories do the care-scarred faces of many of the poor diners at such feasts as Dr. Barnardo’s tell!

Apart from the Pauper Army for whose existence London householders have to pay, there linger in remote attics and poverty-stricken tenements, living and suffering in silence, hosts of wretched families, condemned to eke out miserable existences, sometimes through no fault of their own, often too proud or sensitive to make their pitiful plight known.

The Pudding being served.
From The Penny Illustrated Paper, Saturday, 8th December, 1888. Copyright, The British Library Board and Richard Jones.


It should be the lot of all Christian Ministers, to whatever sect they belong, to seek out and comfort these victims of the fierce Battle of Life.

This mission is included in the noble philanthropic labours of Dr. Bamardo, whose principle work is the reclamation of City Arabs – the ragged little ones who have the making of good and useful citizens, as we have intimated, as trained in children’s Homes of Dr. Barardo.”