“In cellar, in garret, in alley and court, They weep and they suffer and pine, And the wolves of the
city are prowling near Back wolves. For the children are mine.” [Dr Barnardo – three tracts, 1888]
Born in Dublin, he moved to London to train as a medical missionary at the London Hospital in
Soon after arriving he set up a platform on the Waste to preach. He was appalled by the suffering
especially the homeless children. He set up a Ragged School in Ernest Street, Stepney and found
foster-parents for many of these children. He became known for his work, and at a special dinner
to talk about these homeless children, he invited the dinner party to an ally in Billingsgate, where
the Earl of Shaftsbury was shocked and moved to tears to find seventy-three hungry, frozen and
ragged children sleeping under the tarpaulins, used to cover crates.
A donation of £1000 from an MP, Samual Smith enabled him to open his first
“Home for Destitute Boys,” at 18 Stepney Causeway, in 1870. He placed a sign on the door, saying:
“No destitute child ever refused admission – Open All Night.”
In 1888, Barnardo wrote letters to ‘The Times’ newspaper saying that there was a great need for the setting up of homes for these
children, following a group of terrified women who had come to him, worried about the Ripper murders. One of these women,
Elizabeth Stride, became the fourth victim of Jack The Ripper. He bought her house in Flower and Dean Street, and a second in
Dock Street, (both off Brick Lane) and set them up as “Common lodging Houses For Children.”

Barnardo was a teetotaler, (against drinking alcohol) and managed to raise the money, to buy the Edinburgh Castle pub
[“The Gin Palace and Music Hall”] and convert it into “The coffee Palace and Mission Hall” It was opened by Lord Shaftsbury
In 1873.
By the time he died in 1905, his Homes had taken care of nearly 60,000 children.

Dr Thomas Barnardo

Mr William Baker, Director of the Dr Barnardo’s Homes 1905-1920.

Below is a brief history of the man and the reason the school adopted his name
to honour the fine work he carried out on behalf of Dr Barnardo’s Homes

The short biography of Mr. William Baker, which follows was written at my request by Mr. A. E. Williams.

A photograph of Mr. William Baker hangs in my study where he can get a sideways view of all the
culprits that appear "upon the mat." He looks such an understanding and benign old gentleman that
sometimes when presented with a difficult problem and hardly knowing what to do for the best, I
feel I would like to glance up at him and say, "What would you do chum?" Perhaps that is a bit
irreverent of me, but I think he would forgive me and give me good advice.
Although he must have been very highly esteemed to have our School named in his honour, we
have to confess that no one here knows very much about him. Mr. Williams who was for many
years personal secretary to Dr. Barnardo knew Mr. William Baker very well, so I have asked him
to send us some notes about him in order to have this record in our School magazine.
Author of "Barnardo of Stepney" and "The Adventures of Dr. Barnardo

Mr William Baker.

Honorary Director of Dr. Barnardo's Homes, 1905-1920

The man whose name and work are commemorated in the William Baker Technical School, was born at Lismacue, Tipperary, in 1848.
In his boyhood days he was tall, strong and athletic, and when he reached early manhood he had acquired a reputation as an excellent
oarsman, a formidable football player and a fearless horseman.
When he entered Trinity College, Dublin, he soon took a leading position. In classics and mathematics he was a first honours man.
He stood first in his LL. B. examination, and was successively Classical Exhibitioner and Scholar, Moderator and Medallist. The
legal profession claimed him, and on leaving Trinity he came over to England, and was called to the Chancery Bar in 1875.
In his early thirties William Baker came under strong religious
influences which, he said, entirely changed the current of his life, He became a keen Bible student and an active evangelist. In 1886
he joined Dr. Barnardo's Committee, and a few years later, when the Homes were incorporated, he was elected Vice-Chairman of
the Council.
When Dr. Barnardo died, the question confronting the Members of Council as they took up the heavy burden of responsibility now
devolving upon them, was: Where could they find another man of outstanding ability and character, animated by the same spirit as
the Founder, able and willing to accept the task of guiding and directing the great enterprise which the Doctor's genius had built up?
Their Vice-Chairman, was well-known to them as a gifted man, an earnest Christian and one devoted to the cause. To him they
turned with one accord, and their earnest entreaties came to William Baker as the call of God to sacrifice an established practice as a
member of the Chancery Bar, and take over, as Honorary Director the work that had fallen from the hands of the Founder. When his
decision was made known he was accorded a remarkable public welcome at a meeting which completely swamped the old Exeter
Hall in the Strand.
When the new Director took up his post in the Board Room at headquarters the heads of departments "quickly found his personality
and methods of working in striking contrast to those of his predecessor. Dr. Barnardo lived to command, and every thread of control
had to be in his hands. Every phase of the work was the outcome of his personal thought and planning, and every detail had to come
under his keen scrutiny. William Baker, knowing the Doctor's genius, his skill as an organizer and the care with which he had
selected and trained his staff, was content to allow things to remain as the Founder had planned them. Only when appealed to did he
suggest a course of action or give a decision.
His legal training naturally stood him in good stead, and it was soon realized that he had more than the usual powers of discernment,
and a marked faculty for getting to the heart of a problem. His first enquiry, when appealed to in a difficult case, would be:
"What is the evidence?" An over-confident statement would meet the challenge: "Now let us consider, is that a matter of fact or
just a matter of opinion?" His decisions were felt to be wise and just, and his considerate and sympathetic manner impressed all who
came into contact with him. More and more the leading members of his staff came to look up to him and to lean upon him; gradually
he gathered the multitudinous threads of the work into his hands until every part of the great organisation felt the power of his
On the platform Mr. Baker always shone. His clear, far-reaching voice, keen sense of humour, transparent sincerity, his love for the
children and his earnest desire to be used of God, all combined to make him an arresting and attractive speaker.
For fifteen years William Baker filled the position of Honorary Director and Chairman of Council of the Barnardo Homes, and by
his wise administration and gracious personality won the affection and esteem of all who knew him. Under his directorate the work
prospered abundantly. All outstanding indebtedness was swept away, and the income was more than doubled. As the passing years
gave gratifying evidence that the work was firmly rooted in the public confidence, the Council was able to give form to some of the
ideals which the Founder had cherished but which, for lack of means he had been unable to realize.
It was a great day for Barnardo boys when they vacated their cramped, over crowded workshops in Stepney, paraded for the last
time in their stony playground and, full of hope and anticipation, marched through the gates headed by their band, en route for
Goldings to take possession of the well equipped, modem Technical School which had been acquired as a memorial to the man who
unhesitatingly sacrificed all worldly prospects in order to devote time and talents to guiding and directing the work of the Barnardo
Homes through the most critical period in its history.
A. E. W.

William Baker Esq. LL. B. Director. Dr. Barnardo's Homes 1905- 1920 passed away 17th nov 1920

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