The Watford Observer is again delighted to be teaming up with its friends at Watford Museum to take another journey back to the past to recall the key events and dates that helped shape the town’s future.

The 19th part of '50 events and dates that shaped Watford' looks back to the laying of a foundation stone by a future king at a new home for orphans, many of the buildings of which survive to this day.

The museum's volunteer archivist Christine Orchard said: "The London Orphan Asylum was founded in 1813 by the Reverend Andrew Reed and was originally based in London. Watford was later chosen as a new site as it was a healthier environment for the children. The foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) on July 15, 1869, and the home was official opened in 1871.

Watford Observer:

A boys dormitory at the asylum

"The extensive buildings, designed by Henry Dawson, included classrooms, dining hall, a swimming bath and a chapel as well as dormitories and kitchens, laundries and small infirmary. The initial intake was intended to be 450 children.

Watford Observer:

The girls infirmery

"In the 1930s the school was renamed Reed’s School. In the 1940s, the buildings were requisitioned by the Government for war use and later used by the Ministry of Labour.

Watford Observer:

A sketch of the asylum complex

"The Government kept offices at the site until the 1980s when some of the buildings were converted for housing. Many of the original buildings still stand and new blocks have been constructed to expand the site."

Watford Museum is open Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. No booking is necessary but Covid prevention measures are still in place to keep visitors safe.