AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4305
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Date(s): 1865-2001
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 13.52 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Watercress and Flower Girls' Christian Mission
John Groom's Crippleage and Flower Girls Mission
John Groom's Association for the Disabled x John Groom's Association for Disabled People


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Alfred Groom was a London engraver and evangelical preacher, who became concerned with the plight of the poverty-stricken and often disabled girls and women who sold flowers and watercress in the streets around Farringdon Market. His work with them began when he founded the Watercress and Flower Girls' Christian Mission in 1866. A permanent home for the mission was found in Harp Alley and Lord Shaftesbury became its first president. Religious services were held at Foresters' Hall until its destruction in 1890, after which John Groom purchased Woodbridge Chapel, Clerkenwell.

Taking inspiration from the trend for imported handmade flowers, John Groom set up a factory in Sekforde Street, close to the Woodbridge Chapel, where disabled girls could work at making artificial flowers and thus make a living for themselves. The girls lived in houses in Sekforde Street, rented by John Groom. Further factories were subsequently built in Woodbridge Street and Haywards Place. The name of the charity was changed to John Groom's Crippleage and Flower Girls Mission in 1907.

Rising inner London rents forced the charity's council to purchase a large estate in Edgware in 1931 and the whole operation moved there in 1932. In 1965 Edgware opened its doors to male residents. The charity's name changed again in 1969 to John Groom's Association for the Disabled and in 1990 to John Groom's Association for Disabled People.

John Groom was also very concerned for the welfare of deprived and orphaned children. He bought a house at Clacton-on-Sea and built others around it and his orphanage opened in 1890. During World War II the older children from Clacton were evacuated to Davenport House, Shropshire, with the babies being sent first to Edgware and then to Farncote House, Wolverhampton. After the war the older children moved into a new home at Pilgrim's House, Kent, and the babies moved to the new Cudham Hall, also in Kent. In 1956 Charnwood, near Chislehurst was purchased to provide a family children's home with room for 12 children. Thorpe Bay Children's Home was added to the list in 1951 when John Grooms took over a children's convalescent home at Stamford Hill House. The charity's work with children finally ended in 1979.

John Grooms expanded its work with housing for the disabled during the early 1970s, with John Groom's Housing Association becoming a registered charity in its own right. The association's developments have included flats in Princess Crescent, Finsbury Park (1973), Dolphin Court, which was built on the site of the Thorpe Bay Children's Home (1984) and John Grooms Court, Norwich (1989).

The charity has also developed the idea of special holidays for the disabled, with hotels in Minehead and Llandudno, and self-catering caravans and bungalows. It has also been involved with a special Brain Injuries Rehabilitation Unit, Icanho, Stowmarket, Suffolk and the HOPE Nursery at Cheshunt, Hertfordshire which provides horticultural employment and therapy for disabled workers.

In 2007 John Groom's merged with the Shaftesbury Society to form Grooms-Shaftesbury with 'a vision of working with people and communities affected by poverty and disability, helping them to maximise their potential', becoming one of the UK's largest Christian charities.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of John Groom's Association for Disabled People and predecessor organisations. This collection contains administrative material for John Grooms Association itself and all its major projects, including minutes and financial material; publications produced by the charity, including appeal literature and advertisements; histories of John Groom and his charity; a large collection of photographs showing all aspects of the association with many photographs of residents, workers, children and others who have benefited from its work; films and videotapes produced by the charity along with video and audio tapes of advertisements and reports on the charity's work featured on television and radio programmes; samples of flowers made by the workers at Edgware and the tools used to make them.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection is arranged as follows:
LMA/4305/01 - Minutes;
LMA/4305/02 - Financial material;
LMA/4305/03 - Central administration;
LMA/4305/04 - Administration of individual homes and projects;
LMA/4305/05 - Property records;
LMA/4305/06 - Publications, press cuttings and histories;
LMA/4305/07 - Photographs and transparencies;
LMA/4305/08 - Audio-visual material;
LMA/4305/09 - Related documentation;
LMA/4305/10 - Samples of flowers, crafts and tools.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in August 2000. Further records purchased in October 2012.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

N. Martin, A man with a vision: the story of John Groom (1983).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
June to August 2010. Updated in January 2013.

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"