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Do you have memories of being in an industrial or approved shool?


Do you know of industrial schools that were in your area?


We'd love to hear from you.



Industrial Schools


Initially called 'ragged schools', industrial schools began to spring up in England in the early nineteenth century.


Reformatory schools were established for children who had been found guilty of a crime, conversely industrial schools were set up not for young criminals but for children who were destitute or who were thought, by dint of their circumstances or temperament, to be likely to commit a serious crime in the future.


Industrial schools were generally not quite as severely strict as reformatory schools but children, nonetheless, were to adhere to a strict routine in industrial schools. Courts had the power to sentence children to a period of time in an industrial school if they were vagrant, keeping undesirable company or were out of control.


Children were taught a trade, farming was a favourite activity in such schools as the combination of physical labour and fresh air was thought to be good for children.


The difference between reformatories and industrial schools gradually disappeared until there was virtually no difference at all by the end of the nineteenth century. In 1933, both were renamed 'approved schools'.


Industrial schools tended to be independent bodies initially although many were taken under the control of local authorities at a later date.


A few examples of industrial schools:


John Pounds' Ragged School, Portsmouth


Manchester Certified Industrial School

opened 1866

Ardwick Green, Manchester


The St. Joseph's Industrial School for Boys

opened late 19th century, closed 1930s

Stockport Road, Manchester

(set up by the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul)


St. Joseph's Industrial School for Girls

opened late 19th century

Victoria Park, Manchester

(set up by the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul)


St Philips Free Industrial School (became known as Gem Street Industrial School)

1846 - 1984


(became Harborne Industrial School and then Tennal School in 1933 after moving to Balden Road, Harborne)


Shustoke Industrial School (became Shawbury Approved School)

1868 - 1980



Stornoway Female Industrial School

opened 1849

Keith Street, Stornoway  



Looking for records of industrial schools can be a tricky business, not least because there tended to be many name changes. As a first step, contact the main libraries nearest to the location of the school and ask if they can point you in the right direction.