Working Boys' Homes 


Working Boys' Home gained popularity in Victorian times. Typically, boys living in cottage homes or other institutions run by the Guardians of the Poor would leave school when they were 14 years old.


They would then be moved out of the cottage homes and into a working boys' home. They would have been trained in a skill or trade while at the homes, such as shoe-mending or carpentry and, in the working boys' home they would be encouraged, or supported in getting a job. They would pay the home a proportion of their wages for their board and would perhaps have some money left over for themselves.


When the Working Boys' Home was built in Deritend 1886, it was stated that it was "the aim in designing this building to produce something that would differ from the ordinary barrack or workhouse type, which is too often adopted for similar institutions". It is true to say that working boys' homes were generally smaller than the institutions for younger children but the routines and regimes generally remained strict and restrictive.



Generally boys would stay in the homes until they were settled in work or an apprenticeship or until they reached the age of 18.


Not all boys would go into a working boys' home. Some would find apprenticeships which came with accommodation, others might go straight into digs or perhaps join the armed services.


Working children's homes continued to be used right up until the 1970s.


It is not always easy to establish who ran working children's homes. Some were run by charities (such as the Children's Society), others were run by the Guardians of the Poor themselves. Others were run by independent philanthropists or church bodies.


Examples of working boys' homes:


Allenscroft Road Working Boys' Home
1960s and 1970s
Allenscroft Road, Birmingham


Birmingham Working Boys' Home

early 1900s

Ryland Street, Birmingham


Birmingham Working Boys' Home

opened 1886

Deritend, Birmingham

(pictured top right)


Copeley Hill Hostel

1935 - 1968

Copeley Hill, Erdington, Birmingham

(run by the City Council, for 30 boys at any one time)


Hereford Working Boys' Home

1880s onwards?

Bath Street, Hereford


Howard House Working Boys' Home

1881 - 1926

Church Street (now Fournier Street), Whitechapel/Spitalfields, London

(run by philanthropic individuals including Lord Kinnaird)


Kincora Boys' Home

functioning in the 1980s



Leicester Working Boys' Home

1892 - 1905

Avenue Road, Leicester

(run by the Children's Society)


St Andrews Working Boys' Home

early 1900s

Great Peter Street, Westminster


St Vincent's Working Boys' Home

early 1900s - 1920s?

Stephenson Terrace, Deepdale Road, Preston

(linked to St Vincents Boy's Home, and run by the Catholic Diocese. it housed 25 to 30 boys)


St Vincent's home for working boys

opened in the 1900s

Moseley Road, Birmingham

(run by Father Hudson's Society, a Catholic charity)


Vauxhall House

1913 - 1952

Vauxhall Road, Aston, Birmingham







On the building above is written "Birmingham Working Boys' Home AD 1886". The picture appeared in 'The Architect' December 1887.