Industrial Schools


The development from reform schools

In the early 19th century, there was a growing recognition that children found guilty of commitng crimes should not be treated in the same way as adults in the same prison system. Experiments were made to accommodate children in separate wings of adult prisons with varied degrees of success.


The first state-run institution solely for children was Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight. It opened n 1838 for boys who had been convcted of a crime. Most of these young people were actually transported.


Another idea becaame more popular, that of reform schools (or reformatories).


These generally smaller institutions were designed to provide an element of schooling for children sent there by the courts.These institutions could be certified under the Reformatory Schools Act of 1854.



More on reform schools on this page





The start of industrial schooling

However, there was also the question of what to do with those children who, it was thought, were likely to go on to commit crimes, or otherwise fall foul of society, without extra input. children who llived on the streets, playing truant from school, desititute or abandoned would all be included in this group of young people.


For these, an insitution generally as strict, harsh and restrictive as reform schools as the refoormatories was created - the industrial school.

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


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




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.



A change of emphasis

In 1933,the Children and Young Persons Act reflected a growing call for there to be more focus n care and less on punishment. The system of reform and industrial schools were replaced with 'approved' schools and other children's homes.




Reform and industrial schools in England in  1865


65 reform schools

50 industrial schools


Reform and industrial schools in England in 1910


43 reform schools

132 industrial schools

21 day industrial schools

12 truant schools


Industrial Training Ships


One interesting variation on the industrial schools was the training ship. These were moored ships on which boys lived and were trained in much the same way as land-based industrial schools.


Examples incllude:


The Akbar Training Ship, Merseyside

This became infamous for its use of corporal punishment


The Clarence, Merseyside

This was destroyed in a fire in 1899


The Wellesley, Tyne


Ragged Schools


Ragged schools were an early forerunner of industrial schools, largely started by independent philanthropists. Theywere intended to give a free educaiton (and thus a better start in life) for children living on the streets or destitite.


An example is


John Pounds' Ragged School, Portsmouth



A few examples of industrial schools:


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.