Types of children's institutions


There are many other types of institution meant for children which have been developed over the years. Since the Second World War we have tend to refer to them all as children's homes (with some assessment centres, reception centres etc.


If you are not sure in which category the home you are looking for might fall, try our search facility.





 Convalescent homes 


Convalescent homes were generally or in the countryside as it was though that fresh (sea) air was good for curing ill-health. Some convalescent homes were specifiically for people with TB, others for recovering after a stay in hospital or for long-term conditions such as asthma. Some convalesent homes were structured in the same way as open air schools with open windows and time spent outdoors.  Stays in convalescent homes could be anything from a few weeks to years. 



 Cottage homes 


The cottage homes were built by Poor Law Unions as children's homes to take children out of the workhouse. They were like self-contained villages.

More on cottage homes here



 Farm Schools 


Farm schools were generally used for training children in farming skills - a working farm on which the children could do their learning while themselves working. They were generally a form of industrial school  or reformatory (see below).




 Industrial Schools 


Unlike reformatories, children sent to industrial schools in the nineteenth century had not been found guilty of a crime but were thought likely to be criminals in the future (because of their circumstances or the company they kept) and so were sent to industrial schools for discipline and training. In later years, certainly by 1911, the difference between industrial and reform schools blurred with more children sent to industrial schools by the courts. More on industrial schools here.







 Open Air Schools 


Open Air Schools were intended for children who were recovering from illness or who had long-term illnesses or disabilities. Some classrooms had walls removed so that children could have fresh air all day. In others, children had nap times outdoors. It was felt that fresh air could cure many ills. Some open air schools had day students only, but most were residential. Children could stays for a fews or a few years. For more: Open Air Schools




This was a term used to describe (generally large) residential institutions for orphans. Some orphanages adhered strictly to taking in only orphans, others also took in children who had lost only one parent or whose family were destitute. More on orphanages here.



 Receiving Homes 

A receiving home was a short-term home, Children would stay for a matter of days or weeks while they were assessed and a permanent placement could be found. The idea of receiving homes continued until late into the twentieth century.





Reformatories (also called reform schools)

were where children were sent by the courts if found guilty of a crime. They were strict places where children would receive some training in a work-based skill. More on reformatories here.



 Service Girls' Homes 


Service girls were girls in domestic service ie. doing housekeeping in other people's homes. A service girls' home was where they lived after being in a children's home. Their pay went to their board and lodging in the home. The equivalent for boys was the Working Boys' Home.




 Training Homes / Schools 


This was generally used as another term for an industrial school ie. a school or home to which children were sent if it was thought that they may need extra discipline to dissuade them from getting into trouble in the future.



 Training Ships 


One take on the industrial school was the industrial training ship. Children would be sent to the ships in the same way they would be sent to an industrial school. They would receive training appropriate for them to become a sailor.


 Truant Schools 


Truant schools were, in effect, a form of short-term industrial school. Whereas children were likely to be sent to industrial schools for a number of years, if not the remainder of their childhoods, children who were truanting could be sent for a lesser time to a truant school. In the early twentieth century, the term disappeared and the function merged with that of industrial schools. More on industrial schools here



 Working Boys' Homes 


The idea behind homes for working children is that they would be a stepping stone between a children's home or orphanage and independent living. Older children would go into the working children's home and be helped into a job from which they would pay the home a proportion of their earnings for their board and lodging The idea continued until the 1970s after working girls' homes had been introduced as well.



 Other institutions 




We tend to think of asylums as places where people with mental illness are sent. In the nineteenth century the term was used much more broadly suggesting a general residential institution such as a children's home or orphanage.


Cottage Hospitals

These were established in the 19th century as small local, often rural, hospitals which achieved funding through Poor Law legislation or local philanthropists to provide care for those who otherwise could not afford it.


Fever Hospitals

Fevers such as small pox and typhus were a massive problem in 19th century London, so much so that fever hispitals were established (through donations from benefactors to keep people with such infectious diseases all in one place - away from other hospitals and the workhouses where the infections may spread. Fever hospitals were also known as isolation hospitals.



Some early children's homes were called hospitals. They were not hospitals as we think of them but were more like what we understand as orphanages.


Lying-in Hospital

Lying in hospitals were effectively the first dedicated maternity hospitals. The lying-in period was the period after childbirth when it was thought healthy for women to have  a period of bed rest.



Magdalen Asylums 
Also known as Magdalene Laundries, these Catholic institutions generally took in women who were unmarried and pregnant. The fist Magdalene Laundries opened in London in 1758 (followed by similar institutions in Ireland). Many of these laundries were run as workouses with terrible conditions in them.


Poor Law Schools

The Poor Law Act of 1834 provided that poor children, including those in the workhouses should be given a basic education. Further Acts formalised this and increased the amount of education all children should receive. It was this 1834 Act that meant that Poor Law Unions - geographical areas - should send money on providing free education for poor children. Some of these schools were known as Poor Law Schools.


Workhouse School
When Poor Law Unions were building separate  residential accommodation for children, distinct from the workhouse, they were often called workhouse schools or Poor Law Schools. Generally, at the beginning of the twentieth century, these workhouse schools were either replaced or renamed as cottage homes or children's homes.