Balmoral Industrial School, Belfast, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

On November 30th, 1897, Belfast's Fox Lodge Industrial School, which had outgrown its existing location, transferred to new premises at West End (now Musgrave) Park, Balmoral, Belfast. The new site — a former Model Farm with 22 acres of land — was leased from Sir James Musgrave and became known as the Balmoral Industrial School. It was officially certified to accommodate 100 boys aged 6 to 14 on November 23rd, 1897.

Balmoral Industrial School, Belfast, c.1899. © Peter Higginbotham

The Balmoral School was managed by the same body that ran the Training Ship Grampian (formerly the Gibraltar). The ship was closed in 1899 and its role taken over by Balmoral. On March 13th, 1899, the School was re-certified to receive 350 boys. Its capacity was raised to 400 in October, 1902.

For boys leaving the School into employment in Belfast, the Balmoral Working Boys' Home, established in 1899, provided a halfway house between institutional and independent life.

On June 30th, 1920, the School was taken over by the Belfast Corporation. The following year, the school's operation was disrupted by the effects of the civil disturbances following the partition of Ireland. In 1921, the military authorities requisitioned the School for the purposes of billeting a regiment there and the school relocated to the Belfast Workhouse, where it carried on with difficulty until December 1922. Eventually, the school was allowed to return to its original premises.

The advent of the Second World War in 1939 again caused upheaval for the School. In the summer of 1940, the School was taken over for use as a military hospital. To help with the School's accommodation problems, the Royal Army Medical Corps provided four hospital tents, each holding 25 boys on the cricket pitch in Musgrave Park, with small tents for the staff. The School's Committee eventually found alternative premises at the Victoria Homes on Ballysillan Road, Belfast, which incorporated the Shamrock Lodge Industrial School.

Following the Children and Young Persons (Northern Ireland) Act of 1950, the establishment became an Approved School, one of the new institutions introduced to replace the existing system of Reformatories and Industrial Schools. The Balmoral Training School, as it had then become known, finally closed in 1965.

Records

Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.

Bibliography