Malone Reformatory / Training School for Protestant Boys, Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland
On 13 March 1860, the Malone Reformatory for Protestant Boys was certified to operate in premises at Lisburn Road, Belfast. Accommodation was provided for 60 inmates.
An inspection in 1862 recorded 24 boys in residence, all of whom were employed in agriculture on the 23 acres of land attached to the school. The school was managed by Mr Falconer, who had had experience in a similar task at Glasgow. A system of marks was in use to which a money value is attached, and fines for punishment.
By 1866, there were nearly forty acres of land attached to the school, worked by spade husbandry. Two cows and some pigs kept, and the corn crops yielded a good return. In addition to agriculture, the boys were now instructed in shoemaking, tailoring, and sack-making. All the boys' clothing was made in the house, including their shirts. The boys could receive a visit from friends every two months as a reward for good conduct. Visits were only allowed to take place in the presence and hearing of a member of the staff. Only 'first-class' boys were allowed to go out with a pass as messengers.
The 1911 inspection found 117 committed cases at the school, no voluntary cases, five out in licence, and one absconder. The staff comprised: the superintendent and matron, Mr and Mrs James Lee; four schoolmasters, master tailor, carpenter, shoemaker, farmer, and van man. The premises were described as being in excellent order although the very large swimming bath had resulted in such a heavy water bill that a patent filter had been erected to cleanse the water. In the classroom, performance in singing, recitation, geography and mental arithmetic was generally rated as 'good'. Industrial training included tailoring, shoemaking, carpentry, farming and gardening. The tailor's shop carried out a large amount of outside work, with uniforms being its main product. Drawing and manual instruction (woodwork and metalwork) were also taken. The superintendent took the boys for military drill and the gymnasium had recently been fitted up with modern appliances.
The School site is shown on the 1930s map below.
In 1927, a Borstal wing was added to the establishment, the first such provision in Northern Ireland since the partition in Ireland. It remained the only Borstal facility in the province until the opening of Woburn House, Millisle, in 1956.
Following the Children and Young Persons (Northern Ireland) Act of 1950, the establishment became a Training School (equivalent to an Approved School in England and Wales), one of the new institutions introduced to replace the existing system of Reformatories and Industrial Schools. The Malone Training School, as it became known, accommodated 150 Senior Boys aged from 12 to 16 years at their date of admission.
The school closed in 1968 and its inmates and staff transferred to the new Training School at Rathgael, near Bangor. The Malone Schhol buildings no longer survive and the Balmoral Road industrial estate now covers the site.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Titanic Quarter, Belfast BT3 9HQ. Has records from 1915-1968.
- Barnes, Jane Irish Industrial Schools 1868-1908 (1989, Irish Academic Press)
- Dunne, Joe The Stolen Child: A Memoir (2003, Marion Books)
- Rafferty, Mary and O'Sullivan, Eoin Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland's Industrial Schools (1999, New Island Books)
- Touher, Patrick Fear of the Collar: Artane Industrial School - My Extraordinary Childhood (1991, O'Brien Press)
- Tyrrell, Peter and Whelan, Diarmuid Founded on Fear: Letterfrack Industrial School (2006, Irish Academic Press)
- Wall, Tom The boy from Glin Industrial School (2015, Tom Wall)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.