St George's Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys, Liverpool, Lancashire
In 1854, the St George's Lace School was established at Everton Crescent by Sisters of the Augustinian Order. St George's Lace School. On April 9th, 1859, the establishment was certified as an Industrial School, allowing it to receive girls placed under confinement by a magistrates' court.
In 1861, largely through the efforts of Father James Nugent, the St George's Industrial School for Roman Catholic Children was opened in the premises of the former West Derby Union infirmary at 137A West Derby Road, Liverpool, which had been purchased from the union for the sum of £4,200. The new establishment was formally certified to begin operation on December 30th, 1861, and the girls from the Lace School became its first inmates at the end of January. A boys' section came into use shortly afterwards. By the end of 1862, there were 156 children in residence, of which two-thirds were girls. The School was superintended by Sister Vincent, assisted by several Augustinian Sisters.
In its early years, the management of the boys at the School was much criticised by its inspector. In 1865 he noted that 'Mr Barry, the young student under whose instruction the boys were placed, left in the course of the summer. His successor proved to be quite unsuited for the post, and, by repeated desertions and serious epidemic sickness, the school was completely disorganized. Admissions to it are now temporarily suspended.
The following year, the running of the boys' section of the School was placed in the charge of five members of the Christian Brothers who brought some order to the establishment. However, it was reported that there was still 'an unfortunate want of harmony and good understanding between this and the girls' division of the School, which produces many inconveniences.' The situation was resolved in 1867 when the girls were transferred to their own new establishments — St George's on Prescot Road, and St Anne's on Mason Street. The boys then occupied the whole of the West Derby Road premises.
The School suffered another upheaval in 1869 after the Committee found it necessary to dismiss the brothers who had had the charge of the school for the previous three years. A lay married superintendent, Mr Morton, was then appointed but he, too, soon departed when the the Committee were not satisfied as to his power of controlling the boys. Over this period, admissions to the school were suspended. Mr Edward Gray was then appointed superintendent and set the School on a more even keel.
Industrial training at the School included tailoring, shoemaking, carpentry, cabinet-making and gardening. The boys performed a considerable share of the housework and assisted in the cooking and baking. A large number of the younger boys were occupied with match-box making, and a class knitted the boys' stockings.
From October 1875 to March 1876 the School endured a serious outbreak of typhoid fever, which resulted in the death of Mr Gray. His successor, Mr Thomas Brindle, was appointed on April 1st, 1876, with Mrs Brindle as matron.
Over the next twenty years, under the Brindles' superintendence, the School developed and improved considerably. An inspection in 1889 praised the excellent bathroom and washroom, the spacious dining hall and kitchen, the good schoolroom, and the extensive range of workshops. Health at the establishment was noted as being very good for so large a number of inmates, which then numbered 276. The boys had a clean and healthy appearance and appeared to be well cared for. Forty boys were now working as tailors in two divisions, 59 as shoemakers, 20 with the joiners, and about were 40 are engaged in wood-chopping. The matchbox making had been given up. There were 28 boys in the turnery department and good specimens of workmanship were to be seen. Eight boys worked with the baker and cook, and 12 in the engine and boiler house. Many of the boys learned linear and geometric drawing. In 1888, 242 boys were presented for examination in the Science and Art Department, with god results. A good band had been established.
Due to Mr Brindle's failing health, he and his wife departed in 1896 and were succeeded as superintendent and matron by Mr and Mrs F.J. Norton. The Brindles' son, John, who had been acting as assistant superintendent, continued in that role.
A report in 1896 noted that the School had an asphalted playground, though it was rather too confined for the number of bays; a portion is covered in to form a good play-shed. A small playground for the junior boys had recently been formed. The boys were marched off to two public parks weekly and on holidays. There was a plunge bath, and once every 3 or 4 weeks the boys go to a public baths. The majority of the boys could swim. There were trips to the seaside in the summer. The provision for reading and indoor games was improving.
On April 5th, 1904, an Auxiliary Home was established at 47 Everton Road, Liverpool, providing supervised hostel-style accommodation for up to 28 boys who were leaving, or on licence from, the School and taking up outside employment. The Home formally closed on May 11th, 1925.
The Brindles were still in charge of the School in 1911. Other staff at that date comprised: Assistant superintendent, Mr R. Delaney; Head schoolmaster, Mr P. O'Donovan. Assistant schoolmasters, Mr R. O'Donnell and Mr T. Foreshaw; shoemaker, tailor, turner, engineer, manual instructor, cabinet maker, visiting bricklayer, sawyer, assistant engineer, yardman, visiting bandmaster, visiting physical instructor, cook and baker, night watchman; matron's help and sick nurse, laundress, sewing mistress, domestic. Master of Auxiliary Home and disposal agent, Mr R. Smith; matron, Mrs Smith. Chaplain, Rev. M. J. Flynn. Medical officer, Dr McFeely, F.R.C.S. Dentist, Mr T. Burnett.
The West Derby Road site subsequently became incorporated into the neighbouring Imperial Tobacco factory. The School buildings no longer exists.
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.
- Nugent Care, 99 Edge Lane, Liverpool L7 2PE.
- Liverpool Archives, 3rd Floor, Central Library, William Brown Street, L3 8EW. Now holds the Society's "historical" records and also those of the Catholic Emigration Association which emigrated children from the Society's establishments.
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Hyland,Jim Yesterday's Answers: Yesterday's Answers: Development and Decline of Schools for Young Offenders (1993, Whiting and Birch)
- Millham, S, Bullock, R, and Cherrett, P After Grace — Teeth: a comparative study of the residential experience of boys in Approved Schools (1975, Chaucer Publishing)
- The Therapeutic Care Journal — has a number of articles relating to Approved Schools.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.