Toxteth Park Girls' Reformatory, Liverpool, Lancashire
The Toxteth Park Girls' Reformatory, established by private subscription and managed by a committee of ladies, was opened in 1856 in premises at Wellington Road, Liverpool. The "moderate-sized house and garden" were certified for operation on March 19th, 1856, to accommodate 20 girls. Initially, the matron of the establishment, Mrs Scott, also acted as schoolmistress, with some of the ladies on the committee giving lessons on subjects such as history and geography.
In 1859, extensions to the buildings increased its cap0acity to 30 girls. In the same year, Mrs Scott resigned as superintendent and was replaced by Miss Cuthbert. By the following year, Miss Wilson, previously in charge of the laundry, had taken over. Laundry work provided the chief industrial occupation for the girls and also generated a useful income for the institution.
In 1864, the construction of the new Toxteth docks resulted in a large influx of gangs of labourers into the neighbourhood. Consequently, the decision was made to relocate the establishment to a quieter situation around half a mile away at 3 Park Hill Road (renumbered as 9 Park Hill Road in 1882). Miss Grint was now appointed as superintendent. The move evoked some disorder amongst the girls and several absconded. A new superintendent, Miss Young, was appointed in August, 1865, but after a serious outbreak of insubordination the following October, she left the School in panic at a few hours' notice. She was replaced by Miss Howard who held the post until June 1872, when Miss Jane Wilson took over. For many years from around this time, a prominent part in the management of the School was taken by Mrs Herbert Campbell.
The Park Hill Road site is shown on the 1891 map below.
Once it had fully settled into its new home, the School generally fared well in official inspection reports. In 1881, it was recorded that the house and premises are in their usual good order... There is a good laundry and wash-house, extensive playground, and capital shed for recreation in wet weather... The school is carried on with great tact and care." As well as laundry work, the girls were also occupied in plain needlework, knitting and machine work. They also assisted in the kitchen and with housework with domestic service being their usual future employment.
In 1898, management of the School was transferred to the Liverpool Juvenile Reformatory Association which already operated a number of institutions in the city including the Liverpool Boys' Farm Reformatory, Liverpool Girls' Reformatory, T.S. Akbar, Holy Trinity Industrial School for Boys and Holy Trinity Industrial School for Girls. After more than 25 years as superintendent, Miss Wilson was succeeded by Miss Laurie. Several members of the former management committee continued to take an interest in the establishment, including Mrs Campbell, who took weekly physical drill sessions with the girls and also gave lectures on domestic economy.
The School now operated a mark system where good conduct could earn rewards and privileges. Girls leaving the School to enter domestic service were provided with a good outfit and received an award of one pound if they remained in their first situation for a year. The School's library had over 400 books and the girls were also given The Quiver and Home Chat to read. In 1909, the girls had thee weeks' holiday in a summer camp at Kingsland. The following year, the first reunion of old girls took place.
The School was closed on November 3rd, 1921. The buildings were later home to an ink factory but no longer survive. The site is now occupied by a supermarket.
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.
- Lancashire Record Office, Bow Lane, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2RE. Has admission registers (1892-1921). There may possibly be other relevant material amongst the archives of the Liverpool Juvenile Reformatory Association.
- Rimmer, Joan Yesterday's Naughty Children (1986, Neil Richardson)
- Carpenter, Mary Reformatory Schools, for the Children of the Perishing and Dangerous Classes, and for Juvenile Offenders (1851, General Books; various reprints available)
- Carlebach, Julius Caring for Children in Trouble (1970, Routledge & Kegan Paul)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Abel Smith, Doroth Crouchfield: A History of the Herts Training School 1857-1982 (2008, Able Publishing)
- Garnett, Emmeline Juvenile offenders in Victorian Lancashire: W J Garnnett and the Bleasdale Reformatory (2008, Regional Heritage Centre, Lancaster University)
- Hicks, J.D. The Yorkshire Catholic Reformatory, Market Weighton (1996, East Yorkshire Local History Society)
- Slocombe, Ivor Wiltshire Reformatory for Boys, Warminster, 1856-1924 (2005, Hobnob Press)
- Duckworth, J.S. The Hardwicke Reformatory School, Gloucestershire (in Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1995, Vol. 113, 151-165)
- Red Lodge Museum, Bristol — a former girls' reformatory.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.