St Swithun's Industrial Home for Boys, Winchester, Hampshire
The St Swithun's (or St Swithin's) Industrial Home for Boys was established in 1872 at Upper Brook Street, Winchester. In the 1881 census, its address is given as 13/15 Upper Brook Street, although inmates were also resident at 16 and 18 Upper Brook Street. An 1895 directory, after some renumbering of had clearly taken place, records the premises as being at 27-37 Upper Brook Street, roughly where a nightclub now stands.
On February 29th, 1872, the establishment was formally certified for operation as an Industrial School with accommodation for 85 boys aged from 8 to 14 year. The superintendent was Mr Frederick William Saint.
In 1882, Mr Saint was succeeded by Mr and Mrs Cartwright as superintendent and matron. They remained in post until October, 1889, when Mr and Mrs John Frederick Manning took charge. In the same year, it was noted that 13 boys were working with the tailor, 14 as shoemakers, and a class of juniors were knitting, darning, and repairing. There were 18 boys employed in wood-chopping. There was an engine and sawbench and a little rough carpentering was carried on. A large plot of ground at a little distance from the school provided occupation for a class of boys as gardeners. A good number of pigs were also kept. There was an excellent band and the boys drilled with much precision. Musical physical drill had now been introduced
A report in 1896 related that the front of the School, which stood flush with the pavement of a side street near the centre of the town, had been built for the purpose. The other sides, which enclosed a small yard, were of an older date and had been adapted to their present requirements. Five cottages adjoining the front had been acquired to give additional dormitory and sickroom accommodation. Hemmed in between the post office at the back, and private property on either side, the School was unable to obtain the necessary light and air in some of the rooms, notably the dining hall. The dormitories were small and crowded, and the lavatory and outside offices were also defective. A garden of nearly three acres with a field adjoining and situated about half a mile away was now rented for the use of the school. The usual allocation of the boys to various tasks was now: tailors, 18; shoemakers, 19; shirt-making and darning, 21; house and kitchen boys, 4. About half a mile from the School was a garden of 2¾ acres, where 22 of the boys grew vegetables for the School and for sale. About 20 boys went to private houses for 1 or 2 hours before breakfast. Another 20 were engaged about the premises, and the remainder were employed at wood-chopping. A further 10 boys were in school all day. Manual instruction was given to a class of 12 boys. The brass band, which now had 20 performers, accepted a few private engagements, and provided an route for some of the boys into army bands. A good relationship had been established with the Great Northern Railway in finding situations for the boys. An annual supper for old boys was held in London, at which about 50 attended. Musical drill took place four times a week, under the direction of the sergeant-major of the military depot. The School yard was small and enclosed, but a good field which adjoined the garden was used twice a week for cricket and football. There were two horizontal bars and rings in the yard, but no instruction was given. There was an annual outing for the day to the seaside, and a special entertainment was organised at Christmas time. There was no collection of books, but the school could borrow twenty volumes at a time from the City Free Library. A mark system had been introduced with small money rewards, part of which could be spent. Boys of good conduct and suitable homes were allowed to visit their friends for 3 days at Whitsuntide.
In September 1896, there was an outbreak of influenza at the School, with similar epidemics having occurred in previous years. The following June, there was an outbreak of diphtheria. The increasing health problems at the site led to the Secretary of State's decision to close down the establishment. Attempts to find an alternative site were unsuccessful and the School closed in 1898. The former School building no longer survives.
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.
- None identfied at present — any information welcome.
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Mahood, Linda Policing Gender, Class and Family: Britain, 1850-1940 (1995, Univeristy of Alberta Press)
- Prahms, Wendy Newcastle Ragged and Industrial School (2006, The History Press)
- None noted at present.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.