Ancestry UK

Broomfields Ragged and Industrial Schools, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire

The Broomfields Ragged School was opened on 9th August, 1858, in premises at 9 Bolling Street, Bradford. In the same year, the establishment was certified as an Industrial School, allowing it to receive children placed under detention by the courts.

An inspection report in 1862 noted that no children had yet been committed to Broomfields under the Industrial Schools Act, but about 50 boys (mostly very young) and 40 girls attended as day scholars and received food. The girls' school appeared to be well taught and under good management. The boys' department, however, seemed deficient in both respects. At 9.30 a.m., a number of boys were in the schoolroom, but no teacher. When the master arrived, the inspector 'found little to say for the amount or the method of instruction.' The institution was superintended at this date by Mr and Mrs Taylor, who were succeeded in 1864 by Mr and Mrs Stubbs.

Things appeared more satisfactory in 1866 when there now 15 boys and 1 girl under detention, with about 50 children, mostly young, attending as day scholars. The latter were no longer being fed, however, owing to a shortage of funds. The playground attached to the school was enlarged and better enclosed, the boys doing most of the work under the direction of a mason. The girls were taught needlework and knitting, and did the housework, but there was no organised industrial training for the boys.

By 1869, the School was being used exclusively for committal cases and day pupils no longer attended. The following year, Mr James Hewett became superintendent, with his wife Elizabeth as matron.

An 1871 report recorded 34 boys and 5 girls in residence. The premises were said to be very clean and in good order. The arrangements as to schoolroom, workroom, etc. were much improved, but those for the dormitories seemed defective as to supervision. During their work time, the boys were now occupied in teasing and plaiting hair, or cutting firewood.

A large adjoining building was rented in 1872 and provided a good dining hall, with large rooms in the upper storeys, which could be used as dormitories or workrooms. Two classes of boys were now employed on a half-time basis, either in street sweeping for the corporation, or as shoeblacks. This development was frowned upon by the School's inspector who viewed street works as tending to lower and degrade such children rather than promoting their future interest. The following year, clog-making had been added to the boys' industrial training. Outside work (with school on alternate days) included working in brickyards, or at private houses.

Early in 1876, some of the girls at the School preferred charges "of a most serious character" against one of the officials, although the details were not made public. After conducting an investigation, the management committee pronounced the charges false. Girls had always formed a very small proportion of those placed at the School: the inmates in August, 1876, comprised 73 boys and 5 girls. It was therefore decided to make Broomfields a boys-only institution, with the girls then in residence being transferred to other establishments.

Official dissatisfaction with the School began to increase. In 1877, the arrangement of the premises was said to be inconvenient, and the playground far too small. Blankets on the boys' beds were all in rags, and there were an insufficient number in store for the winter. Concern was expressed at the turnover of school teachers, three between October 1876 and July 1877. The lack of proper industrial training was also criticised, with relatively few of the boys entering situations on leaving the School. Some of the older boys worked in a neighbouring brick-yard. Although this was well-paid, and so generated income for the School, it was hard work and very few of the permanent employees there had come from the School.

Further criticism came in 1879. The School had no sick-room for slight cases of illness, no proper bath-room or workshops, and a playground that was too small. None of these deficiencies could be remedied on the existing site. It was noted that there were now 80 boys in 76 beds. One of the dormitories was very cold in winter, and was then not occupied, crowding the other dormitories to an unhealthy degree.

Although the School had indicated its hopes of moving to new premises in the countryside, this never came to fruition and it closed in 1881. The 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.



  • None noted at present.