Ancestry UK

Bristol Truant Industrial School for Boys, Bristol, Gloucestershire

In 1883, the Bristol School Board established a Truant Industrial School at 9 Southwell Street, Bristol, near to the Board's Industrial School for Girls. The premises, formerly a private house, had a walled-in garden at the front and a yard and shed behind. The School was formally certified to begin operation on July 27th, 1883, and provided accommodation for up to 40 boys, later increased to 50. The superintendent and matron were Mr and Mrs Thomas Gillespie.

The premises were formed from a large old house which formed one side a spacious asphalted yard, on which the boys drilled and played. A school room formed another side to the square, and a drill shed for use in wet weather provided the third boundary. A bathroom, washhouse, and disinfecting room, were included along the remaining side. Extending from one side of the house towards Southwell Street was a one-storey brick building, in which were six small rooms opening off a corridor, at one end of which the drill-master had a sitting-room. These were used as cells and were unfurnished except for a single seat screwed to the door.

The boys rose in the morning at 6 in summer and 6.30 winter. The carried out housework until breakfast time, after which were prayers and a Bible lesson, followed by ordinary school work until 11.30. Then, till one o'clock, was industrial work or drill, or both. From one to two was be devoted to preparing for and having dinner, and then preparing for school. Afternoon school was from two to 4.30; from 4.30 to six was industrial work or drill. Supper was served at 6.30, after which the boys were given half-an-hour for reading. Prayers then followed, and they would retire to bed at 8.15. On Sundays there was church in the morning and Sunday school after dinner. In the evening, they were allowed to read books provided for them. On admission, each boy had at least four afternoons in the first week by himself in a small room from dinner till supper time. During this time they would have to prepare lessons to be afterwards heard the master. Each boy had a separate bed, and the dormitories were arranged so that the drillmaster could able command a view of all beds from his room. After a child had been there a few weeks, and behaved satisfactorily, he could be licensed to attend an ordinary elementary school selected by his parent. Any further truancy would result in his being brought back to the school, now with rather more severe discipline.

The boys assisted in all the work of the house and the laundry. There was a good deal of drill in the place of play and exercise. Inspections of the School regularly bemoaned the School's lack of industrial training and workshops.

In February, 1896, Mr and Mrs A.J. Peck took over charge of the home from the Gillespies. In the same year it was noted that the School's cells had been converted into two rooms, one of which was to be used as a tailer's workshop. The School now also had a piano. Play was allowed for an hour each day and there was a weekly walk. There was a library of 170 books which the boys read on Sundays and on winter evenings. Indoor games were also supplied.

The number of boys being placed at the School gradually declined and it was eventually closed on April 2nd, 1907. The buildings no longer survives.


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