Ancestry UK

St Peter's Orphanage/School for Roman Catholic Boys, Gainford, County Durham

St Peter's Orphanage for Roman Catholic Boys was established in 1900 at Main Road, Gainford. The purpose-built premises could accommodate 300 boys, aged from 2 to 10 years at their date of admission. The home was run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

On 30th August, 1901, St Peter's was accredited for use as a Certified School, allowing it to receive boys boarded out by the workhouse authorities, who paid 6s. a week for each child they placed.

The School site is shown on the 1914 map below.

St Peter's School for Boys site, Gainford, c.1914.

St Peter's School site from the north-east, Gainford, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

St Peter's School site from the north, Gainford, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

St Peter's School site from the north-east, Gainford, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

St Peter's School site from the south-east, Gainford, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

At the start of the Second World War, the boys at St Peter's were transferred to the St Mary's Home at Tudhoe, with the Gainford site then being used temporarily to house inmates evacuated from St Aidan's Approved School at Widnes. On 1st April, 1940, St Peter's was itself accredited for use as an Approved School, taking up to 120 Roman Catholic boys aged below their 13th birthday at their date of admission. The School provided its inmates with training in carpentry, building and horticulture. The School was then managed by the Hexham and Newcastle Rescue Society.

In 1973, the establishment became St Peter's Community School — a Community Home with Education (CHE), run in conjunction with Teesside Borough Council.

Due to financial pressures, the School was closed in 1984, with the building and land being sold to a local consortium for £130,000. The purchasers subsequently sold off some of the dwellings and converted one wing into a nursing home for the elderly. From the mid-1990s, however, the main building was left standing empty.


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  • 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)