Ancestry UK

Hull Ragged and Industrial Schools / Truant School, Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

At Hull, early in 1849, a committee was formed to establish Ragged and Industrial Schools to provide elementary education and meals for the city's 'poor and outcast' children. After a considerable fund-raising effort, sufficient donations and subscriptions were received for a property consisting of three adjacent dwelling houses to be taken at Mill Street. The premises contained two schoolrooms, each about 88 feet by 14 feet and able to accommodate almost a hundred children. At meal time, the two rooms were joined together by the removal of a dividing partition. Other facilities included a committee room, three workshops, wash-house, wood-house, a smith's shop. The yards of the building were very small, however, and unsuitable for use as playgrounds. Living quarters were also provided for a workmaster and matron, with Mr Robert Winningham and his wife Christiana being appointed to the posts. Mr Makins, of Manchester, and Miss Johnson, of Edinburgh, were appointed as schoolmaster and schoolmistress. The Schools began operation on May 1st, 1849, with 33 scholars, carefully selected from the most destitute classes of the community.

The Schools' annual report in 1850, noted that the aim of the institution was to make the children trained within its walls "religious, sober, honest, thrifty, hard-working members of society." Classroom education was to extend little beyond the art of reading fluently, writing legibly, and accounting correctly. Industrial training had so far included shoe-mending, net-making, mat-making, and rope-splicing, with plans to add tailoring, nail-making, and carpenters' and turners' work. In preparation for domestic service, the girls were instructed all kinds of domestic work: to keep the rooms of the institution and all the culinary utensils clean, to assist in cooking the food for themselves and fellow scholars, to knit and sew, to alter and repair cast-off clothes. A system of tokens was adopted, by which the labour and conduct of each child was recorded, with clothing then given to the nominal value of their earnings.

On the morning of Christmas Day, 1855, the children from the Schools assembled and heard divine service in St Stephen's Church. Shortly before one o'clock, the children, about one hundred in number, returned to the Mill Street premises along with the staff and a few friends of the institution. The room had been decorated with boughs of trees and festoons of evergreens. There was also a quadrangular transparency, in the form of a huge and variegated lantern, one of the four sides of which was filled with the three crowns — the arms of Hull. On another was "Long live the Mayor," and on the third, "Our friends, — God bless them." As for the fourth, the manufacturers of the transparency appeared to have been determined to make the utmost use of the available space. First, there was the inscription from the Psalms, "Deliver the poor and needy, and rid them out of the hand of the wicked." The other half of the space had been filled up with words — dictated, it was said, by one of the a scholars — " When thou makest a feast, call the poor, and thou shalt be blessed,—for they cannot recompense thee, for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." Luke xiv. 14. At one end of the attic school-room, the children gave a demonstration of their vocal abilities. The children then took their places at the tables and, having sung the grace, they set to work most joyously upon their feast, which consisted of roast beef, plum pudding, and potatoes. Several of the leading members of the committee officiated as carvers, and with the assistance of the master, matron, schoolmistress, and several ladies, the scholars were all speedily fed. The School staff present included Mr Winningham, the schoolmaster; Mrs. Winningham, the matron; Miss Jones, the schoolmistress; and Mr Benton, the visiting agent.

After several years of successful operation, the Mill Street site was proving increasingly unsatisfactory and plans were made to provide the Schools with new premises. In 1855, a site was acquired near Marlborough Terrace, off the Beverley Road, and on March 26th, 1856, the Earl of Shaftesbury laid the foundation stone of the new building. Although construction had not been completed, the premises came into operation in June, 1857. The Gothic-style building, designed by William Botterill, again contained separate boys' and girls' schools which could be turned into a single room for lectures, when they could seat 350. There was a large dining hall, also used as a work room and as a venue for a girls' evening class, where young women up to the age of 20 received free instruction from ladies in reading, spelling, writing, needlework etc. There were facilities for cooking, washing, and ironing, and also plunge baths and dormitories for the homeless. A library and reading room was planned to be added.

On March 24th, 1862, the establishment became a Certified Industrial School, allowing to receive children who had been sentenced to confinement by magistrates for reasons such as vagrancy or parental neglect.

An inspection in 1864 gave a good report of the establishment. There were 70 girls in attendance, of whom 7 were under detention. In the boys' division, there were 8 present, of whom 29 were under detention. In both cases, classroom performance in reading, spelling, dictation and arithmetic received positive comment. For industrial training, the girls were instructed in housework and needlework, while the boys carried out bag and sack making, and wood cutting.

In 1865, the premises were enlarged by the addition of a large workroom with a dormitory above. Part of the upper portion was carried on arches over part of the girls' playground, providing them with shelter in cold or wet weather. The day scholars have a good meal of bread and either soup, cheese, or milk in the middle of the day.

An 1868 inspection reported nearly 250 children in attendance, of whom 100 were girls. The boys' section was said to be overcrowded but it was hoped that imminent opening of the Industrial School Ship Southampton on the Humber would relieve the pressure. The schoolmaster was noted as now being Mr John Langdale, and the assistant schoolmistress and Miss Osgerby.

In 1870, a new range of workshops was opened with the boys' industrial training now comprising tailoring, shoemaking, carpentering, and garden work, although some wood chopping and hair teasing were carried out. The girls continued to receive instruction in knitting, needlework, and housework.

In January, 1872, Captain Penton Thompson was appointed as superintendent of the industrial school. His duties also extended to the general business of the Southampton. Mr and Mrs Winningham remained in charge of the industrial school under the direction of Captain Thompson. The new superintendent was said to have found the School in a bad state of discipline and "had been obliged to resort to firmer measures to establish a salutary fear of breaking rules." The School's inspector recommended that a separate establishment be set up for the girls.

Captain Thompson resigned at about the end of 1873 and Mr and Mrs Winningham were re-appointed as superintendent and matron, despite a comment by the School's inspector that they were "scarcely fitted for so responsible a position." That 1874 inspection noted that the girls appeared to be "dull and heavy" from being given too large a share of the household work. In 1874, the schoolmistress, Miss Collinson, took over as matron but Mrs Winningham resumed her post the following year.

In 1876, the School's managers finally adopted the inspector's recommendation and made it a boys-only establishment. The girls in residence at the time were transferred to the Girls' Industrial School at Leeds. Some of the boys now worked in a joiner's shop, and a few in a tailor's and shoemaker's. A large room with an apparently good printer's plant was reported as standing idle. Following the departure of the girls, many of the boys were employed in housework, cooking, assisting in the laundry, and wood shopping. The boys were being taken to the public baths once a week and nearly all could now swim.

1877, a new dormitory was formed above the joiner's workshop, and the following year the tailor's and shoemaker's workshops were about to follow suit. An 1878 inspection, however, noted there were 126 boys in residence and only 117 beds. The sickroom was said to be insufficient and a large bath was much needed. The matron, Mrs Winningham, was now assisted by her sister, Miss Wilson.

A growing proportion of the inmates were truants who were being placed by the local School Board under the 1876 Education Act. An analysis in 1879 found that of the 126 under detention, only 12 had been sent under the Industrial Schools Acts from Hull and its neighbourhood, with 24 from other places, whilst there were 90 who had been committed under the Education Act. The School had effectively become a Truant School, giving short-term detention for boys who persistently failed to attend ordinary elementary schools. Although the classroom deduction at the School was regularly praised, the industrial training provision had now almost ceased.

On July 1st 1884, the reality of the change in the School's role was formally recognised when it was taken over by the Hull School Board, with accommodation for 100 boys. The existing staff all continued in their posts. Some alterations were made to the buildings, however. These included some cells, a bathroom, and a wall around the playground. At the same time, the Board made plans to establish an Industrial School for Girls — this was initially located in temporary premises at Providence Row, Hull.

The Marlborough Terrace site in about 1891 is shown on the map below.

Hull Truant Industrial School for Boys site, Hull, c.1891.

Mr Winningham resigned as superintendent in 1886 after more than thirty years association with the School. He was succeeded by the long-standing schoolmaster, Mr Langdale, with Mrs Langdale as matron. Mr Hellawell was appointed as schoolmaster.

A report in 1896 described the premises as institutional, but of an agreeably broken-up Gothic character, in a poor quarter of the town. The accommodation, though not very well arranged, was described as generally good, although the interior could be brightened up by hanging a few pictures on the walls. Classroom performance was generally rated as 'good', with mental arithmetic and recitation as 'very fair'. Industrial training for the 66 inmates included 12 boys occupied as tailors, 6 as shoemakers and 2 as carpenters. The rest were engaged in mat-making, housework, baking, washing, and darning stockings. The boys were given physical and military drill, and about two hours a day of recreation in the paved playground. They went out to church on Sundays, and ladies came to take Sunday school in the afternoon, when a good deal of singing was done. There were a few books provided. Each week in the summer, the boys went out to a swimming bath.

The number of boys being placed at the School gradually declined, with only 27 inmates in 1908. On 18 March 1809, it was announced that the School — still under the superintendence of Mr and Mrs langdale — was to close. The final inmates departed in around 1911.

The former School building was subsequently used as a furniture repository but no longer exists.


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  • None noted at present.