Liverpool Reformatory for Girls, Liverpool, Lancashire
After establishing the Akbar Training Ship in 1856, the Liverpool Juvenile Reformatory Association (LJRA) — a group of the city's merchants, ship-owners and other worthies — began to lay plans for the setting up of a reformatory institution for girls. In the spring of 1857, the Association spent £1,500 on the purchase of a house at 6 Mount Vernon Green, Edge Hill, Liverpool. After repairs and alterations had been carried out on the property, the Liverpool Reformatory for Girls received its official certification on June 12th, 1857, to accommodate 70 girls, aged 12-15.
The location of the home is shown on the 1908 map below.
The report of an official inspection in 1877, gives a flavour of the school and its inmates.
Number of inmates on day of inspection, girls, 74.
State of premises.—The house and premises are very suitable for the work carried on. The exercise ground is asphalted and there is a good out-door shed. I found the internal condition of the house in a satisfactory state. The healthy accommodation of the girls is duly provided for.
Health and general condition.—Fair. Two deaths in the year. Girls looked strong and healthy. A good many of the inmates are not constitutionally robust.
Conduct and discipline.—Fair generally. The inmates are taken from a very low class, and are inclined to be turbulent and restless occasionally. Three or four cases of absconding in the year and some petty disorder, bad language, and impertinence. Considering the antecedents of the girls it is surprising that the school is conducted with so small an average amount of misconduct and disorder.
Educational state.—The first class of 17 girls read fairly well in Fourth Standard book; writing was good and dictation fair ; arithmetic not very far advanced but done accurately. The other classes were rather backward, but there were indications of progress under a new teacher. Many of the girls are advanced in years for such a school, and know nothing on admission. It is a very hard task indeed to stir such girls intellectually; still the effort should be made, and if the girl is to be raised morally, the schoolroom must not be neglected.
Industrial training.—There is an extensive laundry for the elder girls. This work is carried on vigorously. The younger children are systematically trained in needlework, cooking, household work, knitting, &c.
General remarks.—The school continues to maintain its reputation. It deals with the roughest materials possible, and effects perhaps as much practically as can be achieved with such subjects to work upon. Generally the girls who are brought within its influence have previously passed through every phase of degradation, and it is no light effort to induce a sense of respectability among them.
The institution's staff at the time of the report comprised: superintendent, Miss Molleson; assistant, Mrs. Deane; schoolmistress, Miss Ferguson; and laundry matron, Mrs. Flinn.
The girls in the reformatory performed all the housework and kitchen work at the institution. They made their own clothing, knitted their stockings, and as noted in the report, worked in the establishment's large laundry. As well as the reformatory's own clothing and linen, the laundry did a large amount of washing for private families in the area, and also for other institutions such as nursing homes, hotels, and the Training Ship Conway. The laundry operation generated a valuable income for the LJRA coffers. The laundry work was hard and the long hours spent working amongst the heat, steam, fumes, and slippery conditions took its tool on the girls' health.
In December 1873, the boilers used to heat water in the institution led to the death of a sixteen-year-old girl named Caroline Turton. Caroline was in the bathroom, performing her duty to see that the other girls had a bath. She had hidden a piece of soap on top of the boiler, which she climbed up. She stepped on a board which covered the central portion of the boiler, when the board slipped and she fell into the boiling water. She was severely scalded, and subsequently died from her injuries.
On August 26th, 1910, the neighbouring property at 5 Mount Vernon Green, to the south of the reformatory, a house known as The Willows, was officially certified as an Auxiliary Home. The Willows could house 80 girls aged from 12 to 15. It provided accommodation for girls form the Liverpool Girls' and Parkhill reformatories 'whose early immoral surroundings or deplorable experiences' were judged to render them unsuitable for an ordinary reformatory.
In 1914-16, outbreaks of phthisis (tuberculosis) and of the highly infectious condition of ringworm led to some of the reformatory inmates being temporarily moved to other accommodation at Newsham Drive; 36 Carlton Road, Tranmere, Birkenhead; and Heswell Park.
The reformatory closed for good on December 11th, 1916.
The reformatory buildings no longer survive. The site is now occupied by the Local Solutions social enterprise organisation.
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.
- Lancashire Archives, Lancashire Record Office, Bow Lane, Preston PR1 2RE.
- Rimmer, Joan Yesterday's Naughty Children (1986, Neil Richardson)
- Carpenter, Mary Reformatory Schools, for the Children of the Perishing and Dangerous Classes, and for Juvenile Offenders (1851, General Books; various reprints available)
- Carlebach, Julius Caring for Children in Trouble (1970, Routledge & Kegan Paul)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Abel Smith, Doroth Crouchfield: A History of the Herts Training School 1857-1982 (2008, Able Publishing)
- Garnett, Emmeline Juvenile offenders in Victorian Lancashire: W J Garnnett and the Bleasdale Reformatory (2008, Regional Heritage Centre, Lancaster University)
- Hicks, J.D. The Yorkshire Catholic Reformatory, Market Weighton (1996, East Yorkshire Local History Society)
- Slocombe, Ivor Wiltshire Reformatory for Boys, Warminster, 1856-1924 (2005, Hobnob Press)
- Duckworth, J.S. The Hardwicke Reformatory School, Gloucestershire (in Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1995, Vol. 113, 151-165)
- Red Lodge Museum, Bristol — a former girls' reformatory.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.