Middlesex Industrial School for Girls, Feltham, Middlesex
The Middlesex Industrial School for Girls was founded in 1881 by Mr E.E. Antrobus, with the support of many of the county's magistrates. The School occupied premises at Staines Road, East Bedfont, near Feltham, and was formally certified for operation on September 23rd, 1881.
The establishment was housed in a 'small but compact cottage', said to have originally been built as a school, and included a school room and play room. The staff initially comprised the superintendent, Mrs Sanders; and the matron, Mrs. Camfield. In October, 1883, Miss Dale took over as superintendent, with Miss Idol subsequently appointed as assistant, and Miss Edwards as matron. Miss Bellamy succeeded Miss Dale in December 1885, with Mrs Keith now as assistant. matron.
As well as classroom lessons, the older girls assisted in all the work of the house, and did the washing and cleaning. All the girls received instruction in plain needlework and knitting, and made most of their own clothing.
In 1894, Miss Bellamy was forced to give up her post due to failing health and was succeeded as superintendent by Miss C.F. Staveley. Her assistant was Miss Connor.
An inspection report in 1896 noted that the School's rooms were small, and there was only one general room which served for school, meals, and indoor recreation. The interior was plain, with no attempt, in the way or decoration, towards making the place a home rather than an institution for girls. There was a small grass plot at the side with narrow garden border. Classroom attainment was generally 'very fair'. All the girls were taught knitting and plain sewing and the older girls did a small amount of higher class work. The general training was for domestic service, with one or two of the older girls gaining experience in kitchen work, waiting at table, etc. Two girls did the washing for the school in shed belonging to the neighbouring sanatorium, under very primitive conditions. Outdoor play was largely confined to a gravel margin between the house and the grass plot. Skipping ropes were supplied, and besides the Sunday walk of a mile to church, there were two or three walks each week. The girls had had a trip to the zoo, and four of them had had another day's outing as well. No periodicals were taken, but there were some story books and old illustrated newspapers. A treat was given at Christmas time. According to the bad-conduct book, the punishments that year had included dry bread for dinner, confinement in the cell or other rooms, and two cases of personal chastisement. The offences were display of temper, had language, insolence. disobedience, and general defiance. One girl, whose name appeared 17 times, had been taken before the magistrates and after adjournments of the case, was remanded to the workhouse and placed on licence. The 'cell', a small room over the front door, showed evident traces of this girl's incarceration, in defaced walls and loosened shutters. The School had a mark system in operation with small money rewards for good conduct. It was noted that the visits of members of the School's management committee, so far us could be gathered in the absence of any record, were few and far between. At the time of the inspection, there were 11 girls in residence.
In 1897, musical drill was introduced, an activity which the girls were said to enjoy. The appropriately named Miss Inkpen succeeded Miss Connor as schoolmistress on 7th October. Also in 1897, the management committee decided that the small size of the School made its operation no longer viable and its certificate was resigned the following year. By September, 1898, the girls had been transferred to other establishments and the School closed.
The former School premises are now in private residential use.
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- None identfied at present — any information welcome.
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Mahood, Linda Policing Gender, Class and Family: Britain, 1850-1940 (1995, Univeristy of Alberta Press)
- Prahms, Wendy Newcastle Ragged and Industrial School (2006, The History Press)
- None noted at present.
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