Ancestry UK

St David's College Reformatory, Mold, Flintshire, Wales

Following a devastating fire on the Reformatory School Clarence in July, 1899, its inmates spent a few weeks in temporary accommodation in Liverpool. They were then transferred to St David's College, near Mold. The buildings had originally housed the Flintshire County Gaol before becoming a Jesuit training college in 1881. The premises were officially certified for use as a Reformatory for Roman Catholic Boys on August 9th, 1899.

The College site is shown on the 1899 map below.

St David's College site, Mold, c.1899.

Former St David's College entrance block from the east, Mold, c.2011.

An report on the premises in 1900 noted that during their occupation, the Jesuits had enlarged the cells and windows, built fair-sized assembly rooms, and converted the prison yard into a luxuriant garden.

With their move to Mold, the boys were accompanied by staff from the Clarence. Commander G.H. Yonge remained in charge of the institution, supported by all his principal officers including chief officer, Mr Leahy, and head schoolmaster, Mr Kearney.

On Christmas Eve, 1899, thirty-seven of the boys made their escape from the institution, an event it was suggested was caused their anxiety to get back to Liverpool and "the restlessness inseparable from a picnic existence." All were recaptured and returned to the College. On December 27th, signs of revolt were again observed and the officers were issued with revolvers. The following morning, heavy bars and other weapons were discovered concealed beneath one of the boys' beds. Several of the ringleader subsequently received prison sentences.

After the return of those involved in the breakout, talk was overhead amongst them about the burning of the Clarence which had originally been thought to have happened accidentally. Three boys, named George Spilsbury, Thomas Wheeler and John Ryan, emerged as having been involved in starting the blaze and were subsequently committed for trial.

The boys stayed at Mold until September, 1901, when they were transferred to the former Kirk Edge Orphanage near Bradfield, West Yorkshire, which then became the Kirk Edge Reformatory.


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