St Vincent's Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland
St Vincent's Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys was opened in 1894 at Brunel Terrace, Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, and was run by the Sisters of Charity of the Order of St Vincent. On February 24th, 1894, the establishment was certified for operation as Industrial School, with accommodation for 60 boys. The School was intended for younger boys who had been committed to detention by the courts. It was envisaged that on reaching the age of 12, boys would be transferred to the Chadwick Memorial School.
The premises comprised a pair of large semi-detached houses with stables and coach-houses, standing in the midst of about two acres of land, overlooking the Tyne. The property was located on a steep hill with a public recreation ground adjoining on the south side. There was a good playground and a proper infirmary had been created.
An inspection report in 1896 suggested that the building would never really be convenient or suitable. The attics and basement were the worst features, the dining hall being in the latter. The means of escape from the attics and sickrooms were also not satisfactory. In the classroom, composition and recitation were said to be 'good', with mental arithmetic and singing sol-fa 'very fair'. Some object lessons had been given to the juniors, and word-building had begun. The boys varied in age from 5 to 14 years. They helped in the house, kitchen, and laundry work, in the making and repairing of their own clothes, and about 50 had learnt to knit and darn. Despite the age of the oldest boys, no formal industrial training was yet in operation. The playground was an enclosed asphalted tennis court in the grounds. The latter were said to be not much used for play owing to their proximity to the public recreation ground, which was frequented by the 'street arab class'. The younger boys have musical drill. All went to the Town Moor once a week for football, and there was also a walk on Sundays. There were generally five excursions to the seaside or the country each summer. Little plays are got up and conjuring, lantern, and other instructive and amusing entertainments were given during the winter. The school library contained about 100 books, and indoor games and toys were also provided. Lord Petre occasionally visited the school and gave the boys a tea party and an excursion to the seaside. The doctor visited once a week and when sent for. From time to time, batches of boys were taken to a dentist to have their teeth attended to. Corporal punishment was rarely resorted to. The behaviour of the boys was described as very pleasing. The staff comprised the Sister Superior Catherine Petre and four Sisters of Charity, with lay assistants in school, kitchen, workroom and laundry.
On February 28th, 1898, Sister Louise succeeded Sister Catherine Petre as Superioress. Sister Margaret replaced Sister Louise on August 22nd, 1899. Some of the boys helped in darning their socks and in the laundry. Musical drill with bells and dumb-bells had been taught. The boys had given an entertainment and attended entertainments in the town.
Sister Margaret Paine became Superioress on August 18th, 1900. In the same year, a bakery was fitted up, and nearly all the bread required for the boys was made on the premises. Drawing had been introduced throughout the School on lines qualifying for a government grant. A tailor's shop was now in operation and a class for mending boots and shoes begun. Some senior boys had learned shorthand and six gained certificates before leaving the School.
In 1903, hot-water apparatus was fitted supplied throughout the house. The garden and grounds had been improved and begun to be cultivated by the boys. A small conservatory was built and a poultry-yard created. On October 12th, 1904, the premises were re-certified, now with a capacity of 70 boys.
The establishment resigned its Industrial School certificate on August 14th, 1925. However, it continued in operation as a home for Catholic boys until 1950, when relocated a few miles away to West Denton, Another move came in 1980, taking the home to Summerhill Grove, Newcastle.
The Brunel Terrace building no longer survives and a block of flats now occupies the site. The West Denton premises are now home to the Alan Shearer Centre, a specialist recreational, sensory and social resource for disabled people of all ages.
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- Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, St Cuthbert's House, West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE15 7PY. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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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