Czar Street Day Industrial School, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire
In 1891, the Leeds School Board opened a Day Industrial School at Czar Street, Leeds, "for the industrial training and elementary education for neglected, wandering, or truant children." The Board's first such school, at Edgar Street, Burmantofts, was at the north side of the city. The new School, in the Holbeck district of Leeds, was intended to provided facilities for the south side. The purpose-built premises were formally certified for operation on October 20th, 1891, and were officially opened the following day by Mr Edward Tiffany, chairman of the Industrial Schools Committee.
The two-storey building was designed by the Board's architect, Mr William Landless. The ground floor consisted of a dining hall, kitchen, scullery, storerooms, disinfecting closets, bath-rooms, and a shallow swimming bath. The upper floor provided an assembly hall and classrooms, with accommodation for up to 300 children. There were separate approaches for girls and boys, and separate staircases. The heating in the building used low pressure steam system, Czar-street being the first school of the Board in which steam heating had been adopted. The cost of the site was £1,222, and the building and fittings a further £7,000.
The School site is shown on the 1890 map below.
The School's first superintendent was Miss M. Blakey, transferred from the Edgar Street School, as too was the schoolmistress, Miss Dawson. Other staff included two further schoolmistresses, Mrs Dugdale and Mrs Taylor, and the caretaker and his wife, Mr and Mrs John Shaw. Following the death of Miss Blakey in 1894, Miss Louisa Clark was appointed superintendent.
On October 19th, 1892, a year after the School had opened, there were 131 children in attendance, 114 boys and 17 girls.
At an inspection praised the building and the ample space around it provided by the two playgrounds, although the School's location, as with most Day Industrial Schools, was in one of the "more squalid portions of the town." The School's well-appointed manual instruction workshop was used as a centre for the other Board Schools in the district. In the classroom recitation and geography were 'good', composition and singing 'very fair', and mental arithmetic 'fair' to 'very fair'. Hand and eye training had been introduced, with clay modelling and cardboard work. Drawing was taught throughout and an 'excellent' rating had been obtained in the Science and Art Department annual examination. The older boys had two lessons a week in the manual instruction workshop. The smaller boys did a little wood chopping and helped in the cleaning. The girls did the ordinary sewing and made all the towels, aprons, table-cloths etc. They also helped in the kitchen and laundry and had special lessons in alternate weeks from the caretaker's wife in cookery and laundry. Musical drill with dumb-bells was given along with the ordinary elementary school drill in marching. On Saturdays there was a half-holiday, a week's holiday at Christmas and Whitsuntide, and a fortnight in August. The main disciplinary offence was truancy, for which corporal punish could be administered. Prizes were given annually for good conduct and regular attendance. The tidiest boy and girls received a special prize from the chairman. Articles of clothing were occasionally given to the most deserving cases.
The 1896 inspection also noted that there were just 70 children in the School and due to the decline in numbers attending the School, a portion of the building had been let to a neighbouring elementary school. The following year, the whole of the upper floor given up for use as an ordinary day, with the Industrial School occupying just the ground floor. The cleaning of the whole building, however, was still required to be done by the Industrial School children. There was also a slight reduction in the number of teaching staff. Swimming was a popular activity at the School and in 1897 the boys won the silver cup awarded in a newly established competition amongst 32 board schools.
Reflecting the reduction in space, the School's official capacity was certified as 100 places in April, 1898, then revised to 120 places from January, 1899. 1899.
In 1899, Miss L.A. Dobbings took over as superintendent. The other staff now comprised: three teachers, Mrs Taylor, Miss Bentley and Miss M. Thackerah; manual instructor, Mr Roberts; and caretakers, Mr and Mrs Shaw. An inspection that year criticised the size of the room (17ft. by 6ft. 6in.) used to accommodate 25 children and their teacher for religious instruction.
A 'bank' was introduced in 1900 to enable children to save up money for any special purpose. The visitors' book kept for boys and girls who had left the school showed that several were earning good money in regular occupation.
In 1902, battalion drill and dumb-bell exercises were given by the teachers. Both boys and girls now attended the public baths. Some of the girls and most of the boys could now swim. The boys won three silver medals in a competition in Leeds and also took the School Board challenge prize. The School swimming bath was kept open throughout the winter for the first time. The usual day trip to Shadwell took place, when sports etc. were held.
In 1908, the children paid a visit to the museum to hear a lecture, and another to the theatre to a 'terpsichorean entertainment'. In the summer, a day was spent by the sea at Saltburn, and at Christmas the annual treat was held. At the Lifeboat Gala held at Roundhay Park, of four prizes competed for the Czar Street boys carried off two, the first and, third.
The declining numbers at the School, just 40 in 1908, made the viability of the School increasingly precarious. It resigned its certificate on February 23rd, 1909, and ceased operation. The buildings no longer survive.
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.
- West Yorkshire Archive Service (Leeds Office), Nepshaw Lane South, Morley, Leeds LS27 7JQ. Has the School log-book (1891-1909)
- 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.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.