Ancestry UK

Sacred Heart Industrial for Roman Catholic Girls, Whiteabbey, Belfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland

In 1896, St Patrick's Industrial School for Roman Catholic Girls at Crumlin Road, Belfast, established a junior branch at Whiteabbey (or White Abbey), a few miles to the north of the city, on the shore of Belfast Lough. The new establishment, which was named the Sacred Heart Industrial School for Girls, occupied a property known as Abbeyville, on Shore Road, Whiteabbey. The premises were formally certified to begin operation on June 6 1896. The school's official capacity was increased to 100 places in September 1897 and to 120 places in September 1898.

An inspection in 1911 recorded 129 committed inmates in residence, plus 6 voluntary cases and 7 out on licence. The staff comprised the manager, Mrs Mary Malachy Hamill, assisted by 4 Sisters of Mercy, 3 lay teachers, 3 workmistresses, 2 cooks, and 3 laundresses. In the classroom, recitation was rated as 'excellent', singing and drawing as 'very good', and geography, grammar and mental arithmetic as generally 'good'. Being a junior school, industrial training was mostly deferred until the girls were transferred to the senior branch at Crumlin Road. However, they were taught needlework and assisted with household work, such as sweeping, dusting, polishing, bedmaking, etc. The girls were also instructed in Swedish Drill and marching exercises, usually in the open air.

On 4 June 1921, part of the Abbeyville premises were certified for use as a Reformatory to receive Roman Catholic Girls convicted of a criminal offence. This arrangement continued until October 1933.

The school subsequently moved to new premises at the corner of Shore Road and Old Manse Road, Whiteabbey.

Following the Children and Young Persons (Northern Ireland) Act of 1950, the establishment became an Approved School, one of the new institutions introduced to replace the existing system of Reformatories and Industrial Schools. It was then known as Whiteabbey Training School.


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