Ancestry UK

Vale Street Industrial School for Girls, Birmingham, Warwickshire

The Vale Street Industrial School can perhaps be said to have had its origins in the Vale Street Feeding School, established in 1862 in connection with the Hill Street elementary school, to feed necessitous boys and teach them a trade. Money was subsequently raised to purchase a property on Vale Street in which to open a Ragged and Industrial School. The buildings comprised two front houses, two adjoining back houses, and two cottages in the yard. The cottages were demolished and replaced by a school room and other facilities, and accommodation provided in the front houses for a schoolmistress and assistant. By 1865, nearly a hundred children were taught on weekdays at the premises, and two hundred on Sundays, while a night school catered for factory boys as they left work for the street in the evening. The establishment also operated a clothing club and a soup distribution.

On September 25th, 1866, the premises were certified for use as an Industrial School for Girls, allowing it to house girls placed under detention by magistrates. A small house adjoining the School was allocated for this purpose. This arrangement was permitted on a temporary basis, pending the opening of a more suitable institution. Inmates of the Industrial School attended lessons alongside the older girls at the adjoining Ragged School. The senior schoolmistress was Miss Bassage, with a matron (named as Miss Ingram in 1871) taking charge of the girls under confinement outside school hours. The girls were taught needlework and cooking, and did the housework and their own laundry.

Because of the small size of the Industrial School, just seven inmates in 1870, the School's inspector on several occasions recommended that the establishment should merge its operation with that of the Gem Street School. The School's managers were, however unwilling to give it up.

In 1876, the School site was required by the London and North-western Railway Company. Following the death, at around the same time, of Mr Brooke Smith, one of the chief supporters of the School, the managers decided not to re-establish it elsewhere, and resigned their certificate in August, 1876. The School was then closed and the girls under detention transferred to Sparkbrook Industrial School.


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