Brighton Truant Industrial School for Boys, Patcham, Sussex
In 1882, the Brighton and Preston School Board established a Truant Industrial School for Boys at Purley Lodge, Old London Road, Patcham, about three miles to the north of Brighton. The School premises, adapted from a villa house and its outbuildings, were formally certified for use on October 13th, 1882, with accommodation for 40 boys. The superintendent was Mr Edward Shaw, with Mrs Shaw as matron. Mr G.L. McKay was appointed schoolmaster. The Shaws were succeeded by Mr and Mrs E. Taylor in April 1884.
As well as school lessons, the boys spent part of the day in work, with wood-chopping being the usual occupation. They also assisted in all the housework and washing. By the 1890s, a group of the smaller boys repaired the inmates' clothing. Physical drill was a regular part of their day and largely took the place of recreation.
The majority of the cases of punishment were for truancy while released on licence, and consequent return to the School. There were also occasional attempts to abscond.
By 1896, Mr and Mrs Burn had taken over as superintendent and matron. An inspection report that year noted that the dormitories had been constructed out of an extensive range of stables — a bad arrangement as there was no proper damp course, and fires were essential if dampness was to be kept out. The schoolroom and workshop that had been added were, however, well regarded. Classroom performance was generally satisfactory, with geography, drawing and singing rated 'very fair' and recitation as 'good'. The industrial work now included carpentry, and the future addition of gardening was recommended. One boy was now engaged in repairing boots. Football or cricket were played once a week on a neighbouring field and 30 minutes recreation was allowed each day, although the space provided for it was said to be too small. The boys went out to church on Sunday mornings and for a walk in the afternoon if the weather was fine. A doctor called each a week, and also examined all the boys on entrance and discharge. There had been 3 or 4 cases of absconding or attempting to abscond. Boys were not birched on re-admission, unless they were proved to have been personally to blame. Boys were sent to the institution by the School Boards at Croydon, Hastings, Hove, Dover, Ore, Portsmouth, Guildford, Shoreham and Eastbourne. The average length of detention was recorded as follows: 1st admission - 57.5 days; 2nd - 201.3; 3rd - 331.4; 4th - 518.5.
Mr and Mrs T.A. Robinson took charge of the School on 30th September, 1903. The other staff comprised the schoolmaster, Mr H.G. Walden; assistant matron, Miss Emily Horth; and a labour-master. An inspection that year noted that a mark system had been introduced, with rewards and privileges such as half-day holidays being given for good conduct. Toothbrushes were now being supplied to the boys. Six of the boys were assisting in the choir of the parish church. There were, however, serious complaints about state of the buildings. The laundry was said to be defective and badly situated, the dormitories still prone to dampness, the ventilation and flushing of the 'outside offices' in need of improvement, and re-decoration required in the teacher's sitting-room and labour-master's bedroom. All in all, the premises had suffered a period of neglect.
The expenditure that was clearly needed at the School, coupled with its reliance on other districts for supplying inmates, resulted in a decision by the School Board to close the establishment in October, 1905.
The buildings no longer survive and the site is now occupied by a Co-operative food store.
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.
- East Sussex Record Office, The Keep, Woollards Way, Brighton, BN1 9BP.
- 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.