Ancestry UK

St Stephen's Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys, Hammersmith, London

On February 21st, 1872, St Stephen's Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys was certified to begin operation at Blyth (or Blythe) House, Blyth Lane, Brook Green, Hammersmith. It could accommodate up to 140 boys. From 1855 until 1870, the property had housed the Brook Green Reformatory for Catholic Boys which had then relocated to Plaistow. Since then, the chapel had been enlarges, and a large refectory and playroom added. Mr and Mrs Wilson were now superintendent and matron of the School.

As had been the case when the School was a Reformatory, the industrial training at St Stephen's consisted of tailoring, shoemaking and a little gardening.

An inspection in 1874 found the School in an unsatisfactory state, with both premises and boys suffering from a want of sufficient care and attention. Several staff, including the schoolmaster had recently and the boys were in a wild and undisciplined state. A large number of the boys were suffering from ophthalmia, sore heads etc. The lavatory and bath arrangements were noted as being defective. There was a suggestion that the School was hoping to move to a more suitable locality. The lavatory and bath arrangements were noted as being defective. In 1875, Rev. T. Redman had been appointed as what was referred to as 'Director'. An inspection the following year found there had been some improvement. The lavatory was in better order and a new shed for wood-chopping had been erected. However, the outside water-closets, the drying-room, and the bedding in one of the dormitories all evoked criticism. There was also said to be a lack of a 'spirit of order to maintain the place in a satisfactory condition, and to induce the reckless children to fall into orderly habit.' The establishment now had Mr Osmund as 'General Manager' and Mr and Mrs Shepherd as superintendent and matron. In 1877, the staff included the band and discipline master, Sergeant Callighan.

In February 1879, charge of the School was placed in the hands of the Congregation of the Brothers of Mercy, who had previously run the Reformatory at the site. As was often the case with a change of management, a period of restlessness and disobedience followed, but this gradually subsided. Despite the addition of a large iron schoolroom in 1883, the condition of the buildings continued to be a subject for complaint by inspectors.

Owing to factors such as the situation of the site, problems with the buildings, and a decline in the number of boys being committed to the School, it was closed in October, 1887. Of the boys then under detention, 31 were transferred to the Ilford Industrial School and 15 to Walthamstow. Others were found employment or placed with friends.

The School site was subsequently occupied by the Swan Laundry but modern roads now run through the location.


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