Ancestry UK

Reformatory for Roman Catholic Boys, Brook Green, Hammersmith, London

The first Roman Catholic Reformatory School in England was established in 1855 at the initiative of Lord Edward Howard, the Rev. Dr. Henry Manning, and other interested individuals. A property was taken for the purpose at Blyth (or Blythe) House on Blyth Lane, Brook Green, Hammersmith. It was formally certified for operation on October 10th, 1855, with accommodation for up to 80 boys. The School was run by the Congregation of the Brothers of Mercy. In 1858, the staff comprised six Brothers, five of whom were Belgians; two workmasters, a tailor and a shoemaker.

The industrial training provided was largely limited to tailoring, shoemaking and bread-making. Early inspection reports criticised the limited size of the accommodation and also of the ground attached to the School which was inadequate for providing either outdoor employment or exercise for the boys. The relatively high running costs per head were queried as no salaries were paid for either superintendence or instruction.

The School site is shown on the 1869 map below.

Reformatory for Roman Catholic Boys site, Hammersmith, c.1869.

In 1860, an iron shed was erected adjoining the house to provide more space for the boys' school work and was also used as a dining-room. A temporary chapel and additional dormitory space were subsequently added, but uncertainty over the School's long-term tenure of the property impeded major building works.

A report published in 1861 gave some details of the Schools first five years of operation. A total of 197 boys had been received, with 95 discharged. Of the latter, 19 had absconded, been transferred or died. The other 76 were placed in employment, and only six of these had relapsed into crime.

In 1864, the School's managers took out a 50-year lease on the premises and immediately constructed good workshops and a dormitory. The School's location made the acquisition of additional land impossible, however.

In 1870, the School moved to a new home at Plaistow in Essex, where it became known as St Edward's Reformatory.

In 1872, the Brook Green site was re-opened as St Stephen's Industrial School which operated until 1887. The buildings no longer survive.


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