Ancestry UK

Norfolk Reformatory, Catton, near Norwich, Norfolk

The Norfolk Reformatory for Boys at Catton, near Norwich, was opened to relieve the accommodation pressure at the larger School at Buxton. Boys who were under 16 could be transferred from Buxton if they showed a special aptitude for shoemaking, a staple local trade. The superintendent at Catton was John Ellis, formerly at Saltley, assisted by his son, with the domestic arrangements under the management of his wife and her sister. Ellis, a shoemaker by trade, and founder of the Brook Street Ragged and Industrial School, had established a reputation for successfully dealing with delinquent boys.

The Catton premises included a house for the superintendent and his family, a large garden, and a piece of land used as a playground. Part of the grounds were used to provide each boy with a plot to cultivate. Behind the house were two buildings — one a comfortable school-room with a dormitory above, and the other a well-lighted airy workshop. Some of the boys were said to earn as much as 10 or 11 shillings a week from their handiwork, of which two-thirds was taken for the expenses of the establishment, and one third they were allowed to keep. Of the latter, one third was used to pay for clothing, tools etc; one-third placed in a savings bank; and the remainder given to the boy as pocket money. The sum in the savings bank was allowed to accumulate until the boy's discharge, when it was given to him, either to pay the expenses of his emigration, or supplying him with an outfit in his trade, or reserved for some other useful purpose.

Following a decline in the number of offenders under 16 in the county, Catton was closed in November 1859. Its two remaining inmates were both placed out on licence.


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