Warwickshire Reformatory for Girls, Coventry, Warwickshire
In February, 1869, the Reformatory for Girls, formerly located at Allesley Farm, Tile Hill, moved to its new home at 61 Little Park Street, Coventry, and adopted the title of the Warwickshire Reformatory for Girls. The building, previously used as the county hospital, was purchased for the purpose by Richard Greaves at a cost of £800. With money also contributed by public subscriptions, the premises were adapted for their new residents.
After its conversion, the building was to provide accommodation for about 50 girls. On the ground floor were a committee room, matron's and school-mistress's sitting room, stores, a large new dining and school room (the latter being connected to the main building by a covered way), kitchen, scullery, still room, larder, baker's oven, coal house, wash-house, drying closet, laundry, baths etc. On the first floor were bedrooms for matron and schoolmistress, which overlooked two large dormitories. On the same floor were rooms for servants, sick rooms, and cells for refractory girls. The alterations and extensions were designed by a local architect, Mr Steane.
The Little Park Street site is shown on the 1888 map below.
Following the move, Miss Phillips was appointed matron. The other staff were the schoolmistress, Miss Whimby, a laundress and a general assistant. By 1872, a cook was being employed. Miss Phillips died from tuberculosis early in 1882, after which some of the girls behaved extremely badly. She was succeeded by Miss Tanner who, after a good deal of trouble and insubordination, restored the School to its normal steady state. In August, 1883, Miss E Higginbotham was appointed matron. An inspection in that year recorded that there was no corporal punishment; the principal punishment was sending a girl to her dormitory for a period. It was also noted that one girl had been sent to prison for absconding; she had got through a small skylight and climbed down a drainpipe to the street.
As well as classroom teaching, the girls received training in laundry work, housework, needlework and knitting, equipping them to enter domestic service after leaving the School. By 1896, the girls being taken for walks once or twice a week, and had a monthly visit from a drill sergeant to instruct them in exercise and marching routines which were also practised daily. At the same date, the School was said to have a library of over 200 volumes. In the summer, a day out at the seaside was organised, and ladies of the committee often asked the girls to private garden parties in the neighbourhood.
In 1898, Miss Crombie became superintendent. The other staff were then the assistant matron, Mrs Stokes; the schoolteacher, Miss Homer; the laundry matron, Miss Perry; and a cook.
In 1903, the deteriorating state of the building and concerns about escape in the case of fire, led to a decision to relocate the School to new purpose-built premises. The School closed in 1904 while planning and construction work took place. The new building, at Kenilworth, was opened in 1907.
In August, 1904, the contents of the Little Park Street premises were auctioned off. The items on offer included: 40 single iron bedsteads; spring, hair and flock mattresses; feather beds, blankets, and linen; school-room furniture; and the contents of the laundry.
The Little Park Street building no longer exists and the site is now covered by modern roadways.
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.
- None identfied at present — any information welcome.
- Carpenter, Mary Reformatory Schools, for the Children of the Perishing and Dangerous Classes, and for Juvenile Offenders (1851, General Books; various reprints available)
- Carlebach, Julius Caring for Children in Trouble (1970, Routledge & Kegan Paul)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Abel Smith, Doroth Crouchfield: A History of the Herts Training School 1857-1982 (2008, Able Publishing)
- Garnett, Emmeline Juvenile offenders in Victorian Lancashire: W J Garnnett and the Bleasdale Reformatory (2008, Regional Heritage Centre, Lancaster University)
- Hicks, J.D. The Yorkshire Catholic Reformatory, Market Weighton (1996, East Yorkshire Local History Society)
- Slocombe, Ivor Wiltshire Reformatory for Boys, Warminster, 1856-1924 (2005, Hobnob Press)
- Duckworth, J.S. The Hardwicke Reformatory School, Gloucestershire (in Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1995, Vol. 113, 151-165)
- Red Lodge Museum, Bristol — a former girls' reformatory.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.