Ancestry UK

Devon and Exeter Boys' Industrial School, Exeter / Exminster, Devon

The Devon and Exeter Boys' Industrial School was established in 1863 in premises at Exe Island, Exeter. It was officially certified to begin operation from May 7th, 1863. An inspection in August, 1864, recorded 20 boys in residence. Their industrial training included tailoring, shoe-making, wood-chopping and wire-work.

The premises were gradually enlarged and by 1867 there were 51 boys in residence. The training now included working in a field garden, cutting firewood, knitting and making pegs for flowers. However, the location of the home proved increasingly unsatisfactory and in 1869 it was relocated to Exminster.

The new premises, known as Church Stile House, on Church Stile, Exminster, came into use on in August 7th, 1869, and were certified to accommodate up to 80 boys, aged from 10 to 14 years. The property included seven acres of garden and a field so that gardening now formed a major part of the training. The School also established its own band from which many boys progressed to serving with regimental bands.

Devon and Exeter Boys' Industrial School, Exminster, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

Devon and Exeter Boys' Industrial School, Exminster, early 1900s. © Peter Higginbotham

In 1933, the establishment became the Church Stile Approved School for Junior Boys, one of the new establishments introduced by the 1933 Children and Young Persons Act to replace the existing Reformatory and Industrial Schools. The School now housed up to 70 boys aged aged from 10 to 13.

The School closed in December 1954. Its former premises have now been converted to residential use.


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  • Devon Heritage Centre, Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Sowton Exeter EX2 7NL. Holdings include: Admissions and Discharges (1942-54); Home leave books (1947-54). The archives include number of items where it is unclear as to precisely which institution they may relate.


  • None noted at present.