Field Lane Industrial School for Girls, Hampstead, London
The Field Lane Industrial School for Girls was originally opened in 1870 in part of the Ragged School premises at 65 West Street, Clerkenwell. In 1876, the School moved to new premises at 9 Church Row, Hampstead, which had recently been vacated by the Hampstead Girls' Reformatory. On June 6th, 1876, the new establishment was certified to begin operation and could accommodate up to 80 girls, aged under 10 at their date of admission. The superintendent was Mrs Nyren.
The School site is shown on the 1871 map below.
As well as classroom education, the girls received industrial training to prepare them for domestic service. They learned plain needlework and made all the clothing for the establishment as a good deal of knitting done for the Field Lane Boys School which had also now moved to premises in Hampstead. The girls also assisted with all the housework, washing, and cooking. The School generally received favourable inspection reports although in 1883 was criticised for having 93 girls in residence, 13 more than its official capacity permitted.
In 1893, there future of the School looked uncertain as its lease was ending the following year and inspectors were regularly reporting that the building was old, inconvenient and unsuitable for school purposes. In 1883, the front of the building was found to be giving way and had to be rebuilt. The opportunity was taken for carrying out several important improvements and alterations. The kitchen and lavatory were improved, and additional fire escape facilities provided. The matter of the lease was apparently also resolved. While the alterations were going on, the main body of the children went for change of air to the seaside, and were accommodated at a receiving house in Dover. A few were left in charge of a matron on the premises at Hampstead.
An 1896 report considered that the old-fashioned and picturesque house now had good accommodation for the School's purposes. The dormitories were airy, bright, end cheerful, although filled to the utmost limit allowed by the regulations. The ventilation of the wash-house needed improvement. The playground was rather confined, but the proximity of the Heath, to which the girls had frequent access in the summer, and the airiness of the situation compensated for this. There was a large playroom. The physical drill was good and was valuable in teaching the girls to hold themselves properly and to walk gracefully. In the classroom, the girls' performance was described as 'creditable'. Singing was taken three times a week. A course combining domestic economy and object lessons was about to be introduced. Geography and mental arithmetic were said to be 'very fair', and recitation 'fair'. Although most of the girls were destined for domestic service, some went out as laundry-maids or were apprenticed to dressmakers. The needlework exhibited, both plain and fancy, was distinctly above the average. The older girls, 15 in number, went out to a course of 20 cooking classes at a neighbouring centre. In the laundry a very fair amount of fine work was provided from outside. The health of the girls had been good, with practically no illness at all of any kind in the past year. This was due in part to the healthiness of the situation and partly to the annual holiday at the seaside. The doctor called once a week and oftener if required. He examined each girl on admission, but did not conduct a quarterly examination. The School had the services of a dentist.
Despite the building improvements made in 1893, the managers of the School decided in 1901 that the accommodation at Church Row was no longer suitable for its purpose. However, they felt unable to face the difficulties of finding new premises and the School was closed the following year. At that date, the superintendent was still Mrs Nyren, who had held the post for 25 years.
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.
- London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB. (The Ancestry website also has LMA records relating to workhouses and other institutions — more details.)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Mahood, Linda Policing Gender, Class and Family: Britain, 1850-1940 (1995, Univeristy of Alberta Press)
- Prahms, Wendy Newcastle Ragged and Industrial School (2006, The History Press)
- None noted at present.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.