Windsor Street Industrial School for Girls, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire
Up until 1870, the Industrial School at Edgar Street, Leeds, was a mixed establishment. The girls were then transferred to their own premises, at Windsor House, Windsor Street, just a short distance from Edgar Street, in the Burmantofts area of Leeds. The new School was converted from an adjacent pair of houses, whose purchase had been funded by a gift of £2,500 by a friend of the institution. The premises were formally certified for operation on September 22nd, 1870, with accommodation for 85 girls.
The School site is shown on the 1891 map below.
An inspection of the School in September, 1871, found it in good order, with 42 inmates under confinement and six voluntary cases. Nearly a quarter were under ten years of age. More than half the girls read correctly and intelligently from the Progressive Lessons and the Fourth Book of the Scottish School Book series, and could do basic arithmetic 'very creditably'. Their industrial training comprised washing, needlework, knitting and house work. The matron was Miss Robb, and the schoolmistress Miss Randles, with one assistant.
In 1872, Mrs Annie Lyons had taken over as matron, and Miss Stewart as schoolmistress. Miss Stewart was succeeded by Miss Amelia Gledhill (or Gleadhill) in 1873.
In 1874, the School received an influx of girls from York Industrial School which, like Leeds, was moving from being a mixed institution to separate establishments for boys and girls. The York girls caused a great deal of trouble and for a while upset the discipline and good order of the School. As an encouragement to good conduct, the School's inspector recommended that a system of rewards and privileges be introduced.
By 1878, Mrs Lyons was referred to as the School's superintendent, with Miss Myers now as matron (a post subsequently referred to as assistant matron). Miss Gledhill was still schoolmistress, assisted by Mrs Moyes. It was said that there was a great demand for the girls as domestic servants, enabling the superintendent to select good homes for them on discharge. The following year, Mrs Anne Weatherby had become matron. The average number of inmates was now 91.
Miss Harrison became assistant matron in 1883, and Miss Clarke took over as schoolmistress, assisted by Miss Gaines. In 1884, however, Mrs Weatherby had returned as assistant matron.
According to the 1885 inspection report, the girls — in addition to their own things — made all the shirts and socks for Adel Reformatory. They also did good deal of plain needlework for sale, washed for a few private families, did all the house work, helped in the kitchen, and baked their own bread. The schoolmistress was now Miss Moulding.
In 1887, Mrs Lyons left to take charge of the Industrial School at Sale. She was replaced as superintendent by Miss Riley who, in turn, was succeeded by Miss M.A. Highmoor. The turnover in superintendents led to a great deal of unsettlement and misbehaviour. Several of the girls had been very defiant and disobedient. By 1889, Mrs Howe had become assistant matron; Miss Hay, schoolmistress; and Mrs Baggally, assistant schoolmistress. The other staff included a sewing mistress, laundress and cook. In 1889, Miss E. James was assistant superintendent, and Miss J. Young the schoolmistress.
The 1896 inspection report found only 58 girls in residence, with over twenty having been transferred to the new girls' Industrial School at Thorp Arch run by the Leeds School Board. It was noted that 'the slums' now came very close to Windsor Street on one side. However, open countryside was within half an hour's walk. The School was said to have a good schoolroom and laundry, although the bathroom in the basement was not entirely satisfactory. In the classroom, geography and singing were rated as 'very fair', recitation and mental arithmetic as 'goo', and composition as 'very good'. Lessons in domestic economy had also been given. The girls did the housework and were trained for domestic service, waiting at table, etc. On leaving, however, the counter-attraction of factory life often proved too strong. Musical drill was well attended to. There was a play-yard with a giant stride and swings and a good covered shed. Walls and skipping ropes were supplied. There was a rather dull playroom in the basement, not much used in the summer, but found useful in the winter. A walk of two or three hours was taken at least once a week and the girls were allowed to break off when the country was reached. After the inspection, a fortnight's holiday was taken, when one day was spent at the seaside. Lady friends also invited children out for a day in the country and there had bee four such treats over the previous year. The school library was not extensive, and consisted chiefly of old magazines bound and unbound. Occasionally, the girls were taken to entertainments in connection with the church. The girls of good conduct went out on a school messages and errands. The doctor visited regularly once a week and oftener when needed. During the year, several new girls had been vaccinated and the whole school was examined monthly and a report made quarterly. There was a good sickroom and the fever hospital was conveniently near. A room for isolating infectious cases was also available if required. There was a mark system in operation with money rewards given to the girls to spend on suitable occasions. A list of the awards was posted in the schoolroom each month. There was no cell, but occasionally a troublesome girl was sent to bed.
In 1900, it was reported that 18 of the older girls had been attending an outside centre for special instruction in cookery, with a further 14 being similarly instructed in laundry work. Good physical drill to music was being given, and the girls were exercised in marching. A summer holiday was now an established event, with five weeks being spent at Swaledale that year. The inspector suggested that each girl be supplied with a pair of house-shoes or slippers.
In 1903, a new range of baths was built, and work began to reconstruct the laundry. The inspector recommended the introduction of walking exercises on the Swedish system — leg straight, toes turned out, foot rising freely from heel to ball.
Mrs C. Langlois was appointed schoolmistress on 1st June, 1908. Special praise was given by the inspector for the needlework at the School, which was done by all girls. Particularly commended were the button-holes and gussets. Half the girls can sew by the machine, and all of the older girls were being taught cutting-out. In the summer, a month was spent on the Yorkshire Moors at Reeth.
In 1910, after careful consideration, the School's managers gave notice of their intention to close the School by 31st March, 1911.
The Windsor Street buildings no longer exist and Haslewood Drive now covers the area.
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.
- 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.