Ancestry UK

St Elizabeth's Institute / Industrial School for Roman Catholic Girls, Liverpool, Lancashire

St Elizabeth's Institute and Asylum for the Training of Poor Girls of Good Character as Servants was opened in 1854 at 32 Soho Street, Liverpool, under the management of a Miss Louisa Gordon. It was one of a number of institutions for Roman Catholic children founded in the city by Father James Nugent.

On June 16th, 1859, the establishment was certified as an Industrial School allowing it to receive girls committed by detention by magistrates, as well as voluntary inmates.

At the end of 1861, the School moved to new premises at 64 Breckfield Road South, Everton. The property, which could accommodate up to 100 girls, was formally certified for operation on December 30th, 1871. Miss Gordon continued as superintendent at the new location.

As well as classroom lessons, the girls were trained for domestic service and were engaged from day to day in needlework, house and laundry work.

In 1869, the premises were extended by the addition of a refectory, dormitory and clothes room. The laundry was also enlarged.

The School site is shown on the 1891 map below.

St Elizabeth's Industrial School for Roman Catholic Girls site, Liverpool, c.1891.

In 1871, Miss Gordon resigned as superintendent and the running of the School was taken over by two Sisters of Mercy of Notre Dame, aided by four assistants. The following year, the staff were given as Miss Heurtley and two Lay Sisters (all of the Order, of Mercy), and a servant. By 1875, Sister Angela Myrtle had become superintendent. The following year, it was reported that Sister Angela had been withdrawn withdrawn by her superior from the management of the institution for insufficient reasons, without proper notice to the inspector, and with very injurious effect upon the general discipline of the school. In consequence, the good order of the house was greatly disturbed for some time. The School's inspector was so incensed by this incident that he threatened to end the employment of members of religious orders as superintendents of Industrial Schools if it were happen again. By 1879, Sister Harriet Story had become superintendent, succeeded in 1880 by Sister Mary Austin, who was to hold the post for the next 30 years.

An 1896 report noted that the School premises covered nearly an acre, with garden, playground etc. Its interior was bright and comfortable. The girls were trained for domestic service, and about six at a time obtained practical experience in cooking under one of the Sisters. The laundry was used for the School's own washing only. Knitting and sewing received careful attention, the school clothes and outfits being made by the girls. Work was also done for private customers. There was no difficulty in obtaining situations for the girls on leaving, with many getting into English families abroad, where their training was useful in gradually improving their position and wages. The garden and poultry were useful features of the school. There was a good playground with a covered shed, as well as a playroom. Musical drill with dumb-bells was carried on. Walks were taken once a week and to church on Sunday. There was an annual day trip to the country. Two concerts and various treats and entertainments were held each year. The library was somewhat lacking, and reading, except amongst a few girls, was not much indulged in.

Sister Mary Austin retired as superintendent on 27th, November, 1909. She died not long afterwards. Sister Margaret Mary Melia took charge of the School on January 1st, 1910. The other staff at that date comprised: Sister M. Borromeo, schoolmistress; Miss McCarthy, Miss Clare Kane, Miss Madeline Kane and Miss Petronia Gonzalez, assistant mistresses; Sister M. Patrick, Sister Helen, Sister M. Christina, and Sister Anne, house Sister;. Assistant laundress and dressmaker, machinist and kitchen maid. The School's dentist was Mr T. Burnett.

The School was officially closed as of 8th July, 1920. The buildings no longer survive and a retail store now occupies the site.


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