Ancestry UK

St Mary's Industrial School for Girls, Liverpool, Lancashire

St Mary's Industrial School for Girls was originally part of the St Mary's Industrial School on Major Street, Kirkdale, established in 1861. In October, 1870, the girls at the School under detention were transferred to a separate house on Stanley Road. At the same date, the boys under detention moved to a house at 35 Walton Road.

Following a reorganisation of the whole Kirkdale School in 1878, the boys at Walton Road were placed at other institutions. Their quarters were then taken over by the girls from the Stanley Road house and thereafter operated as St Mary's Industrial School for Girls. The Walton Road establishment was formally certified for operation on August 27th, 1878. It initially accommodated up to 70 girls, aged 8-13 at their date of admission, and included voluntary cases as well as court committals. The superintendent was Miss Catherine Cunningham, assisted by her sister Mary, and Miss McLellan as schoolmistress.

The older girls did all the work of the house, washed the clothing, kept the house clean, and assisted in the kitchen. Needlework and knitting received daily attention. Many of the children were very young.

A new schoolroom was added in 1881. The following year, Miss S.E. Jones had taken over as superintendent with Mary Cunningham as her assistant.

By 1884, additional accommodation for about 24 of the voluntary inmates had been provided in adjoining cottages at 35-37 Sandheys Street. An officer of the School slept in each of the cottages.

Miss Harriet Thomas became superintendent in 1886. She was succeeded by Miss Osborne in July, 1894.

A report in 1896 described the premises as 'a private house, standing a short way back from the side of a main thoroughfare in a poor and populous part of the outskirts of Liverpool. There is a detached schoolroom at the back, and adjoining one side of the house is a technical instruction room of the parish. The playground is surrounded on three sides by the backs of small houses, two of which are rented by the school. The main house is well built but the attics and basement are not all that could be desired for the purposes they have to be put to.' The basement contained the laundry, which was used only for school washing. Musical drill with dumb-dells and poles was conducted once a week. There were two walks a week in the summer, and one in the winter. The six monitresses were occasionally allowed out for an afternoon unattended. During the three weeks of summer holidays, there were two day trips to the seaside. There were a few books and a quantity of old periodicals. The schoolroom had to serve as a recreation room. There appeared to be no difficulty in finding situations for the girls on leaving. There were at this date only 12 voluntary children in the cottages.

Miss Hearne took over as superintendent in 1898. The girls now went in batches of 24 to the swimming baths each week. A few of them could swim.

In 1901, it was noted that in the schoolroom there appeared to have been a good deal of irregular punishment by the new head teacher, Miss Priest, and both the assistant teacher and monitress has been using the cane, which was altogether against the rules. A lack of authority over the schoolroom by the superintendent was evident. There was a special treat at Christmas time when about 30 'old girls' came to visit the School.

In 1902, it was noted that the cottages were said to be now 'be clear of vermin'. That year's inspection of the School gave an unsatisfactory report of the establishment, both in its premises and its operation. The health record of the girls was poor. A serious reflection on the school was the fact that the percentage of girls returned as 'unknown' in 1900 was about the highest in all England.

In face of the growing criticism if the School, its committee resigned its certificate on December 12th, 1903.

The Walton Road premises were rebuilt in 1906-7. Later Walton Technical College then St John's RC Junior Girls School.


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