Ancestry UK

Middlesbrough Industrial School for Boys, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire

In 1873, the Middlesbrough School Board opened an Industrial School for Boys at the corner of Burlam Road and Roman Road in the Linthorpe district of Middlesbrough. The building, originally intended for use as a hotel, was on a six-acre site, part of which was subsequently used for the construction of an elementary day school. The Industrial School, which could accommodate 60 boys, was formally certified for operation on November 19th, 1874. The staff comprised the superintendent, Mr Thomas H. Evans; the matron, Mrs Swiney; the schoolmaster, Mr Parker; and one servant. By 1876, Mrs Jackson had taken over as matron, and the schoolmaster was now Mr Seymour.

The School site in 1894 is shown on the map below.

Middlesbrough Industrial School for Boys site, Middlesbrough, c.1894.

Former Middlesbrough Industrial School for Boys, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Industrial training at the School included gardening, tailoring, shoemaking, and wood-shopping. The boys also did all the housework, baking and laundry work. A system of marks was in operation with leave from the School and participation in 'treats' being dependent on good conduct.

Mrs Campbell became matron in 1879, but succeeded in 1881 by Mrs. Spence. The schoolmaster was now Mr Henry Avon. A tailor and shoemaker were also employed, with the latter also superintending the gardening. Mat-making had joined the list of industrial occupations. The average number of inmates in 1881 was 46, with 13 out on licence.

In 1884, Mrs Emmerson became matron, and Mr Allonby was the schoolmaster. The boys were taught singing and physical drill was given. In 1887 it was noted that the School had a drum and fife band with 18 performers. Mrs Ambler was now matron, but had been succeeded by Mrs Cooke in 1888, and Mrs Ward in 1889.

In 1890, Mr Evans, superintendent since the School's opening, died after a period of ill-health. Mr Johnson was appointed as acting superintendent, with Mr Walter Tarrant and his wife subsequently taking over as superintendent and matron. Mr Prebble replaced Mr Lockhead as schoolmaster. After many years of petitioning by the School's inspector, a large open play shed had been erected for use in wet weather.

In a singing contest in 1892, open to all the School Board schools in the town and the voluntary schools, the Industrial School boys were placed first. In the schoolroom, the Fifth Standard were learning the geography of Europe, and the Fourth and Third Standards, the geography of England.

In 1895, a brass band was started, replacing the former drum and fife band, with the sum of £80 granted by the School's committee towards the cost on instruments etc. A canvas 'shoot' was installed on the upper floor, for escape in case of fire. The garden had been extended to cover 2¾ acres, all worked with the spade by the boys. The School's mark system now included monetary rewards for good conduct. Boys could earn from 1d. to 3d. a week, and monitors 4d. a week. The money earned was banked for them and given in instalments after discharge.

The School's 1896 inspection report noted that the School was located in one of Middlesbrough's best suburbs. The building stood in grounds of about four acres in extent, 3½ of which were devoted to garden. There was a playground 60 yards by 50 for football and cricket, and a smaller one with a covered shed for wet weather. The number of inmates under confinement was 40, plus two voluntary cases. Instruction was given in dumb-bell drill and extension motions. Four football matches had been played with school teams from the town, two of which were won by the School. On Saturday afternoons the boys were taken for country walks and rambles. On several occasions sports, etc., had been visited by the boys and one trip to the sea had been made. boys. In the classroom, singing (tonic sol-fa and part songs), recitation and geography were rated as 'good', and composition in Standard V as 'very good'. The School's choir had carried off prizes in two singing competitions during the year, and they formed the choir of a neighbouring church. There was a library of 200 books, suitable for boys, and a small museum of interesting objects. Illustrated papers and periodicals were also supplied to the school. During the winter months the superintendent gave magic-lantern entertainments, as well as a musical one at Christmas. Various lectures on interesting subjects were given by friends and neighbours. The doctor visited two or three times a week, and examined the boys individually once a quarter. The officers and boys all camped out for a fortnight on the coast in August, 1896. The schoolmaster was now Mr E.H. Gill.

Middlesbrough Industrial School for Boys, early 1900s.

Mr Gill died in December, 1896, and was replaced as schoolmaster by Mr H. Allison. On 6th June, 1898, Mr Allison was appointed superintendent in place of Mr Tarrant, with Mrs Allison becoming matron. They were succeeded on 1st March, 1901, by Mr and Mrs A. Robertson.

In 1903, the outside shed was converted into a gymnasium, and the laundry improved, with a drying room fitted up. A greenhouse measuring 50ft. by 12ft. was being erected. The Watkins' silver shield and medals were won by the football team as champions of the Middlesbrough Schools League, a feat that was repeated in 1904. There were now two deaf-and-dumb boys in the School. Six of the boys went on to join army bands in the year 1903-4, with five others placed out as gardeners. The School now an annual three weeks' camp at Marske-by-the-Sea.

A second greenhouse was erected in 1905, and the school took six prizes at the Middlesbrough horticultural show. A poultry department has been added to the industrial side. A rope fire escape was fitted to one of the dormitories. There was a reunion of old boys at Christmas.

The matron, Mrs Robertson, died on 30th April, 1906, and an assistant matron was appointed on June 6th. A further greenhouse, 80ft. in length, was erected. A boys' home — a corrugated iron house, wide-lined — containing a dormitory, sitting room, bathroom, lavatory, scullery, and officer's room, was built for the accommodation of eight boys, effectively acting as an Auxiliary Home. The 1906 inspection report commented that the boys' display of free gymnastics and over the vaulting horse were possibly not to be beaten by any other school. A successful season at football resulted in 14 out of 16 wins to the School. Wood-carving and joinery classes were now given once a week.

In 1909, the superintendent and matron were recorded as Mr and Mrs A. Robertson, the superintendent presumably having remarried. In the same year, training in shoemaking was discontinued in favour of gardening.

A major rebuilding of the premises took place in 1911 with the building being recertified in 1912 for the accommodation of 100 boys. The School site in 1915 is shown on the map below.

Middlesbrough Industrial School for Boys site, Middlesbrough, c.1915.

Former Middlesbrough Industrial School for Boys, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Middlesbrough Industrial School for Boys, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Middlesbrough Industrial School for Boys, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

An inspection in 1911 reported that singing and voice training were good. Composition was good in the upper Standards, and 'very fair' in lower. Recitation was good generally. Mental arithmetic was good in Standards IV and VI, very fair elsewhere. Geography was good throughout. History readers were used occasionally in V and VI. Elementary science lessons had been given in the upper standards and object lessons in the lower. Drawing was very fair, but the boys in the lower classes needed to be more practised in accurately measuring right-line copies and objects. The manual instruction was well done and the drawings by the boys in this class were good. Instruction in horticultural subjects had been given by the superintendent in the schoolroom, and French gardening has been successfully introduced. There were 36 boys in the school who were 13 years of age or over, of whom 32 received regular instruction in skilled occupations other than gardening or the band. A total of 19 boys had left the school during the year, of whom 15, including two who emigrated, were disposed of to skilled or progressive occupations, the School finding 12 of the situations. Twelve boys practiced shooting with miniature rifles.

The home closed in 1925. The premises were subsequently used as a school for 'mental defectives'. In more recent years, the property was used by the Cleveland College of Art and Design. In 2015, the building was refurbished for commercial use.


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  • Teesside Archives, Exchange House, Exchange Square, Middlesbrough TS1 1DB. Has School log-book (1923-24).



  • None noted at present.