Plymouth Girls' Industrial Home, Plymouth, Devon
On April 2nd, 1883, the Plymouth Girls' Industrial Home was certified to operate as an Industrial School at 1 and 2 Marina Place, Moor View Terrace, in the Mutley area of Plymouth. The premises could accommodate up to 40 girls aged from 8 to 14 at their time of admission. As well as girls placed in detention by magistrates, the home also admitted voluntary cases. The matron was Mrs Bacon, assisted by Miss Andrewartha. The girls, in preparation for future employment as domestic servants, performed the housework, cooking and laundry of the house, and took in washing. They also learned to knit and to sew and made all their own clothes.
In 1896, the Home moved to more spacious premises at 13-14 Portland Villas, Plymouth, and on June 27th of that years was re-certified to accommodate 55 girls. The property comprised a pair of semi-detached villas with an adjacent school-house and had previously been used as a boys' preparatory school. A number of alterations were carried out including the erection of a laundry at the far end of the yard, although this significantly reduced the size of the already limited playground area. There was a small garden at the front of the building raised several feet above the level of the road.
As before, the girls were trained for domestic service. They learned to knit and sew, with the older ones gaining some experience in dressmaking. The girls took it in turns to wait on the officials at table and to help in the kitchen. The laundry employed about 12 girls and in 1897 the work for private customers was to the value of about 35s. a week. It was said that there was no difficulty in obtaining situations for them in Devon and Cornwall, with wages starting at £5 a year. The girls could receive occasional visits and were encouraged to regard the institution as their home.
On 25th March, 1897, Mrs Bacon, who had been matron of the Home since its opening, was succeeded by Miss S.A. Hathaway. The other staff at this date were the schoolmistress, Miss Bowden, a cook, a general assistant and a laundress.
An inspection report in 1911 noted that the needlework by the juniors was being well done, and that the older girls cut out and made by hand or machine the garments they wore, with each girl who was old enough repairing all her own clothes. Practical laundry work was said to be very well done and a small amount of outside work was taken in. This and the home clothes were all a good colour and nicely finished. Instruction in theoretical laundry work was given in the schoolroom, and the rules are carried out in practice. Cookery was taught to the senior girls at a cookery centre in the town. The girls also assisted in the general daily cookery required for the school. Session of free exercises were taking place under the direction of a visiting master, and the younger girls were taken out for a daily walk. During September, a house had been rented at Dawlish to which the girls in two parties were sent for a fortnight. The girls visited the honorary dentist when necessary.
The Home, which later adopted the name Eccles School, closed in 1928. The premises were subsequently acquired by the Church Army for use as a hostel.
The property no longer exists and the site now lies under North Road East.
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- 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.
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