Ancestry UK

St Thomas's Home Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys, Ashton-on-Ribble, Preston, Lancashire

In January, 1898, the Brothers of Charity, a Belgian Roman Catholic order, purchased Tulketh Hall, an old manor house with two acres of grounds, on Francis Street, Ashton-on-Ribble, near Preston. The premises were initially used as an auxiliary home in connection with the St Vincent's Boys' Home at Fulwood.

New buildings were then erected at the Hesketh Street side of the Hall to house what was advertised as the St Thomas' Home for Infirm, Epileptic and Afflicted Boys. This establishment was opened on May 13th, 1900, by the Bishop of Liverpool. The new accommodation included workshops, living rooms, recreation rooms, dormitories, and staff quarters, and a chapel.

On May 29th, 1901, the Thomas' Home was certified for operation as an Industrial School, allowing it to receive who had been committed magistrates to a period of detention. The Home could accommodate up to 65 boys aged under 12 at their date of admission. Following the completion of further building work, the Home's capacity was increased to 150 places as from October 24th, 1903.

The Home for Working Boys continued to be based in the old Hall building and now received boys from the St Thomas' Home as well as other Catholic Industrial Schools in the area. It had accommodation for up to 30 boys.

The St Thomas' site is shown on the 1912 map below.

St Thomas's Home Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys site, Preston, c.1912.

Former St Thomas's Home Industrial School from the north, Preston, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Former St Thomas's Home Industrial School from the west, Preston, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Former St Thomas's Home Industrial School from the west, Preston, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

The staff at St Thomas' in 1901 comprised the superintendent, Brother Palladius Gibson, and five brothers of Charity with a lay assistant.

An inspection report in 1904 noted that the boys' performance in the classroom in subjects such as mental arithmetic, recitation, composition and geography, was generally good. Singing (sol-fa) was praised with the extensive collection of songs that had been learned. Industrial training included tailoring, shoemaking and drawing, with printing and manual instruction soon to be added. A band of 27 performers had been formed with a new set of 30 instruments soon to be acquired. The boys in the tailoring shop were producing new uniforms for the band. A drill-master from Liverpool attended once a week. The juniors went through some dumb-bell practices, and the seniors gave a display of rifle drill, military and free gymnastic marching, hopping, and running. The boys were doing well in football and cricket matches against outside teams, and had formed an executive committee from among themselves for managing the sporting affairs. The School operated a mark system in which rewards and privileges such as pleasurable outings and participation in football were made dependant on good conduct.

Brother Gibson left the School on December 11th, 1904, and was succeeded by Brother Patrick L. Burke. Brother B.T.W. Bolton took over from Brother on April 5th, 1910.

In 1910, the School suffered an epidemic of an influenza-like condition. About 50 cases occurred, with six deaths taking place. Dealing with the outbreak also resulted in considerable expense for the management which had to carry on with reduced income through the temporary stoppage of admissions.

In September, 1923, the certificates of both St Thomas' School and the Tulketh Hall Boys' Home were resigned by their management.

The School closed in 1924. The premises subsequently St Cuthbert's School or 'Juniorate', preparing candidates for admission to the Brothers of Charity. Tulketh Hall was demolished in 1959. The School's buildings along Hesketh Street still stand.


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