Ancestry UK

Bradwall Reformatory for Boys, Sandbach, Cheshire

The Bradwall Reformatory for Boys was established in 1855 at Walnut Tree Lane, Sandbach, Cheshire. On December 27, 1855, the premises were officially certified to accommodate up to 60 boys, aged 14 to 16, committed by magistrates. The school was founded by Mr George William Latham of Bradwall Hall with the aid of subscriptions from supporters within the county. As well as providing the site for the school on his own estate, Mr Latham also took on the role of its honorary manager.

An inspection of the establishment in 1857 recorded:

New buildings arranged as a small quadrangle, enclosing a yard for exercise in wet weather and in the winter evenings; very commodious and well constructed, except the cells, which are close to the boys' room, and away from the master. The boys industrious, and in good order, but wanting in intelligence and cheerfulness. Master well-meaning, and in many points competent, but wants more kindness of manner, and more efficiency as a religious and general teacher. The boys have been employed in draining and fencing: their labour seems real and well-directed.

As well as basic education, Bradwall provided its inmates with industrial training which was chiefly agricultural in nature. Its farmland extended to 110 acres and 20 cows were kept. Cheese was produced and sent to market.

The location of the home is shown on the 1909 map below.

Bradwall Reformatory site, Sandbach, c.1909.

Former Bradwall Reformatory from the south, Sandbach, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Bradwall Reformatory from the south-west, Sandbach, 2013. © Peter Higginbotham

After George Latham died in 1886, the school was initially offered to the county who declined to take it over. The estate was then acquired by the Barlow family who leased the school site back it its management.

In 1908, under its second superintendent Mr A.W. Shaw, the institution dropped the word 'reformatory' from its name and became the Bradwall Training School. On April 11th, 1918, because of increasing demand for places, the Home Office instructed the School to open an annexe in the former Cheshire Agricultural and Horticultural College premises at Holmes Chapel. On October 21st, 1920, the School completely transferred its operations from the Sandbach site to Holmes Chapel and was renamed The Training School, Holmes Chapel (later known as Saltersford School).

The Sandbach property, later known as School Farm, is now in private residential use.


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  • Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, Cheshire Record Office, Duke Street, Chester, Cheshire CH1 1RL. Holdings include: Managers' minutes (1887-1922); School rules (19-20th centuries); Inspection reports (1889-1912); Various printed material (Sports programmes, reports, registers of Probation Officers, and a history of the school); Photographs.
  • The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. Holdings: Return of juvenile offenders committed (1919-32); Admissions register (1855-86, 1948-54); Discharge and licence register (1913-50).