Ancestry UK

Ardale School for Boys, Grays, Essex

In 1901, the Stepney Board of Guardians erected a cottage homes development for its pauper children at Stifford, near Grays, Essex. In 1930, the establishment was taken over by the London County Council and in June, 1935, was certified for use a boys' Approved School, adopting the name Ardale School. The headmaster in 1936 was Mr John Atkinson.

The School provided accommodation for up to 140 Senior Boys, aged between their 15th and 17th birthdays at their date of admission. Training was provided for the boys in woodwork, metalwork, poultry farming, gardening and horticulture.

The site prior to its conversion to an Approved School is shown on the 1920 map below.

Ardale School site, Grays, c.1920.

By 1965, management of the School had passed to Essex County Council. The capacity of the premises was now 133 places, and the headmaster was Mr G.H.B. Shaw.

In 1973, the School became a Community Home with Education (CHE), now under the control of Newham London Borough Council.

The site has now been converted to private residential use, with most of the original buildings demolished. However, the water tower and two of the 'cottages' survive.

Former Ardale School for Boys, Grays, 2005. © Peter Higginbotham

Former Ardale School for Boys, Grays, 2005. © Peter Higginbotham


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  • Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
  • Hyland,Jim Yesterday's Answers: Yesterday's Answers: Development and Decline of Schools for Young Offenders (1993, Whiting and Birch)
  • Millham, S, Bullock, R, and Cherrett, P After Grace — Teeth: a comparative study of the residential experience of boys in Approved Schools (1975, Chaucer Publishing)