Ancestry UK

Sunderland Boys' Industrial and Ragged School, Sunderland, Durham

The Sunderland Industrial and Ragged School was established in around 1850 and by November, 1851, had 60 children in residence at its premises on Silver Street, Sunderland.

On April 22nd, 1856, the School was certified as a Reformatory to accommodate children sentenced by the courts to a period of detention. Initially, at least, the establishment was unusual in having a mixed intake, with 15 places allocate for boys and 6 for girls. However, this was viewed as a temporary measure, with plans being made for a separate Reformatory for girls which was subsequently opened on Tatham Street, Sunderland, in 1860. In 1857, arrangements were made with the North-Eastern Reformatory for Boys at Netherton to take those boys over the age of 11 who had been committed by the courts. Children at Silver Street were taught sack-making and also to make and mend their own clothes.

On June 6th, 1865 the School gave up its Reformatory School status and instead became a Certified Industrial School, accommodating up to 100 boys who were deemed to be in physical or moral danger rather than those convicted of an offence.

The location of the home is shown on the 1859 map below.

Sunderland Boys' Industrial and Ragged School site, Silver Street, c.1859.

In 1885, it was recorded that the School was "in a very low part of the town, and surrounded by a very poor class of houses." The industrial training at this date was chiefly wood-chopping. Some of the boys learned tailoring, and some shoemaking. All the boys' clothing and shoes were made within the School. The installation of two lathes had led to four boys learning to turn wood, with two others employed in a blacksmith's shop. The School had its own brass band.

In 1906, the School established an Auxiliary Home on Thomas Street, Sunderland. The Home, which could accommodate 20 boys, provided a halfway house for those leaving the School and beginning an independent adult life.

In 1912, the School moved to new premises at Prospect House, Prospect Row, Sunderland, where 100 boys could be accommodated. During the move, the Thomas Street home was used to provide temporary dormitory space for the School.

The location of the home is shown on the 1919 map below.

Sunderland Boys' Industrial and Ragged School site, Prospect Row, c.1919.

The School was closed in June, 1924. The premises were subsequently taken over by the Sunderland Education Committee for use as a special school for "mentally defective" children.


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  • Tyne and Wear Archives, Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4JA. Has Admission Registers (1901-1920) and Discharge Registers (1906-24).


  • None noted at present.