Ancestry UK

Sunderland Girls' Industrial School, Sunderland, Durham

In August 7, 1867 the Sunderland Girls' Industrial School was certified to begin operating in the premises of a former female penitentiary on Borough Road, Sunderland. The building could could accommodate up to 60 girls, aged from 6 to 13 years. The matron, Miss Robertson, had previously been the schoolmistress at the Sunderland Girls' Reformatory. The girls were employed in needlework and in housework and washing.

In July, 1869, the establishment moved to larger premises at 17-18 Tatham Street, Sunderland, directly to the south of the Girls' Reformatory. (From around 1903, its address was given as 4-5 Tatham Street, due to a renumbering of the properties on the street.)

The School's location is shown on the 1897 map below.

Sunderland Girls' Industrial School site, c.1897.

Miss Robertson continued as matron until 1882 when she was succeeded by Miss Welch. Miss Welch held office until 1888 then handed over to Miss Ada Wilson. In 1891, Miss E.M. Smith became superintendent, having by then been schoolmistress for the previous twenty years. Miss Smith remained in charge until 1903 when she handed over to Miss King.

In the classroom, the subjects learned by the girls included mental arithmetic, recitation, geography and singing. As was the norm in such institutions, the girls were prepared for domestic service. In addition to carrying out the daily work of the household, and in the kitchen, scullery and laundry, the girls were all taught to knit and sew. In 1908, it was reported that cookery lessons had been provided at an outside centre. Eight of the girls had received lessons in "scientific dressmaking" and that the older ones had learned to use a sewing machine. In the same year, it was noted that the girls performed club and free exercises under the direction of a drill instructor.

The School was closed on November 25th, 1918. The premises no longer exist.


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