Trewint Industrial Home for Girls, London and Kent
The Trewint (or Tre-Wint) Industrial Home for Girls was established in 1850. By 1861, it occupied premises at 201 Mare Street, Hackney. On June 18th, 1858, the Home was certified as an Industrial School, allowing to receive girls sentenced by magistrates to a period of confinement. The management of the Home resigned its certificate in 1862.
An account of the Home in 1871 revealed the source of its unusual name:
About twenty years ago a true philanthropist, residing in Wales, directed his attention to tho rescue of young girls who were either under the influence of evil parental example, or who themselves were unmanageable by parental control, and mainly through this gentleman's exertions and benevolence this Industrial Home in Hackney was founded; the name Tre-Wint being that of the estate in Wales which this friend of the falling lived.
The girls are received between the ages of fifteen and twenty-three years, but they must neither have been convicted of crime nor have belonged to that class which nightly infest and disgrace our streets. A small weekly payment is expected with each, but the receipts from this source fall far short of meeting the general expenses of the Institution.
They are all trained by a firm, but mild discipline to habits of industry, and every branch of household management to qualify them for thorough domestic servants, or to fulfil the home duties of life in that station from which they were originally taken. They are taught needlework, plain cooking, including the making of bread, general household work, washing, with all the various duties connected with laundry operations, reading, writing, and arithmetic.
The washing and needlework of private families are taken in and constitute considerable source of income, but without the help of a numerous list of donors and subscribers, the good work of reclamation from vice in this Industrial Home would cease.
The girls generally remain about a year, but some continue for a longer period, when they either return to their friends, or enter situations provided for them, where their conduct is carefully watched for considerable time. If the girl retain her situation for twelve months she is rewarded by the Committee of ladies who superintend the Home, and it is highly gratifying to learn that the majority of the girls ultimately do well.
The Institution is unsectarian in its character, so much so indeed that the girls are taken to Church on the Sunday morning, and to Chapel in the evening, while in the afternoon there is a Bible class at Tre-Wint House.
In passing through the various rooms appropriated to needlework, cooking, washing, ironing, &c., there was evident order, completeness, and cleanliness; and the girls had a quiet subdued behaviour, yet withal they appeared to be cheerful and happy in the pursuit of their earnest toil. The strictest obedience to the rules of the Home and the commands of the Matron and superintendents is enforced, and default in compliance therewith is punishable by dismissal; but this later expedient is rarely resorted to, for from the mildness of the discipline, and the Christian spirit with which it is administered, the "better nature of the woman" is called into exercise in the girl, and with the examples constantly before her of the improved habits of life of her companions, the novice at the Home speedily settles down into habits that fit her ultimately to become a good and useful member of society.
By 1884, the Home had moved to Philip Lane, Tottenham. The premises could accommodate up to 35 girls, aged from 14 to 17 years at their date of admission. Its intake was said to consist of 'servants and others, without character, and on the brink of ruin, but not from prison'. A payment was requested of 3s.6d. per week, and an outfit of clothing.
On 23rd February, 1889, the Home — now located at 190 Haverstock Hill, Hampstead — was accredited as a Certified School. It could now take girls boarded out by the workhouse authorities. At around this date, its object was stated as being to provide a home and industrial training for girls, 14 years of age and upwards, who 'are naughty, tiresome, and unmanageable by their friends, and who are unable to keep small situations in which they have been placed, from having committed petty theft, proved themselves deceitful, or untrustworthy, untaught concerning the household duties they ought to be able to fulfil, or who are in danger from bad companions.' Prison and penitentiary cases were strictly excluded. A payment of 3s. 6d. a week — quarterly in advance — was required from parents or patrons of girls under 17 years, or 4s. a week for those under 14 or above 17, with suitable clothing also to be provided. Applicants were required to produce a certificate of health. The girls were taught needlework, reading, writing, and the rudiments of arithmetic. They were also occupied in laundry-work and in cleaning the house. Those admitted were expected to remain for at least one year. Suitable situations were found for them when they left. The home could accommodate around 40 girls.
In October, 1892, a mysterious fire occurred at the Home. A bed was discovered to be in flames in a room on the second floor of the building. The cause eventually attributed to the sun's rays shining through a full water bottle in the room which had then been focused on a mackintosh hanging on the wall. The heat generated had been sufficient to set fire to the garment, pieces of which then fell onto the bed beneath it.
By 1912, the Home had moved to Wansunt Road, Coldblow, near Bexley, Kent. The premises could accommodate up to 43 girls 'in difficulty or danger', aged from 14 to 17 years at their date of admission. Their main occupations continued to be laundry work, needlework and bread-making.
In July 1915, the Home was taken over by the Church Army. The establishment was still in operation in 1939.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- The bulk of the Church Army's archives have been deposited in the Bible Society Library, housed at Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. The material does not include minute books or admission records, however.
- Lynch, Donald Chariots of the Gospel. The Centenary History of the Church Army (1982, H.E. Walter)
- Rowan, Edage Wilson Carlile and the Church Army (1905, The Church Army)
- Carpenter, Mary Reformatory Schools, for the Children of the Perishing and Dangerous Classes, and for Juvenile Offenders (1851, General Books; various reprints available)
- Carlebach, Julius Caring for Children in Trouble (1970, Routledge & Kegan Paul)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain's Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Abel Smith, Doroth Crouchfield: A History of the Herts Training School 1857-1982 (2008, Able Publishing)
- Garnett, Emmeline Juvenile offenders in Victorian Lancashire: W J Garnnett and the Bleasdale Reformatory (2008, Regional Heritage Centre, Lancaster University)
- Hicks, J.D. The Yorkshire Catholic Reformatory, Market Weighton (1996, East Yorkshire Local History Society)
- Slocombe, Ivor Wiltshire Reformatory for Boys, Warminster, 1856-1924 (2005, Hobnob Press)
- Duckworth, J.S. The Hardwicke Reformatory School, Gloucestershire (in Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1995, Vol. 113, 151-165)
- The Church Army, Wilson Carlile Centre, 50 Cavendish Street, Sheffield S3 7RZ.
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.