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Workhouses, industrial schools and remand homes


This guide gives advice on where to find records of workhouse schools and the education of children in the care of the Guardians of the Poor.

It also covers records of children sent to industrial schools, approved schools and remand homes.

Please note that some of these records contain sensitive or personal information about individuals and are not open to the general public. Where this is the case, it should be shown on the catalogue entry.

If you require access to closed records at the Norfolk Record Office (NRO), please contact us for further advice.

If you wish to view records which begin with the prefix ACC, please also contact us. Advance notice may be required to view these uncatalogued records.





          Poor Law and workhouse schools after 1834

          Historical background

          Guardians of the Poor could provide schools within, or attached to, the workhouse following the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834.

          Some were slow to provide schools at first. This changed however, as the link between poverty and a lack of education became clear.

          Children in the care of Guardians of the Poor could be sent out to local elementary schools from 1861. Provision for this increased under subsequent legislation.

          The Local Government Act of 1929 saw the provision of education for these children fully transferred to local education authorities (LEAs).

          Records of workhouse schools in Norfolk

          Workhouse schools do not usually have separate records.

          The records, particularly the minutes, of the Board of Guardians for the relevant Poor Law Union are the most likely place to find evidence of the schools.

          Please note however, that schools are not always mentioned in detail, if at all, in these records:

          • For records of the various Poor Law Unions in Norfolk, see list C/GP
          • For records of the Norwich Incorporation Guardians of the Poor, see lists N/GP and N/TC 3
          • For minutes of the Norwich Boys' Home and Workhouse School Committee (1847-55), see MS 4356
          • For a plan of the Norwich Workhouse School Room, undated, see N/EN 7/1831
          • For minutes of the Great Yarmouth Guardians of the Poor, see Y/WE 69-156

          Industrial schools

          Historical background

          The Industrial Schools Act 1857 empowered magistrates to send children who had committed an offence to an industrial school.

          At first it was usually children aged about seven to 15, who appeared before a magistrate for vagrancy.

          However, over time children were also sent to industrial schools for other offences. These were mostly:

          • Theft
          • Being beyond parental control or in need of care
          • Disruptive behaviour in, or absconding from, the workhouse

          Children whose parents neglected to send them to school, children found wandering or those thought to be at risk from keeping bad company, could also be sent to an industrial school under the Elementary Education Act 1876. 

          Very few industrial schools were government funded at their foundation and few records have survived.

          In Norfolk, boys were often sent to the Red House Industrial School at Buxton, but many children were sent to schools as far away as Manchester and Stockport.

          Boys from Norfolk were also sent to training ships, including HMS Formidable at Portishead, Bristol.

          There was an industrial school for girls at Fakenham, sometimes called the County Industrial School. This closed in May 1903 and children were transferred to other schools outside Norfolk.

          The managers did carry on with a laundry in Fakenham for a while to train girls as domestic servants.

          Registers of Norwich children attending industrial schools

          For Norwich, there are registers of children attending industrial schools by magistrates' orders (1872-1948): see N/ED 7/1-4.

          These registers usually provide the following information:

          • The child's name
          • Date of birth
          • The name and residence of their parents or guardians
          • The date of the magistrate's order and when it expired
          • Whether the order was served under one of the Industrial Schools Acts (later under one of the Children's Acts) or the Education Act 1876

          Sometimes there are observational notes on the child's progress at the school, brief details of employment on leaving, or notes on their conduct and character.

          Occasionally newspaper cuttings are included, usually about court cases or magistrates' orders.

          The registers are indexed by child's name at the front of each volume.

          Records of petty sessions

          For the late 19th and 20th centuries, there are also records of the courts of petty sessions.

          These were similar to magistrates' courts today, in that they dealt with minor offences committed by juveniles.

          • For records of Norwich Petty Sessions, see list PS 1
          • For records of the various courts of petty sessions in Norfolk, see lists PS 2-31

          For some, but not all these courts, there are separate registers of juvenile cases. Please note these records are closed to general public access for 100 years.

          It can be very time consuming to search through these records and it helps to know the date of the trial or magistrate's order.

          • For Norwich, you might be able to find this out by searching in the registers of children attending industrial schools by magistrates' orders (1872-1948), see N/ED 7/1-4. 
          • For boys placed in the Norwich Remand Home, 1929-40, the home's register sometimes gives dates of court cases: see N/ED 7/5.

          There are also two earlier registers for this home, for November 1932 to May 1937, which give dates of court cases.

          These are held by NRO but are not on the public catalogue. Please also note that these two registers are closed to general public access for 100 years.

          If you are tracing a criminal case relating to a young offender who was sent to prison, you could also try searching records of HM Prison and Young Offenders' Institution Norwich, see list HMP.

          For further information about prison records, see our guide to prisons and prisoners¬†in Norfolk.

          Records of Red House Farm Industrial School, Buxton

          The county magistrates agreed at a meeting in 1852 that an establishment should be formed for the care and training of 40 boys under the age of 20. 

          Land was obtained and buildings put up at Buxton. In 1894 a Home Office order confirmed Red House as an industrial school and in 1933 it was reclassified as an approved school.

          On 1 April 1973, under the Children's Act of 1969, The Red House Farm School ceased to be an approved school and became a controlled community home under supervision of Norfolk County Council. This was known as The Red House Community Home School.

          This closed on 31 July 1981 and Norfolk County Council's involvement ceased on 15 October 1981.

          The school's property then reverted to the foundation managers. An unsuccessful attempt was made to sell the property by private treaty in 1982.

          The property was put up for sale by auction in 17 lots on 17 June 1983 and the agricultural land and staff houses found buyers.

          The main complex was not sold until mid-1984 when it was purchased by the Faelleseje Private Foundation (better known as the Tvind School Cooperative of Denmark). For a copy of the trust deed, see C/SS 8/217/1.

          This body set up a school for what it termed "deprived and disturbed children and adolescents", known as The Small School at Red House.

          Local education authorities from all over the country sent pupils to the school.

          Tvind owned the Red House as a charity from 1984 to 1998, when the school was closed following investigations by the Charity Commission, education authority and police.

          The proceeds from the sale of the Red House School to Tvind had been invested by the Red House School Foundation Managers and, on 31 March 1992, the Red House School Charitable Trust was established.

          Its main objective was to further the education and training of any child or young person who had been in the care, or under the supervision, of the county council or any other child or young person in need. 

          • For a copy of the trust deed, see C/SS 8/216. 
          • For a history of the school see Derrick Mellor, A History of the Red House Farm School, Buxton near Norwich, a copy of which is at NRO; see C/SS 8/209.
          • For records of the Red House Farm School at Buxton (1853-1992); see C/SS 8. Please note that many of these records are closed to general public access.
          • There are also some conveyances of land, 1848 and 1883, relating to the school; see MC 366/1-3.
          • There are later records relating to the Small School at Red House, run by Tvind, reference ACC 2007/91, which are uncatalogued. Please note that many of these records are closed to general public access.

          Remand homes

          There were also a number of remand homes in Norfolk and Norwich.

          Children could be placed in temporary custody at these homes before their court hearing or, in some cases, after they were given a magistrates' order.

          For example, they may have been placed in the remand home while they were awaiting a suitable place at an industrial school or reformatory.

          Many remand homes were established around the time of the Children's Act 1932.

          Norwich Remand Home for boys (later Bramerton Lodge Remand Home)

          The Norwich Remand Home for boys was situated at 141 Earlham Road, Norwich until 1940, when it moved to Bramerton, just outside the city. 

          Bramerton Lodge was used jointly by the Norwich, Yarmouth, Norfolk and East Suffolk authorities.

          At the time of transfer girls were still accommodated at St Augustine's Lodge, but in 1943, a site adjacent to the boys' remand home at Bramerton was purchased and approved by the Home Office.

          It was sometimes referred to as Red House, Bramerton.

          There are a variety of documents concerning the Bramerton remand homes: 

          • For a register of the Norwich Remand Home for boys, 141 Earlham Road, 1929-40, see N/ED 7/5. The register gives: 
            • The child's name
            • Name of parent or guardian and home address
            • Details of court appearances
            • Note of the offence committed
            • Records of subsequent transfer to an industrial school or reformatory
            • Sometimes there are brief notes about the child's conduct or character and for some entries, there are copies of newspaper articles, usually reporting the court case or issue of a magistrate's order
          • A register of boys and girls sent to the Norwich Remand Home, November 1932 to November 1936 and December 1936 to May 1937, is held by NRO but currently not on the public catalogue. The registers (closed to general public access for 100 years) record: 
            • The child's name
            • Name of parent/guardian
            • Admission date
            • When, where and by whom ordered to be detained
            • Charge
            • Order of detention
            • Child's previous character
            • Details of parents including their address, occupation, religion and character
            • A physical description of the child including height, build, complexion, hair colour, eye colour and distinguishing features
            • An assessment of the child's general health and level of education
            • Where sent on leaving detention and observations on conduct and character in detention.
            • For some entries, there are copies of newspaper articles, usually reporting the court case or issue of a magistrate's order, and correspondence between magistrates, Norwich Remand Home and the Norfolk education committee.
          • Receipts of the Norwich Remand Home and Norfolk education committee concerning the conveyance of named children to various homes and approved schools, May 1936 to June 1937. These are held by NRO but are not on the public catalogue.
          • For minutes of the remand home sub-committee, 1941-72, known as the Bramerton Lodge Remand Home sub-committee from March 1958, see C/C 10/515-519. For indexes to these minutes, 1951-72, see C/C 10/520-521.
          • Norfolk education committee minutes concerning the Bramerton Lodge Remand Home for boys, 1940-51 and Bramerton Lodge Girls' Remand Home, 1943-49, are held by NRO but are not currently available via the public catalogue.
          • For county architect's plans of Bramerton Lodge, 1943-52, see C/AR 1/330-361 and for copies of architectural drawings, 1964-75, see C/AR 3/1. For the proposed plan of the Girl's Remand Home, September 1943, see C/AR 1/342-343.
          • For an admission register of boys and girls, November 1972 to February 1986, see ACC 2009/270. Please note that this register is closed to general public access for 50 years.
          • For sale particulars, with a photograph and plan, for Bramerton Lodge, Norwich, 1987, see C/C 17/241.  It is described as a former juvenile remand home set in more than seven acres of mature wooded grounds with five bungalows.

          Gorleston Remand Home

          Records of Gorleston Remand Home, which took in boys and girls, include the following:

          • For an admission register, 1934-40, see Y/ED 327. This gives the child's name, age, date and time of admission and discharge. It includes dates of court appearances and where they were sent on leaving the home, including names of approved schools.
          • For case report books, c1934-40, see Y/ED 325-326. These give the child's name, offence, notes on behaviour and character and where they were sent on discharge, including names of approved schools. Dates of court appearances are given for some cases.
          • For expenses accounts, 1934-39, see Y/ED 328. These give the child's name, dates and brief details of expenses, including the cost of their stay at the remand home and for attending court.

          Bibliography and further information

          • S J Curtis and M E A Boultwood, An Introductory History of Education Since 1800 (University Tutorial Press, 1966)

          • Derrick Mellor, A History of the Red House Farm School, Buxton near Norwich (1976) - a copy is available, reference C/SS 8/209

          • A Morton, Education and the State from 1833 (Public Record Office, 1997)

          • W B Stephens, Education in Britain, 1750-1914 (Macmillan, 1998) - available through Norfolk Library Service