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Presenting Monmouthshire No.29, Spring 1970
Law History In Monmouthshire Since 1834
The Caerleon Industrial School
by D. B. Hughes, M.A. (Wales)
Caerleon Net Editor's Note: This is the final part of a dissertation by Mr D.B. Hughes, Principal Lecturer in History at Caerleon College of Education, on the education of pauper children in Monmouthshire 1834 until 1929. Chapter III, here, deals with the provision made by the Newport Union - a separate school in Caerleon away from the Stow Hill workhouse. Chapter I outlines help given to the poor in the early 1800s and explores the formation of the six unions in Monmouthshire - Abergavenny, Bedwellty, Chepstow, Monmouth, Newport and Pontypool. Chapter II deals with the workhouse schools (other than the Caerleon Industrial School).
"The reports which we have received from the inspectors of schools give, on the whole, a favourable account of the state and progress of education and the efficiency of the schools, particularly of the district and separate schools "
THE second method by which Guardians sought to remove the "entail of pauperism" was the district school. It had been strongly advocated by Phillips Kay in 1838. "A combination of Unions for the support of children who have lost their natural guardians would enable the Boards to provide the most efficient school masters and school mistresses and at the same time reduce their annual expenditure". (1) The erection of such district schools was made possible by subsequent legislation, the 7 and 8 Victoria c. 101 Section 40, 1844.
The Newport Guardians were obliged to consider the erection of a separate industrial school in 1856 because of congestion in the Stow Hill workhouse and of certain pressure from the Poor Law Board. (2) A committee of Guardians worked throughout 1857 to purchase and arrange alterations to certain premises in Caerleon. In 1858 (September) another committee had agreed that the first staff should consist of a superintendent, matron, female industrial trainer, farmer, bailiff and porter. Their annual salaries were to be £50, £30, £15, £8, £25 and £15 respectively. The superintendent and matron discharged the duties of schoolmaster and schoolmistress for the time being. The Inspector of schools assisted with the appointments. (3)
None of the staff of the Stow Hill workhouse moved to the new Caerleon Industrial School. A Mr. and Mrs. Roach were appointed superintendent and matron in March 1859 but by September of the same year they had taken their leave for the Quatt Industrial School, Bridgenorth. From a short list of six applicants a Mr. Cameron and Miss Hawkes were then appointed, "it being understood that they would enter upon their duties as married people". Neither did the Dutfields (bailiff and female industrial trainer) remain, their places being taken by a man Taylor and Sarah Rosser in April 1860; the last named left in October of the same year, a dairy maid being appointed in her place. The children had entered the school in June 1859, numbering 78 in May 1860 and 87 by the December. (4)
From 1859 until September 1902 when all the pauper children had left, the Caerleon Industrial School had somewhat self-contained history, being connected only administratively with the Board of Guardians by a committee - the Caerleon Schools Committee - consisting of 18 members and meeting fortnightly, (5) and being affected by fluctuations in the number of adult paupers in the old workhouse only to the extent that their offspring, having been transferred to Caerleon, necessitated progressive alterations and extensions to accommodation. The actual tenor of life was unaffected by the social and economic development of the growing town of Newport.
But even though removed from Newport, the school had to contend with its own peculiar problems. One of these was the increase in school population. In 1861 (March) the school population was 84. (6) There was a rise to a peak of 180 in February 1869 and by October 1878 the numbers had fallen back to 173. (7) The School Committee in that year made special mention of the increase "The present schools at Caerleon are totally inadequate . . . the present accommodation being for 118 whereas there are 173 now resident". The committee proposed extensions for 200 children. The Board of Guardians at first objected to the expenditure of £4,000 which the extensions entailed; but pressure from the Schools Committee, which argued that it "will be eventually necessary and should be adopted", obliged the Board of Guardians to accept, the estimate being by then £4,600. (8)
In 1882 (January) the infants school mistress and her charges moved from the Newport workhouse to Caerleon (9) so that by the October the total school population was 193, class I consisting of 99 boys above 7 years, class II of 90 girls above 7 years and 24 children under 7 years in class III. (10)
Building development continued. A house was prepared for the master of the school and his family in 1886; this was separate from the main body of the school and housed the entire Harding family - Mr. and Mrs. Harding, Edith and Gilbert - until 1898 when they moved into the main building. The property thus left vacant was then used as receiving wards. (11)
The idea of receiving wards in which newcomers should spend a probationary period before passing to the main building was not a new one. It was a method of protecting the school from the spread of infectious disease, as well as affording an opportunity of interviewing the newcomers. The danger of infectious ophthalmia had already prompted the Kensington Committee to set up a probationary ward which in time became an intermediate school at Hammersmith, holding about 135 school children in quarantine before they entered the District School at Banstead. (12)
In 1892, the Caerleon School Committee purchased a property, the "Red House" for use as a receiving ward. It was in fact converted into a bakery and shoemaker's shop and two cottages in Cecil Terrace, Caerleon, were rented instead for use as receiving wards. Their intake was regulated by a Receiving Wards Committee which met in the Board Room in Newport Town Hall. (13)
The cases they examined were pitiful. Certain children in March 1898 were described as having their "mother in house. Father absconded - described as a wreck of a man with left leg off at the knee and collar bone out of order. Previous history: These children with their mother seem to have been wandering about to all the tramps wards and houses in the neighbourhood. To remain in the receiving wards for the present". Another case, worse still, was that of "John Jones, a native of Mardy, described as being on the road, was sentenced to six months hard labour at Abercarn Police Court for wilfully exposing his five-year-old girl, whom he was found dragging along in a most pitiable condition at Cwmcarn. Both her feet were ulcerated and she was in a low condition and suffered from terror. The child told the police that she and her father had been sleeping in a coke oven". (14) The necessary investigation of admissions such as these was conducted in the Superintendent's residence vacated by the Hardings in February 1898.
The whole building closed its doors in September 1902. (15) The Harding family continued to occupy the Superintendent's house until February 1903. Efforts were made to auction the whole building, but the Guardians could proceed no further than discussing its use as a supplementary workhouse in times of congestion, and renting the whole ground floor to the governors of the Williams Endowed School from 1905 (June) to 1907 (June 15th), at a rental of 30/-d. per week. (16)
Negotiations for a sale of the premises were opened with the Monmouthshire Education Committee in 1906; an offer of £3,000 was made on condition that the seventy-two years of unexpired lease could be extended to 99 years. But the negotiations ceased when, in December 1908, the County Council informed the Board of Guardians that the Board of Education would not sanction the use of the buildings as a Teacher Training College. (17)
In September 1914 it was thought that the still empty building might be used for housing war wounded soldiers or even new recruits, but it was in fact used as an infirmary for the sick of Newport and other unions within the county. (18) By 1920 the patients had returned to their respective unions and the Caerleon Industrial School was not opened again for financial reasons. (19) And so it remained until the 1929 Act which replaced the Boards of Guardians by the Public Assistance Committee of the County Council.
The building, by the end of the period under review, consisted of a main block of administrative rooms, stores and one ward on each of three floors; this adjoined the street. Other parts of the property consisted of a laundry building, an isolation block and a gardener's cottage. Within the main block there were four boys' bedrooms, a day room, a yard and a boys' school room. The girls' accommodation consisted equally of four bedrooms, a day room and a school room. A gymnasium was shared and there was also an infant block. (20)
The boys' schoolroom, in addition to other equipment, enjoyed the luxury of six maps and one globe "to show day and night". The girls' school room included a "museum cupboard". The master's room contained a collection of worn out sports equipment; cricket bats, balls, footballs, and one punching ball. The gymnasium had been fitted out with parallel bars, horizontal bars, ropes, rings and ladders. The band room contained an interesting assortment of cornets, trombones, triangles, and a big drum. (21) The musical reputation of the school in Caerleon and in Newport itself was always high. The general ethos of the school throughout its history, however, varied considerably, dependent to a large extent upon the attitude of successive superintendents and staff.
There were three married couples who served as masters and matrons and two single men as masters after the Roaches left for Quatt, viz Mr. and Mrs. Cameron 1859 to 1865, Mr. Bone and Mrs. Cameron 1865 to 1870, Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Cameron 1870 to 1872, Mr. And Mrs. Connor 1872 to 1880, Mr. and Mrs. Harding 1880 to 1902.
The school during the Camerons' time appeared praiseworthy to the Inspectors and to various visitors, in spite of the fact that the increase in numbers from 75 to 123 over their period did not, in the Guardians' view, warrant extra staff. The Poor Law Inspector, Graves, reported on two occasions that he "was generally satisfied with what he saw". Members of the Chepstow Board of Guardians who visited in 1861 and 1863 were "highly pleased". Ruddock, an inspector of the Department of Education was satisfied in 1862 with the balance between teaching and industrial work. The Caerleon Schools Committee endorsed these views. In October 1862 they examined the children in reading, writing, arithmetic and singing, and in September 1863 expressed pleasure with "the manner in which the boys went through their drill". Boards of Guardians and Inspectors alike sensed a loss on the death of Cameron in 1865, Browne the Education Inspector writing, "that it must have required no ordinary effort to prevent the school from declining after the loss of Mr. Cameron to whose qualifications as a teacher I can speak from long experience". (22)
The years of Bone his successor were not happy ones. Relations with Mrs. Cameron, who remained as matron, with the bailiff, and with the laundress were strained. (23) Bone's book-keeping was sometimes at fault. There was an enquiry into excessive flogging though nothing conclusive was proved. Physical ailments were common ring worm spread in 1869 and the "itch" was prevalent in September 1870. The yards in 1870 were reported not as clean as they ought to be and the sick ward was too small. Bone left in September 1870 not waiting for the arrival of the new master. He had obviously found the increased numbers unmanageable (123 in October 1865 and 180 in February 1869), and Inspector Browne, reporting in the July before he left, wrote. "I cannot say that the school is equal to what it was under Mr. Cameron". (24)
The school was obviously passing through a period of indiscipline. The Poor Law Inspector, Longe, recommended more frequent visiting by the Visiting Committee and the latter "ordered that for extreme insolence to the master, matron, school master, or industrial trainer in the presence of the children, that the cane be used upon the open hand by the industrial trainer in the presence of the matron or by the matron herself". The Education Inspector, Browne, reported in 1871 "The children in the junior school passed a creditable exam but I cannot say that the state of the elder children is satisfactory, more especially with regard to the girls. Several read badly, would not speak, and have a sullen insubordinate look which would naturally deter many persons from employing them as servants". (25) Both boys and girls absconded and it was recommended that glass should be put on the top of the wall to deter further attempted escapes. (26) This was during Bennett's time and when the Poor Law Inspector, Doyle, visited in 1872 he declined to report until after a further visit "It would probably be doing an injustice to the general management of the house if I were to assume that it is usually in no better order than I found it today". (27)
The Conors effected improvement. They claimed in the April of 1872 "We have so far found the children much more docile than we were led to expect though not so tidy or orderly". A number of magazines for boys were suggested: Children's Companion, Winning Words, Good Words for the Young and others. A musical tradition grew, musical instruments for sale in the village were snapped up and the school was pleased with a silver cornet presented by Inspector Bircham. (28) It was reported in the Visitor's Book 1874 that "the excellent quality of the music reflects a great deal upon the master, Mr. Connor". (29)
A Miss Dawkins was appointed as industrial trainer in 1874, her proposed marriage to the existing assistant school master, Harding, in no way prejudicing her appointment (30); she became school mistress in the August of 1878. (31) In spite of the intermittent illness of Mrs. Connor, progress continued and the Education Inspector, Clutterbuck, reported in 1878 "Undue prominence is not given to the merely bookish side of education, but the body and mind are both adequately developed. I found the physical training on the most approved principles now forms a regular part of the school curriculum". The simple exercises he thought suitable for girls. (32) Fuller details were given by Clutterbuck in a report to the Local Government Board: Vocal music was taught and "the children can sing several concerted pieces from Mendelssohn and others". There were 24 boys in the regular band who could "play moderately difficult music at sight besides a number of learners coming in". Needlework was taught and all the girls' clothing as well as the boys' shirts were made on the premises. Physical training was taught and "the boys have won every game of football they have played and have won several cricket matches". Gardening on some 14 acres of land was carried out under the supervision of a bailiff, and eight girls could milk and churn. (33)
Clutterbuck wrote in the Visitors' Book 1877 that though the school has suffered from illness "no efforts have been wanting on the part of the officers to make themselves as efficient as circumstances permitted". (34) Mrs. Connor had been ill continuously and died in 1878; her death prompted Connor to an unsuccessful application for a post elsewhere. Harding the school master contracted diphtheria in February 1879 during which time Mrs. Harding was also isolated; the children spent only a short time in the school daily and all drinking water was carried to Caerleon from town pumps. (35)
During this time the education of the children in the school largely satisfied the Inspectors of the Council on Education. Clutterbuck examined the school in 1878 (October). 141 children were tested individually in reading, writing and arithmetic. They were also examined collectively in general intelligence, mental arithmetic, substance of reading, spelling, meaning of words, and political and physical geography. The 141 children were divided into three classes. Class I consisted of 29 boys and 33 girls whose ages ranged from 7 to 14 and from 8 to 16 respectively. Their arithmetic was strongest, their writing satisfactory, their reading weakest. Class II consisted of 8 boys and 7 girls whose ages ranged from 10 to 13 and from 8 to 13 respectively; a similar result in the basic subjects was recorded here. Class III contained 28 boys and 26 girls all of whose ages ranged from 10 to 13. "The discipline" Clutterbuck concluded, "continues to be of a very high character which fact, having regard to the large number of children now in school, speaks columns as to the efficiency of the teachers". (36)
The personal conduct of Connor, however, left much to be desired. A charge of indecent behaviour towards the older girls was brought against him, the matter having been first raised by a priest at Hereford. (37) Connor denied the charge but the matter was reported to the Local Government Board. Connor resigned, his last act being to leave a letter of farewell to the children which the committee directed the next Superintendent, Harding, to read to them. (38)
So began the Harding régime which lasted until September 1902 when the last of the Caerleon inmates were moved into alternative accommodation and other education provision arranged. The numbers in October 1882 were 213, Standard I,II and III containing 99, 90 and 24 children respectively. The school population between this date and 1895 fluctuated between 180 and 219. (39) A fall in numbers began in 1896-7; by 1901 (August) the numbers had fallen to 104 and from this time until September 1902 the population dwindled as the children moved to other institutions and other education facilities. (40)
The staff at the beginning of Harding's service as master consisted of the Harding couple themselves, Cuthbert the schoolmaster, Miss Wylie the school mistress, Miriam Griffiths the laundress, and Ann Crockett, a nurse. This staff was added to by the transfer of the infants teacher from the Stow Hill workhouse in 1882. A Charles Axtell replaced Cuthbert as school master in 1883, later marrying Miss Wylie in February 1893, the approval of the Board of Guardians then being given for this joint appointment. These family arrangements produced a certain stability, for the Hardings and the Axtells remained in the school until its closure, and in time the Harding children, Edith and Gilbert, were responsible for certain duties in the school (Gilbert Harding was appointed as office assistant in June 1893). (41)
There was quite naturally a considerable pressure on this staff. Clutterbuck the Education Inspector, referred in 1886 "to the necessity of assistance in the boys' department", arguing that "it is quite impossible for Mr. Axtell to do justice to 91 boys single handed". No additional appointment was in fact made and by 1892 a subcommittee was forced to consider the pressure of numbers on the staff, the numbers in that year being 205. The infants mistress resigned, the sub-committee sympathising and "of opinion that the hours are preposterously long while the greater part of the time is occupied in duties wholly unconnected with teaching". The long awaited second school master, a J. E. Williams, was appointed in 1895 but remained only until October of the next year, a contraction of numbers having necessitated a re-grouping of children together with his resignation. Mr. Kirk, the then infants teacher who left at the same time was, replaced by Edith Harding for a trial period of six months in the first instance, and then made permanent in 1897. (42) By 1902 some affection both for the school and its staff had obviously grown, as is indicated by letters of ex pupils. One former inmate writing from Brecon Barracks said "Dear Sir, I am forwarding ten shillings towards the subscription raised for Nurse Crockett from the boys of the school who are here . . . Give my best respects to Mrs. Harding and family, Mr. and Mrs. Axtell and all the other officers". Another ex pupil writing from London said "I am awfully sorry to hear about the school. My greatest wish is to come and see you all before you go". And a Herbert Leaver sending 2/6d. contribution for a presentation to Nurse Crockett from the Rectory, Coedkernew declared, "I quite agree with what you say, Nurse Crockett has always welcomed the old scholars I hope you will exquise my pure writing". (43)
The attachment to the school which had developed amongst a considerable number of children was equalled, perhaps, by the effect which the school made upon a succession of visitors. A Local Government Board inspector, re-visiting the school after several years wrote "The change I find is very great and in every way advantageous to the children in health and education and training". E. W. Kenna, a missionary in Bengal, who visited in 1887 (October) after having experienced other schools wrote "The children, their antecedents especially considered, seem remarkably healthy and happy". When a manager of an Industrial School in Upton County Cork visited Caerleon in 1892 (September) he said "As a Manager of an Industrial School in Ireland for many years I can state without any hesitation that this is one of the best conducted schools of the kind that I have visited". (44)
were other types of visitor. Relations, together with a handful of lodgers
are recorded as having visited children. In 1897 a considerable number
of old boys and girls, then in service, attended the Christmas festivities
and attended again on the following Easter Monday. Throughout 1899 there
were other spasmodic visitors. (45)
Yet there was a growing humanity and a certain camaraderie. The chaplain wrote in 1884 (December) "Boys looking well and enjoying their football in which the superintendent joined them with great ardour". (47) The master thought fit to comment on the sporting prowess of the school in his annual report of 1897, when it was recorded that of six cricket matches played that year, four had been won and two lost; the school was also a member of the Newport Schools Football League. (48)
But it was the school band which enjoyed the most striking success. The music teaching encouraged by Connor continued under Harding, the latter's salary being increased in 1885 on account of the extra tuition given by him in drill to the band. He was also given permission to hold a concert in support of the band funds. (49) The services of the band were in much demand locally, in 1880 the Caerleon Cricket and Football Club requested the presence of the band at their annual sports. (50) A similar request came in 1887 from the organizers of the Caerleon Flower Show, and in 1888 the band proudly accompanied the demonstration of the Sunday Schools Union in Newport on the Whitsun Monday. (51) The band performances were not the only means whereby a section of the school was enabled to visit the outer world. In Connor's time the children had been allowed to "attend a diorama at Newport". There had been a trip to Caldicot Castle and the children had enjoyed various other acts of kindness. (52) But it was during Harding's time especially that a public awareness of the school and its work grew. The Bedwellty Guardians interested themselves in the school and visited it in May 1884, and in June of the same year the Mayor of Newport, accompanied by Captain Thurston and Lieutenant Jones of the 3rd Welsh Regiment, heard the band. Their opinion was that "The boys' band is one of the best I have heard for a very long time and they are a credit to the Guardians". (53)
Comments from Education Inspector Mozley in 1897, on the results of teaching, were less effusive, but contained no major criticisms. He found the written work invariably neat, reading above the average, and a story well reproduced. He questioned in scripture and geography and listened to recitations. The singing was well taught and the needlework and industrial training were satisfactory. (54) There was fairly close attention given by the staff to the progress of children in class, as is evidenced by the Register of School Examination Results, which is essentially a monthly check on the classroom work of the six standards in the school. (55)
The industrial training given to the children had begun with the first staff. By 1893 certain other developments were taking place. Ten of the older girls were allowed to attend a course of cookery demonstrations given by the Monmouthshire County Council at the Drill Hall, and a class of boys in June of the same year was placed in the charge of a Mr. Grant for instruction in "fruit tree culture". The gardens had become so productive that in 1897, fruit and vegetables were shown in the Newport Flower Show. Shoemaking and bakery work were also included in the programme after the Guardians had been impressed by the value of those trades during a visit to the Ely schools of the Cardiff union in May 1895. (56) This sort of education and industrial training was intended to rescue the children from pauperdom and fit them to lead useful lives in later life. They entered a number of occupations. Employment in the service of families appeared the most frequent. Two boys, for example, entered the service of Lord Hereford in 1869. Clutterbuck, the Education Inspector, received a girl, Fanny Evans, aged 14, into his service. (57) Such children received a weekly payment for their duties. For example, a boy Stevens in service at Undy received l/6d. per week, and another boy Trace, in service at Llantarnam received 2/-d. per week. The system of hiring became regularized for, from 1878 onwards, every six months, a list of children ready for service was prepared. In order to maintain supervision over these children, the School Committee resolved that those people who had employed the children should present them to the committee one month after their engagement. A closer supervision over such children was made possible by a resolution of the Guardians in 1884 that the children should be sent to service only within the Newport union. (58) A Register of Young Persons was kept as a means of checking on their progress. Among the earliest entries is that of a "William Callaghan 16 years. Hired in May to Mr. Taylor of Newport. Left to work in the colliery and then went to sea". There was also "Jane Walker 14, hired on 20 July 1866, sent to service by the Chepstow Board. Believed to be doing well". Between May 1865 and November 1868 33 children are recorded as being "hired out" to a variety of people - clergymen, tailors, farmers, watchmakers and dressmakers. Of these 25 were believed to be "doing well"; the others were not heard of. (59) It is certain that such supervision continued for in 1893 the Superintendent was instructed to keep the Guardians informed "of the address to which the child is sent with a view to a better supervision of the children after they have left the school". (60)
Service in army bands also attracted certain of the boys. (61) A Captain Mansell in March 1883 sent an enquiry to the Guardians with regard to the enlistment of boys in army bands, and in May, William Ludlow proceeded on a pass to join the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, then stationed in Dublin. The boy returned to spend his leave at the school in the December. (62) Re-visiting the school appears a habit, for three years earlier Arthur Thomas, a bugler in the 13th Regiment, had paid a visit to the school, spending a week there before his departure for India. (63) Enlistment in army bands continued, Matthew Matthews joining the band of the Welsh Division Royal Artillery in 1888, a Henry Aplin in the following November. Two more boys enlisted in the South Wales Borderers in the February and May of 1890, and a William Meacham joined the Royal Artillery in Cork in the following year. Enlistments in the Royal Navy were fewer; there are only three recorded enlistments in the Caerleon Schools Committee Book: in February 27th 1891 when William Griffiths joined, in October 1897 when Morris Kennard joined, and in January 1900 when David Llewellyn also enlisted. (64)
Whatever its history and however successful its rescue operation, it was the future of the school which was debated from November 1897 onwards. Various sub-committees argued in favour of retaining the school rather than boarding the children in certified homes. (65) But by 1900 the attitude of the Caerleon Schools Committee had changed and, from this time until September 1902, the matter which completely occupied the committee's attention was the closure of the school and the provision of alternative education for its children. (66)
The defects of the district and separate schools had been pointed out by Mrs. Nassau Senior in 1873. It was the impersonal nature of the schools which drew her criticism, and she wrote "The enquiries I have made on all sides have convinced me that what is wanted in the education of girls is more mothering" and she continued "It will already have appeared from what I have written of my visits to pauper schools that I was unfavourably impressed with the effect of this massing children together in large numbers". (67) Mrs. Nassau Senior recommended foster homes as accommodation, and the use of elementary schools for pauper children, but the Newport Guardians were not likely at that time to adopt these proposals and close an expensive institution which had served them only some fourteen years.
It was only in 1901 that the Newport Guardians seriously attempted to remove the children to the Caerleon Endowed School and to the Newport Board Schools. But their efforts were defeated in June of that year by the declaration of the Caerleon Endowed School that "they were so full that the Managers contemplated making additions to the school" and by the rather evasive reply of the Newport Board Schools in December, that a new school would be erected in Caerleon for the paupers in return only for financial assistance; this was by no means the intention of the Guardians. (68)
By September of the following year, however, the issue had been settled; the school at Caerleon was closed and the Hardings continued to occupy the receiving ward in order to supervise the empty buildings. The children had been siphoned off, from the January onwards, into certain certified orphanages - in Bristol, Bath and Clevedon, for example. In Newport itself, "The Beeches", a house in Chepstow Road owned by a Mr. Linton, was rented for a period of four years. Children were to spend a probationary period in the main Newport workhouse before entry to this newly acquired children's home. (69) From this home, as well as from others in time, the children attended the public elementary schools in the town.
Thus with the opening of the twentieth century a different system of education and a new way of life was provided for the children of the Newport union.
NOTES TO CHAPTER III
Fourth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commission 1838. Appendix "B".