Quatt industrial school
This week’s history begins at home theme is schools. Here we look at one of the more unusual schools in Shropshire and what we can find out, despite having little in the way of records from the school itself.
The 1844 Poor Law Amendment Act enabled Poor Law Unions to band together to establish a School Board and joint school for the education of pauper children. The South East Shropshire District School was one of the very few set up under this Act. The school they established was in the village of Quatt.
In 1848 Henry Garland printed: ‘Some facts respecting the farm-school of the Bridgnorth Union at Quatt, Salop’. This document states:
A private dwelling house has been taken for the establishment, in a rural village four miles from the workhouse [This refers to the Bridgnorth Workhouse], with about four acres of arable and half an acre of meadowland. About 15 boys cultivate this land and attend to the stable, cows, pigs, &c: not quite so many girls are instructed and employed in household work, sewing, baking, washing and the dairy. The afternoons are wholly devoted to industrial labour, and the mornings chiefly to school instruction, in which the attainments of the children are very superior to those of most workhouse schools, where no industrial training exists.Ref PL9/38/1/14-15
It was located on the estate of Wolrych Whitmore, who was one of the Bridgnorth Guardians of the Poor. Mr Whitmore praised the school at great lengths in a 15 page address to the rate-payers: ‘A memoir regarding the Industrial School at Quatt’ ref’s. C01 1407 and 5018/1 and it was also commended in the local Gazetteer:
The South Eastern Shropshire District School has been established for the reception of children belonging to the several unions of Bridgnorth, Cleobury Mortimer, Madeley, and Seisdon. The object of the institution is not only to give a sound healthy education, but so to improve both the physical and mental powers as shall break the thread of pauperism, and enable this hitherto unhappy class to establish themselves in after life as independent labourers.1851 Gazetteer of Shropshire
Other trade directories list it under different names, such as the South East Pauper School as well as the South Shropshire Industrial School and Farm School.
The School lasted in to the 20th century. The Victoria County History reports that in 1901 there were 109 persons at the school and in 1941 the numbers at the school were 53.
Unfortunately no records of the school itself have survived. As with many sources, it is a case of looking sideways. In this instance, checking the records of the Poor Law Unions themselves can help. These might show whether children were transferred to the farm school, although the nature and content of the records varies considerably between the Poor Law Unions. These records are all listed on the online catalogue (ref PL).
There are a few deeds relating to the transfer of children from Newport Poor Law union to Quatt in 1858 (ref 3390/12).
Shropshire Family History Society magazine has a really interesting article on 19th Century evacuees from Merseyside to Quatt School vol. 25 part 1 (March 2004) p 11.