Main photograph of Bradwall Reformatory School as it looks today courtesy of Neil Slinger.

Images of Bradwall Reformatory School (click on the links to launch):

Plan of Proposed Alterations

1865 Copy of the Bradwall Certificate

1884 Garden Party, Bradwall Hall –

1888 Map

1900-1912 OS Map

The above is an OS map of 1910

1912 Inspectors Report

1912 Invitation to Tender for Supplies

Boys and Staff of Bradwall Reformatory School c. 1913 to 1920, on a Christmas postcard that was presumably sent to family of the inmates.


Quotes About the School

“The School is intended for the benefit of the County of Chester, a district partly agricultural but comprising also the manufacturing towns of Stockport, Macclesfield, Ashton and Staleybridge, the coal fields of Poynton, the salt works of Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich, and the sea-ports of Birkenhead and Warrington — and is now about half finished, and will be in operation at the end of September or October. [..] Mr. George William Latham of Bradwall Hall, is the sole manager, there is no committee, and he has the entire responsibility and control. The school is built on his land, about half a mile from his house, and he will be able to add from time to time such land as is wanted for the industrial labour of the boys, and will charge the school with an agricultural rent for it. It is intended that the labour shall be entirely agricultural, and that as many of the boys as places can be found for, shall be apprenticed to farmers when their reform has sufficiently advanced to allow them to leave the school.”

-The Irish Quarterly Review, volume 5, 1855

THE Secretary of State for the Home Depart- ment hereby gives notice that he has allowed the Managers of the Bradwall Reformatory School for Boys, at Sandbach, in Cheshire, to withdraw the notice given by them of their intention to resign the Certificate of this School; and that the notice of such resignation in the London Gazette of the 23rd September, 1887, is therefore cancelled.

-The London Gazette, November 4th 1887

The Secretary of State for the Home Depart- ment hereby gives”notice that he has certified the premises known1 as the Bradwall Training School (Holmes Chapel Section), Holmes Chapel, Cheshire (hitherto known as the Col- lege of Agriculture, Holmes Chapel), as a part of the Bradwall Reformatory School, Sand- bach, Cheshire.
The Certificate, which bears date the llth instant, provides that the number of inmates of the Bradwall Training School (Holmes Chapel Section), -whether sent thereto inpur- suance of the provisions of the Children A ct, 1908, or not, shall not exceed one hundred and twenty-five.
l l t h April, 1918.

– The London Gazette, November 16th 1918

The Secretary of State for the Home Depart- ment hereby gives notice that the Managersof the Bradwall Training School have resigned the Certificate granted on the 19th October, 1916, in respect of the premises at Sandbach, Cheshire, and for tihe premises at Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, which were certified as part of the School on the llth April, 1918, the Secretary of State (hasissued a new Certificate that the premises referred to in the Certificate dated llth April, 1918, to be known in future as The Training School, Holmes ‘Chapel, Cheshire, are fit to be a “Reformatory School for the reception of such boysi as may be sent thereto from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of the Children A ct, 1908.
The Certificate, which bears date tihe21st instant, provides that the number of inmates in the School at any one time, whether sent thereto in pursuance of the provisions of the Children’s Act or not, shall not exceed one hundred twenty-five. WHITEHALL 21st October 1920

-The London Gazette October 26th 1920


1861 (Census) – Mr Richard Howarth (superintendent) and wife, Caroline (matron). John Good (schoolmaster).William Chemdles (labour master). James Grey (drill master). Mary Clarke (servant). Elizabeth Houlden (servant). Eleanor Nickolson (servant). Martha Wilkinson (servant). Mary Sant (servant). Edward Morris (servant). Mr George William Latham (manager).

1868 – Mr Howarth (superintendent) and wife, schoolmaster Mr Carter

1871 (Census) – Mr Richard Howarth (superintendent) and wife, Caroline (matron). Joseph H Castle (schoolmaster). Thomas Abell (schoolmaster).

1872 – Mr Richard Howarth (superintendent) and wife, Caroline (matron). Mr Cartwright (schoolmaster). Thomas Abell (schoolmaster). Mrs Abell (dairy woman).

1881 (Census)- Mr Richard Howarth (superintendent) and wife, Caroline (matron). Mary Howarth (assistant matron, prison officer). Charlotte Helen Howarth (assistant matron, prison officer). Joseph Attley (schoolmaster). Robert Johnson (schoolmaster). Thomas Swinnerton (labour master).

1884 – Superintendent and matron Mr & Mrs Howarth, succeeded by Mr & Mrs Edward Shaw; schoolmaster Mr Brickhill; assistant schoolmaster Mr. J Charlwood.

1891 (Census) – Superintendent and matron, Edward and Benedicta Shaw; schoolmaster Mr Edward Shaw Junior., assistant teacher and labour-master Mr George Stephenson; bailiff Mr. Sherwood Suffell.

1901 (Census) – Superintendent and matron, Edward and Benedicta Shaw; schoolmaster Mr E.C Jones appointed 18th January 1900 to succeed Mr Allford who left 14th November 1899. Assistant teacher Mr Arthur W. Shaw; second assistant teacher Mr Samuel Boffey appointed 2nd January 1900 to succeed Mr Hayes, who left 2nd January 1900; assistant matron Miss Benedicta M. Shaw; farm bailiff Mr Thomas Eden.

1903 – Superintendent and matron, Edward and Benedicta Shaw; assistant matron Miss Shaw; schoolmaster Mr A.W. Shaw; assistant schoolmaster Mr James Wood.

1911 (Census). Edward and Benedicta Shaw as Superintendant and Matron. Benedicta M Shaw, Assistant Matron. Arthur Shaw, Teacher. Percy Clarke, Bailiff. James Pye, Teacher. Thomas Harvey, Labour Master.

George William Latham’s cousin, Charles Latham (1816-1907) was surgeon to the Bradwall Reformatory from its foundation until his retirement in 1903.

A Report to the House of Commons 1861

“There were 58 boys in the school when I inspected it. They looked well and healthy, and appeared much more bright and cheerful than formerly. The officers seemed also more kindly, and the whole of the establishment was in a very comfortable and satisfactory condition. The premises were in excellent order, and the farm much improved ; it now comprises 90 acres. I was glad to find that more of the ordinary farming processes were being resorted to ; the plough and other common agricultural machines employed, so that the training of the lads as farm servants would be gradually made more complete than the use of spade labour allows of. The books are well kept. The punishments had been much fewer, chiefly fines or loss of privilege. The boys passed a very good examination. Of 23 boys in the first class, most of whom had not been more than two years in the institution, 15 wrote from dictation with only one or two mistakes (5 of them with none), and 9 did eleven sums, extending to practice and rule of three, without a mistake, 9 others did nine or ten of these. The spelling and writing were equally good. The second class also acquitted themselves very fairly, and on the whole I have not examined any school during the year in which the instruction of the boys has been more successfully attended to. Much of this is no doubt to be attributed to the pains which the schoolmaster, Mr. Goode (now superintendent of the Glamorgan Reformatory), had bestowed on the duties of his office.
The cost per head for the year was 18l. 9s. 11d., on an average of 58 boys. The parents’ payments 65l. 7s. 3d. The loss on the farm was 110l. 15s. 4d.; but stock in hand had increased in value 265l. 10s. 3d. Of 24 admissions 12 were on first commitment.”

Edward and Benedicta Shaw

Edward Shaw and his wife Benedicta were appointed Superintendant and Matron on 31 January 1888. They received £150 per annum with residence and rations. They were at the School until 1913. Edward was about 77 when he retired. They lived in Hanley in 1871 and were school teachers at that time. In 1881 they were living in Bangor, North Wales.


1855 Bradwall Certificate dated 27th December 1855 (copy of 19th April 1865).

1865 Copy of the Bradwall Certificate

Proposed plan for the extension of Bradwall Reformatory School by John Baslow (presumed to be related to the £600 grant prior to 1860).

Plan of Proposed Alterations

1860 The History Gazetteer and Directory of Cheshire by Francis White & Co.

Report of the Bradwall Reformatory School 1860 by George William Latham.

1861 Report to the House of Commons

1871 Rules and Regulations by Sydney Turner.

1896 quote for musical instruments from Besson & Co of London.

1896 Musical Instrument Estimate

1911 tender request for butchers meat, clothing and draperies, cattle food, and sundries.

1912 Invitation to Tender for Supplies

1912 Report of HM Acting Chief Inspector of Reformatory Schools, J C Pearson, 1912

1912 Inspectors Report

1913 letter by Robert Bygott, solicitor and Secretary to the manager of Bradwall Training School, reporting an instruction by the Home Office that all tenders for school supplies should be advertised in local and Manchester papers.

Leaflet by C and M Mclean, printed by Impressions of Sandbach – largely based on records kept by Robert Bygott, solicitor and secretary to the managers of Bradwall Training School (1913).

Cheshire Records Office search 26th April 2000: School Rules 1871, Certified Copy Certificate, Specifications, Tenders and Plan of School 1911, Certified School Gazettes – volume 11 number 12 of 1919, and volume 13 number 11 of 1921.

Letter from Gareth Griffiths dated Sep 2005, referencing his research and including: Ordinance Survey map of Cheshire 1912, 1891 1nd 1901 Census, the Auction Cover of 1888 and White’s Gazetteer pages.

Census Reports

1861 Census

Superintendant Richard Howarth, 48, born New Malton, Yorkshire living with:

  • Caroline, his wife, aged 44 born in Haresfield, Gloucestershire
  • Mary, his daughter, aged 15 born in Mans, Chepstow
  • George D, his son, aged 10 born in Mans, Chepstow
  • Edward, his son, aged 8 born in Mans, Chepstow
  • Richard A, his son, aged 7 born in Abinghall, Gloustershire
  • Charlotte, his daughter, aged 5 born in Haresfield, Gloucestershire
  • John Good – Schoolmaster, 26 born in Great Beddow, Essex
  • William Chemdles – Lab, Master, 23 born in London
  • James Grey – Drill, Lab, Master, 21 born in Ireland
  • Oswald N Yates, his son, aged 5 born in Sandbach- scholar
  • Walter B Yates, his son, aged 3 born in Sandbach – scholar
  • Mary Clarke, servant, 20 born in Scotland
  • Elizabeth Houlden, servant, 28 born in Wakefield
  • Eleanor Nickolson, servant, 48 born in Alcester
  • Martha Wilkinson, servant, 32 born in Nantwich
  • Mary Sant, servant, 21 born in Middlewich
  • Edward Morris, servant, 33 born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire

There were 59 inmates aged 10 to 17. Only their initials were given and they are described as inmates.

1871 Census

Superintendent Richard Howarth, now 58, now living with:

  • Caroline, 54
  • Edward, 18
  • Richard A, 17
  • Mary, 22
  • Charlotte Helen, 15
  • Joseph H Castle, 28, born in Maidstone, Kent – Schoolmaster
  • Thomas Abell, 26, born in Norton, Yorkshire – Schoolmaster

There were 59 inmates aged 11 to 18 – this time their names are listed and shown as scholars.

Census 1881

Superintendant Richard Howarth, now 68, living with:

  • Caroline, 64
  • Mary, 32 – assistant matron prison officer
  • Charlotte H, 25 – assistant matron prison officer
  • Joseph Attley, 25, born in Padiham– schoolmaster
  • Robert Johnson, 35, born in Bedlington – Schoolmaster
  • Thomas Swinnerton, 44 born in Astley – labour master

There were 61 inmates aged 12 to 18.

Census 1891

Superintendant Edward Shaw, 49, born in Cheadle Staffordshire, living with:

  • Benedicta, his wife, 48, born in Golden Hill Staffordshire – Matron
  • Benedicta, his daughter, 26, born in Golden Hill Staffordshire – Assistant Matron
  • Edward Shaw, his son, 21, born in Hanley Staffordshire – Schoolmaster
  • Florence, his daughter, 16, born in Stoke Prior Worcestershire – Scholar
  • Arthur, his son, 14, born in North Shields Northumberland – Scholar
  • Frederick, his son, 12, born in Alton Staffordshire – Scholar
  • Sherwood Suffell, 36, born in Stillington Yorkshire – Farm Bailiff
  • George Stephenson, 37, born in Little Barugh Yorkshire – Labour Master

There were 69 “boys under detention” aged between 10 to 18.

Census 1901

Superintendant Edward Shaw, 65, now living with:

  • Benedicta, his wife, 62 – Matron
  • Benedicta M, daughter, 30 – Assitant Matron
  • Florence Harris (now married), daughter, 24 – visitor
  • Arthur, son, 23 – Assistant Schoolmaster
  • Fred, son, 22 – Teacher
  • Fred Jones, 26, born in Turbery Bedfordshire – Schoolmaster
  • Thomas Eden, 31, born in Mobberley Cheshire – Farm Bailiff
  • Samuel Boffey, 24, born in Sandbach Cheshire – Labour Master

There were 70 inmates aged between 10 to 18.

Census 1911 (now called Bradwall Training School)

Superintendant Edward Shaw, still claiming to be 65, now living with:

  • Benedicta, also claiming to still be only 65 – Matron
  • Benedicta, daughter, 40 – Assistant Matron
  • Arthur, son, 34 – School Teacher
  • Percy Clarke, 35, born in Stourbridge Worcestershire – Farm Bailiff
  • James Pye, 28, born in Burnley Lancashire – School Teacher
  • Thomas Harley, 29, born in Bromsgrove Worcestershire – Labour Master

There were 70 inmates aged between 13 and 18.

George William Latham

George William Latham, the son of John Latham (1787–1853), was an English landowner, barrister and a Liberal politician.

He was born in London on the 4th May 1827. He was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, matriculating on 22 May 1845, B.A., 1849; M.A., 1852. He was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1852, and for a time practised on the Chester and North Wales circuit.

On ceasing to practise he went to live at Bradwall Hall, and took an active part in the affairs of the county, particularly in relation to reformatory and industrial schools, one of which he established on his own property (Bradwall Reformatory School). George William Latham also established a News and Reading room (part of a Game Keepers residence) for use by his tenants in general containing a library and a news room supplied with newspapers. He took great interest in agriculture and farming, and was an active member of the Cheshire Chamber of Agriculture.

Latham married Elizabeth Sarah Luttman-Johnson in 1856

In politics he was an enthusiastic and advanced Liberal, and in the Parliamentary election of 1878 he contested Mid-Cheshire against Col. Egerton Leigh, by whom he was defeated by a large majority. In 1880 he again contested that constituency, and once more in 1883, but was defeated on both occasions, but by reduced majorities. In 1885 he was, however, elected Member of Parliament for the Crewe division, defeating his opponent, Mr. O. Leslie Stephen, a director of the London and North-Western Railway, by 808 votes. At the next election, in June, 1886, he could not again offer himself as a candidate, owing to serious ill-health, and on the 4th Oct 1886, he died at Bradwall Hall.

Photograph of garden party hosted by George William Latham, Bradwall Hall 1884 –

Notable Inmates

Joshua Tolley

Source: Crimes and Misdemeanours 1/1(2007) – PERSISTENT OFFENDERS IN THE NORTH WEST OF ENGLAND, 1880-1940: SOME CRITICAL RESEARCH QUESTIONS David J. Cox, Steve Farrall and Barry Godfrey Institute of Law, Politics and Justice, Keele University – page 81 to 82

Peter Court, an Irish migrant to Crewe was an established fishmonger by 1881. He was prosecuted for a number of work related offences – not cleaning his stall (twice); not paying his market fees and council rates (six times); fighting with rival stallholders (three times) selling bad fish (twice); and assaulting the Market Inspector. Other offences included not sending his children to school (six occasions) and drunkenness (three times). According to the Crewe Chronicle in 1903, he was ‘one of the most conspicuous members of society in the town’ and a character of the court. Peter was also a victim of crime. He suffered larcenies from his stall, from being assaulted by dissatisfied customers and rivals, and in 1897 his eleven-year-old daughter was raped by Joshua Tolley. Joshua (aka James, Chalkey and Chorgy) was born in Crewe in 1863 and had begun his offending career by the age of eight, when he was sent to Bradwall Reformatory School for an unspecified offence. His father was charged in 1871 with being in arrears for his maintenance there, and Joseph remained at the school until 1873/4. In 1874, aged 13, he was sent to reform school for a further four years for stealing a jacket in Crewe High Street. In 1879, Joshua left reform school and began at the Works as a apprentice on 4s. per week. The following year he was sacked for losing time and also charged with a felony against Thomas Walker. The offence was probably of a sexual nature and resulted in Tolley spending the next few years in Pentonville Prison. By 1887 he had been released and returned to Crewe, where he was convicted of larceny, stealing calf-skins from Crewe Market. The following year he was convicted of a misdemeanour, and in 1889 he was convicted of housebreaking. In the 1891 census he is recorded as being an inmate of Knutsford Prison following convictions for burglary and larceny at Crewe Market. In 1896 he assaulted John Leigh (probably a young lad) and in the following year committed his most serious offence; the rape of Norah Ada Court. He was sentenced to a further term in prison and spent the next seven years in Dartmoor Prison. In 1903 he returned to Crewe as a vagrant (his parents having both died in 1899) and was convicted of vagrancy, two charges of obscene language and failure to report to the police as a convict on licence.

The Crewe Chronicle carried a detailed report on Tolley with regard to his obscene language in front of a funeral procession, where ‘there were about 100 boys collected around the prisoner. There have been numerous complaints about [Tolley, who]… had a terrible record’. Similarly, with regard to his failure to report, the newspaper reported that ‘In 1897 he had been sentenced to seven years penal servitude for an assault on a child’.

According to the report, at the beginning of that present year he had been ‘liberated from Dartmoor and had reported regularly to the police until recently, when he disappeared’. He had been traced to Sandbach where ‘he was living with a girl under the age of 16, an imbecile. The prisoner said he meant to marry her, and that the banns were being arranged for. The girl’s mother had given information to the police’. Tolley’s abuse of children continued for the rest of his life; in 1904 he was convicted of an indecent assault on an eight-year-old boy; in 1907 of a similar assault on a seven-year-old girl; in 1910 he was convicted of the unlawful carnal knowledge of a 13-year-old girl and a twelve-year-old boy. Finally, in 1918 he received two months’ in gaol for assault and gross indecency against a young boy. He died in 1920, leaving no family, and (one imagines) few friends behind him.

James Bradley

Two eight-year-old boys, Peter Barratt and James Bradley, killed two-year-old George Burgess, a child they had never laid eyes upon before. On the 11th of April 1861 the toddler was abducted from and smothered in a pool of water near the Love Lane. He was last seen by his father, a power loom weaver near the Star Inn in Higher Hillgate and was being looked after by a nurse when he went missing. The Peter and James, had taken the toddler stripped him, beat him with sticks and then suffocated him in the brook. They had been challenged but not stopped by two residents and in court admitted to it, blaming each other. There had been only one precursor to this incident, on 31 March the pair had be suspended from Stockport Sunday School when they had ripped up two bibles and other children’s caps, and appears not to understand why this was wrong. James Bradley served 4½ years in the Bradwall Reformatory School, and Peter Barrett was sent to a Reformatory in Warwirkshire. George Burgess was buried at Christ Church, Heaton Norris.