Bradwall Reformatory School

Following an 1854 Act of Parliament children under the age of 16 convicted of an offence could be sent to a Reformatory School, being a penal facility for children.

Bradwall Reformatory School in Walnut Tree Lane, Bradwall in Sandbach, Cheshire was built in 1855 by voluntary subscriptions on land owned by George William Latham of Bradwall Hall and was originally managed by George William Latham himself. The cost of the building and starting the School was £255 10S 2d. A grant of £600 from the County Rate of Cheshire, awarded before 1859, was used to enlarge the property. The School was financed by the local authorities which sent boys to the School. Additional income was generated by hiring out the boys on licence and by selling produce from the farm, and, occasional central government grants.

The School was certified as a Reformatory School on 27th December 1855. It was agreed that the School could take up to 70 boys. The two first boys were received on 10th December 1855.

George Latham died on 4th October 1886. In his will the School was to be offered to the county but the offer was declined. The Manor of Bradwall and estate, including the School, was eventually sold in 1888 to the Barlow family. The School and land were leased to Edward Howard Moss and John Stringer, managers, by Thomas Barlow in 1890.

The name of the School was changed from Bradwall Reformatory to Bradwall Training School in 1908. At this time boys had to be aged over 11 years.

The School was re-certified 1916 for 80 boys. In 1918 the School merged with premises in Holmes Chapel and was re-certified for 125 boys. The School was closed in 1920 and the equipment moved to Saltersford, Holmes Chapel and eventually closed in 1932.

The land and buildings covered 25 acres when sold but had stood at 40 acres when first opened.The buildings comprised of school rooms, dormitories, quadrangle, offices, and three cells.The land consisted of a garden, drying ground and three fields. A separate cottage was used as an infirmary to isolate sick boys.

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2 thoughts on “Bradwall Reformatory School

  1. Hi

    I came across this site when doing family history on the 1911 census my grandfather William Oakley shows as aged 14years, surprised is the word no one ever spoke about it, is there anywhere I can get other information of his stay their ie when he arrived, why he was sent there, how long he stayed ect.

    Thank for the information I have already gleamed form here.

    • Unfortunately we do not have this information. There is quite a lot of material at Chester Records Office which we have not reviewed. Or, there are official records held at the National Archives, including “Establishment of Bradwall Reformatory School, Sandbach, Cheshire” – ref HO 45/9999/A47763.

      Good luck with your search.

      NB. As far as we can tell, it seemed quite common that local lads committed “crimes” to gain entry to the school, where they received an education, were well fed, and received training in animal husbandry and the like. Many of the boys went on to have good lives as farmers or in the military.

      If you do find further information please let us know or post it here.

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