Grade II Listing

Listing Text

SJ 76 SE
(North side)
7/3 School Cottages


Reformatory school and farm, now cottages, 1855 (datestone). Brown brick with dark clay tile roof to front and grey slate to rear. 2 storeys; 3 windows to front, symmetrical. Camber-arched entry, ovolo front gable, converted to doorway with 2-light small-pane window above. One 3-light small-pane casement to each storey to each side of doorway. The building surrounds a rectangular courtyard; the rear wing has 3 camber-arched openings to courtyard; the front, left and
right ranges are converted to cottages; cast-iron lattice casements in left side of courtyard. 2 ridge chimneys each to front, left and right wings.

Interior: Not fully inspected; no features of special interest were observed.

Founded by G W Latham 1855, with subscriptions from neighbouring landowners, the school cost £255. There were 40 acres of farmland. Superintendent and 4 masters; 60 boys, who were taught farmwork, but with 3 hours schoolwork per day plus household duties. White’s Directory of Cheshire 1860.

Listing NGR: SJ7555363911


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

A report of a visit to Bradwall Training School on 18th February 1912 stated that the total number of boys was 70, with seventeen boys on license, and 53 boys received skilled instruction mainly on the land.

1912 Inspectors Report

Of the 26 boys discharged during the year 21 went to occupations on neighbouring farms, while five went back to their friends.

Staff included:

  • Mr and Mrs Edward Shaw – Superintendant and Matron
  • Mr A W Shaw – Head Schoolmaster
  • Mr B Temple – Assistant Schoolmaster
  • Doctor Riddell – Medical Officer
  • Mr Shields – Dentist
  • Rev. T Lunt – Chaplin

There had been extensive improvements and extensions including new casement windows and fire escapes in the dormitories; a new floor, ceiling, cooking range and hot water system in the kitchen; a new spray bath and hot water laid on the lavatory; new floor, wash troughs and furnaces in the wash house; new floor in the laundry. All the new floors were tiled.

By this time the 25 acre farm was spade tilled and a speciality was made of fruit growing.

There was a small tailor shop where the boys farming clothes were made.

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

There were 49 boys resident at the beginning of the year. During the year 20 fresh boys were admitted and 11 discharged. There were, therefore, 58 boys at the end of the year.

Of the 11 boys discharged, four were sent to Adelaide, three were placed in service, one was taken by his friends, one was transferred to another school, and two absconded and were not recovered.

Of the 54 boys discharged between 1855 and 1859, twelve were apprenticed or sent to service, three were placed under care of friends, nineteen emigrated, two enlisted, two entered the navy, eleven absconded, three were discharged as too old, and two were discharged due to disease. Of these 54, nine were subsequently reconvicted.

The School’s costs included the cost of an outfit when boys left, the cost of emigration, and apprentice fees.


At some point there had been a complaint that all supplies were coming from local tradesmen. Subsequently all supplies were put out to tender. These tenders give an interesting insight into life at Bradwall Reformatory School.

A response to tender of 1896 for musical instruments from Besson & Co of London dated 1896 included a quote for three different classes of cornets, euphoniums, and slide trombones.

1896 Musical Instrument Estimate

In 1911, tenders were invited for the supply of butchers meat (beef, beef suet and mutton), ten pound loaves, flour, Scotch oatmeal, groceries (tea, coffee, cocoa, sugar, treacle, currants and raisins, chicory, rice, peas, salt, pepper, and mustard), and black lead, candles, carbolic soap, blacking, chloride of lime and soda.

1912 Invitation to Tender for Supplies

A separate tender was issued for clothing and draperies including sheetings, towelling, calico, jean, tailor’s thread, shirts, caps, scarves, socks, boots, laces and cotton chord. Another tender was for cattle food including meal, bran, sharps, Indian meal, cotton cake, and linseed cake. A tender for sundries included paraffin oil, lamp chimneys, bass brooms, sweeping brooms and coal.

Health and Hygiene

Ill boys were treated in the School, but more serious cases were transported to hospitals in Arclid or Manchester either by locals or the Foden Ambulance.

On 11th July 1890 it was reported that one John Street, out on licence working for William Pedley, was scalded and died. His wages due from Pedley were used to pay for his funeral and to cover his debts.

Initially the School’s water supply came from a pump but subsequently a storage tank was provided. A metered supply was connected to the School in 1913.

The School had a large bath, urinals and earth closets. A sewage treatment system was added after complaints that the water course near Moorsbarrow Hall was being polluted.

A visiting Home Office Inspector was not happy when he found that the sheets were only being changed once every three weeks, that the boys had no nightshirts and were sleeping in the shirts that they had been wearing all day on the farm. It was suggested that the sheets should be changed once a fortnight, or, one sheet per week, and that night shirts be purchased.

Rules, Regulations and Punishments

From the Rules and Regulations of Bradwall Reformatory School – written by Sydney Turner on 23rd March 1871 and approved by H.A. Bruce, being Secretary of State in Whitehall on the 28th March 1871.:

“The School shall be under the superintendence of the Manager, who shall have the power of receiving or rejecting such boys as he shall think fit or unfit objects for the benefit of the School, and of appointing and dismissing the Officers thereof.

That in case of the probable absence or illness of the Manager, he may delegate his powers to some other person, and shall report the fact to the Inspector of Reformatory Schools.

The number of boys maintained in the School shall not exceed 70.

That no boy shall be admitted, unless free from fits and mental and physical infirmity, nor, except under special circumstances to be decided upon by the Manager, under 11 years of age.

The inmates shall have separate beds, and be supplied with a sufficiency of plain clothing.

The inmates shall have a sufficiency of food according to a Dietary to be approved by the Inspector. No substantial alteration to the Dietary shall be made without previous notice to him.

The Hours of the School and Labour shall be according to a time table, to be approved by the Inspector. It being understood that such hours may be varied in special case, and in accordance with the requirements of season or the weather.

The Secular Instruction shall consist of Reading, Spelling, Writing and Arithmetic, with such more advanced subjects as age and capabilities of the Inmates may admit of. The Secular Instruction shall be given on week days, and shall average 18 hours in each week. The Religious Instructions shall be from Holy Scripture and shall comprise the Doctrines and Precepts of Christianity. The industrial training shall be in such matters as are included in the practical working of a farm.

Each day shall be begun and ended with Family Worship, consisting of Prayer and Reading of Scripture. On Sunday, the inmates shall attend the Parish Church. On the written request of the Parent of any boy who is of some other religious persuasion than the Church of England, a Minister of such religious persuasion shall be allowed to visit such boy, and such boy shall not be compelled to learn the Catechism of any other religious persuasion, provided however that the fact of the difference of creed shall have been specified in the order of detention.

The Superintendent shall be allowed to punish any boy detained in the School in case of misconduct. All faults and punishments being entered in a book kept for the purpose.

Ordinary punishment may consist of Forfeiture of Rewards and Privileges, Fines, Reduction in quantity and quality of Food, Confinement in a separate room or cell for not more than three days, and moderate Personal Correction. But no boy in Confinement shall be allowed less than 1-lb. of bread daily, and in case of cold weather he shall be allowed one hot meal in the day.

In case any boy being guilty of any offence for the due punishment of which the Superintendent shall consider the foregoing powers inadequate, he shall report the same to the Manager, who shall have the power to cause the boy to be Confined in a cell for not more than 14 days, and shall be allowed not less than 1 1/2-lbs. of Bread and Gruel, and Milk or Water each day; and if Confined more than seven days shall be visited by the Medical Officer of the School, and allowed such additional diet as he shall direct.

The Parents of the Boys shall be allowed to visit them on any day except Sunday, at such hours as may be from time to time settled by the Manager. Such privilege shall be forfeited by interference with the discipline of the School or other misconduct, nor be granted if the boy be under punishment.

The Boys may be allowed from time to time to visit their Relatives. Any Boy so allowed and stopping beyond the time appointed for his return, shall be held to have absconded from the School.

That the Superintendent shall have the Boys, and to detain any which, in his opinion, contain anything likely to be hurtful to the Boy.

That Boys shall be provided with places on their discharge as far as is practicable, and their conduct deserves. That an outfit shall be given to the Boys on leaving for a place, either from the funds of the School or their own savings; and if returned to Relatives and Friends the expenses of such return shall be defrayed from the same sources.

That the money credited to the Boys from time to time, as wages or rewards, shall be at the disposal of the Manager until their final discharge, to be used for their advantage as he thinks best. That the Superintendent shall keep a book for each boy, containing his rewards and the disbursements on his account, which book shall be open to the inspection of each Boy at convenient intervals.

That Visitors may be permitted to Inspect the School at convenient times to be appointed by the Manager.

The Superintendent shall keep a Punishment Book, an account of the time and manner in which the boys are employed each day, a record of all entries and discharges, a list of all marks gained by the boys in labour, school, and general conduct, a statement of the receipts and payments on the general account, and a Cash Book for the Farm, all of which Books shall be presented to the Manager from time to time.

A Medical Officer shall be appointed to visit the School. He shall enter his visits in a Book to be kept for that purpose, with a note of all serious cases of illness attended by him in the School.

In case of the sudden death of any Boy, an Inquest shall be held, and the circumstances of the case reported to the Inspector.

The Superintendent shall regularly send to the Office of the Inspector (under cover to the Secretary of State for the Home Department), the Returns of Admissions and Discharges, the Quarterly List of the Boys under detention, and the Quarterly Account for their maintenance, with such other Returns as the Secretary of State may from time to time require.

All Books and Journals shall be open to the Inspector for perusal. Any Teacher employed in the School Instruction shall be examined by him, if he thinks it necessary. Notice shall be given to him of the dismissal or change of the Superintendent and Schoolmaster and a yearly Statement of the Receipts and Expenditure of the School, shewing all liabilities, vouched by the MAnager, shall be sent to him in the January of each year.

All Masters employed in the School shall be under the authority of the Superintendent, who shall be answerable for their conduct, and for their being, if resident in the School House, at home at proper hours.

Any Boy who shall be off the School premises, without leave from a Master, on any pretext, shall be considered as guilty of the offence of Absconding, and all money given him by friends, or otherwise obtained, shall be given to the Superintendent, who shall enter it into the Boy’s Book.

The Superintendent and Masters of the School shall be careful to maintain due order and discipline, and shall attend to the instructions and training of the Boys in conformity with the above Regulations. Every Boy in the School under detention shall obey the Superintendent and Masters, and comply with the regulations of the Manager, as sanctioned by the Secretary of State. Any wilful neglect or refusal on the part of any Boy to obey or comply therewith, shall be deemed to be an offence under the 20th sec. of the Reformatory School Act, 1866.”


Every day at Bradwall Reformatory School started and ended with a prayer and reading of scripture. On Sundays, the boys walked to Sandbach Church, St Mary’s, where they sat in the Bradwall Chapel wearing their special Sunday clothes and boots.

Parents of boys who were not Church of England could request a priest of their own religion visit and such boys were not obliged to undertake Church of England catechism.

English: Photograph of St Mary's Church, Sandb...

Image via Wikipedia


The boys were taught singing, composition, recitation, arithmetic, geography, history and religious instruction. They were taught drawing, elementary science, agriculture, horticulture and poultry keeping. The boys also undertook physical training and played football and cricket. There was an annual sports day.

The 1860 History Gazetteer of Cheshire reported that the School’s yard was covered for the purpose of exercise during winter evenings and wet weather. At this time there was accommodation for 60 boys receiving education which included draining, hedging and ditching, etc. Some boys were employed in the house, cleaning cooking and washing. All boys had daily religious and secular instruction for three hours.

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.