One of the most popular items on this site has been the reproduction of the Forest Gate Times account of Christmas Day in the (Forest Gate) Workhouse, 1896 - see here, last December.
|Newham maternity hospital - |
former industrial school - in 1970s
Many usesThe school was erected in 1852-54 by the Whitechapel Board of Guardians, and since that time has undergone several changes of ownership and uses, including as a workhouse, general and then maternity hospital. It is currently a residential development - Gladys Dimson House.
The building was initially constructed to provide a school for boys some distance from the choked inner districts of East London. It was used as an Industrial school from 1854 to 1906, formally becoming part of the Forest Gate School District in 1868.
|Children parading outside Lambth's industrial |
school, similar to Forest Gate's c 1905
The hospital suffered severe bomb damage in 1940 and new maternity wards were built in 1950.
After a period of disuse, it has been sensitively restored to become residential accommodation, for the last quarter of a century. The principal building still retains its mid Victorian institutional appearance. It is a brick range, 15 bays long, with three storeys
The 1890 fire was undoubtedly the most significant event of its century and a half plus history. There had been a number of fires in Industrial Schools throughout England in the 1850's - 1880's, and so, in 1882 the Local Government Board urged local Poor Law Guardians to make proper fire escape provisions.
FireThe fire in Forest Gate in on New Year's day 1890, however, when two dormitories were destroyed and 26 boys under the age of 12 were suffocated lead to the government taking more urgent action.
It issued a binding circular to all Boards of Guardians urging the importance of leaving dormitory doors unlocked at night, conducting fire drills and establishing voluntary workhouse fire brigades, maintaining telephonic communications with fire stations wherever possible and providing fire escapes.
The disaster caused similar institutions to review fire precautions and stimulated interest in 'scattered home' instead 'barrack' schools. Poplar Poor Law Union continued to maintain the school until 1906, when the children were transferred to a new school at Hutton, Essex.
Bomb damageThe second World War provided more dramatic moments for the establishment (by now a hospital) It was hit directly, or collaterally on five nights/days during the war. These were on 2 October, 1940 (hit by high explosives); 9, October 1940 (suffered collateral damage); 15 October, 1940 (high explosives); 9 December 1940 (incendiary bombs); 3 March 1943 (collateral damage) and 29 Jan 1944(hit by a flying bomb).
|Bomb damage to maternity hospital, |
9 December 1940
Although the Forest Lane institution was this area's largest visible connection with Poor Law and workhouse institutions, there were other, notable local facilities.
|Dilapidated maternity hospital, |
just before conversion into flats
Other local workhouse connectionsFrom 1870 -75 the Forest Gate District School operated a training ship called The Goliath, moored on the Thames. This provided pauper boys from the District with instruction in all aspects of seamanship to help equip them for entry to the Royal or Merchant Navy. The scheme was highly successful, although, in another appalling tragedy affecting the Forest Gate workhouse institutions, it was destroyed by fire on 22 December 1875, with the loss of 23 lives.
Its replacement, The Exmouth, was moored off Grays in Essex and continued the role. This, however, was managed by the Metropolitan Asylums Board. It took boys from all over London, and from the 1890s, from beyond the capital. By this time it was training as many young boys for navy life as all other similar institutions in rest of the country, together.
|Boys training on HMS Exmouth, photo |
undated, but early 20th century
|St George's Industrial School, Plashet|
|Undated plans for the Plashet Industrial school|