The History of Middlesex Industrial School

In 1853 Edmund Antrobus JP proposed that a special school be built to deal with up to 1000 young offenders – a venture ambitious enough to require Parliamentary support and funding. In 1854 The Middlesex Industrial Schools Act received Royal Assent and a Committee began to plan and to build the school…    It was to be:

• Near a railway station with a frequent train service.
• Between ten and twenty miles from London.
• On soil suitable for the boys to cultivate and fairly productive of crops.
• On ground capable of supporting large buildings and solid perimeter walls.
• In a healthy locality, well-drained and with an adequate water supply.

Land at the Ashford end of Feltham’s great mediaeval Middle Field met all these requirements.  A wooden railway platform beside the Waterloo-Windsor railway line was erected to serve the school, but Feltham’s town station was more often used.




• Building began in 1857 at an estimated cost of £38,950.
• The Industrial School admitted its first pupils in 1859 and was home to over 700 boys at any one time.





•  The destitute – orphans and children found begging and wandering the streets
• The children of bad parents and the children of parents in prison, or of parents who were vagrants
• Children found in the company of known criminals
• Pauper children from Workhouses whose behaviour was refractory or otherwise unacceptable
• Children brought before the Magistrates for petty crime.
• “Any male juvenile offender whose age is, or appears to be, between 7 and 14 years...may be detained in the school for not less than one year... or until they shall reach the age of 16.”



Boys Sent to Feltham's Industrial School spent their first fortnight at the Lodge. Here, they were initiated, like army recruits, into the stern military discipline of the school. There was daily drills. The boys had to salute all officers in uniform, failure to do so earned "three strokes with the cane".





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