Walsall and West Bromwich School District, Staffordshire
In 1869, the Walsall and West Bromwich unions set up the Walsall and West Bromwich School District. It was one of the few such bodies set up under a Poor Law Commissioners' scheme to encourage adjacent unions to operate joint Poor Law Schools. District Schools were intended to provide schools for the pauper children in their area located away from the workhouses, ideally at rural sites. The boys learned industrial or agricultural trades, while the girls were trained for work as domestic servants or in factories.
In 1869-70, a new district school was erected at Wigmore. Designed by SE Brindley of Birmingham, it resembled a typical workhouse of its time and could accommodate up to 400. It had a large corridor-plan front block with a central portion containing staff and administrative accommodation, with wings each side for boys and girls. Classrooms and workrooms were on the ground floor with dormitories above. The gardens outside the front of the building were used to grow vegetables. The school's location and layout are shown on the 1904 map below:
In the early 1930s, after the official demise of the workhouse system, many disputes took place between West Bromwich and Walsall over the running costs and allocation of places at Wigmore. The school closed in 1935 and it was then converted for use as a borstal until the 1950s when it became offices for the Inland Revenue. In 1966 West Bromwich Council took the building over for its Technical Services Division. The main buildings were demolished in 2002 although the entrance and stable blocks at the south of the site still survive.
- Walsall Local History Centre, Essex Street, Walsall WS2 7AS.
- Many thanks to John Billington and Nigel Haynes for information and pictures of Wigmore School.
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