Ancestry UK

Forest Gate School District

The Forest Gate School District was formed in 1868 and was one of the eight Metropolitan School Districts created between 1848 and 1877. Its member unions were Hackney (until 1877 only), Poplar and Whitechapel.

Forest Lane School

Forest Gate SD purchased the existing industrial school building at Forest Gate from the Whitechapel Union. The site layout is shown on the 1896 map below

Forest Gate District School Site, 1896.

Forest Gate school, from the south-west, c.1890.
© Peter Higginbotham.

A lodge stood at the southern entrance to the site.

Forest Gate school site entrance from the south, 2002.
© Peter Higginbotham.

Forest Gate school main building from the south-east, 2002.
© Peter Higginbotham.

An infirmary was erected at the west of the main school building.

Forest Gate school infirmary from the south-east, 2002.
© Peter Higginbotham.

On New Year's Day 1890, a disastrous fire broke out in one of the wings and two boys' dormitories were destroyed. Twenty-six boys died from suffocation.

Forest Gate school dormitory after fire, 1890.
© Peter Higginbotham.

The Forest Gate School District was dissolved in 1897. The school building was sold to the Poplar Union which used it as a training school until 1906. From 1908, it was used as a branch workhouse for able-bodied paupers. In 1911, the West Ham Union acquired the premises for £41,000 for use as an overflow workhouse. It also provided accommodation for imbeciles, epileptics and maternity cases. By 1913, it had become known as Forest Lane Sick Home.

After 1929, the Home came under the control of West Ham County Borough and became Forest Gate Hospital. Its 500 beds accommodated the chronic sick, mentally ill, and maternity cases. The Hospital finally closed in the mid-1980s. The surviving main block and infirmary have now been converted to residential use.

Training Ship Goliath

In 1870, Forest Gate acquired the training ship Goliath. The ship was destroyed by fire in 1875. In 1877, it was replaced by the training ship Exmouth operated by the Metropolitan Asylums Board.


Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.

  • The Ancestry UK website has two collections of London workhouse records (both name searchable):
  • Westminster workhouse records are available on FindMyPast, .
  • London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB. Holdings include:
    • Minutes of the Management Board; Annual reports; Superintendent's reports and journal; Copies of out-letters; Admission and discharge registers; Creed registers; List of officers.
    • Poplar Guardians: children sent to Forest Gate District School (1869-73)
    • St Marylebone Guardians: Children sent to Training Ships, Exmouth and Goliath (August 1873-December 1929)
    • Stepney Guardians: Children at Forest Gate, Roman Catholic schools and on Exmouth Training Ship (1871-99, 1915-26)



  • None.

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