Index to registers of boys at the Chertsey School of Handicrafts

Postcard of Chertsey School of HandicraftsThe School of Handicrafts for Destitute Boys in Eastworth Road, Chertsey, was founded in 1885 by Dr Thomas Hawksley with a view to rescuing poverty-stricken boys from a life of begging or crime by teaching them to earn their livelihood by learning a trade.

Only boys in reasonable health were accepted to the school and a medical examination was sometimes necessary. Sometimes references were required before a boy was accepted. There was a waiting list for entrance to the school, and the catchment area was extensive, with boys sent by Boards of Guardians in Kent, Sussex and Macclesfield, Cheshire.

The school was residential, and the handicrafts and trades taught included tailoring, boot-making, garden and farm work, plumbing and carpentry. On leaving the school most boys seem to have been placed out in service or to work in a trade, and some were encouraged to emigrate, mainly to Canada and Australia. The school closed in 1952.

The pupil registers, 1892 to 1917 (reference 647/3/1-3) and case registers, 1887 to 1920 (reference 647/3/5-7), contain similar information and are a wonderful resource for researchers. A pupil may often be found in both registers. They generally give the name, age, health and home address of the pupil; details of parents and siblings; whether the pupil has previously been to school, or in a workhouse or prison; the sum promised for his upkeep and who will pay it; and a general section for 'history and character assessment'. There are sometimes notes on a boy's progress after leaving school.

The above pupil registers and case registers are accessible to anyone who wishes to visit Surrey History Centre but later registers in this collection are subject to restrictions under the Data Protection Act.

The online catalogue has a detailed history of the school.

Stories of individual pupils can be read in our Seeking Surrey Ancestors blog.


Files available to download

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