Up until the mid-19th century. child criminals over 6 years old were treated like adults, and sentences were intended to deter by punishment alone - imprisonment, floggings, transportation, or execution. There was no thought of rehabilitation. Gradually, a more considered approach was developed, and following successful experiments elsewhere, Charles Adderley, MP (later to become Lord Norton) and a group of fellow philanthropists set up a reformatory in 1848 in Birmingham, initially with 5 boys. This was so successful that larger premises were obtained in 1853. Thus Saltley Reformatory, on Fordrough Lane, Bordesley Green, came into being. One aim was to give the boys an education. This being before education was provided for all, the vast nmajority of boys in the Victorian period had little or no ability to read or write. The School also aimed to provide the boys with a trade, so they did gardening, shoemaking, and, oddly, for a time, spectacle making. The School also provided religious instruction, and the boys were taken to nearby St Saviour's Church every Sunday. Many of the boys came from wretched family circumstances - one or both parents dead; had been abandoned completely by parents and living on the streets; parents themselves criminals; and ill-treatment by parents. The School offered a sense of structure and discipline in their lives. Judging by the letters written and the visits made by former inmates, many of the boys appreciated what the School had given them.
The private reformatories that had sprang up, like Saltley, had an immediate effect, and the Reformatory Schools Act of 1854 allowed the courts to assign juveniles under the age of 16 to a reformatory instead of prison, for a period between 2 and 5 years. It seems that the local authority had to pay for each boy sent to a reformatory, and a couple - Birmingham and Staffordshire - had contracts with Saltley that allowed them to send a certain number of boys each year, space permitting. Apart from these two areas, there was a scatter of boys from other places too.
After the death of Lord Norton, the name was changed to the Norton Boys' Home
At the start of World War II, the Reformatory premises were requisitioned by the Post Officce, and the School moved briefly to Bury St Edmunds and then to Machynlleth in Wales. With the end of the War the School moved to Kineton House in Little Kineton in Warwickshire. With a change in offiicial views of less emphasis on criminality and more on care, in 1933 the School became a Senior Approved School for boys aged 15-19. Approved Schools were abolished by an Act in 1969, so in 1973 the School became an Assisted Community Home, with the School being run by a Board of Trustees but financed by Warwickshire County Council. Policy changed again and in 1985 the School closed, and the assets went back to the Trustees and were used for charitable purposes.
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