Industrial schools were set up by poor law authorities in the 1830s and 1840s for, amongst others, children who had been orphaned, abandoned or taken into care. The schools were generally single sex, some being exclusively for Catholic children, as most were run privately, often by religious groups. St Joseph's Home was located in Darlington, at the corner of Carmel Road and Millbank Road, in the Boyes Hill area the premises having initially been Cleveland College, a boarding school for boys up until 1887. St Joseph's Industrial School for Roman Catholic Girls was certified March 1893 for 60 girls. It was later re-certified in 1898 to accommodate 120 girls and again in 1911 for an additional 30 girls. It became a a poor law school in 1926 and after that St Joseph's Home which was run by the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. The premises were sold in 1968 and demolished in 1972.
There was also St Mary's Home in Tudhoe village, Spennymoor (some thirty minutes from Darlington), which started out in the late 19th centry as Tudhoe Home Certified Poor Law School for Girls and had been built in 1898 by the Roman Catholic Church on the site of an old orphanage. In 1939 the girls were moved out to St Joseph's and St Mary's became a boys home. The home closed in 1962 and was demolished 1967/1968.
Fate saw me put into St Joseph's home, Carmel Road, Darlington in 1948 at the age of 5. I remained there for ten years.
Ten long years without a single visit - although my parents and relatives lived nearby - without knowing I had brothers in the nearby boys home, St Mary's, Tudhoe.
Ten long years no sense of who I was, no sense of being an individual - no sense of significance or belonging.
For a brief, personal account of my memories of life in St Joseph's home, click on 'My story'.