Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Hobart Girls' Training School

The Hobart Girls' Training School, started by the Ladies' Christian Association, opened in 1881. The School was for girls aged 10 to 17 who had been sentenced by a magistrate to go there for between two months and five years. The Hobart Girls' Training School was located in the Old Gaol Building at the Anglesea Barracks which, since the British Army left Tasmania, had a number of vacant buildings. This was despite a protest in 1879 from the Ladies' Committee of the Industrial School for Girls - Hobart, which was already at the Barracks. The Committee feared that the girls at the Training School would be a bad influence on those at the Industrial School. Other individuals feared that the Volunteer Band, also at the Barracks, would undermine discipline at the Training School. When the School opened it only accepted Protestant girls. Later Catholic girls went there also.

In 1887, The Mercury described the School as a place of 'reclamation'. It made the best of its location in a former prison reporting that: 'The fact of the main rooms being divided into small apartments has turned to a useful advantage. It affords each inmate a separate room, and very tidy, snug rooms they are, each inmate seeming to vie with her neighbor in making her apartment look pleasant and pretty. The walls of each little room are tastefully decorated with pictures…illustrations cut from current serials and periodicals. These illustrations, plain and colored, frequently form the only picture gallery in the homes of the poor, and when tastefully arranged they impart a pleasant cheerful appearance to walls, otherwise dull and dismal. In this case the pictorial illustrations with the addition of bunches of flowers in season transform the rooms into bright cheery apartments. '

Girls at the Training School were locked in the cells each night. The girls were trained to become domestic servants and did laundry work to support the School. The laundry took in washing from Hobart households. A soldier named Gunner Dyer maintained its steam boiler. The School was the only institution of its type in Tasmania to make a profit from the laundry. This was apparently at the expense of the girls' education which only took up one hour a week. In 1905, it merged with the Hobart Girls' Industrial School.

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