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Cardington School of Industry for Girls

Parish Cottage Southill Road Christmas Eve 2010
Parish Cottage Southill Road Christmas Eve 2010

An Industrial School for Girls was opened in Cardington in 1862 as the Bedfordshire Mercury for 10th February reported: "The educational movement in this country has for many years been directed in instructing only the minds of the young. But it is now becoming recognised that to the labouring class the hands, no less than the head and the heart, need to be well-trained to fit them for their work in the busy hive of modern society".

The report went on to say that the Misses Whitbread had run an industrial school in a cottage in Cardington and that the new school was designed for up to thirty girls. "On Tuesday last [4th February] the migration from the humble cottage to the ornamental new building was accomplished with some ceremony". The training was in cooking, washing and other work designed to allow the girls to become domestic servants as well as the traditional North Bedfordshire female skill of lace making. The teacher presumably lived in the attached school house.

Kelly's Directory for Bedfordshire for 1890 has the following entry under Cardington: "Girls' Training [School], built and supported by the daughters of the late Samuel Charles Whitbread, of this place; the buildings include a school, kitchen, laundry and mistress's house, and are available for 30 girls; Miss Edith Harrison, mistress". This is the last mention of the school. The next Kelly's for the county - 1894, has no reference to it. Tantalisingly, however, in 1927 a valuer visited Cardington to assess all the properties in the parish for their rateable value under the terms of the Rating and Valuation Act 1925. He noted the parish room [DV1/C116/86] and said that it was: "nice". His only other entry for that part of the building was: "Lace School".

He also noted two other tenements in teh former school house. One was occupied by Mrs. Hook Lain who paid no rent and the valuer has written: "Caretaker?" against her name. She inhabited a living room, kitchen and two bedrooms. The other was occupied by a Mr. Lawrence who paid a nominal rent and his name is annotated: "Nurse?". His accommodation was the same as Mrs. Hook Lain's

The building, now called Parish Cottage, was listed by the former Department of Environment in May 1984 as Grade II, of special interest. It is built of mottled red brick with dressings partly of yellow brick and partly of ashlar. The building has a slate roof. The former school house has two sotreys and attics, the former school building attached to it and projecting to the west has one storey. After the school closed the former schoolroom became a village hall whilst the house continued to be used as a private residence.