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Carlton Training School

This page was written by Pamela Hider.

Originally known as The Bedfordshire Reformatory School for Boys, the Training School was established in 1857 at School Lane, Carlton, for boys from all over the country. Its location at that time was actually part of Turvey, prior to parish boundary changes in April 1948, being built on land owned by Mr T.C. Higgins of Turvey House, Chairman of the Quarter Sessions and leading proponent of the scheme.

The premises were certified to accommodate 70 boys aged 13 to 15 who were committed by magistrates for a period of at least four years. A payment of two shillings a week was required for each boy plus a one pound initial entrance fee. It was primarily a farm school with the boys being trained in agricultural work. 

Z1805-1 Carlton School c.1906 [Z1805/1] 


From 1902 - 24, the premises were improved and enlarged so that by now 115 boys could be accommodated and since 1911 it was known as Carlton Reformatory School.

.Z1306-25-7-2Interior of dining hall c. 1913 [Z1306/25/7/2]

Rating and Valuation Act 1925

Under this act, property in Carlton was valued in 1927. Every piece of land and building in the country had to be valued to determine the rates to be paid upon it. The Owners were given as Carlton School Trustees and the Occupiers as Carlton School Managers. The Valuers comments were as follows: "115 boys, now full up; Swimming bath just opened; Carpenters shop built 2 yrs ago".

In 1933, it was designated as an 'Approved School' and activities, as well as farming, now included gardening, carpentry, engineering and baking. 


Z1306-25-7-1A view of the exterior of Carlton Reformatory School from the grounds, 1941 [Z1306/25/7/1]

Disturbances at the School

In 1959, boys openly rebelled against their treatment by staff, amongst other grievances. The Press widely publicised the incidents. A subsequent inquiry by Victor Durand Q.C. found that some of these accusations were justified and the ensuing report resulted in the recommendation of changes in the Approved School system. This led in 1973 to the School becoming a Community Home with Education under the control of Bedfordshire County Council. The majority of the original buildings were demolished at this time and further re-construction took place. The school closed in the early 1980s. 

New Horizons 

St.Margaret's Special School moved to the site from Great Gaddesden, Hertfordshire, in 1984 and occupied it until 1998. Since 2001, it has become the site of Emmaus Village, where formerly homeless people can now live and work. Thus the ethos of support and training lives on. 


Footnote: There are many references with many details of Carlton Training School over the years in our series X521.