The Manchester Union Moral and Industrial Training Schools, Chorley Road, Swinton
The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act stressed the need to reduce pauperism and urged the setting up of industrial schools for pauper children as a desirable alternative to the workhouse. Concerned at the increasing number of children chargeable to the rates, the Manchester Union thus determined to build a combined home and school. In 1842, the Board of Guardians selected a site at Swinton, bounded by Chorley Road, Partington Lane, Stanwell Road and a footpath across the fields. Manchester Union Moral Training School, better known as the Swinton Industrial School, was one of the largest such institutions in the country, accommodating 1450 children and fifty members of staff. The children were given an elementary education and vocational training.
With its principal façade facing south-east, the main block was some 450 feet in length. The central main entrance, flanked by twin towers, gave access to the main hall, with boardroom, museum and accommodation for the Master and Matron. The building was symmetrically planned with the boys in the wing to the left and girls to the right. The wings were three storeys high, the ground floor containing the administrative offices and workshops, boys’ wash-house and showers. On the first floor were classrooms with dormitories sleeping 150 on the second floor above. Behind the main hall was a dining room seating 1000 children. Further accommodation was arranged round the boys and girls playgrounds, including a gymnasium, swimming pool, Roman Catholic chapel, Church of England Chapel and further dormitories. At the rear of the complex were the hospital buildings and infants and nursery quarters. Beyond the boys’ playground were the farm buildings, the farms supplying a vast amount of the school's food needs. An extensive basement area contained the bakery, maintenance workshops, a boiler house, dairy and meat stores. Under the main building were reserve water storage tanks in case of fire. The School formed an impressive sight, recorded by Charles Dickens following a visit in 1850:
At the easy distance of five miles from the great Cotton Capital on the road to the great Cotton Port, through shady lanes and across verdant meadows is the village of Swinton. At its entrance, on a pleasing elevation, stands a building which is generally mistaken for a wealthy nobleman's residence ... The stranger gazing upon the splendid brick edifice, with its surrounding territory is surprised when he is told that it is not the seat of an ancient Dukedom; but that it is a modern place for pauper children. [Charles Dickens: A day in a pauper palace. Household Words ]
Built at an estimated cost of £20,000, D. Bellhouse & Co. were appointed contractors and building work commenced in January 1843, the foundation stone being laid by William Garnett of Larkhill, the High Sheriff of Lancashire. The Schools closed in 1925 and was demolished in 1933, part of the site being used for the new Swinton Town Hall. Tattersall died before completion of the schools. By this stage he had taken Dickson into partnership and Dickson, with Brakspear, completed the work.