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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): CLSD
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1788-1935
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 23.43 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Central London School District


Administrative/Biographical history:

The 1834 Poor Law Act led to improvements in the arrangements made for the education of pauper children. Unions, and parishes regulated by local acts, were persuaded to establish schools and to appoint schoolmasters. The policy of separating the children from their parents and sending them, if possible, to the country was continued and in 1866 several Middlesex metropolitan authorities were sending children to separate schools.

The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1844 made possible a further development in this field which was of significance for the metropolitan area. Unions and parishes were empowered to unite and to form a school district which then set up a large separate school for the education of all the indoor pauper children of the constituents of the district. In 1849 the Central London School District (comprising the City of London, West London, and East London Unions, and Saint Saviour's, Southwark and Saint Martin in the Fields parishes) took over Aubin's School at Norwood, which had been run privately.

Three years later the Board consented to the removal of the school to Hanwell in Middlesex, where a site had been bought at Hanwell Park Farm (previously Cuckoo Farm in the Manor of Hanwell). The buildings were started in 1856, in which year the children began to be transferred there, and were completed in 1861. The history of the school was marred by failure to deal with the recurrent problem of ophthalmia (a contagious eye disease which could result in blindness), which may in part have been owing to disagreement amongst the authorities of the District. By 1890, however, the Ophthalmic Institution was completed and also made available to the other London unions and parishes. In the same year, structural alterations to the original building were carried out, and in the following year the new school-house was finished. By 1897 there were 1,033 children at the school. This number sank to 746 when the L.C.C. assumed responsibility for its administration in 1930. Two years later the accommodation was for 650 children. On the recommendation of the Education Committee, Hanwell Residential School was scheduled for closure because of obsolescent buildings - this closure being finally carried out on 30 June 1933.

Source of information: Peter Higginbotham at The Workhouse website.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Central London School District, 1788-1935, including signed minutes of the Board; minutes, agendas and reports of various Committees including the Education Committee, House Committee, Farm Committee, Ophthalmia Committee, Industrial Training Committee and the Visiting Committee; financial accounts; outgoing letter books; correspondence with local government bodies including the Poor Law Board, Local Government Board and Local Board; title deeds and legal documents; weekly returns of children maintained at the school; admission and discharge registers; creed registers; ophthalmia registers; lists of boys and girls for domestic service; and plans of the Hanwell school.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

CLSD/001-032: Board minutes; CLSD/033-079: Committee minutes; CLSD/080-083: Financial; CLSD/084-109: Letter books; CLSD/110-150: Correspondence; CLSD/151: Industrial Training Committee; CLSD/152-160: Title deeds; CLSD/161-163: Returns of children maintained; CLSD/164-250: Registers; CLSD/251-252: Staff; CLSD/253: Plans.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Received with the papers of its successor, the London County Council.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Stewart, Susan The Central London District Schools 1856-1933: A Short History (c.1980, Hanwell Community Association).

For a detailed history see website 'The Workhouse' (

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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