Walsall and West Bromwich District School, Wigmore, near Old Church was erected in 1872, for the maintenance and education of Children chargeable to the Walsall and West Bromwich Poor Law Unions, and managed by a Board of 7 members from West Bromwich and 5 members from Walsall, together with 2 Chairmen as ex-officio members. The Board met every alternate Monday to discuss School matters.
The buildings, situated on a hill overlooking the Tame Valley were erected in the Elizabethan style, and included an Infirmary. The total cost was £20,000 including the site and the adjoining land of 27 acres used for farm purposes.
The school was available for 450 Children, the elder boys being taught spade husbandry, shoe making, engineering and other trades, and the girls domestic work, with the view of fitting them for domestic service.
One of the earliest developments after the arrival of Mr William James Gilpin in
September 1871 as Master of West Bromwich Union Workhouse, had regard to the
treatment of pauper children. Up to the age of 4 years children may (and do)
safely remain in the Workhouse; but after that age it is well to endeavour to
remove them as far as possible from all the contaminating influences and taints
of concentrated pauperism.
Various means are adopted to effect this. West Bromwich Union joined with Walsall Union in the formation of a school district, their respective contributions to the undertaking being in the proportion of about 2:1.
The district school was erected at Wigmore, a convenient situation for both the contributing Unions, and was opened on May 1st 1872, when the number of children drafted in were:
From West Bromwich Union ........ 157
From Walsall Union ................... 56
For the 2 years previous to this the West Bromwich children had found no accomodation in the workhouse, but had been boarded out at Stoke on Trent, where the authorities had possessed an excess of accommodation.
At Wigmore the boys are now under the control of a Superintendant, and the girls of a Matron; the former are taught the trades of the Tailor, Shoemaker, baker and gardener, while a proportion assist and learn all they can from the engineer; the girls are employed in the laundry and at other useful domestic avocations. The boys get military drill; and, by way of brightening the lives of the whole establishment, a good juvenile brass band is conducted among them.
At the age of fourteen the boys are apprenticed, and the girls are sent out to domestic service, but for two years after leaving they are visited and supervised by the Chaplain.
Source: History of West Bromwich 1895
The layout of the complex means that it is not possible to get photographs that show large sections of the building in one shot,
but the photographs in the Photo Album were taken in March 2000.
A new steam laundry was erected in 1893 at a cost of £1,300 which was fitted with the most modern appliances of the time.
Following the Local
Government Act 1929, all poor law responsibility was transferred to the Local
Authority, and Wigmore was administered by the Education Committee. From 1935
Wigmore became an "Approved School" which continued until the 1960's
when it was transferred for use as Sandwell Council Offices.
Until March 2002 the complex was the property of Sandwell MBC. The main buildings had been occupied by Sandwell MBC in particular Sandwell Planning Department, but were vacated for newer premises.
Plans had been agreed to convert the main building into residential accommodation in the form of apartments, however at some point last year Sandwell MBC decided to demolish the entire building.
All the buildings that comprised this historical Institution were demolished, amongst much controversy, in March 2002.
Page updated March 12, 2008
Copyright © Rossbret 1999-2002. All rights reserved.