Warren Farm Industrial School

Photo:Warren Farm from West, c. 1910

Warren Farm from West, c. 1910

Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

Photo:Fitzherbert School

Fitzherbert School

Photo by John Leach

Construction completed in December 1859

Reproduced with permission from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder, 1990

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

b) WARREN FARM SCHOOL:The most historic building remaining in Woodingdean is the former school building in Warren Road. It was originally erected on twenty acres of Rottingdean parish by the Brighton Board of Guardians as an industrial school for poor children whom it was not considered appropriate to keep in the workhouse with adults. Known as the Warren Farm Industrial Schools, construction commenced in March 1859 to the design of parish surveyor George Maynard, and the building was completed on 1 December 1859 with accommodation for 300 children. In March 1858 a well was started, but water was not reached until 16 March 1862 by which time a depth of 1,285 feet had been reached, the deepest dug well in the world. It was only when the water supply was ready that the buildings were opened, and on 14 August 1862 seventy-seven boys and sixty-five girls marched in procession from the Dyke Road workhouse to Warren Farm. In 1878, however, the well was abandoned in favour of the corporation's piped water supply.

The boy inmates were taught skills in gardening, tailoring and boot making, etc., while girls were instructed in domestic service. The Warren Farm Industrial Schools continued until the replacement of the workhouse system in 1930 and then continued as a children's home until the early '50s. In 1937 infant and junior schools were also opened in the buildings. After the children left, the buildings were used for miscellaneous purposes including civil defence, the branch library and manufacturing, but in about 1955 they were taken by the St John the Baptist Roman Catholic School which moved from Upper Bedford Street, and were later renamed the Fitzherbert R.C. Secondary School; the school closed in 1987.

The main building, which is a rather plain edifice, is now included on the council's local list of buildings of interest. In 1989 the conversion of the building to a sponsored 'city technology college' for around 800 11- to 18-year-olds outside the authority of the county council commenced. Michael Faraday College, which was to be one of the first of its kind in the country, teaching subjects according to the Steiner principles and with an emphasis on environmental issues, was, however, abandoned in April 1990 because of a lack of finance, leaving the buildings' future in some doubt. The four blocks of houses to the east were built in 1911-12 by the guardians and are now used as offices and clinics. {6,24,83,115,123}

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

This page was added on 04/07/2008.
Comments about this page

My mum was at Warren Farm from 1926 till about 1934, her memories are very strong. They were very strict.

By Sheila Jones (06/07/2008)

My grandfather was there from about 1925 to 1937, his memories were strong too. He remembered having to break the ice on the water to have a wash in the morning, and being very isolated when ill.  Would like to get in touch with anyone who has more information on the school and its pupils around this time, especially to gain photos of my grandfather if they exist. kerryflute@hotmail.com

By Kerry Bassil (27/07/2008)

My mother was at this school between Sep 1932 until April 1937. She was then transferred to Brighton Girls Orphanage. She remembers being forced to sit in a bath of freezing cold water for refusing to do something or answering back.

By Jackie Weedon (22/01/2009)

According to the 1891 census Grandpa, Charles Meads was here while his mother was in Lewes prison. We would love to discover more info.

By Bridget Meads (05/02/2009)

I was in Warren Farm at about 1942-43. I was very young. I was then was sent to Allengate before going to Woodlands in Chichester.

By josephine pronger nee ryder (01/03/2009)

I am helping my brother-in-law Wallace Peter Stevens with his family tree. He was born in 1927, placed in Warren Farm Orphanage around 1927-1928 and then moved to Yorkshire during the war. He had a brother John and a sister Joyce. Wallace is still alive living in Sheffield. Please can anybody help with any information?

By Alan Birch (12/04/2009)

My mother, Maud West, and two of her brothers were put into Warren Farm Orphanage in around 1914. She would have been about 10/11 then. They were put there as their parents had 16 children and when their father died at the age of 48 my maternal grandmother couldn't cope so the the 'middle' children were sent to Warren Farm. My mother told me some quite barbaric regimes that went on there and than many children died of consumption/TB whilst in the schools. She went on into domestic service after she left and ended up working for some quite prominent aristocratic families of which the Mitfords were one. I still have a photograph of her age 13 at Warren Farm standing with some half a dozen other young girls all in very sombre looking 'uniform'

Editor's note: Hi Kathy - I found your comment very interesting.  Could you email me on jennifer@mybrightonandhove.org.uk

By Kathy (18/06/2009)

I was in Warren Homes when I was three years old; I was born in 1940. I remember the great big baths and the hairbrush if you did any thing wrong. I used to run away nearly every day, as my aunty lived nearby. There were air raids and nobody used to tell me where to go for the shelters. It was very frightening for me all alone in a big dark building. I eventually went back to live with my mother when I was nine and a half years, but the damage was done by then.

By Sonja Cox nee Leaney (27/06/2009)

Hi Sonja, read your comments. I was there in 1946 so there is a chance you were there when my brother and sisters were there - Maureen and Pamela Goble. I remember the cold baths too. Would like you to email me if you can: derekgoble@hotmail.com thanks

By Derek Goble (22/09/2009)

I am the brother of Sonja Cox. It was also my misfortune to be in an inmate, I use this word deliberately, at Warren Farm in the early 1940s. I was in Oak House and have nothing but negative memories, especially of some of the staff. Fortunetaly, someone, I'm not sure who, arranged for me to be sent to Rhodesia under the Fairbridge migrant scheme. It changed my life and ensured I had a good education and a life style far superior to any that would have been my lot if I had stayed at Warren Farm.

By Brian Leaney (26/12/2009)

I was there from 1937 t0 1948, roughly. I was evacuated to Yorkshire during the war. When I returned in 1947 I was placed there again. My memory was of a very harsh environment. I remember the big baths and of course the hairbrush. Fortunately I was sent to a boarding school - that saved me and put me on the path to success.

By John Grafton (24/02/2010)

My dad was born in 1927 and entered Warren Farm School at the age of 3. I can only say that he has good memories of his time there - yes, he remembers the hairbrush, but not the cold baths. The recollection he has is of having a choice of either showers or a collective bath with the other lads (depending on who was first in the line! First come, first served for the approximately 8 shower cubicles). There was plenty of hot water in the 1930s, thanks to a heating engineer by the name of Mr.Healey.

By Andrew Akehurst (13/05/2010)

My Grandfather was at Warren Farm. I think he would have been there in about 1913. Does anyone know how I can check this? are there registers I can look at? My Grandfather never told me much about his childhood, the only story he told was that they had to carry their mattress around the yard if they wet the bed. He was a very private man and so finding things out were impossible. My Father does not know anything either.

By Laura Burgess (05/07/2010)

I was told by my sister that I was in Warren Farm, in the late forties. I was wondering if anyone knows of any census that shows who has stayed with them.

By Neville Crowe (16/08/2010)

I was at Warren Farm from sometime in the year of my birth in 1942 until aged 6 years in 1948 when I was adopted by a family in Brighton. My original name was Jennifer Banfield. I can remember being given second hand shoes which were kept in a large cupboard and I can also remember going to school there. I remember sleeping in a large dormitory with girls of all ages. Can anyone viewing this site remember me?

By Jennie Jenks (06/09/2010)

Hi, I have been tracing my family tree and an auntie of mine was living here in the 1911 census, her name was Sarah Smith (she is a direct descendant to my mother and trying to find more out for her). If anybody has any information on this and maybe how to see a list of people that lived here and would love to find out more my e-mail is doverlad23@hotmail.com Regards James

By james armstrong (23/02/2011)

My father Eric Ravenscroft HOLL and his brother Reggie were here for about a year in 1921. Their father had left home and mother was unable to cope although they did return home in 1922. His abiding memory was of being punished for singing out loud, it was his birthday and he'd had a card from his mother. Sad. I too would like to know if there is a register of inmates.

By Margaret Mcloone (28/02/2011)

I am writing a history of the Brighton Workhouses, including Warren Farm and would be pleased to hear from anyone who was there. My email address is james.gardner4722@googlemail.com

By james gardner (01/04/2011)

My grandmother and her two brothers were in there too in 1891. In 1900 their last name was Gladman. My mum's mum died when she was three years old and she has no photograph of her. Please can you help, thank you 01322552741

By Michael Wheeler (26/04/2011)

My great grandmother was here in the 1880s with three children including my grandmother aged eight. The above descriptions of conditions in the early 20th century sound hard, so it must have been pretty grim in the 19th century. I would love to make contact with Brian and/or Sonya Leaney, and see if we are related. Please contact me at ashley_leaney (at) hotmail.com

By Ashley Leaney (28/04/2011)

Bridget, I think your grandfather Charles may have been at Brighton School at the same time as my grandmother Elizabeth Gladman and her two brothers John and Frederick. Beth as she was called was nine years old, John four and Frederick ten in 1891. As I have not found any information on her I hope someone can help me. Thank you.

By Michael Wheeler (29/04/2011)

My grandfather, Stanley Hilton, was there from December 1929 to April 1934. He remembers walking past Rudyard Kipling's house on Sundays and having to salute him if he was outside.

By Adam Hilton (02/06/2011)

I was admitted to Warren Farm School on 9th November 1940 the day before my 3rd birthday as a Mary Hammond. I see I was transferred to Warren Farm from '# 1 Home, Elm Grove Nursery', just prior to my 3rd birthday in 1940. but I have no idea what or where that is, or was? Perhaps somebody reading this could help me there as I have no idea of my heritage at all, or where I might have been prior to 1940, since I have a different name on my birth certificate than the one on my adoption certificate. I obtained this information from the Brighton Town Hall in November 1980 when I visited UK to obtain a birth certificate at St. Catherines House in London. I was also given another page from the Register showing that I was adopted from the School in May 1942 and went to live with my then recently widowed 'adopted' Mother in Brighton. I barely have any recollection of the orphanage - 'thank goodness' by the sound of it reading the sad stories of 'inmates' written previously. I have just seen the film called 'Oranges and Sunshine' depicting the shocking stories of young children sent 'en masse' to Australia from orphanages in UK during the 2nd w.w. I am about to read the book called 'Empty Cradles' written by the Social Worker Margaret B who was the central character in the film played beautifully by Emily Watson. A very worthwhile true story to read or watch and so many families owe Margaret so much for unravelling and bringing to light this shocking abuse of power by the govts of UK and Australia and the Church. What those poor children went through and no doubt are still suffering the effects from to this day. So many families owe so much to her for helping to re-unite them years down the track.

By Patricia Maynard /nee Livingstone (04/08/2011)

My mother, Gwendoline C Ryan was at Warren Farm, admitted in 1927. Her sister Alicia P Ryan was admitted in 1930- they also had a brother James born in October 1922 and died in December 1923 of Tuberculosis. He was born and died at 250 Elm Grove the nursery. My mother and her sister were also put in from the nursery part on their third birthdays. They both stayed at Warren farm till they were 15. They were not told they were sisters till my mother was about nine, they both have many memories good and bad of their time there.They have never found their mother or info on her besides her name on birth certificates. She was a servant in Brighton. I'm still trying to put their family tree together.

By Sylvia Holdsworth (23/09/2011)

My wife and two sisters were taken into care in Chiselhurst in early 1940 when their mother died. There was a 4th sister, an approx. 4mth old baby, who was separated and we have a statement on one document "admitted to Warren Farm (P.A.C) Institution". Her name was Beryl King. Anyone with info. on what this means,please email on zen51099@zen.co.uk

By Ivor Farrant (27/09/2011)

I was in Warren Farm with my sister and brother from about 1947 to 1953 - Barbara, Alice and my late brother Alan, our surname then was Fulker. I remember it well. We are in our 70s now. I went back a few years ago, memories came rushing back. If you remember us please get in touch. I have now lived in Swindon for the last 50 years.

By Barbara Luscombe (nee Fulker) (14/10/2011)

Sonja - just seen your comments on this site. I think the aunt you mention was my husband's mother's Aunt Mabel who lived on the Queens Park estate which was near the Brighton race course. They were hard times but we got over them and have seen a lot of changes in Brighton.

By Kathleen Catt (nee Cornford) (15/10/2011)

Sylvia- Your mum and aunt would have been at Warren Farm around the same period as my Grandfather. Next time I see him, will ask if the names are familiar. His memory is going but sometimes has very sharp memories of his time there. Also if you're interested, I'll looks through my records for the names of some Brighton people who did some research for me on my grandfathers family, his mum was listed as a domestic as well but no father. They found out a lot of information on his life from birth to the workhouse to Warren Farm etc. Helped fill in a lot of blanks and vague memories for him. Adam

By Adam Hilton (03/11/2011)

My great grandfather Joseph Barnett (aged 8) and his two brothers George (aged 9) and John (aged 10) appear on the 1881 Census at Bright Industrial School, Warren Farm. I have no idea why they were there or what happened to their parents and wonder if anyone knows how I can obtain further information? Many thanks... Lynne Carr

By Lynne Carr (28/12/2011)

Adam - Thank you for your comments on your grandfather. My mother would like to know his name to see if she can remember him! Also I would be interested in the names of the Brighton people who helped you with research. I asked her for names she can remember who were their while she was there. Her memory is quite good - Ronald Tatasal, John Jones, Ann Jones, Rose Jones, Joyce Braidy, Gladys Grover, Joan Grover, Hazel Bright, Francis Greenfield, Flossi Greenfield, Muriel Young, Ruby George. One teacher - Miss Bright! She also remembers Ann Jones married a Canadian soldier and went to Canada. My email is holdsworthpaul@talktalk.net   Regards.

By Sylvia Holdsworth (15/01/2012)

I was sent to Warren Farm as a newborn baby. Can I trace any records from 1941? I was then Joan Rolf, my email is punterscorner_1@hotmail. Thank you - hoping to hear.

By Joan Taylor (22/02/2012)

There were four houses and I was in the last one. Does anyone know the names of these houses?

By John Grafton (28/03/2012)

I found all comments interesting as my Dad and brothers and sisters were at Warren Farm. I have heard lots of stories of his time there. If anyone remembers my Dad - Alfred Greenfield - be nice if you could email me. [Linda, your email address will not show on your entry. If you wish us to add the email details, then please can you specify this. Many thanks, Comments Editor]

By mrs linda carey (20/04/2012)

My book "A History of the Brighton Workhouses" is published this week. It includes a substantial history of Warren Farm. For more info please see my website jamesgardnerauthor.com 

By James Gardner (03/05/2012)

My grandfather George Austin was at Warren Farm in 1891. I'm trying to see if he had any siblings with him. Can anyone please advise where I can find a list of inmates for this period?

By Sue Austin (07/05/2012)

Message for Sue Austin. My grandmother was also there at the time of the 1891 census. For census details look under Rottingdean schools as Warren Farm School land came under Rottingdean in those days. You can also view some of the school admission lists at East Sussex Record Office. All years are not included. Some years, especially 1891, I have only found lists of girls. You can always ring the ESRO and ask what other records they hold for the school.

By Norma Noakes (02/06/2012)

To James Gardner: I have just finished your excellent book a History of the Brighton workhouses. It's a must read for anyone interested in the history of the Brighton area. Now I must find your other two books mentioned in the back jacket, thanks for a great read.

By Den King (21/08/2012)

Some years ago I asked my mother about her school days and she was extremely upset but said that she went to Warren Farm school and that's all she would say. She was born in Acton London in May 1923 but her mother moved to Brighton in the 1930's. My mothers name was Ethel Lucie Green before she married does any one remember her from any of the Warren Farm schools?

By Carol Brown (25/08/2012)

My name is Sharon and I am trying to locate a picture or any information regarding my great grandmother Eliza Hillman. I know from the 1901 Censusr that she was there with her sister Emily in Warren Farm. Can anyone help me with this? Many thanks.

By Sharon Witney (19/10/2012)

My late father Robert Faulkner was born in 1931 and was a boarder at Warren Farm during the 30's and 40's. He was known as Bobby when he was at school and I understand he lived in the infirmary part of the school due to ill health. Sadly he died at the age of 34 (when I was 6 years old) and unfortunately I didn't get the chance to find out the finer details of how or why he came to be at Warren Farm. If anyone remembers him or has any information about him or his family, I'd love to hear from them. The only information I have on his family is that his mother was Evelyn Faulkner. My email address is rose.mitchener@btinternet.com

By Rosemary Mitchener (nee Faulkner) (21/10/2012)

Hi, I am trying to find out where a brass plaque with Warren Farm Schools Parish of Brighton, was located at Warren Farm school. I went to the school in 68 to 72, known as Fitzherbert School then, and would like to know where it was located. Does anyone out there remember? martin.phillips97@ntlworld.com

By Martin Phillips (01/11/2012)

John, I think the houses were named after trees: Oak, Ash, Elm and Beech.

By Mary Smith Nee Gillespie (03/11/2012)

My father Raymond Huggett and uncle Esdaile Huggett were both inmates at Warren Farm. I know my dad was there at the outbreak of war in 1939 when he was 12. But know nothing more. Can anyone help me? andrew@huggett.me.uk

By Andy Huggett (28/01/2013)

At least three of my great grandmother's children from her first marriage to Alfred Watkins were at Warren Farm on the 1901 census. Florence Watkins born in 1891, Albert Cornelius (Bertie) born 1894 and Henry Ernest (Harry) born in 1899.  Bertie & Harry were both killed in action in WW1. Mary Jane Scrase, as she was before marrying Alfred WATKINS, subsequently married my Great Grandfather Harry Frederick Hall and went on to have a further seven children with him. My Aunt Jean always recalls her grandmother taking her to the Brighton War Memorial to see their names.  I cannot find anything further about Florence Watkins but if she is part of your family tree, I would love you to get in touch - nlas.newman@virginmedia.com  

By Lyn Newman (17/02/2014)

When my mother had to go to hospital I spent six months or so at Warren Farm. It must have been about 1946. I recall that I had to spend a week in the workhouse hospital at the top of Elm Grove before being admitted to the home. Presumably this was a sanitary precaution. I was deeply unhappy and ran away to my grandmother's in Hove only to be captured and have to spend another week in the Hospital. There were some happy moments such as the freedom to roam around undeveloped Woodingdean. I particularly recall the violets in the woods near the home and that there was a friendly tramp (probably an old soldier) living in these woods.

By William Brock (26/03/2014)

Thanks for including your memories here.  My classmates and I have been talking about the old school (we went to Fitzherbert 1964-1969), and we were recalling the layout of the classrooms and buildings.  If anyone can remember where they, or their relatives' rooms were, and the layout of the building when it was Warren Farm, it would be very helpful to us. The old infirmary at the bottom of the plans was demolished, and our school gym was put there. How many floors did the infirmary have? The layout of the Warren Farm School would be very helpful, even if you can only remember one room or one memory!  Thanks very much and keep the memories flowing on this page!  All very welcome and adding to our local history, no matter how tiny - all relevant in building up a picture of the school.

By Mary Funnell (11/10/2014)

My dad, Peter King, was at Warren Farm School till Lea Inv. School.  I think he went to Yorkshire for a tie. His two brothers were also there: John King around 1911 and Cherry (a nickname) King 1921.  My father died in 1977 so I do not know much. Any info to Jan.

By Jan (28/10/2014)

I would love to know if Miss Burfield worked here many years ago.

By Jean Nunney (02/03/2015)

Brian Leaney: I had no idea we were together at Warren Farm .It's come as a bit of a shock to learn that we were together at Fairbridge without us knowing we shared a common beginning. Please make contact via my email address (gbowley5@gmail.com)

By George Anthony Bowley (19/04/2015)

Warren Farm was my first school. I went there when I was five, or maybe a couple of months short of my fifth birthday. Before I started, my mother and I were given a tour by one of the teachers. She told us I would get free milk every day. It would be kept on top of the radiators so it would be nice and warm when the kids drank it. I learned to read and write very quickly.  Only one of my classmates had any reading problems. He was made to wear a dunce's cap and stand in a corner. That made be very angry. It seemed so unfair. I guess I would have stayed there for years but I was attacked in the playground by another pupil, an evacuee. She punched me on the nose for no reason and made it bleed. As a result my mother took me away from the school in my first year and sent me to a Dame School just up the road at a charge of 2s 6d a week.  It was called Sylvan Mount and was run by a ghastly women called Mrs Jenner, a creature far worse than the aggressive evacuee. She wore Victorian clothes and had no gift for teaching, unless bullying can be regarded as a gift. She could play many musical instruments and taught the piano and the violin. Kids had the hands jabbed with pen nibs if their writing was not satisfactory. If you didn't squeeze the violin strings tightly enough, she clamped her hands round yours and forced your fingers painfully on to the strings. A lot of religion was rammed down our throats but our innocent questions were not answered. "Who made God?" I asked her once. "Never ask a question like that again," she said. I get the same response when I asked her, "Please miss, what's a virgin?" She was very keen on archaeology and told us that ancient Egyptians invented the aeroplane.  One of  their planes had been dug up in the desert, she said. I never complained to my mother because I thought her school was normal. Kids don't complain if things are normal, and they believe that what they see every day constitutes normality. I endured three years there and both my sisters went to Sylvan Mount as well: three half-crowns a week for the monstrous Mrs Jenner. I can't help feeling we'd have been better off at Warren Farm School.  Anyone out there have any thoughts about that?

By Ken Creffield (28/02/2016)

My dad Reginald Cornwell, his brother Leonard and two sisters Joyce and Sylvia were all put into the orphanage when their mother died a few months after giving birth to Leonard somewhere around 1919 - as their dad was not able to care for them on his own.  My dad was a chef which I understand was part of the technical training. He never talked about it much but did tell me some of the hiding places  as I also went to Warren Secondary School in the early 1960s (a wing of Fitzherberts) whilst they built Longhill. If anyone has any information  please email me jeannecw@me.com 

By Jeanne Clarke-Walker (nee Cornwell) (15/05/2016)

I have always been interested in the history of Warren Farm as my Mother and her siblings were sent there when their Mother died in 1931/2 and my Grandfather couldn't support the family. I think they had five children between them when they met and went on to have a further eight together. Reading the comments by Sylvia Holdsworth in 2012  has quite stirred some memories of my Mum relaying stories regarding her years at Warren Farm - her name was Rose Jones and her brother John Jones lived with us when I was a girl until he got married in 1959. Anne Jones did indeed marry a Canadian soldier and is the only one of all 13 children still living - I visit Canada quite often to visit her and my Uncle Ovide - they will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in January 2017.  John Jones died very young at the age of 39 - there was also another brother Jim who became a solicitor but sadly died aged 43 in Rhodesia.  Another sister Ellen Jones also married a Canadian soldier and moved to New Brunswick. I was lucky enough to arrange a surprise visit back in 1990 for my Mum's 70th in Vancouver where all three sisters were together for the first time in over 40 years. Very emotional as you can imagine. It has been quite moving to read all the various stories and I must pass them on to my cousins in Canada as they have always been interested but like me couldn't really find out any information. Thank you so much.

By Gloria Brigden (15/05/2016)

I can remember my dad telling me he was in Warren Farm with his brothers and sisters when his Father was at sea and his mother was taken ill. He was Derrick Vane who was one of eight children.

By Janet Howell (15/05/2016)

I was informed in my later years that I was placed in Warren Farm about 1936-1938. My mother, Gladys Stenhouse could not take care or me temporally, due to pregnancy. I was not old enough to remember being there, but going by in later years I had a feeling I had been in that building. Sounds like I was lucky to survive. I am 82 years old and have been living the good life in California for the last 54 years.

By Henry John Stenhouse (30/12/2016)

My great-great-grandfather John Henley was a tailor, and was appointed the first master tailor on the teaching staff at Warren Farm (see: Brighton Guardian, 25 June 1862). However, by October of the same year it was reported that he had already resigned: I suspect for family reasons - his tenth and last child was born in the same year.

By Stephen Henley (16/09/2017)

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