Philanthropic Society & Blind School, Bradshaw’s Hand Book, (No.90)

Bradshaw says ‘..Returning by the London Road we may notice at the end some workshops, that til recently formed part of the establishment of the Philanthropic Society, instituted in 1788 for the reformation of youthful offenders by religious and industrial training…’.

In 18C it was assumed that deserted or vagrant children would be cared for by the parish in which they found themselves but I wonder how diligently this was observed. The Philanthropic Society was founded to specifically care for the children of convicted offenders and young offenders. In 1793 the Society bought land adjacent to St George’s Circus and started building housing and workshops. Income came from collections at the Society’s Chapel of St Jude in St George’s Road (replaced by St Jude’s Church, now a Community Centre), and from the sale of the children’s work. The boys were taught trades (printing, book-binding, shoe making, tailoring, rope making and twine spinning) and the girls were prepared for domestic service. In 1850 the Society moved to Red Hill, near Reigate, and nothing remains of the buildings.

Cross's London Guide, 1851 (Mapco)

‘..Immediately adjacent is the school for the education of the Indigent Blind, founded in 1799…’. The school was founded by Thomas Boddington in the premises of the former Dog & Duck, a tavern at St George’s Fields. When these buildings were demolished for the new Bethleham Hospital the school was rehoused in 1810-12 near St George’s Circus (adjacent to the Philanthropic Society) and remained there until 1902 when it moved to Leatherhead. The students were taught trades – mat making, basket making, knitting, and so on. The buildings were demolished in 1908 and a London Underground Depot is now on the site.

School for the Indigent Blind, c.1835 (
School for the Indigent Blind, c.1835 (
A similar view today
A similar view today
The fence alongside the Underground Depot in Lambeth Road
The fence alongside the Underground Depot in Lambeth Road


You may be interested in
The Philanthropic Society
A History of South East London Suburbs
(lots of photographs)

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