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Organisation Redruth Girls Reformatory (1897 - 1922)
- Care Provider, Government-run and Reformatory
- Alternative Names
- The Protestant Reformatory for Girls (Also known as)
[Taken from the South Australian guide Finding Your Own Way]
Please note that this page reproduces the original language used in the historical sources drawn upon to compile this entry. This language includes offensive and derogatory terms which are today considered unacceptable. We apologise for any offence caused by such language.
The Redruth Girls Reformatory was established in 1897 in the former Redruth Gaol outside Burra, South Australia. It was run by the State Children's Council. Protestant girls were shipped out to Redruth from the Edwardstown Girls Reformatory when it was closed due to large numbers of escapes. The first 30 girls arrived in Jan 1898. In 1909 girls from the Catholic Reformatory at Kapunda also came to Redruth. In 1922 the State Government decided Redruth was not a suitable environment for a Reformatory. The remaining inmates were sent to the Salvation Army run Barton Vale School for Girls under the supervision of the State Children's Council.
In 1897 the South Australian Government began renovations and additions to the disused Redruth Gaol near Burra in preparation for it to be used as a Reformatory for Protestant girls. All girls had been accommodated at the Edwardstown Reformatory since 1891, but it was decided that girls of different religious denominations should be separated. Both the Catholic and Protestant groups were sent to country areas, where it was hoped escapes would become less of a problem. In January 1898 the first thirty girls were transferred from Edwardstown to Redruth along with the resident matron, Mary Elizabeth Holden. She remained there until her retirement in 1909. A permanent historical display at the now heritage listed building reports that her time was 'one of the most lively periods of the reformatory'. During those first twelve years there were forty escapes, a suicide attempt and a fire which destroyed the laundry building.
The second matron, Elizabeth Price, came from the Catholic Reformatory for Girls at Kapunda which closed in November 1909. The eleven girls still resident there accompanied her to Redruth. The 1909 Annual Report of the State Children's Council provides a snapshot of life at the reformatory. Twenty one girls were in residence. Five girls were newly admitted, one for larceny, two charged as uncontrollable, one under unfit guardianship and the last because of failure to pay a fine. Many girls were readmitted, mostly from the Industrial School or the Probationary School run by the Salvation Army. Those that were discharged or transferred mostly went into service or returned to the Industrial School. Others were admitted to the Lying-in home, meaning that they were due to give birth. During their time at Redruth girls were constantly employed at various jobs including sewing (mostly for all the government institutions), knitting, laundry work and caring for poultry.
The final matron, Edith Bubb, remained at the reformatory until its closure in 1922. That year the Government decided that the Redruth gaol was not a suitable building or location for a reformatory. The remaining eleven girls, aged from 13 to 20, were transferred to the newly opened Barton Vale School for Girls, run by the Salvation Army under the supervision of the State Children's Council.
- 1897 - 1922
- Redruth Girls Reformatory situated at Burra, South Australia. Location: Burra
Records Managed by
- Redruth Girls Reformatory
- B 8635
- State Library of South Australia
Sources used to compile this entry: George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005, http://www.salinkup.com.au/content.php?page_id=4.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 10 February 2011, Last modified: 13 September 2012