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HM Borstal

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Open Day 1964
Workhouse 1905
Cucumber House 1905
New Cottages 1905
Hollesley Bay Experiment
Bricklaying Class
Colonial College Poster
Reports 2003-2005
Governors Report 1990



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Hollesley Bay had its beginnings as a Training Establishment in 1887 with the foundation of the Colonial College and Training Farms Limited by Mr. Robert Johnson on some 1,800 acres, covering roughly the area of the present estate.

The College, designed as much to meet a national need as to be a commercial organisation, derived its income from fee paying students. Its published objects were: "To provide for those intending to emigrate, a thoroughly sound and practical training before their departure": and the prospectus recommended two years residence as an essential ingredient to success in the Colonies. Many letters from old boys of the College suggest that these objectives were largely fulfilled.

For almost 20 years the College prospered, teaching its young men the whole range of agricultural subjects and giving instruction in a variety of other fields, extending from hygiene to geology. It is implied rather than stated, that the regime was designed to provide an inbuilt stiff upper lip as much as an academic knowledge. It is particularly interesting to note that the Director and Father figure of the College, Mr. Robert Johnson, was an active and dedicated worker in the field of penal reform. It seems most fitting that the ideals which he cherished are so closely achieved by the training methods in use here now.

There is a memorial of the old College still with us today in the shape of the main Borstal building.

As the impetus of colonisation began to fade about the turn of the century so in 1905 the College was taken over by the Central Committee of the London Unemployed Fund, soon to become the London Central (Unemployed) Body, and renamed the Hollesley Bay Farm Colony. This rather grim yet enlightened organisation tried to meet a very necessary social need by injecting a measure of hope in attempted cure of the apathy of some of London's thousands of unemployed. The means was to import men from London and employ them on farm work and rural industries for a month in the first instance and, if they were industrious and adapted to the work, then to settle them and their families in permanent employment either on the estate or elsewhere. Between two and three hundred men were accommodated at any one time; the venture was well intentioned and the degree of success although limited in terms of percentage can be more adequately measured in human terms by the number of people living in the area now who owe their present environment and circumstances to it.

As in the case of the old Colonial College, times changed; the nation ended another chapter in its chequered history and unemployment's despair was gone. In 1938 Hol1esley Bay was acquired by the Prison Commission to fill a new need to train young offenders within the framework of the relatively new Borstal system.

Take a look at the reports by the Independent Monitoring Boards on Hollesley Bay Prison and the Warren Hill Young Offender Institution for an up-to-date account of the establishements. Take a look also at how it was in 1990 by reading the Governor's account in that year.


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