Reformatory School For Boys

Reformatory School For Boys

Stage Number: MBSH.04.01.01

Group: Eastern & Bay

Local Study Area: Hemmant-Lytton-Port of Brisbane

Epoch: Late 19th Century

Street Address: Lytton Hill, Lytton

Latitude & Longitude: -27.41308333,153.16219444

Time Link: 1881

Map Link: 1880

Image Time Point: 1880

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A reformatory for boys opened at Signal Hill, Lytton, in February 1881. For the previous ten years an old hulk called the ‘Proserpine’, moored on the river at Lytton, had been used as the reformatory. These institutions were established to keep criminal boys under the age of 18 years away from the hardening influence of adult prisoners. The new building at Lytton was under the supervision of a Superintendent and a Visiting Justice and had classrooms, a tailor’s workshop, and comparatively spacious and comfortable dormitories. The Lytton boys had an annual picnic and there was even a fife and drum band. The boys were said to be treated reasonably well, and labour was used to try and give them a sense of purpose and self-respect. Apart from tailoring, this labour included construction work on various Fort Lytton buildings and a defensive stockade surrounding Signal Hill. This reformatory was quite successful, as an 1885 report found that only 15 out of 235 former inmates had ended up in prison. The Lytton Reformatory was closed in October 1899 when a new facility was opened at South Brisbane, although this was to be a temporary home before the opening of the ‘Westbrook Experimental Farm’ near Toowoomba in 1900.


Queensland State Archives Agency ID11371, Reformatory School for Boys, Lytton; The Telegraph, 19 February 1881, 24 September 1885, 10 February 1897; Queensland Times, 30 May 1899.

Image Citations

Colonel Edmund David Russell Ross, ca. 1888. Ross was the visiting Justice at the Reformatory School for Boys at Lytton. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Record number: 183751.

Map References

QSA. QSA Series 1748 Moreton District, County of Stanley Maps – A1 Series. 8 chains to the inch. Town of Lytton, Parish of Tingalpa, County of Stanley. 8 chains to the inch. Survey Office, Brisbane. 620673