The records of the Liverpool Catholic Reformatory Society (including the Clarence) are in the Liverpool Record office, this is an extract from their catalogue:RefNo
364 CAT Title
Records of the Liverpool Catholic Reformatory Association. Date
1. Reformatory [Fund] Committee Minute Books, 1 vol., 1856-1860
2. Association Minute Books, 12 vols., 1863-1870, 1885-1946
3. Clarence Committee Minute Books, 2 vols., 1896-1902
4. St. Aidan's School, Farnworth: Manager's Minute Books, 1 vol., 1940-1941
5. Abstracts of Schools Journals/Draft Minute Books, 3 vols., 1894-1898, 1908-1935
/1. Expenditure and Receipt Account Books, 1 vol., 1881-1890
/2. Maintenance Allowance Quarterly Account Books, 2 vols., 1893-1918
/3. Cash Books, 3 vols., 1890-1895
/4. Miscellaneous, 1 vol., 1895-1929
7. Out-letter books, 5 vols., 1856, 1874-1896
8. Rolls of Juvenile Offenders and related registers, 7 vols., 7 docs., 1854-1860, 1890-1945
9. Rules, etc., 2 docs., 1877, n.d.
10. Subscription Books, 1 vol., 
11. Plans, 4 docs., 1904-1927
12. Miscellaneous papers, 15 docs., 1860-1936
13. Miscellaneous printed material, 9 items, 1856-1923 Admin History
In 1854 the Act for the better Care and Reformation of Youthful Offenders in Great Britain, 10 Aug. 1854, 17 & 18 Vic., cap. 86 was passed which recommended that "... Reformatory Schools for the better training of Juvenile Offenders have been and may be established by voluntary contributions in various parts of Great Britain, and it is expedient that more extensive use should be made of such Institutions ...". Under the terms of the Act a voluntary institution could on application to the Home Office be inspected and if found satisfactory, be certified and "... held to be a Reformatory School under the Provisions of this Act". Such institutions were subject to inspection by H.M. Inspectors of Prisons and certificates could be withdrawn. Reformatory Schools were to be open only to offenders under 16 years of age and a Justice of the Peace, magistrate, etc. could direct that an offender be sent to a Reformatory for not less than two years and not more than five. Financial assistance could be received from the Treasury and a weekly contribution not exceeding 5/- could be asked of the offender's parents, guardian, etc., if of sufficient ability to bear the same".
The Act was a permissive one and it was not until 1856 that consideration was given to the question of providing reformatory accommodation for Catholic children in Liverpool. On 13 Jun. 1856 a meeting convened by circular from Dr. Goss, [Roman Catholic] Bishop of Liverpool, was held to discuss "... steps being taken by the Magistrates of Liverpool to send children to Mount St. Bernard and Arnos Court Reformatories &... the probability of these institutions being adapted to receive the Catholic children from Liverpool ..." (see 364 CAT 1/1 below). To give further consideration to this matter a "Public Meeting of the Catholics of the Liverpool Diocese" was held on 5 Aug. 1856, in the Queen's Hall, Bold Street. The outcome of this meeting (for details of resolutions etc. see 364 CAT 1/1 below) was that a fund to finance the provision of reformatory accommodation for Liverpool's young Catholic offenders was set up and a committee appointed to administer it. No steps were taken to build a reformatory school in the Diocese but loans and contributions were made to the Cistercian Abbey of Mount St. Bernard, Loughborough, Leicestershire, to which Liverpool's Catholic boy offenders were sent. Girls were sent to the care of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd at Arnos Court, Bristol.
This arrangement proved unsatisfactory and in June 1863 the [Roman Catholic] Bishop of Liverpool was notified by the Inspector of Reformatories that Liverpool offenders must leave Mount St. Bernard's Abbey and that unless "... the Catholics of Liverpool provided a suitable house and other necessaries for the maintenance, education and industrial training, they will be committed to Protestant Reformatories or be... cast among their former associates [in Liverpool] ...".
Another public meeting for the Catholics of the Diocese was held "in accordance with the invitation of the Bishop "on 10 Aug. 1863 in the Concert Hall, Nelson Street (for a detailed account of this meeting see 364 CAT 2/1 below) the outcome of which was the establishment of the Reformatory Association and its provision of a local "Ship Reformatory" for boys.
This "Ship Reformatory" was housed in a thirty-seven year old war-ship, the Clarence, in the Mersey, converted and equipped to accommodate as many as 250 boy offenders. The ship duly received its certificate and was opened as a Reformatory School on 15 May 1864.
In 1869 the Liverpool Catholic Reformatory Association accepted a gift of land at Ainsdale, and on this site it opened the Birkdale Farm Reformatory School for boys on 9 Mar. 1872, to supplement the work of Reformatory Ship Clarence. This was followed on 24 Nov. 1876 by the opening of the May Place Reformatory School for Girls, Old Swan.
The Clarence enjoyed a "chequered career" and was finally burnt out and sunk by its inmates on 26 Jul. 1899. After about a year of makeshift accommodation the boys were moved to temporary premises at Kirkedge Moor, near Sheffield. From here they were moved to the Association's new St. Aidan's Nautical Training School, Farnworth, near Widnes (known as the Farnworth Nautical Reformatory) on its completion in 1907/1908 (Gore's Directory of Liverpool 1906, p. 2335 lists Kirkedge Moor, the Directory 1908, p. 2311 lists St. Aidan's, Farnworth, and the Directory, 1907, lists neither). This school survives today  as the Farnworth St. Aidan's Intermediate School for Roman Catholic Boys.
From the second half of 1935 the Birkdale Farm School was known as the St. Thomas More School, Birkdale. This school also continues today  as the St. Thomas More Senior School for Roman Catholic Boys, Birkdale, Southport.
The May Place Reformatory School for Girls was closed down on 31 Mar. 1922, when its Home Office certificate was withdrawn.
It was resolved at a Council meeting of the Association held on 14 Mar. 1940, that the title "Liverpool Catholic Reformatory Association" should be changed to "Liverpool Catholic Training Schools Association" (see 364 CAT 2/11 below), and the Association was henceforward known by this name.
An outline History
of the Association and its reformatory schools is given in J. Bennett Father Nugent of Liverpool, 1949, pp. 50 - 62, but this work contains some inaccuracies and omits certain details. More substantial information is provided by the records listed below and some details are available in the Liverpool Directories, the Liverpool Official Red Book, and the Liverpool Archdiocesan Directory. Extent
39 vols., 28 docs., 9 items Access Conditions
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