Kyloe House is a secure children’s home located in Netherton Park, Morpeth. Since opening, it has housed some of the most vulnerable juveniles in society, mostly those who were considered “violent and disturbed.” It is run by the city council.
Before transforming into Kyloe House, it was known as the Netherton Training School, which was built by Lord Ridley of Blagdon in 1857. The Netherton Training School was a reformatory for “delinquent boys.” At the time, children in care were often referred to as “delinquents.”
In the reformatory, life focused on communal life and the boys would be forced to work on the two farms as well as workshops, where they were taught trades and craftsmanship. Many farmers in the area would employ some of the boys at the reformatory for casual labour.
Around 106 boys were locked up in Netherton Training School and their parents were expected to make a contribution to the cost of their “keep.” Over the years, the minimum and maximum age of the boys who could be sent to the reformatory changed but by 1893, the minimum age was 12-years-old while the maximum age was 19-years-old.
In the wake of the Children & Young Person’s Act of 1932, reformatories and industrial schools were amalgamated and they formed what was known as an “Approved School.” The following year, there were more changes in the terminology surrounding such “approved schools” and the term “superintendent” was changed to either “headmaster” or “headmistress.” The purpose in these changes was to remove stigmatisation to juveniles in secure care.
There were a number of escapes at Netherton Training School, including one in 1946 when 35 boys between the ages of 16-years-old and 18-years-old escaped in the early evening. A. W. Carnegie, the headmaster, said: “Nothing like this has ever happened before – the boys must have been reading about the Alcatraz affair. I am quite sure the whole thing was planned.” The following day, another three escaped. All of the boys, except for eight, were captured and brought back to the reformatory.
There had been another escape back in 1919. 17-year-old Woolf Nathan escaped and when he was captured, he was charged with absconding from the school. When he appeared in court, he alleged that he had been horrifically abused at the reformatory. He said that after he arrived, he “received six strokes of the birch for laughing at an amusing incident.” He also said that when “one of the masters” heard that he was planning an escape, he received “another 12 strokes of the birch.” According to Nathan, he had also not received sufficient food.
In 1995, Kyloe House was developed. For all intents and purposes, it was simply a more modern version of the Netherton Training School. It held juveniles from all across the country and juveniles were sent to Kyloe House for several reasons, from behavioural problems to criminal activity and violence. All of the juveniles sent to Kyloe House needed the protection of a highly secure environment; some were there to protect themselves while some were there to protect others.
Kyloe House consisted of two 6-bedsit, living units and a five class education block that was arranged around a central kitchen and a gymnasium. It provided juveniles with a learning environment and each inspection would pass with flying colours. School was an integral part of the daily routine with six full-time teachers. The purpose was to help juveniles develop their education, life skills and earn qualifications so that when they leave, it would give them more opportunities to integrate and become productive members of society.
In 1999, social worker, Dominic Harvey, was badly injured while trying to restrain a “violent child.” During the incident, Harvey and a female colleague were attempting to calm down an aggressive child when the child turned on Harvey, resulting in a twisted knee. Harvey subsequently sued his employer, the Northumberland County Council. They would be ordered to pay Harvey £19,000 in damages because of their “failure to adequately train him.”
Five years later, Kyloe House was rocked by another scandal, when a resident escaped. They were able to shimmy up the pole of a basketball hoop and then hop over the wall. The juvenile remained free just for several hours, before he decided to return to Kyloe House and handed himself in.
In 2010, county councillors approved an extension at Kyloe House. It was a single storey extension that provided a gym, music room and a store room.
A couple of years later, Kyloe House appeared in local newspapers when the juveniles designed a silk painting which they then donated to the Buffalo Community Centre. Part of the ethos at Kyloe House focused on therapy and social interaction and art class was a focus.
In 2012, some of the buildings that were used for children’s residential accommodation were closed. These buildings were referred to as “Kestrel” and “Kingfisher” and they were two of the older buildings that were built for the Netherton Training School. After closing, they became derelict,
In 2021, an application was approved for 85 homes to be built on the grounds, where the derelict buildings lay.
The rest of the children’s home remains active today.
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