School of Industry for Girls
By Geoffrey Cordingley
The School for Industry for Girls often referred to as Brown Coat School was set up in the eighteenth century with the aim of preparing girls for service in the large houses in the area. Three ladies from the Society of Friends (Quakers) established the school in 1793. The school started in Water Lane Cottages and moved briefly to West Street. before being settled in this building.
The fiftieth anniversary was celebrated 1843.
According to Kelley’s Directories, in 1851 to 1855 Mrs Mary Jane Bates was mistress of the school.
This building was erected in 1855 with the aim of educating 56 girls.
According to Kelley’s Directories the following ladies were mistresses of the school:
In 1859 Miss Amy Chandler Bates
In 1867 & 69 Miss Carolyn Eglington
In 1874 Miss Elizabeth Butcher
In 1874 & 78 Miss Elizabeth Abbott who was listed as Mistress of Able Smith Testimonial National School for Girls in 1867 – 1970.
In 1901 the certficated mistress of the school was Caroline E. Butterfield. In the May of this year the school was merged with All Saints’ Infant School. Miss Butterfield became mistress of Abel Smith’s Memorial National Girls’ School. Miss Butterfield had been mistress of The School for Industry since 1881/2 and lived at the house with her mother, Ann (until she died in 1895) and her sister Eleanor.
The family came from Hatfield where Caroline’s father had been a bricklayer/mason. Caroline died aged 78 in 1927 in Hertford. The building is now part of Abel Smith School.
Miss Butterfield retired as mistress of Abel Smith suffering from ill-health in 1914. She was succeeded by Kate Davis who moved from Bristol and was chosen out of 94 applicants.