‘Old England’s New Aesthetic Training Shipping’: spatial, disciplinary and health practices on the School Board for London’s industrial school ship, TS Shaftesbury 1878-1898.

Jamie Nightingale

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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In 1878, the School Board for London launched the TS Shaftesbury, an industrial school training ship. Part reformatory, part refuge, it was tasked with training the capital’s truants, ‘street arabs’, and neglected children for employment at sea. Historians and sociologists have often depicted industrial schools (and school ships) as squalid, barrack-like, de-humanising institutions. Conversely, the Shaftesbury was most often critiqued in its day as a floating symbol of the Board’s weakness for luxurious furnishing and ‘feminising’ progressive pedagogy. My thesis is presented in three parts. In the first chapters I reconstruct the ship as a cultural entity through its presentation in the press, as well as offering a detailed ‘walk through’ of the material and cultural spaces on board. In chapters four and five, I seek to challenge and nuance common tropes about industrial school ships that appear in academic literature. Chapter four challenges the view that the Shaftesbury operated a punitive disciplinary regime based around harsh physical punishments. Chapter five examines the Shaftesbury’s involvement with the sea-trade, often cited as a source of cruelty and economic slavery in the existing literature. The final two chapters deal, broadly, with notions of health and isolation. Chapter six explores the discursive construction of the ship as a space of moral isolation and transformation for its inmates, away from corrupted home environments. Weighing the ‘border’ practices between ship and home, I suggest the importance of uniform and clothing as a signifier of transformation. Chapter seven explores the rationales and practices of the Shaftesbury’s medical spaces, particularly those related to isolation, quarantine and ventilation. There currently exists very little academic literature on industrial school ships per se, and the thesis attempts to both provide a detailed physical and cultural account of the ship, whilst situating it within contemporary and recent readings of its functionality. The themes of space – including literal spaces, aesthetics, spatial freedoms, ‘border practices’ – and appearance are returned to throughout the thesis as both foci and tools of explication.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Hamlett, Jane, Supervisor
  • Moss, Stella, Advisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Sept 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 8 Sept 2018


  • Industrial school ship
  • Industrial school
  • Training ships
  • School Board for London
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Nineteenth-century institutions
  • history of childhood
  • Material Culture
  • moral geographies
  • historical geography
  • Bourdieu
  • spaciality
  • metaphorical borders
  • mercantile marine
  • port town
  • history of criminality
  • history of punishment
  • history of health
  • history of institutions
  • history of truancy
  • 1876 Education Act
  • history of gender
  • aesthetics
  • history of uniform
  • naval history
  • marine history
  • nineteenth-century shipping
  • Grays, Essex
  • sea trade
  • history of education
  • history of schooling
  • history of disease
  • metaphor analysis
  • steam shipping
  • unions merchant marine
  • merchant marine
  • shipping federation
  • marine acts
  • female ship managers
  • Liberal Party Women
  • militarism
  • militarisation
  • training ships end of sail
  • material culture ships
  • material culture schools
  • P&O ships

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