‘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. / Nightingale, Jamie.

2018. 313 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis




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
Thesis sponsors
  • Crossland Scholarship
Award date1 Sep 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 8 Sep 2018
This open access research output is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

ID: 31165946