London Metropolitan Archives - Item Details


Date of Creation:

1835 - 2011

Reference Code:


Scope and Content:
  • The collection consists of the records of Shaftesbury Young People and its predecessors, Saint Giles and Saint Georges Bloomsbury Ragged School, National Refuges for Homesless and Destitute Children and the Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa. The records have been arranged into the following sections:

    Governance LMA/4647/A which includes the minutes and papers of committee, annual reports, memorandum and articles of association.

    Adminstration LMA/4647/B. the files of the main posts from the twentieth century covering policy, staffing, publicity, finace and property.

    Finance LMA/4647/C

    Homes and School records LMA/4647/D which includes records from most of the homes run by the Shaftesbury Society, although the records of individual admissions to the homes are very sparse.

    Training Ships LMA/4647/E a very comprehensive set of records including a complete run of admission registers for both the TS Chichester and TS Arethusa which have been indexed by boys name.

    Publicity LMA/4647/F including biographical material on William Williams, newletters, publications, photographs and audio-visual material.
Extent: 51.2 linear metres
Classification: CHARITIES
Site Location: London Metropolitan Archives
Level of Description:

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Administrative History:
  • The history of Shaftesbury Young People goes back to 1843 when William Williams. A solicitors clerk helped to fund a school in the Rookery of St Giles area of Holborn for 150 boys and girls. Inspite of the difficulties and hostilities, the school was a success and by 1852 Williams had raised enough money to open the Society's first 'Refuge' for homeless and destitute children which opened on the corner of Broad Street and George Street also in St Giles. The Refuges housed both boys and girls. They taught boys the trades of carpentry, cobbling and tailoring in addition to seamanship skills, and girls the skills needed for domestic service.
    Williams work attracted the patronage and active support of Lord Shaftesbury (the 7th Earl) who, in 1866, used his influence to secure the use of a redundant naval warship, the TS Chichester, followed in 1874 by the TS Arethusa. These housed up to 400 boys on the Thames and were the start of over a hundred years of training boys for future life in the Royal or Merchant Navy.
    In 1867 the farm school at Bisley opened, followed by the Shaftesbury Boys' School in 1873.
    By 1900 more than 1000 children were in the residential care of the charity and in 1904 the charity changed its name from The National Refuge for Homeless and Destitute Children to Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa.
    Over the next 40 years the refuges in London amalgamated and relocated out of London forming large institutional schools (Bisley Farm School, Fortescue House, Esher Place (for girls) in Surrey and Royston in Hertfordshire). After the Second World War, the expansion of the fostering system gradually reduced the demand for places. The large institutions were sold, and the childcare provision was scaled down to a more domestic size. The change in the school leaving age in the early 1970s closed the gap between leaving school and the entry age for the adult armed services. The Arethusa training ship no longer had a role and was sold to the South Street Seaport Museum in New York. It is still there today, under its former name of Peking.
    Children's homes owned and run by the charity came and went as demand dictated during the 1970s and 80s. In 1993 the first service level agreement for a partnership between a local authority and a charity was signed with Wandsworth borough in south London. In 1998 a similar contract was signed with Lambeth. In 2004, Shaftesbury Homes & Arethusa formed a partnership with Southwark Council, managing three children's homes in the borough.
    Supported housing and care leaver services were set up in Suffolk and London from 1990. A Young Persons Support Service was developed in Islington in 2003.
    The land based facilities for the training ship at Upnor on the Medway were developed into the Arethusa Venture Centre.
    In 2006, the charity changed its working name to Shaftesbury Young People.

    Information taken in part from Shaftesbury Young People website <>
Source of Acquisition:
  • B13/011; B14/136. This is a deposited collection with the exception of B14/136 (LMA/4647/E/06/03/029) which was gifted to LMA from the Second World War Experience.
  • B19/059
Access Restrictions: These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 2018