Our History

Once upon a time

An abridged history

John Wesley opened a school for the children of local colliers in the Kings Wood near Bristol. Soon the school was taking in the children of itinerant Methodist preachers and eventually all the pupils, who were by then, boarders, came from this source. The regime was strict, children rising at 4 a.m. and working before breakfast. No playtime was permitted. A gift from a benefactor enabled school buildings to be put up and there were soon 50 boys and 6 masters. A few girls were taken, funded locally.

John Wesley died having visited the school regularly and kept in touch through letters. The school continued on the same site for another sixty years under a succession of headmasters.

Requiring more space, the school was moved to a site on Lansdown, Bath, the school re-opened in the next year, becoming known as Kingswood School, Bath. It is now an independent school for boys and girls.

Mary Carpenter came from Bristol to open a Reformatory School on the vacated site, which had been purchased by Mr Russell Scott in order to take in child offenders who, otherwise, would have been sent to an adult prison.

Following legislation authorising reformatories, Mary’s school was given a certificate by Lord Palmerston, then Home Secretary.

The central Victorian building was erected with funding from local County Councils and the Wills family.

The Children & Young Persons Act provided for Kingswood to become an approved school under the Home Office, boys being taken in following the making of a care order. The school was managed by a voluntary Board.

Celebration of 200 years at a ceremony addressed by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, the Home Secretary.

The Special Unit opened at Kingswood for boys with severe behavioural problems (the first of such units in the country).

Under a further enactment Kingswood became a community home with education under the control of the local authority, initially Bristol Corporation.

Kingswood Schools Foundation Limited became incorporated and the various parcels of land and buildings, purchased over the years by trustees were vested in the new company.

Avon County Council came into existence and became the controlling authority for Kingswood. The relationship became uncomfortable, probably because Kingswood now had an international reputation under its principal, John Burns, for work with young offenders.

The gradual closing down of Kingswood Schools began under Avon, beginning with the Training School which had been housed in the old Victorian building.

Occupation of the grounds by travellers followed by a disastrous fire in the now empty former Training School.

After the release by Avon C.C. of the estate to Kingswood Foundation, the sale off of part to the City Technology Trust for £1.65 million. With this money the Foundation began the refurbishment of the retained part of the estate, including the old Training School.  Lease to the first tenant, the circus school Fool Time.

Opening of the John Cabot City Technology College on the adjoining site. Fool Time go into liquidation and leave the estate. A major reorganisation of estate services is undertaken so as to allow smaller units to rent or hire room space.

Open day and conference hosted by Terry Waite to publicise the estate’s facilities and to discover local needs from youth and community workers. Circomedia Circus School starts on the site.

Fourteen tenants now on the site with seven other organisations regularly hiring rooms, mostly working with young people. The concept of a youth village taking shape but the failure of the hostel for young homeless project. Removal of ‘School‘ from the Foundation’s name.

The National Youth Orchestra becomes tenants. The policy of offering discounted rent to small youth organisations to encourage new initiatives established.

Financial stability achieved and the appointment of the first paid Managing Executive, Pippa Jones, achieved. Regular Summer Schools run by the Foundation began. Policy decision made to major on work in the Arts and Performance field.

Celebration of the 250 the anniversary of the founding of Kingswood School marked by the return from Bath of the old school bell and its attachment to the wall of the East Wing.

Review of the work of the Foundation by and the Report of Peter Boyden Associates advising that partnerships be sought with local authorities and other bodies to work on new projects and that a full time Chief Executive be appointed to follow up these new possibilities.

Kingswood Foundation agrees its vision to become a centre of excellence to inspire young people through the arts.  A programme of events totalling 15 each year is planned.

Kingswood Foundation changes its name to the Creative Youth Network and purchases The Station – a state of the art youth centre in central Bristol.

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