Ancestry UK

Moor Court Borstal / Detention Centre, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

In 1957, a large property known as Moor Court, at Oakamoor, near Stoke-on-Trent, was converted for use as an open borstal for girls. It opened in February 1958, initially accommodating up to 26 inmates.

On 25 September 1962, the institution re-opened as a Detention Centre for Junior and Senior girls, between the ages of 14 and 21, for whom the courts considered a long period of residential training was not necessary, but who "cannot be taught respect for the law by such measures as tines and probation." One writer viewed it as acting as "a sort of Victorian heavy father whose authority is to be enforced by really severe though kind discipline."

For the inmates there was no television, no pin-ups, no smoking and no film shows. The girls wore print cotton dresses in the house and dungarees while working in the gardens. There were day school classes for the younger ones, and the older girls received a session of further education in the evenings. None was allowed to go out unaccompanied, and the only visitors permitted were parents. The girls did their own laundry, by hand, and carried out a very full day of domestic and other work. There were also gymnasium lessons in rhythm and deportment. One concession was that they were permitted a discreet and well-supervised use of make-up.

Moor Court ceased to admit girls on 31 January 1969. Its closure was because the practice of military drill and physical education was no longer considered appropriate in the ’training’ of young women.


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  • Prison Oracle - resources those involved in present-day UK prisons.
  • GOV.UK - UK Government's information on sentencing, probation and support for families.