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Queensland - Organisation

Reformatory School for Boys, Lytton (1881 - 1899)

16 February 1881
1 October 1899
Government-run, Home and Reformatory

The Reformatory School for Boys, Lytton was run by the State Government of Queensland. Boys under the age of 18 years were sentenced to a term of confinement at the reformatory by Children's Courts. It opened 1881 when inmates from the hulk Proserpine were transferred to the new land-based reformatory. It closed 1899 when the boys were moved to the Diamantina Reformatory School for Boys which was opened at South Brisbane.


Industrial and reformatory schools were established for the purpose of segregating neglected and convicted juveniles from adult prisoners.

Boys under the age of 18 years were sentenced to a term of confinement at the reformatory by Children's Courts. It appears that some boys were transferred to orphanages before the expiration of their sentences. Parents of neglected and convicted inmates were required to contribute financially to the maintenance of their sons whilst in the reformatory.

Boys who were transferred from the Proserpine to Signall Hill, Lytton in 1881, assisted in the building of the new reformatory. Their labour contributed to a defensive stockade surrounding Signal Hill, and the building of Fort Lytton itself. Buildings included dormatories, classrooms and a tailor's workshop. Industrious boys were offerred individual garden plots in which they could grow their own produce.

Mr James Wassell, superintendent of the Reformatory for Boys on the Proserpine, continued as superintendent of the Lytton reformatory. He held sole power of punishment which in serious cases meant boys were canned. Warders supervised inmates while outside and in the workshop.

Those boys considered trustworthy were sent out to service for the remainder of their sentence. A school teacher lived on-site, holding classes for the younger boys in the morning and older boys in the afternoon. The boys made their own clothes in the tailor's workshop.

On 1 October 1899 the boys were transferred to the Diamantina Reformatory School for Boys at South Brisbane, while buildings from Lytton were moved to and re-erected at a site at Westbrook, near Toowoomba. The boys relocated to Westbrook on 5 May 1900.


16 February 1881 - 1 October 1899
Location - The Reformatory for Boys, Lytton was situated at Signal Hill, Lytton. Location: Lytton


 1871 - 1881 Reformatory School for Boys - Hulk Proserpine
       1881 - 1899 Reformatory School for Boys, Lytton
             1899 - 1900 Diamantina Reformatory School for Boys
                   1900 - 1919 Westbrook Reformatory for Boys
                         1919 - 1966 Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook
                               1966 - 1987 Westbrook Training Centre
                                     1987 - 1993 Westbrook Youth Centre
                                           1993 - 1994 Westbrook Youth Detention Centre
                                                 1994 - 2012 Darling Downs Correctional Centre

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Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Reformatory School for Boys, Lytton (Agency ID 11371)', in Queensland State Archives website, Queensland Government, 2004 - 2013,

Prepared by: Lee Butterworth