How did the Norton Foundation get its name and money?
In December 1851 a group of eminent Birmingham benefactors, led by the pioneering reformer Charles Adderley MP (later created Lord Norton) formed an association to develop and manage a Reformatory School in the city for boys who had offended against the laws of the day. It aimed to give them work skills and deter them from a life of crime. Three houses in Rylands Road were purchased for the purpose and initially housed five boys. The project was a substantial success and early in 1853 moved to purpose-built premises (in Fordrough Lane) off Bordesley Green Road, Saltley (pictured right) and became known as the Saltley Reformatory School. The objective of the school being ‘to reform criminal boys from all parts of the Kingdom’. The school was officially ‘approved’ by the Home Office in 1854 and thus became an Approved School. By 1857 the school housed 25 boys and by the turn of the century (in 1900) the roll had reached 100. On 31st August 1939 i.e. days before the commencement of World War Two, the premises were requisitioned by the Post Office. The school moved hastily to Bury St Edmunds for a short period before settling in Machynlleth until the end of WWII.
After the War the managers wished to return the operation to the Midlands and, as the Saltley location was no longer available, the school was moved to Kineton House, Little Kineton (pictured right), Warwickshire. This location enabled the pupils to learn additional vocational skills such as farming for which the site was well suited.
In the early part of the twentieth century there was a steady move away from the concept of criminality to that of child care and as a result in 1933 the school became a Senior Approved School for boys aged between 15 and 19.
A 1969 Act effectively abolished Approved School in favour of Community Homes, thus, in 1973, the school became an Assisted Community Home under the direction of Warwickshire County Council. The school retained its land and buildings under the control of a Board of Foundation and Council-nominated Managers (some of whom were also Directors of Norton School Ltd), but the running of the school was under the control and funding of the County Council.
Due to a gradual change in policy from, taking young people into care, to, dealing with the problem in a home environment, the school became financially unviable; despite opening the doors to girls and becoming virtually the last such establishment in the country. Therefore, on 31st December 1985, Warwickshire County Council ceased to operate the School and the land and buildings reverted to the Norton Foundation Directors.
The Board of Directors sold all the assets and the proceeds were transferred to the Trustees of the newly formed Norton Foundation. The Trustees have invested the funds for the long term and now use the income for the benefit of young people in the areas which were of greatest concern to Lord Norton.
The Rt. Hon. Lord Norton of Norton-le-Moors
KCMG, PC, JP, DL.