Since it was abandoned in 1973, Eastmoor Reformatory in Adel, Yorkshire, is no longer as secure as it once was. In this series of images, photographer Tom Blackwell takes us on a virtual tour of the building that once housed 160 young offenders within its walls, in a bid to put their lives back on track.
England’s cities boomed during the Industrial Revolution, but accompanying the wealth came increasing poverty as those unable to support themselves were left to the mercy of the cold or the workhouse. Crime became an attractive prospect for many workhouse kids growing up with limited opportunities. Reformatory institutions, commonly known as borstals, were created in an attempt to reform seriously delinquent youths.
Eastmoor Reformatory, opened in 1857, was one of many secure institutions tasked with teaching young offenders the practical skills necessary for finding gainful employment upon release. Many “graduates” were employed by fishing vessels out of the aptly named Grimsby, and the deserted Victorian swimming pool built in 1887 probably helped prepare inmates for potential “man overboard”.
In addition to vocational training, a strong Christian ethos was considered essential to the boys’ development. The Eastmoor Reformatory chapel filled that role before being turned into a gymnasium in later years. Commenting on the image above, photographer Phill.d, whose work we’ve featured previously, wrote: “I really hate this place with a passion, it’s thouroughly nasty, it’s the worst U.E. (urban exploration) thing i’ve ever done.” For such an experienced urbexer to keep his distance, this must be one sinister place! Images by Tom Blackwell. View Tom’s website here.