No. 315 - St Christopher's at Ashley Boys' Home - 'A Toilet Block, A Cross and Candlesticks'

In 1922 the Ashley Boys’ Home was established outside Deloraine on a government owned farm. The Ashley Home originated as a Boys' Training School at New Town. In 1926, following the recommendation of the 1925 Committee of Inquiry into the State Farm and School for Boys, the government changed the name to the Ashley Boys' Home. The Committee hoped that this would reduce the stigma attached to boys who were at the Home. In 1950 a fire gutted the main building on the site (see photograph below).

In the 1960’s a chapel was constructed out of an old toilet block with the help of the boys. The chapel was ‘dedicated’ as St Christopher’s by Donald Blackburn, a retired Anglican minister of St Mark’s parish and former Bishop of Gippsland, and Father Sherry of Holy Redeemer parish in Deloraine.

An interesting feature of the chapel was a cross and two candlesticks carved by soldiers at Gallipoli. These items were donated by Bishop Blackwood. Between 1912 and 1920 Blackwood served a chaplain in the Australian Armed Forces and received the Military Cross at Villers-Bretonneux after giving up his gas mask to a wounded soldier.

The government demolished the chapel when the Ashley Home for boys was converted into the Ashley Youth Detention Centre in 1999. Unfortunately, the cross and candlesticks as well as a painting of St Christopher by Mary Jolliffe, went missing during the redevelopment.

A Brief Note on Ashley Boys’ Home

Until the establishment of the Boys' Training School in 1869, children as young as eight or nine commonly went to gaol. The Training School housed approximately fifty inmates who were committed to the institution by court order. The Training School began at the old Female Factory, Cascades, in 1869, then moved to New Town (old orphanage site). The boys attended night school after seven hours of manual and agricultural labour each day, gaining the institution a certain renown for its prize-winning pigs. In 1922, the Training School moved to Deloraine and was renamed Ashley Boys' Home to improve farm training and remove the 'decadent city taint'. With proclamation of the Youth Justice Act in 2000 the facility formally came to be called Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

Source: Tasmanian Libraries - LPIC33-1-52

Source: Undated photograph from Western Tiers: Tuesday 17 April 2001

The Agricultural College at the State Farm School near Deloraine which became the site of the Ashley Boy's Home. Source: Weekly Courier 1914


The Mercury, Tuesday 23 May 1950,  page 1
Western Tiers: Tuesday 17 April 2001, page 16


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