This sequence of photos captures the final days of Cambria House in 1982.
In 1858 the older building on the right became an 'Industrial School'. The children of the 'inmates' and the orphans from the poorhouse in Newport (at the top of Stow Hill) were moved there. It was considered that being housed and educated away from the poorhouse would break the cycle of dependency that was thought to be inherent in the system.
In 1882 the building was extended to accommodate more children and by 1891 there were 189 pupils living and being educated there.
The buildings ceased being used for this purpose in 1902. In the forty odd years it was open it must have been home for several thousand poor children. Inspectors' reports generally were favourable but in the late 1860s it seems to have been a cruel place.
In 1881 the superintendent was Gilbert Harding. His wife, Mary, was Matron and they had three young children - Edith, Mary and Gilbert. Young Gilbert was destined to become the father of a celebrity, someone who at the peak of his fame was known to practically everyone in the UK. Yes, this was another Gilbert the Gilbert Harding of TV's What's My Line
For a full history of the Industrial School and the 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 census details follow this link
In 1902 the Industrial School's registers were taken for the last time, and when in 1906 plans were first afoot for setting up a college for training teachers in Caerleon the possibility of using these buildings was explored. Fortunately the idea was dropped quite quickly and the college opened on its present, far more spacious, site in 1914.
Cambria House was later to house other homeless children though - the Basque Refugees. For information about this follow this link
Cambria House was demolished in 1982 after, in its later years, being an ambulance station. (Photo of the rear of the building
when it was used as an ambulance station.)
In our Archive
you will find a sketch showing a covered walkway
between the house on the left (which in the days of the Industrial School was the Superintendent's house) and the main building. So far we haven't been able to find anybody who remembers this structure. If you do, or if you have a photo of it please contact us.