Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 17, 2017.
Webpage updated: July 17, 2017




Six of the most destitute and deserving boys were selected from the Catte Street School in April 1857 to become Shoeblacks. They were given a uniform and equipment and allocated to one of six positions around the Town Centre.

The news story from the Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse Herald is reproduced here in full:

A small brigade of Shoeblacks has been established by the Committee of the Plymouth Ragged School Association, and the little fellows comprising the brigade may have been seen during the past week at some of the corners of the streets endeavouring, by honest industry, to earn the bread they eat.  They are six in number, and were selected from among the most destitute and deserving of the boys in the Catte-street School.  Each has been supplied with an appropriate costume, consisting of a loose red frock and coarse brown apron -- the number from 1 to 6 being marked on the right shoulder -- and upon the left breast there is a device somewhat resembling the Borough Arms, the letters P.R.S.A. supplying the place of the four "castles".

The stations of the lads are in Bedford-street, near the Church -- in Lockyer-street, near the Hotel -- in the Union-road, near the Octagon -- at the head of Old Town-street, near Mr Heydon's shop -- at the Railway Station -- and on the Parade, near the Custom-house.

Their earnings will be applied for their own benefit, party in wages and partly in a reserve fund, intended to place them out in situations where they may earn a more permanent livelihood, a small portion being retained to pay for their clothes, and to furnish the box.

We hear that a; classes of the inhabitants have received this novel experiment in Plymouth extremely well, the boys being kindly treated by the passers-by, and an encouraging amount of support has been rendered to them.

On Monday, at 12 o'clock, they appeared at the Guild Hall, with their boxes and brushes, and were introduced by Mr Rowse to the Mayor (F F Bulteel, Esq.,), who kindly gave them some words of advice and encouragement, promised them the protection of the police, and commended them to the good feeling of the town and the public.

We gladly avail ourselves of this opportunity to remind our readers that the Bazaar in aid of the Ragged Schools will be held on the 5th and 6th of May at the Royal Hotel, when the attendance will, we have no doubt, be numerous and respectable, large contributions to the Bazaar having been furnished by friends of the Institution, and a very general feeling of interest in the object has been manifested.