Take the youngsters to … the Ragged School Museum, east London | Travel

In a nutshell

In 1877 Dr Thomas Barnardo opened the Copperfield Road Free School, the biggest of three ragged faculties (charitable establishments that provided the poorest youngsters a free schooling) in a row of three warehouses on Regent’s Canal in Tower Hamlets. Now an underfunded, unbiased museum (opened in 1990), a small exhibition provides an perception into how robust life was in east London within the late 1800s, however the spotlight is likely one of the authentic lecture rooms the place guests can attend a lesson led by an actor in Victorian costume. The museum is within the second section of making use of for a lottery grant, which can permit it to make important repairs to the biggest of the three warehouses, although the intention is to retain the genuine ambiance of the constructing.

Fun truth

In 1881, Dr Barnardo took 2,500 Sunday faculty youngsters by prepare on an outing to Theydon Bois in Essex.

Best factor about it

One of the unique lecture rooms. Photograph: Eric Nathan/Loop Images

The lesson. We sat at small picket desks whereas stern “Miss Perkins”, wearing lengthy skirt, excessive necked shirt and wire-rimmed glasses, taught us our letters and numbers, slamming her cane down on her lectern if any of us misbehaved. My seven-year-old son was barely appalled on the thought of going to highschool on a Sunday however loved it as soon as he obtained there, particularly studying concerning the numerous merciless punishments Victorian faculty youngsters had been subjected to. A dressing up field of torn garments means youngsters can look the half throughout class.

What about lunch?

The tiny “cafe” is little greater than a counter with a kettle. It’s a latte-free zone although this didn’t cease one well dressed buyer asking for one. Tea, prompt espresso and sizzling chocolate are all £1. There are packets of bourbon and digestive biscuits (40p), Snickers bars and that’s about it. We sat on the window with our drinks, watching a coot construct its nest on the canal.

Exit by means of the present store?

The Ragged School museum is housed in an old canalside warehouse.

The museum is housed in an previous canalside warehouse. Photograph: Alamy

Often the bête noire of this column, I felt obliged to purchase one thing simply to help the undertaking. Pocket cash toys (marbles, pencils, skipping ropes, minature vehicles, balloons) value £1-£2. There are additionally a couple of books on native historical past and postcards (30p).

Value for cash

It’s free – donations are inspired.

Opening hours

Between 10am and 5pm each Wednesday and Thursday, and 2pm to 5pm on the primary Sunday of every month when classes (2.15pm or three.30pm) are provided on a primary come, first served foundation. There are actions throughout faculty holidays (Wednesdays and Thursdays solely). Outside these instances the museum runs a faculties programme, with 16,000 faculty youngsters coming by means of the doorways every year.

ink and abacus at Ragged School Museum, east Lonfon

Getting there

The nearest stations are Mile End tube and LimehouseNational Rail/Docklands Light Railway. Or it’s a bus trip from Liverpool Street or Stratford rail stations.


I beloved it. It’s completely uncommercial although this is because of lack of funds greater than intention. This is an genuine slice of East End historical past that strives to encourage youngsters by means of its work. Lottery cash will assist them modernise the exhibition and cafe. 7/10.


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