Nahdia from Nahdz Adventures posted a meet up at the Ragged School Museum, over the school half-term. What an awesome location, right?! We had never been to the museum before. The kids and I were excited to see what activities would be offered and I was looking forward to meeting Nadia, for the first time.The weather was sunny on the day of our visit, which is the best weather to explore the East End. The Ragged School Museum focused on S.T.E.A.M from the Victorian period which made our half-term visit so much fun.
A brief history of the Ragged School Museum
Thomas Barnado set up the first free school in 1867 in response to the lack of educational opportunities for the poor. During that time there was also large scale overcrowding and disease. Ten years later the Copperfield Road School was opened. The school continued to serve the community for 31 years until the government began opening schools in the area. The Ragged School was known for accepting of all races which was considered to be opened for its time.
In the main gallery there was the ‘Ragged Children, Mended Lives’ exhibit which was done in conjunction with Queen Mary University. The exhibit explores stories of some of the children who found themselves in the care of Barnardo and his East End Juvenile Mission, there are also advertisements form the era, along with a display on The Bryant and May match factory. Most notable is the poster about the Match Girls’ strike in 1888. One thousand girls worked on due to terrible working conditions and fines for ‘misdemeanours’ such as having dirty feet and talking.
The Victorian school room took me back to my own school days, cane and all. Back in Trinidad the cane was made from the branch of a guava tree. It delivered a special kind of pain that made the eyes water involuntarily. However, new to me was the back straightener for slouchers, the finger stocks for fidgeters and the ‘dunce’ hat. It was clear that strict disciple was adhered to.
The Meet up
The February half-term activities were dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths (S.T.E.A.M). We met Nahdia and her sons in the area where the craft activities were taking place. The children had the opportunity to:
- Find out about Ada Lovelace and paint her portrait. She was a Mathematician and the daughter of poet Lord Byron and Annabella Milbanke Byron. Ada was an associate of Charles Babbage and is thought to be the first computer programmer.
- Attempt building bridges like Burnel using paper cups, rubber bands and palette sticks (not that Burnel used those)
- Make tinsel float using a piece of wool, Styrofoam, aluminium pie tin and aluminium tinsel
- Dress up in Victorian ragged clothes
- Try Victorian penmanship in the ole class room.
The Ragged School Museum certainly is worth a visit. Considering its history the museum is a delight attraction. Staff was warm and friendly. The museum is not that big. Visitors can theme their visit with a trip to Mile End park which is scenic with several play stations, as well as a café. Canary wharf is not far away for a spot retail therapy. Brick Lane isn’t far either if you fancy a curry dinner. Best of all, for a pedestrian like me all destinations are easily accessible via public transport.