The Ragged School Museum is a group of three canal-side warehouse buildings that once was home to London’s largest ragged school.
What is a Ragged School?
In 19th century Britain, Ragged Schools were charitable organisations that provided free education to children that were too poor to receive an education elsewhere. They also often provided a free lunch meal, as well as clothing and lodgings.
Thomas Bernado was the founder of The Ragged School on Copperfield Road, East London. He arrived in London from Dublin in 1866 as an aspiring doctor, with future plans of missionary work in China. But when he arrived, he was confronted by a London that was rife in disease, poverty and famine. Within a year, he’d abandoned his medical studies and opened his first Ragged School, dedicated to providing a free education and a free meal to the poor children of London’s East End.
Tens years later it became Bernado’s Copperfield Road Free School and was open for the next 31 years, having educated and fed tens of thousands of children. It closed in 1908 by which time enough government schools had opened to meet the needs of the community.
After closure, the buildings had various industrial uses of the years, mainly around the transportation of goods along the adjacent Regent’s Canal. Until that is, they were threatened with demolition in the 1980s. It was then, that a group of locals set out to save its heritage and The Ragged School Museum Trust was founded in 1990.
The museum consists of several gallery areas. Most famously remembered being the Victorian Classroom. It’s latest installation is a Victorian home, just the one room as that’s how many poor families would have lived.
Every year circa 16,000 children visit the museum to experience a day in a classroom, as it would have been 100 years ago.
The Tour / Ghost Hunt
As you’ll see from my pictures, this wasn’t my regular urban exploration. But rather I’d paid to go on a guided ghost hunt with a local paranormal team. It was a good way to get out-of-hours access to a great location.
The ghost hunting was a good experience but nothing concrete was caught that evening, which made it feel like it was a lot of time put in for very little output. It was fun using the equipment for the first time. But overall it was a great location, in which I got to explore extensively.
Check out the rest of my pictures below.