Victorian Childhood

Children at Work & Play

Barefoot child Child labour Children at Maypole 1907 Children playing Victorian children1

with thanks to the Sutcliffe Gallery

Children at School

Head and pupils The Board School 1879 Westgate Girls 1907 Westgate School 1897

with thanks to Paul Wood

Extracts from Westgate School Log Book 1883-1885


9 Jan. 1883 I punished two boys – Shaw and Johnson this afternoon for insubordination and insolent conduct by caning on the back because they refused to hold out their hands.

22 Mar. 1883. James Ingham was punished for being out of his place and then refusing to hold out his hand saying that he was not out of his place.

17 Sept. 1883. Arthur Mawson and Joseph Thompson were punished for cheating by buying penny copy-books instead of two-penny ones and keeping a penny for themselves.

19 Mar. 1884. Arthur Kitson broke a square while playing this afternoon.

20 Aug. 1884. John W Jowett, Herbert Pollard and John Stephenson ran away this morning.

25 Aug. 1884. John W Jackson was punished this afternoon for talking during the arithmetic lesson after being repeatedly warned. He was caned once on the hand and three times on the back.

5 June 1885. I have found the attendance to be extremely bad on Friday afternoons so after calling the register for St. I sent a few messages to the homes of the absentees and found that three were ‘playing truant’. Two boys were however sought and brought back to school by their parents. I punished them before the whole school.

Differences in school then and now

5 Mar.1883. The school is to be opened at 9 instead of half past in future, by order of the Board. The Time Table will therefore have to be re-arranged.

10 May. 1883. The school will have holiday tomorrow for the Agricultural Show, and all next week for Whitsuntide.

25 Apr.1883. I have been working the fourth standard specially in the tables of weights and measures this week.

14 Sept. 1883. I have given extra lessons out of school hours in arithmetic and find that they had had a very good effect………The school time of the half-timers is so short that this course is absolutely necessary.

29 Nov 1883. (part of report) The Infants of whom there are 59 on the books are taught in a small Classroom which is very unsatisfactory arrangement in this room there is no proper room for marching or exercises. They seem to have been very fairly instructed, and something has been done in the way of Object Lessons and the little boys have been taught to cut out in paper.

7 Dec. 1883. The home lessons have been better done lately, especially the spellings of meanings. Thos. Simpson, Percy Thorpe and a few other half-time scholars generally come without them, and I shall have to try keeping in as the only way to secure the working of them.

7 Mar. 1884. The attendance has been considerably lower this week, there having been some disturbance about some children who were working half-time. They have been dismissed from the mill, and have not been attending school.

27 June. 1884. The upper standards are getting thinner, owing chiefly to the children’s leaving at 13 instead of 14 as last year. Those who have made five years’ attendances (250) are now allowed to leave at 13.

19 Mar. 1885. I have discovered this week that nearly all children who have failed in a certain standard have been placed in a higher. I have had to put them back again.

19 Nov. 1885. The school will be closed to-morrow on account of the statue hirings.

27 Nov. 1885. The school will be closed this afternoon as it is what is called “Second Statue Hirings”.


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