Year 5 had a wonderful day at Blists Hill Victorian Town, near Ironbridge to complement their project this term.
On arrival the children changed into beautiful Victorian clothing and were given a guided tour of the town, learning about different trades that existed in Victorian times. Blists Hill is set in 1900 and the children learnt how much changed for children during Victoria’s reign – at the start they would have been working from the age of 5 upwards, long 12-14 hour days in uncomfortable conditions at the blast furnace, the brickworks or the mine, depending on where they lived in the country. Towards the end of the century an Act was passed meaning all children went to school; until then education had previously been available only to the wealthy. Now more people could read, shops started using written signs in their shop fronts rather than images to indicate the nature of the shop.
The highlight of the day was the school experience. The children were frogmarched in silence to the school room. Their hands were checked by a very strict Mrs McCallum, the head mistress, for cleanliness. She carried a cane with her at all times and was worryingly liberal with its use on a desk in order to put a child straight.
The children endured lessons writing on slates. Everyone had to write with their right hand and copied out some of the Ten Commandments and words focusing on letters of the alphabet. Time caught up with everyone, meaning there was no time for chanting and testing of times tables … for which some children were hugely relieved!
The final treat, before returning home, was a quick visit to Ironbridge itself. The children walked over the bridge to see an example of what might have been made from the furnaces at Blists Hill.