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Lipton's Grocers

Shepherd Street School

A very large classroom full of children in rows at desks
Victorian School in Preston in 1902

The children in the picture above are probably orphans or were abandoned by their parents. Shepherd Street School was part of the Shepherd Street Mission, which took care of such children. At the time, the area around Shepherd Street was one of the poorest in Preston. It is possible that all the children have short hair because of the nature of the school. Short hair may have helped with the treatment and prevention of lice. It could also have been a form of discipline by making everyone look the same. These are the most likely explanations, but we cannot be certain.


Discussion and Activity Ideas

  • Make a list of things that are similar to Shepherd Street School in 1902 and your classroom today?
  • What things are is different?
  • Can you estimate how many children there are in this classroom and how old the youngest and eldest are?
  • Imagine yourself back to 1902, what do you think it would be like in this class then?
  • What do you think you would you like about it?
  • What do you think you wouldn't like about being a 'scholar' in this classroom then?
  • What do you think life was like for the Victorian children you have seen in these pictures?

This is an extract from a diary of the teacher Mr J Gardner of 1871 -

Very few children present in time for opening. Great difficulty in getting punctual attendance. Half-timers almost as bad as the full-day scholars. One reason may be that the mothers of many of the children are employed in the mills and are thus, to some extent, prevented from pushing their children off to school. The breakfast time allowed in the mills is from 8 to 8.30 in some instances but most commonly from 8.30 to 9 o’clock.

You can read more of Mr Gardner's diary and see a photo of the slates that children had to write on at this time in the Victorian School and Work documents download.