|The fifty first Anniversary of this Institution was celebrated on Wednesday the 11th ult., when a numerous company of gentlemen dined together at the Mermaid Tavern, Hackney. George Byng, Esq., M.P., presided and was supported by A. K. Hutchinson, Esq., a candidate for the Tower Hamlets, C.B. Stutfield, Esq., a county magistrate, and other gentlemen of influence. The interests of the charity were ably advocated by the Chairman and other speakers, and a handsome sum was subscribed in the course of the evening. The school is one of the oldest Protestant charity schools established in this country and is situated in Cannon-street-road St George's-in-the-East; the number of children enjoying its advantages is 100 boys and 40 girls, who are clothed and instructed and attend public worship twice every Sabbath day, at Stepney New Church*. They were introduced to the company and their neat clean and healthy appearance was very gratifying. Since the establishment of this charity, upwards of 3000 children have shared in its benefits. The Report stated that the number of annual contributors had been greatly diminished latterly by deaths, removals, and other causes, in consequence of which the Committee had been compelled to draw largely on the funded stock of the Institution to meet its current expenses.
|Middlesex Society, for clothing and educating 100 Boys and 50 Girls;
Tower Hamlets, for clothing and educating 40 Boys and 20 Girls;
Pell-street School, for clothing and educating 40 Children; Roman
Catholic School, for educating 65 Boys and 36 Girls (the Girls and also
45 Boys are clothed); Raine's Charities - £1,027 15s 5d.
GEORGE, ST., IN THE EAST, Parish (Pop. 38,505.) — One Infant School (commenced 1827) containing 175 children of both sexes, is supported by voluntary contributions - Forty four Daily Schools (including Boarding Schools): two whereof were founded and endowed in 1719, by Mr. Raine, and contain 381 males and 202 females, of whom 50 of the former and 90 of the latter are on the foundation, the rest are paid for by voluntary contributions; these Schools (to which a lending Library is attached) were united to the National Society in 1816; another, called the "Middlesex SocietyNational School", contains 80 males and 40 females; another, in Pell-street (late Nightingale-lane), contains 40 males, who are annually clothed; a lending Library is attached to this School, which is in connexion with the Kirk of Scotland; another, called the "Tower Hamlets School", appertaining to Protestant Dissenters, contains 40 children; another, in Shakspeare-walk, in connexion with the Baptist denomination, contains 40 females; the four Schools last mentioned are supported by voluntary contributions: of the other thirty-eight Schools (wherein the children are instructed at the expense of their parents), one contains 40 males, with an evening class for females, attended by about 20; in three others are 90 females; in another, 75 males; in another, 25 males and 3 females; in another (commenced 1820) are 100 males; in another (commenced 1822) 10 and 15 females; in another (commenced 1825) 40 males; in another (commenced 1826) 52 males and 4 females, of whom 7 attend for evening instruction only; another (commenced 1827) contains 17 females; in three others (commenced 1830) are 35 males and 45 females; another (commenced 1831) contains 30 females; another (commenced 1832) about 50 males and 20 females; the remaining twenty-two Schools (kept by females) are for very young children, and contain collectively 152 males and 148 females: six of these schools, with 83 children, have commenced since 1818. — One Day and Sunday School (commenced since 1818) of the Established Church, is attended by 130 males and 30 females daily, and 50 males and females on Sundays; this School is partly supported by subscription and partly small payments from the parents of the daily scholars, those who attend on Sundays are wholly free. - Six Sunday Schools, in connexion with various denominations of Dissenters, consisting of 1,320 children of both sexes; these Schools are supported by voluntary contributions.
|National Education. - A numerous meeting of Schoolmasters was held on Wednesday, the 29th ult., at Mr Palmer's School Room, Lower Chapman Street. Commercial Road, to take into consideration Mr Hume's notice of bringing a Bill into Parliament for the establishment schools in every parish of the United Kingdom. [They conceived that the measure would only be another plan of imposing an additional tax upon the people; that it would cause the overthrow of Charity Schools and deprive the really necessitous of the educational advantages they now enjoyed; and that it would destroy the interests of the scholastic profession, as it was not likely that any would be appointed masters but the under graduates of our Universities. A resolution was adopted to the effect that not merely schoolmasters but every parochial rate payer should oppose the measure and act with the same spirit as the Dissenters did when Lord Brougham contemplated a similar Bill and thus nip the design in the bud.]
|§ Berner Street: 1871, disused by the 1920s; now the site of Bernhard Baron House
[street renamed Henriques Street 1961] - Harry Gosling School was built opposite in 1909 - the site of both schools is shown on Goad's 1899 insurance map, right. Here
is a paper on 'Scientific Method in Board Schools' delivered in the
school in 1895. In July 1892 Mrs Louisa Hopkins, chair of a Massachusetts commission
appointed to investigate manual training and industrial education,
visited this, among many other, schools. Note her comments on the
implications of being a Jewish-majority school:
[between Watney Street and Sutton Street, south of Commercial
Road]: serving the most concentrated area of poverty (apart from
St George's Street School), and
becoming predominantly Jewish: a 1910 inspection noted the difficulties attending instruction with a large foreign intake, but reported praiseworthy regularity in attendance and
full interest in work. See here for memories of a Blakesley Street resident. The site is now occupied by Fitzgerald House, a care home for the elderly; see below for the replacement school.
|Lower Chapman Street [now Bigland Street] - [left on Goad's 1899 insurance map; right, from front and rear, and today]:one
of Robson's earliest, and one of the few of his to survive (with an
example of a double staircase separating boys from girls). Robson
added a cookery centre - a pioneering example of provision for
practical and vocational training. Its catchment area
included parts of Wapping, though two Board schools were also built
there. [After closure, it had a variety of uses, including the
University of Greenwich's School of Earth Sciences (as 'Walburgh
House') before becoming Darul Ummah
Community Centre. The London Borough of Tower Hamlets supported their
plans for its demolition and an eight-storey replacement with three
basement levels to include a mosque, funeral facilities, a gym and a
café as well as the current boys' school. But in 2010 English Heritage,
at the instigation of the Victorian Society, listed the building (Grade
II) and revised plans are being produced.]
|Betts Street: 1884, the first 3-storey
school with halls for
all three departments - places for 300 boys, 300 girls, and 386 infants. Its opening led to the closure of the railway
arches school: despite excellent reports for 1881, the boys section was
closed in 1883 and the girls and infants in 1884-85 and the premises
declared unfit (though the authorities were happy to use them for a
time until the new school was ready). H.C. Dimsdale, Rector of Christ
Church Watney Street 1892-1909, admitting that the old premises perhaps were
quaint, somewhat jealously described the new school as palatial....replete with all the
luxuries that art and faddism can supply. This school also became predominantly Jewish. See here for pictures, and more about this street.
In the run-up to the 1909 municipal elections, the Daily News ran a mischievous campaign accusing council schools of neglecting their duty to feed the poor, focusing on Glengall Road School on the Isle of Dogs (which later had a pioneering music and drama teacher, Charles Thomas Smith). Sir John McDougall, chairman of the London County Council, visited the school and asked those who are hungry and have had no breakfast to hold up their hands. Four out of the five were deemed not necessitous; the fifth had been given money by one Mr Crooks, who stated that but for your generosity my boy would have had to live and learn on promises... In fact take-up was low, and arrangements had been made to feed needy children elsewhere. But children's care committees were provided with circulars for distribution to parents; the Betts Street committee declined to do so.
|§ Cable Street: 1898 - smaller, for 'only' 400
children [two early class photos right]:
built on the site of a former sugar refinery, it bears a plaque 'Cable Street Schools' but has had various names and uses in its time, as maps
of the area bear witness. (Some show it as
'Nathaniel Heckford School': Nathaniel Heckford
was a paediatrician who founded the East London Hospital for Children,
near what is now Heckford Street further along The Highway).
These 1908 photographs show: boys' drill, girls' drill, netball, special nature study, nature study, art, mixed maths and standard VII maths.
After the Second World War it became a secondary modern school, St George-in-the-East Central School, with Alex Bloom as a pioneering headteacher from 1945-55 [left, with colleagues - he is second from the left at the front]. He rejected regimentation, corporal punishment, and the use of marks, prizes and competition, and introduced a school council [left] which among other things voted for lunchtime ballroom dancing, and the selling of cakes from a local bakery in the school canteen. Right is a 1951 article from the Daily Mirror about his work. On his interesting website, Abraham Wilson, a Ghanaian pupil (who had previously attended St Paul Whitechapel and other local primaries - and is now a member of the Bahá'í faith) recalls the Bloom era: assemblies with classical music, and his stress on keeping down noise in the school (keep your foot on the soft pedal).
It was in Bloom's time that Edward Ricardo Braithwaite, the Guyanan author of To Sir with Love, taught here. He was an engineer who served as an RAF bomber pilot in the Second World War, but struggled to find employment because he was black, and so trained as a teacher. (The well-known film, starring Sidney Poitier, was made elsewhere; Braithwaite later said of if I loathe that film from the bottom of my heart, because it focused on the classroom rather than on the wider issues of black recognition.) He revisted the area in 2007, for the first time in many years, for a Radio 4 programme. He walked round St George's and read out the sign for the crypt hall, and then tried to peep into the crypt. His 1965 novel Choice of Straws was adapted for Radio 4 in 2009. He was present at the 2013 Northampton premiere of Ayub Khan-Din's well-reviewed play based on his autobiography, with Ansu Kabia as the Braithwaite character 'Ricky' [far right] and Matthew Kelly as the headteacher 'Florian'.
The building subsequently provided accommodation for various local schools being rebuilt, and has now been converted into 34 luxury apartments as 'Mulberry House' [right] - though Mulberry Girls' School was only one of various temporary occupants. In 1980 the church exterior and adjacent buildings featured in the gangster film The Long Good Friday, starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, in which Harold Shand's Rolls Royce is blown up while his mother attends a service.
|Christian Street: 1901
- built on the site of Martineau's sugar refinery, which at one time had
the tallest chimney in London; it was the first
local school to have a Jewish headteacher, Isaac Goldstone in 1908.
Professor Bill Fishman (b.1921) was a pupil here - here
are his childhood memories of the area. Under postwar legislation, it
was transferred to denominational control as Bishop Challoner Girls
Secondary School, which is now part of Bishop Challoner Catholic Collegiate School and Learning Village off Commercial Road; the Christian Street site [right by night before demolition] has been redeveloped for housing by Bellway Homes as SpacE1.
|St George's Street,
Highway (off Dellow [formerly Victoria] Street), shown right on Goad's 1887 insurance map - with two other schools beyond: regarded as a school of 'special difficulty'. See here for a spat over evening dancing classes, and here for classes in Esperanto. Mrs Louisa Hopkins, for the report noted above, also visited this school, and commented briefly:
schools came to cater for those classified as 'M.D.' (mentally
defective), which together with those for the partially deaf formed the
'St George's-in-the-East Group' (and from 1908 'Stepney (No.2) Group of
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