Clogs from Victorian Ragged School in Manchester acquired by Museum of Science and Industry

By Culture24 Reporter | 13 May 2015

A poignant reminder of the lives of the children of the working poor in Victorian Manchester has been acquired by the Museum of Science and Industry

a photo of a leather pair of clogs with single strap
Manchester Charter Street Ragged School Clogs© Courtesy MOSI
The building that once housed Charter Street Ragged School still stands at the corner of Dantzic Street and Little Nelson Street, in Angel Meadow on the edge of Manchester city centre.

A rare survivor, the school originally opened  as a Juvenile Refuge and School for Industry in 1847, before becoming  a ‘Ragged School’ in 1861. 

The Ragged Schools were largely developed in the working-class districts of industrial cities, such as Manchester, to provide free education for destitute children whose ‘raggedly’ clothing gave the schools their name.

Clues to the Charter Street Ragged School building’s original function can still be seen in the signs that remain on its exterior. But a new acquisition by the city's Museum of Science and Industry reveals another aspect of the story of the city’s industrial poor, its workforce and their children.

A pair of clogs dating back to the 19th century, loaned to children who attended the Charter Street Ragged School, have just been donated to the museum by Betty Cross from Oxford who wished to see them “come home to Manchester.” 

Her husband, Frank Cross, set up voluntary work in Manchester working with various Christian charities and with Manchester City Mission in the 1960s. The Mission worked out of Charter Street Mission, in the Charter Street Ragged School building, and it was there that the abandoned clogs were discovered.

They have sat by the family fireplace for the past 50 years, but now they will help tell the story of the living conditions of children in 19th century industrial Manchester.

a photo of a large red brick nineteenth century building
The Charter Street Ragged School and Working Girls' Home, Dantzic Street© David Dixon. CC BY-SA 2.0
Stamped with “CSRS loaned, not to be pawned” the Museum’s Head Curator, Meg McHugh, explains how the clogs “would have been loaned to children that attended Charter Street Ragged School if they did not have a pair of their own”.

“So we feel really privileged to now have them in our collection so that we can represent the Ragged School movement in Salford and Manchester.”

Today the building where the clogs were once housed, ready to be loaned to the innumerable children that came through the doors without their own shoes, still accommodates an evangelical Primary School, a Community Dance School and provides food and clothing to the needy through the Charity Lifeshare.

The clogs can be viewed on an appointment basis alongside many other eclectic objects stored within the museum’s Collections Centre. To make an appointment email or 0161 606 0127.

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