Deptford Ragged School was founded 175 years ago, changed its name to the Princess Louise Institute over a century ago, and still survives as the Deptford Ragged Trust and a hall on Frankham Street. Amazingly, its archives have been kept through all that time - and are now being catalogued and recorded.
The volunteer archivists are led by museum professional Dr Katharine Alston, and the catalogue is accessible on eHive. This project is revealing all sorts of stories from Deptford's history, and the group displayed some of the incredible contents for September's Heritage Open Days. Here are a few pictures from my visit, but do explore the project's own image gallery and Instagram to see much more.
The school was one of the earliest ragged schools, dedicated to eduating the urban poor. It opened in the founding year of the Earl of Shaftesbury's London Ragged School Union and began above a cowshed. By 1862, it occupied a disused chapel where average attendance at the day school was 160, plus 64 at the night school and 140 at Sunday school. The state provision of elementary education from 1870 saw ragged school attendance decline, but the Deptford organisation did more than educate children - it also provided outings and activities, as well as classes for adults. The archive is full of vivid evidence of its continuing importance in the lives of Deptford residents.