Year 6 pupils from St John Bosco Catholic Primary School in West Bromwich, West Midlands, enhanced their studies of the Victorian era with a recent visit to Blists Hill Victorian Town at Ironbridge.
Blists Hill is a fully working recreation of a Victorian town and for the seven hours or so that they were there the children were taken back to the 1800s in every way possible.
On arrival, everyone changed into Victorian costume and went into the Victorian schoolroom for a series of lessons. Among these were arithmetic involving pounds, shillings and pence, an object lesson about the kettle and traditional drill in the playground. There were also hand inspections, writing on slates, prayers and hymns. Some pupils were rewarded for good attendance or effort but others learned about what would happen if Victorian children misbehaved or were late.
Lunch was bought from the Victorian fish shop and everyone agreed that the fish and chips and old-fashioned pop were amazing.
A visit was then made to the New Inn, the town pub, where everyone took part in a good old sing-song around the piano with songs including “I’ve never Seen a Straight Banana”, “My Old Man” and “Wheezy Anna” among many of others. Everyone was in great voice.
The experience continued with a visit to the depths of a Victorian mine where the pupils discovered first-hand the conditions and jobs that children, younger than them, did for eight hours a day in Victorian times.
They came face to face with the dangers Victorian children put up with on a daily basis through a sound and light show.
After the pupils emerged from the depths of the mine, the remainder of the day allowed everyone to explore the rest of the town including a range of Victorian shops, doctor’s surgery, post office, ironmongers and funfair.
As the only currency at Blists Hill is pounds, shillings and pence, so the children had to manage their money carefully after visiting the bank.
The whole experience was a fantastic learning experience. In one day at Blists Hill the children learned more about Victorian life than could be ever be achieved from books and websites for any length of time.
Everyone entered into the spirit superbly and a brilliant day was made even better when a member of staff at the town said that the manners and behaviour of the St John Bosco pupils were the best they had ever seen from any visiting school group in all the time the museum had been open.