Armley Mills

Going to a Victorian school

As part of our trip to Armley Mill in Leeds, we spent the morning in a Victorian classroom.  The children had to assume new identities before lining up to enter, girls one side and boys the other in height order.  Their hands, faces and hair were checked to make sure that they were all clean as ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’.


The lesson started with a prayer and then all the children had to pay a penny for school, Ernest Elliot (Lottie) was late due to sweeping chimneys.  Time was spent doing arithmetic, which involved using slate boards and slate pencils to write, completing copy books, which was tricky with an ink pen, pot and blotting paper – lots of the class were covered in ink! The children left the classroom to take part in ‘Drill’, a type of PE lesson which involved them holding two weights whilst taking part in different physical activities.


During our lessons a few children got into trouble: Rosie Rolfe (Lucy) and Lizzie Lister (Tiffany) were caught writing with the ‘devil’s hand’; Frederick Fellows (Alex) was caught sleeping so had to wear the backboard and stand at the front of the class; Henry Higgins (Bobby) was chatting too much so had to stand with his nose against a chalk spot on the board and Edgar Ellis (Oliver) had to wear the dunce cap!


As the children left the classroom they bowed or curtsied to the picture of Queen Victoria.  The morning was certainly very different to a normal one in school.


Working in The Mill House

During the afternoon we spent time exploring the different roles of workers in the mill house: overlooker, doffer, piecer and scavenger.  Our Gaffer for the day was rather loud, scary and menacing with a stick.  We certainly did not argue with anything!


As we explored the different areas of the mill, the children began to realise how dangerous their jobs would have been.  The Gaffer gave detailed recounts of accidents and injuries which brought a tear to many eyes as everyone realised that working in the mill could have been a matter of life or death.


Fabulous participation and behaviour from all members of the class during our visit.  Well done!




Working in the Mill

Working on Slates