Rocket Back to the Victorian Industrial Era

At Blists Hill Year 5 experienced Britain’s industrial heritage and school life in the Victorian era. Our young reporters Suleiman and Maryam share their experiences of what life was like for Victorian townsfolk.  

Reviewed by Young Reporter Suleiman (Year 5)

As we got out of the minibuses my eyes were greeted by the magnificent view of some old Victorian machinery. It was painted green with other pieces of machinery pigmented red. This caught my attention and gave me a taste of what was to come. A spark of excitement was lit up inside me.

We were split into two groups-we went into the village, the other class into the school.

In the village we exchanged our £5 for the money in Victorian currency. We were given : farthings, halfpennies, pennies, threepence and a tanner[sixpence].These coins were replicas of the real change.

Once we had got our money we set off exploring. We went to many shops such as the chemists, sweet shop, post office and printer’s. After we had explored the town, the teachers allowed us to buy something from the shops that we had visited. A favourite was the sweet shop as everyone wanted sweets.

Some people went to the post office, including me. At the post office many of us bought dip pens. The pen was a fountain pen with a gold coloured nib that could be dipped into an ink pot. Beware of dipping too far because then the metal supporting the actual nib will rust! Another classmate bought a newspaper, an old fashioned one at that. Although this cut into our lunch, it was worth it!

After lunch we swapped over with the other group which meant that we were going to the school. We had to dress up as poor children. Our outfits consisted of a cap, a neckerchief and a blazer/jacket.

After we had changed, a solemn time was ahead of us. We had to walk across the estate knowing that we had to be in a straight line with no talking and our heads down. This was to avoid being told off by the strict Victorian teacher! As we had to walk so close together I kept catching the shoe of the person in front of me!

Once we had arrived at the school, we stood up for a while before we were given permission to sit down. When we sat down we had to put our caps on a rack under the table. We had to put our hands behind our backs and were only allowed to move them when writing on the tablets. The reason we had to keep our hands behind our backs, was so we weren’t tempted to move our shoulders and have a slouch. When we were talking to the teacher we had to address her as ma’am and stand up. Once we had finished talking we had to bow and take our seat. Every time we talked to the person next to us we got a disapproving look. It was a very harsh environment.

At the very start, we recited a prayer and then a hymn called, ’All Things Bright And Beautiful.’ Next we had to recite the 4 times tables in a certain rhythm. Following this we had to recite the 12 times tables in the same rhythm. Some people got told off for cheating by looking at someone else’s work. We were then given some money sums on the board and were asked questions about the sums. We had to write our answers on a tablet. We were given was a tablet, a pen for the tablet and a cloth to wipe off the things we needed to. Following that we had to learn about the different parts of an apple. The teacher drew a diagram of an apple on the board. The we copied it and used the word bank at the bottom of the diagram on the chalkboard . We filled the diagram with the words and showed it to the teacher so she could determine whether it was correct or...incorrect. It was a harder day than at Eversfield!

We didn’t believe it was the end until the Victorian teacher started laughing! Then we knew that our Victorian school day was truly over.

Now, as the trip was drawing to a close, we needed to walk back to where we had left our belongings and to change out of our costumes. We had to walk back in the same way. Once we had finished, we joined the other group and got back on the minibuses to go home.

It was the best trip that we’ve had so far because it was very fun and I learnt quite a bit from this experience. I got to see how it would have like to have been a school boy at my age in Victorian times. Thank you to all my teachers that came and supported me on this trip.


Reviewed by Young Reporter Maryam (Year 5) 

On Wednesday 12th February Form 5 went on a trip to Blist Hill. It was about an hour journey time by coach from school. 5MS visited the Victorian school first while 5GH went round the museum but before we split up we all watched a video.

5MS went to the changing room. Before we went in we lined up in height order. The girls had to wear dresses, and on top of their dresses aprons to protect them. The boys had to wear blazers and hats. Then the girls wore scarves to keep them warm. After we were all dressed, the lady told us that we had to answer questions in a whole sentence, and we had to call her Ma’am and, out of respect, we would bow or courtesy.

When we were waking to the school we had to walk in an exact straight line, our heads down. When we entered the class room the boys had to take their caps off and put them on a shelf under the desk. We had to sit with our backs strait and shoulders back.

First we did times tables. We did the 4 times tables first and the 12s. We did them in a rhythm like a song. Ma’am would clap along to it. We had a card at first to help us and then the second time we didn’t have it. Then she told us there were 2 half pennies in 1 penny and shared other facts and then we worked on some problems.

After that we read a book, but not the whole book, just a page. We would either read it together, or just girls or just boys or a row at a time. Then she read the important part again and wrote it down on the blackboard and we had to copy it down exactly for handwriting practise. The capital A looked very strange.

Later we were learning about apples. We drew a diagram on our slate boards and labelled it. At the end of the lesson Ma’am said we could relax but some of us didn’t.

It was lunch time so we had to walk quickly but we still had to have our heads down and we had to do the same as when we were walking to the school. When we were close to the changing rooms she let us run because we were running late.

At lunch we swapped with 5GH who went to the Victorian school and 5MS visited other buildings. 5MS got split up into two groups led by Mr Leonard and Mr Sliney.

I was in Mr Leonard’s group and we went to the bank and then the candle maker. He told us that the Victorians made candles out of animal fat. He said it would smell so much the Victorians would build their workshop at the edge of village or town. The candle makers would hang the candles on the roof because of rats. Next we went to the sweet shop and bought some sweets.

After that we went to the type writer. I learnt that they wouldn’t have been paid for the first two years. Then we went to a doctor’s house. The first section of the house was the living room. The living room was the main place they lived in. In the second section it was where the doctor made his own medicine and did his operations. It looked like an office.

Finally we went to the pharmacy and they sold soap there which smelt disgusting. We saw a dentist in the pharmacy which I found odd.

I really learned lots on this trip. It was really good one. Before we left if you wanted to change your money back to normal money then you went back to the bank.