Lambeth Ragged School

Lambeth Ragged School - Girls. Illustrated London News 11 April 1846 Image Source : Lambeth Archives

Ragged schools were free school for poor vagrant children, where they are taught and usually given food. The name comes from their ragged appearance. The schools gave them some basic instruction, in often makeshift accommodation, and helped them find work, or even emigrate. In 1818 John Pounds, a Portsmouth shoemaker, started teaching poor children for free, his ideas were taken up by people like Thomas Guthrie, Dr Barnardo and Lord Shaftesbury. Shaftesbury formed the Ragged School Union in 1844 and by 1852 there were over 200 free schools for poor children in Britain. By the time of the 1870 Education Act there were 350 ragged schools which were gradually absorbed into the Board School system. Gradually because "even Board School teachers do not like to take shoeless, shirtless, and capless children into their schools."

Lambeth Ragged School
What remains of the London Ragged School. Image Source :

The Lambeth Ragged School in Newport Street was built by Henry Benjamin Hanbury Beaufoy, FRS in 1851 as a memorial to his wife who had taken an interest in the school which previously had been held in a railway arch. The cost of the building was �10,000. One wing (? the southern one ?) was pulled down around 1904 when the railway was widened and the school moved to temporary premises in Auckland Street and later to Wandsworth Road. Initialy known as the Beaufoy Ragged School it latter changed its name to the Beaufoy Institute.

Images of the Beaufoy Institute in Black Prince Road
Beaufoy Institute 2004
Beaufoy Institute (Annexe) Engineering Lab 1912 Beaufoy Institute (Annexe) Blacksmith Shop c1911
Beaufoy Institute (Annexe) Art Class 1911 Beaufoy Institute (Annexe) Hall 1911

A building at 39 Black Prince Road bears the inscription Beaufoy Institute. The foundation stone for this building was laid on 21st February 1907 by Mildred Scott Beaufoy wife of Mark Hanbury Beaufoy JP chairman of the Governors. It is not clear if this was just an annexe to the main site or the whole Intitute moved here at this time. But from the photos above it is clear that the building was used for teaching technical subjects. An extension the the Black Prince Road site was added at a later date and old maps show the site as "Beaufoy School Technical Annexe". Today the old Lambeth Ragged School in Newport Street has now become the Beaconsfield Art Gallery.

Link to a 1850 newspaper article on Ragged Schools
Link to The Beaconsfield Gallery