£4.3m early present for Tiny Tims’ ragged school

The Tiny Tims whose spirits inhabit the Ragged School Museum in Tower Hamlets have had an early Christmas present in the form of a £4.3m Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The money is for extensive refurbishment of the former canal warehouses that were turned into a free school by Dr Barnardo for the children of impoverished East Enders who attended it between 1877 and 1907. In 1896 there was 1,000 pupils, as well as 2,400 Sunday school children.

“The Ragged School Museum is extraordinary and reminds us of a Dickensian world where children lived in abject poverty with no access to formal education” said Ros Kerslake, CEO of the HLF. 

“As Christmas approaches it’s timely to remind ourselves of the difference Dr Barnardo’s philanthropic vision made to London’s East End. Thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to help safeguard this legacy by giving the museum a new lease of life for the future.”

The museum in Copperfield Road is the only ragged school to have survived, having emerged unscathed from the Blitz and wholesale redevelopment surrounding it.

“The Ragged School Museum is a witness to the movement for universal free education and a tribute to the men and women who struggled to achieve it” said its director, Erica Davies. “Local people saved these buildings from demolition in the 1980s and with National Lottery support the museum’s future is both healthier and more financially secure”.

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