Certified child labour

First of all, sorry for the slightly patchy nature of things at the moment; other work and stuff going on in the background are consuming much of my time. Things will return to normal shortly. Anyways, on with business…

John and Paul Anslow have been great contributors to the Brownhills Blog over the last year or so. Only recently, we had the great debate spurred by his wonderful images of the brass band and that monstink, Mr. Bradbury. The history they wrote of the Street Family and Streets Corner remain exemplary, and their contribution to the Dairy Farm topic was wonderful.

Today, I share here a St. John’s School class photo featuring John and Paul’s grandmother, Mary Jane Jackson. This wonderful image dates from around the turn of the last century, which poses a bit of a puzzle. I also have a scan of a rather sad document that released Mary from school on her 13th birthday to start work.

Stop and think about that for a bit.

My special thanks to John and Paul – for this great piece of sobering local history. Material like this is what keeps the blog rolling and I’m forever grateful – and to David Evans, of course, who took time to visit John and chat.

Please comment here, please, or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

St John's School Walsall Wood 1900

Third child from right, middle row, Mary Jane Jackson, late of Streets Corner (see text). A wonderful image courtesy of John and Paul Anslow.

Hello again, Bob.

I hope that the pictures relating to Walsall Wood Colliery Band were of interest; I know that David had seen them previously, but since I’ve bought a good-quality scanner, I thought it best to send you high-resolution images that you might be able to share with him.

As promised in my last email, here are two further images; they are to do with St John’s School, the demolition of which you covered in detail a month or two back.

The first is of a photograph of some of the children and teachers from around 1900. The little girl at the front is holding up a slate on which is chalked ‘Group 2’. (At least, that’s what Paul and I think it reads.)

If you count in from the school ma’am on the extreme right of the picture, our grandmother, Mary Jane Jackson, is the third child from the right, in the white pinafore. As you know, she lived in the Thatched Cottage at Streets Corner so the School would have been but a short walk away.

For some unknown reason, the picture shows only girls, though we’re sure that the classes (or ‘standards’, as our grandmother called them) were mixed: she used to speak of ‘dreading sitting next to Moses’ for reasons I’ll not elaborate. (You might well be one of Moses’s descendants!)

[Bob’s note: David Evans transcribed this information some time ago: as the St. John’s School logbooks recount, the school went mixed in 1912. Any theories on this considering Mary left school in 1904 are welcome – did the boys and girls schools share a playground?]

One day, she was accused by the teacher of speaking out of turn in class and was punished by being made to hold her slate above her head all morning. This was, I think, regarded as unnecessarily harsh treatment, even in those times.

The second image is of the Board of Education Labour Certificate that enabled our grandmother to leave school immediately after her 13th birthday in 1904.

Although she left school with what today would be thought of as little formal education, she read her daily newspaper studiously and was able to write a legible, correctly spelt and well constructed letter up to her death in 1979; she could also do enough arithmetic to manage the household budget through times of austerity.

We’re still sorting through the albums and boxes and shall let you know if we find anything else that might be of general interest.

John Anslow

Labour Certificate

An incredible, and somewhat shocking document, courtesy of John and Paul Anslow.

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13 Responses to Certified child labour

  1. John Anslow says:

    Hello Bob. My mistake about the boys and girls being taught together, so thanks to David for his comment.

    Many of us who went to school in the 1950s recall those large halls divided into several classrooms by folding panels that could be drawn aside for morning assembly. Paul remembered that our grandmother told him about boys and girls passing notes to each other under the panels during lessons, so the sexes must have been taught separately.

    Which leaves the question of Moses! I can only think that she might have been referring to Sunday School or possibly the infants classes. What do you think?

    • Hi John – thanks.

      I did wonder about Sunday School, bit didn’t want to pre-empt it. i think it’s a very likely suggestion.

      Cheers for all your great work

      • John Anslow says:

        I think I must have been having one of my increasingly regular Senior Moments when I sent you the photograph, Bob: the writing on the slate clearly spells “Group 2”.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    What a super article..a huge thanks to John and especially to you for this excellent presentation..
    Moses? Perhaps the article “the disappearing fish” might give a possible answer!
    Kind regards

  3. Clive says:

    Nice one, big thank you to John and Paul Anslow, and everyone involved.

  4. Ann Cross says:

    Great stuff, many thanks to John and Paul and of course Bob.

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  10. Mad Old Baggage says:

    This link explains the labour certificate in more detail http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O38475/labour-certificate-no1a-childs-labour-certificate/

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