EDUCATION was once for the privileged few who had the money to pay for it.

However, in the 19th century education was seen as a way of improving the future for children and in turn the nation as a whole.

Following the 1870 Education Act, Worcester began to look into opening several schools.

Webb’s Carpet Factory was already schooling its child workers and some churches ran regular Sunday schools.

This act of parliament would lead to many new schools opening up across Great Britain.

One very deprived area, with children with very few prospects, was the overcrowded streets and lanes that ran along the riverside.

This consisted of Quay Street, Hounds Lane, Copenhagen Street and Birdport.

On a small plot near the lost Tudor Manor of Warmstry House, land was prepared for a new school.

Warmstry House had been developed into the first bone china works in 1751 and later developed again as Dents Glove Factory.

Hounds Lane School for Boys, Girls and Infants opened its doors in 1873.

It was described in the local press as having ‘admirable’ large classrooms, a state-of-the-art heating system and proud architectural design.

It was run by an elected school board, based in the Guildhall.

The whole operation was funded by the rates and it became a life-changer for many poor children and their families living in the area.

In these early, formative years the school inspector Mr Spackman guided the teaching staff in what, and how, lessons were to be taught.

The main lessons revolved around the 3Rs, being Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.

This was sometimes supplemented by looking at the British Empire and the natural world.

The walls were hung with colourful maps and pictures of bird’s eggs and wild flowers.

The ethos of most 19th-century schooling was to instil ‘habits of order, obedience and thrift’. Punishment could be anything from being made to stand in the corner, being caned or even being sent away to learn seamanship on HMS Formidable near Portishead!

‘Mitching’ or truancy became a problem by the 1890s.

From some surviving records, we see pupils being reported. Ivy Hurley and Alice Taylor have entries saying ‘Removed from school due to mother’s insolence’.

Next to Nellie Bradley, who was also removed from the school, it said, ‘No reason given’.

The famous historian Willis Bund did not think highly of the teaching staff at all. He described the teachers as ‘whining Mendicants’.

Children in this period left school at the age of 10 and moved straight into work, if it could be found.

In Worcester many began to work on the river, became apprentices in the gloving factories or entered the blossoming porcelain industry.

The school also made sure its poorest pupils were given at least one good meal a day.

A small but well-equipped kitchen was built next to the school, making wholesome and warming stews and a filling, sweet treat as a dessert, such as jam roly-poly.

By the 1930s the poor quality housing in the area began to be demolished.

My father Charles was educated at the school and told many stories of school life.

These included how children shared football boots with other children, how children who got into fights had to fight with boxing gloves and how holes in shoes were patched with folded newspaper or cardboard.

He was also taught the international language of Esperanto, a language that some people still learn today.

When it rained heavily he enjoyed nothing more than making paper boats and sailing them down the gutter of Copenhagen Street to the river!

During World War Two, classrooms within the school were also used as an ARP HQ, hosting lectures on first aid and other important civil defence tasks such as dealing with incendiary bombs.

After the war the council continued the slum clearances of the area and by 1967 it demolished the school building in what was phase three of the area’s improvements and modernisation.

The community from this area was moved to places like Brickfields where new schools and houses were built for them.

On the old school site, Worcester Technical College or the ‘Tech’ was built.

This was the college I attended to gain an A-level in history under historian, friend and councillor Jeff Carpenter.

It’s strange to think I received some education on the same site my father was educated.

Our columnist Paul Harding runs Discover History which offers hands-on learning of the county’s history.