Watch: Victorian era classroom opens to the public at Leeds museum

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Keep your back straight and tuck your shirt in, visitors to a city museum will relive the rigid discipline of a Victorian era classroom this Sunday.

The atmospheric attraction, complete with banks of wooden desks, writing slates, inkwells and a vintage piano used for music lessons, will be open to the public at Leeds Industrial Museum as part of the national Heritage Open Days programme, when entry to the museum will be free.

Coullin Meikle plays the part of Victorian schoolmaster in the period classroom at Leeds Industrial Museum this Sunday. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Coullin Meikle plays the part of Victorian schoolmaster in the period classroom at Leeds Industrial Museum this Sunday. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Normally reserved for organised school trips only, visitors to the museum at Armley Mills will get the experience of an authentic classroom from the 1890s, giving families the chance to see what life was like for children more than a century ago. Misbehaving children risked being punished with a cane and class sizes could number as many as 80 pupils in poor inner city areas.

Between 2-4pm, visitors will also meet a Victorian schoolmaster played by Coullin Meikle.

Mr Meikle said: “The classroom is, in itself, already part of Leeds heritage. I meet adults who visited as a school child and can still recall their Victorian name. It really is like stepping back in time as soon as you walk through the door.

“There’s something very evocative about how disciplined and strict life was back then, and children who come for school trips are always captivated by how different school was for Victorian children compared to what they know today.

Victorian schoolmaster Coullin Meikle takes the register.  Picture by Tony Johnson.

Victorian schoolmaster Coullin Meikle takes the register. Picture by Tony Johnson.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming more visitors of all ages this weekend and giving them a chance to use their imaginations.”

As well as opening up the classroom, Leeds Industrial Museum hosts a curator tour of the Women, Work and War exhibition on Thursday, which examines the role women in Leeds played in the First World War.

On Friday at 11am there will be a tour of the currently closed locomotive collection, then, on Saturday, 11am- 4pm, visitors can see the museum’s mill engine at work as well as taking a look at the locomotive gallery between 11.30am-12pm and again from 2.30-3pm. Tours of the textile gallery also take place throughout the week.

Coullin Meikle will be performing between 2pm and 4pm.  Picture by Tony Johnson.

Coullin Meikle will be performing between 2pm and 4pm. Picture by Tony Johnson.

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