Discovering the Ragged School Museum in Mile End, London

Showing the top floor Hoist Room at the Ragged School Museum after the retouching to create a harmonious patinated surface on the walls.

Recently I had a few days working in the Ragged School, Mile End, London. This was an interesting projects where my task was to reduce the intensity of stains and marks on the painted wall surfaces in the large top floor room in the image above. In addition I was to disguise some new mortar repairs and paint new bricks to mimic the aged painted bricks surrounding them.

This project was one of the final parts of the major refurbishment programme which has been happening over the last few years. The Museum will re-open this summer.

The Hoist room on the top floor is a brilliant space flooded with light from a ceiling light and windows at both sides. The whole building gets narrower at one end as it follows the curve of the Regents Canal at the back of the building and this creates interesting angles in the roof structure. The Hoist room retains hoisting equipment and has great big large windows. For a musical event recently a grand piano was hoisted through the windows at the front.

While working and mixing colours all day I played music and for this project this featured  Handel Organ Concertos at quite some volume. It’s always a pleasure to mix colours all day accompanied by fine music.


I always love discovering new spaces such as the Ragged School Museum. Despite the fact that it is not far away from where I live, I hadn’t heard of it before and it has an interesting history. Ragged School were charitable organisations which would provide free education for destitute children in 19th century Britain. The school opened in 1877 and it was the largest if its kind at the time. At its height there were more than 1000 pupils and 2400 attendees on a Sunday. The school closed in 1907 as new state schools opened in the area.

The Ragged School Museum was opened in 1990 and is housed in 3 canal side warehouses at 46-50 Copperfield Road. Local residents saved the buildings from demolition in the 1980’s and a trust was set up in 1990. A Heritage Lottery Grant allowed the current restoration to take place.




The three buildings which form the school run between Copperfield road and the Regents Canal. The museum therefore has three staircases and on walking around the buildings with the sunlight streaming in, all sorts of interesting shadows and blocks of sunlit shapes appear and disappear. Combined with the interesting crumbly patinated painted surfaces (always a favourite thing for me to look at) I could happily wander around this building for ages. It’s quite easy to get lost and confused with all the stairs.

Interesting angles in the roof structure Ragged School Museum

I discovered the Victorian classrooms one evening when turning the lights out on my way out of the building. These are at the opposite end of the buildings to the large Hoist room that I was working in. It was a lovely discovery to make when investigating where the stairs from the front hall led to.

This will be a worthwhile place to visit when it re-opens. A cafe is planned for the ground floor opening on to the Regents Canal.