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Education in Tower Hamlets

We hold many sources on the history of local education. There are more records after 1870 when formal education of children became compulsory. This guide provides

  • a background to local authority-provided education
  • a list of the schools whose records we hold
  • information on key sources held elsewhere.

Before 1870 there was no compulsory schooling. Most education was given by charitable and religious bodies. They focused on literacy, numeracy and religious instruction. Examples include

  • National Schools linked with the Church of England
  • endowed establishments funded through bequests made by individuals.

The Public Elementary Education Act 1870 led to universal schooling. The Act enabled for the building of new schools in Tower Hamlets. A new pan-London local education authority managed education. This body evolved and changed names during the 20th century:

  • School Board for London (SBL) 1870-1904: created by the Public Elementary Education Act 1870. SBL left a lasting legacy in its school buildings. You can explore these across Tower Hamlets and other inner London Boroughs.
  • London County Council (LCC) 1904-1965: the LCC took over the SBL in 1904. The LCC’s Education Committee oversaw the work of the Education Officer and Education Department. They introduced nurseries, special schools, evening classes and polytechnics.
  • Inner London Education Authority 1965-1990: on 1 April 1965, the Greater London Council took over from the LCC. Education in inner London came under the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA).
  • London Borough of Tower Hamlets (from 1990): education transferred from the ILEA to the inner London Boroughs. Tower Hamlets Council runs local schools and related services today.

The main sources include property and planning files including plans to school sites. Key series are:

  • Town Planning files from the Borough Engineer and Surveyor and successors. This large series includes new sites for education and changes to existing school buildings, ref: L/THL/D/1/1
  • Evidences of title and other deeds to former London County Council and Greater London Council properties. These were later held by Tower Hamlets’ Legal Section, ref: T/THL/J/1/1. For example, deeds for Wood Close School, Bethnal Green, 1847-1903 ref: L/THL/J/1/1/15

Also held are records of local libraries which play a major role in education. These include Bow Library (ref: SMS/H) and Whitechapel Library (ref: L/THL/H/2)

The records can searched on our online catalogue.

 

Some school archives include admission and discharge registers, log books and staff registers. These help trace pupils and staff and their school lives.

  • Admission and discharge registers give a pupil’s birth and admission year. They can also provide
    • parents’ names
    • father’s occupation
    • previous schools attended
    • examination results
    • remarks on absences and reasons for leaving. These can include health reasons, death, moving away or transfer elsewhere.
  • Log books are diaries kept by staff noting events or incidents as well as the general running of the school. They can include
    • subjects taught and class plans
    • attendance summaries
    • school closures due to epidemic diseases
    • examinations
    • staff appointments and lists
    • results of school inspections
    • achievements of named pupils
    • newly admitted and discharged pupils
    • events such as visits and attendance at the school’s place of worship.

Explore digital copies of some volumes dating before 1914 on FindMyPast. These are part of The National School Admission Registers and Log-books 1870–1914 dataset. Digitised volumes are highlighted in the list of schools on this page.

Access to records about living pupils and staff is subject to data protection regulations. Restrictions are highlighted in our catalogue. If you find that records you are looking for are restricted you can make a Subject Access Request.

 

Alphabetical list of school archives

Search this list of schools where we hold archives. These are mainly catalogued within our collections under reference: I/.

The records can searched on our online catalogue.

The school name I am searching for is not listed

  • Explore alternative printed and image sources in our Local History Library
  • Further school records are at London Metropolitan Archives
  • Other records remain with the schools or their successors. Some material may not have survived.

 

Abbey Street Schools

 see Good Shepherd Mission, Bethnal Green

Bishopsgate Infant School

 see Central Foundation Girls’ School

Bishopsgate Ward Schools

 see Central Foundation Girls’ School

Ben Jonson Primary School, Mile End,

1945-1978: including admission registers and log books, ref: I/BJP. Further records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Bonner Primary School, Bethnal Green

1876-1969: admission and attendance registers, log books and punishment book, ref: I/BON. Records 1876-1913 (I/BON/1/1-4) on www.findmypast.co.uk. Further log book 1878-1880 held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Bonner Street Schools, Bethnal Green

 see Bonner Primary School

Bowbrook Girls’ School

1876-1975: includes admission registers and log books including predecessors, ref: I/CFS/C. Bowbrook merged with the Central Foundation School for Girls

Bow County Secondary School for Girls

see Bowbrook Girls School. Further records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Bromley Hall School

 records, uncatalogued ref: TH/9050. Not currently available for consultation

Byron Street School

 Benevolent Association, Poplar, 1882-1888: Association minutes only, ref: S/MIS/3 

Central Foundation Girls’ School, Spitalfields

 1800-1987: includes attendance registers, log books and examination records and staff records, ref: I/CFS/A. Includes records of predecessors. Pupil registers for Bishopsgate Ward Schools refs: I/CFS/A/2/3/1-6 and St Ethelburga Society Schools refs: I/CFS/B/2/1/1-2 on www.findmypast.co.uk

City and Spitalfields School of Art, Spitalfields

 1850-1882, ref I/CFS/D

Cranbrook County Secondary School, Bethnal Green

 see Bowbrook Girls School

Cranbrook Terrace Schools, Bethnal Green

See Bowbrook Girls School. Further records held at London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Cranbrook Road Infants School, Bethnal Green

 1921-1939: admission register only, ref: I/BON/1/9. See also Bonner Primary School. Further records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Culloden Street School

Photocopies only of original log books 1940-1946 held by school, Local History Library ref: L7888 (820.2 CUL)

Davenant Foundation Grammar School, Whitechapel

Not held at THLHLA. Records held at London Metropolitan Archives, collection refs: A/DAV and LCC/EO/DIV05

Elizabeth Barrett Browning Secondary School

Mile End, 1948-1959, 1968: admission register only, ref: I/MIS/3 

Fairfield Road Schools

See Bowbrook Girls School. Further records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

George Green's School, Poplar

1883-1976: includes admission registers and staff registers, ref: I/GGS. Records 1898-1914 refs: I/GGS/1/1/1 and I/GGS/1/2/1 on www.findmypast.co.uk.

 

For papers of Henry C. Wilks (1917-1992), Head of Geography, see ref: P/WIL

George Yard Mission / Ragged Schools, Whitechapel

See Good Shepherd Mission, Bethnal Green

Gill Street School, Limehouse

Photograph album only, uncatalogued ref: TH/9607. Not currently available for consultation. Further records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Good Shepherd Mission, Bethnal Green

1850-1977: including records of the George Yard Ragged Schools, Whitechapel, and the King Edward Institute, Spitalfields, ref: W/GSM

Good Shepherd School Roman Catholic Infants School, Stepney

1933-1939: admission register only, ref: I/GUA/2/2/1. See Guardian Angels Roman Catholic School

Green Coat School, Stepney

See Hamlet of Ratcliff School

Guardian Angels Roman Catholic School, Mile End

1874-1992: includes log books and admission registers, ref: I/GUA 

Hamlet of Ratcliff School, Stepney

1710-1970: including logbooks and registers, ref: I/HRS. Records ref: I/HRS/8/1 on www.findmypast.co.uk. Also held are records of Ratcliff Charity Trust / Ratcliff Educational Foundation Trust, 1730-1954 including 133 apprenticeship indentures for children apprenticed, 1730-1850, uncatalogued ref: TH/8988. Not currently available for consultation.

Harry Gosling Infants School, Whitechapel

1972-1997: photograph album only, ref: P/MIS/482

Harry Roberts Nursery School, Stepney

1971-1996: including pupil attendance registers, ref: I/HRN

Jews’ Free School, Stepney

Not held at THLHLA. Records are held at London Metropolitan Archives ref: LMA/4046

John Bartlett Primary School, Bow

See Olga Primary School

Johnson Street School, Mile End

See Ben Jonson Primary School

King Edward Institute, Spitalfields

See Good Shepherd Mission, Bethnal Green

King Edward Ragged and Industrial Schools, Spitalfields

See Good Shepherd Mission, Bethnal Green

Malmesbury Junior School

Records, uncatalogued ref: TH/8966. Not currently available for consultation Please note not to be confused with Malmesbury Road School, Bow records are held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Middlesex Society Charity School, Stepney

1806-1819: minutes only, ref I/MSS. Merged with Raine's Schools see below. 

Mile End Old Town Charity School

1771-1809: minute books only, ref: I/MEO

Morpeth School, Bethnal Green

1922-1996: includes log book, admission registers, record cards and staff records, ref: I/MOR 

Olga Primary School, Bow

1875-1982: log book and punishment books, ref: I/OLG. Further records held at London Metropolitan Archives, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05 

Olga Street Board School, Bow

See Olga Primary School

Parmiter's Foundation School, Bethnal Green

1890-1972: includes fee book, pupils' records and monitors minute book, ref: I/PAR.Many Local History Library printed sources. Main records held at London Metropolitan Archives, ref ACC/1844

Poplar and Blackwall Free School Trust Fund

1881-1894: fund minutes only, ref: I/MIS/2 

Poplar and Blackwall National School, Poplar

1804-1880: minutes only, ref: I/PBN 

Poplar Methodist Church Sunday School

1891-1982: including attendance register, ref W/PMC/3/2/1

Portman Place Primary School, Bethnal Green

Includes pupil memories kept by Morpeth School Librarian, ref: I/MOR/4/1. See Morpeth School, Bethnal Green. Further records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Raine's Foundation Schools, Stepney

Records of Old Raineians Association only, 1910-1994: includes reunions and school papers, ref: S/ORA. Main school records held by London Metropolitan Archives ref: ACC/1811

Ratcliff School, Stepney

See Hamlet of Ratcliff School

Red Coat School, Mile End Old Town

See Stepney Red Coat School, Stepney

Red Coat School, Stepney

See Stepney Red Coat School; see also Mile End Old Town Charity School

Roman Road Schools

See Bowbrook Girls School. Further records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

St Anne's Roman Catholic Boys' School, Buxton Street, Spitalfields

1886-1946: admission registers only, ref: I/STB/1. Records refs: I/STB/1/1/2-3 on www.findmypast.co.uk

St Anne's Secondary School, Wood Close, Bethnal Green

See Wood Close School

St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Secondary School, Stepney (from 1929) Bethnal Green (from before 1964)

1886-1965: registers and log book only, includes records of predecessors, ref: I/STB

St Ethelburga Society Schools, Bishopsgate

1802-1874: includes registers, ref: I/CFS/B. Some records on www.findmypast.co.uk. Predecessor of Central Foundation Girls’ School, see above

St George in the East Secondary School

1946-1965: papers of Judith Parris, teacher including photographs, ref: P/PAR.

St George's Lutheran German School, Little Alie Street, Aldgate

1806-1930, series ref: W/SGG/A/6. Registers refs: W/SGG/A/6/6/2 and 5 on www.findmypast.co.uk

St Gregory the Great Secondary School, Bethnal Green

See Wood Close School

St John Church of England Primary School

Records, uncatalogued ref: TH/9678. Not currently available for consultation.

St Mary and St Michael's Junior Mixed [Roman Catholic] School

1933-1975: log book only, ref: I/MIS/7

St Matthew's National School, Bethnal Green

1852-1879, ref: I/SMN

St Matthias Church of England School, Poplar

1875-1983, ref: I/SMC. Further records including log books held at London Metropolitan Archives, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

St Patrick's in the East (Boys' and Girls’ Catholic School)

See St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Primary School

St Patrick's Roman Catholic Primary School, Wapping

1872-2010, including log books. Ref: I/STP

St Paul Parochial School, Shadwell

1892-1956, Educational Charity Trustees account book naming pupils only, ref: I/SPS

St Saviour School, Poplar

1965-1971: governors’ papers only, ref: I/MIS/1. Further records including log books held at London Metropolitan Archives, ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Southern Grove School, Mile End

See Elizabeth Barrett Browning Secondary School. South Grove School records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Spitalfields School of Design, Spitalfields

See City and Spitalfields School of Art

Stepney Greencoat School, Stepney

See Hamlet of Ratcliff School

Stepney Jewish School

Not held at THLHLA. Records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

Stepney Meeting Sunday Schools

1816-1956, series ref W/SMH/A/14

Stepney Parish Church Day Schools

See Mile End Old Town Charity School

Stepney Redcoat School, Stepney

1912-1927: Infants Department admission register only, ref: I/HRS/13/1. See Hamlet of Ratcliff School; see also Mile End Old Town Charity School

Wapping Charity School

Transcripts only, uncatalogued TH/8302. Not currently available for consultation.

Wood Close School, Bethnal Green

1920-1964: admission registers only including associated schools, ref: I/STB/2. Further records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05.

Wrights Road Schools

See Bowbrook Girls School. Further records held by London Metropolitan Archives: City of London, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

You can research archives of associations, youth clubs, institutes and settlements. They include

The records can searched on our online catalogue.

  • Brady Club, a Jewish youth organisation,1924-1981, ref: S/BRA
  • Cambridge and Bethnal Green Boys Club later known as New Cambridge Boys' Club, 1936-1987, ref: S/NCB
  • Dockland Settlement No. 2, Isle of Dogs. Learning for young people included holidays, camps and sports, 1924-1969, ref: I/DST
  • East London Schools Sports Association, minutes, 1950-1977, ref: S/ELS
  • Highway Clubs (Incorporated), records 1886-1986, ref: S/HWC
  • National Union of Teachers: East London Teachers Association, 1902-1971: minutes, registers and printed material, ref: S/ELT
  • Oxford House Settlement, Bethnal Green. Founded in 1884 by Keble College, Oxford to house former college pupils and tutors. They aimed to learn about ‘the real condition of the labouring classes’ in East London. 1886-1984, including records of clubs and associations, ref: I/OXF
  • St Katharine and Shadwell Trust, records on education and training, 1990-2013, ref: I/SKS
  • St Margaret's House, Bethnal Green. A settlement running clubs and other activities. 1872-1988, ref: I/SMH
  • Scout Association: Poplar Branch, minutes, 1945-1959, ref: S/MIS/5
  • Sunday School Union: East London Auxiliary, 1895-1996: minutes, reports, statistics, finance, photographs and printed material, ref: S/ELA
  • Tower Hamlets Institute of Adult Education, 1898-1991: including records of predecessors Bethnal Green Adult Education Institute; Bethnal Green Men's Institute; Lansbury Adult Education Institute, Bow; and Olga Street Women's Institute, Bow; ref: I/THI
  • Papers of individuals including Peter Aylmer, teacher and representative on the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), ref: P/AYL; and Edith Ramsay (1895-1983), educationalist and community worker, especially on adult education, ref: P/RAM

Research sources on the history of education in Tower Hamlets and London in our Local History Library. Most material is under subject code 800. Themes include

  • teachers’ associations
  • parents’ unions and strikes
  • exhibitions and festivals
  • art and technical schools
  • evening and commercial institutes
  • further education
  • special schools and centres
  • play centres
  • school sports.

Highlights from our Local History Library collection include:

  • Published histories on schools and places for higher education. These include Queen Mary University of London and its predecessors.
  • Serial publications including school magazines, newsletters, and annual reportsSchool journey books. These describe trips outside the borough. They are often written by the children themselves.
  • Photographs illustrating school life, including class photographs and school buildings
  • Newspaper cuttings and ephemera
  • Directories help trace schools and other educational centres. These include those issued by the LCC, ILEA and Tower Hamlets CouncilMaps show the locations of schools in Tower Hamlets. For example the LCC’s 1947 London School Plan, ref: LCM2673.

LMA holds important archives of local authority schools in Tower Hamlets.

Management records cover the period 1870-1990. Minutes, plans and policy files are in the archives of the following

  • Boards of Guardians for the Poor of London and Middlesex
  • School Board for London (SBL)
  • London County Council (LCC)
  • Middlesex County Council (MCC)
  • Inner London Education Authority (ILEA).

During this period, schools were issued registers and log books by the local authority. Completed volumes were sometimes returned. These are at LMA, series ref: LCC/EO/DIV05. Tower Hamlets came under Educational Divisional Area 5. This included schools in Bethnal Green, City of London, Poplar and Stepney.

LMA also has archives of key East End educational organisations. These include

  • Beaumont Institution and People’s Palace, Mile End. This was a public hall ‘for the recreation, amusement and education of the people of the East End of London’, ref: A/BPP
  • Toynbee Hall which still operates today in Commercial Street, refs: A/TOY and ACC/2486

Explore their research guide LMA Information leaflet 27: An outline of sources for the history of education in London Metropolitan Archives for further details.