Victorian childhood: rags and riches

This role play session explores Victorian Liverpool's court and merchant housing to compare the very different experiences. Discover what life was like for Liverpool's child workers through costumes, props and handling objects. 

This session can be booked Monday to Friday at 10.15am, 11.30am and 1.15pm.

recreation of court housing in the museum

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Key Stage 2
  • Subjects: English, History
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Class size(maximum): 30
  • Venue: Museum of Liverpool
  • £90 including VAT per session
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Resources and trails

Workshop details

This session begins with visiting our full scale reconstruction of Liverpool court housing in 1870. This court is in the Scotland Road area, one of the most overcrowded and neglected parts of Victorian Liverpool. Pupils will dress as Victorian children and discover who lived here and what their lives were like.  Bathing, washing clothing, privies and ashpits are all explored.  The experiences of those living in cellars, which were the worst form of dwelling, are also investigated.

The study of George Melly, a Liverpool merchant and philanthropist is explored and the very different experiences of the wealthy and those living in court housing and cellars contrasted through comparing furnishings, decoration, cleanliness and size.

The work of Victorian child labourers is then explored with character bags to represent real children who lived in Liverpool including rope makers, chimney sweeps, domesetic servants and more.  Pupils use clues to identify a real or replica object that would have been used in their character’s job and create a short costumed role play of the most important aspects of their character’s story.  Pupils are asked to consider who had the best and worst job and which was the most dangerous?