Rugby School Science Teaching Around 1900

A 1900s trip down the river Avon revisited, part six

Science laboratory at Rugby School ca. 1900
Courtesy of Warwickshire CC, Rugby Library Local Studies Collection; WCRO PH827/5/15; photographer Rev. E. Dew

After Brownsover the Rev. Dew detoured from the river Avon to include several pictures of Rugby School (most of which I am not reproducing because the school buildings have changed very little). However a particularly interesting couple of pictures show science teaching at the school in a laboratory and a lecture theatre. Public schools at that time focussed largely on conventional subjects such as history, English and the classics. I suspect the Rev. Dew took these photos because science teaching was something of a novelty.

How has science teaching changed?

The science equipment looks very similar to that I encountered at school, with Bunsen burners and tripods etc. There is of course no sign of safety goggles or lab coats to protect the master’s and boys’ eyes and clothes. And I don’t suppose the teacher wears a mortar board and gown nowadays. (I have not asked if I could take a ‘now’ photo because it would presumably mean getting permission from the parents of all the children involved.)

A personal note

My grandfather went to Rugby School in the late 19th century, but I never thought to ask him about his lessons. All I know is that he leapt into the deep end of the swimming pool at his first swimming lesson and nearly drowned! Had he done so I would not have been here to write this article…

A trip down the River Avon revisited

This is part of a series of ‘before and after’ photographs based on the Rev. E.N. Dew’s lantern slides for a talk about the Warwickshire Avon. The original photos date from around 1900 and the linked article explains the history of the photographs.

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