robert raikes gloucester history sunday school

Robert Raikes Remembered

Today marks the 201st anniversary of the death of Robert Raikes. A truly great man of Gloucester, Raikes helped usher in social reforms which were adopted nationwide.

Robert Raikes Statue

Robert Raikes statue in Gloucester Park - courtesy Gloucester Civic Trust

Robert Raikes (1736- 1811) was the editor and proprietor of the Gloucestershire Journal and was able to use his position to publicise the plight of working class children. As an Anglican layman, he was concerned that children who worked in factories or were chimney sweeps Monday to Saturday were up to mischief on their only day off and were receiving little or nothing in the way of education. He established a Sunday school in 1780 and within a couple of years; several more had opened in Gloucester. By 1831, 1.25 million children were being educated in Sunday Schools across Britain, paving the way for the state school system.

Raikes was recently featured on the BBC’s ‘Britain’s First Photo Album’ documentary. In the programme, presenter John Sergeant, visits towns and cities featured in the Victorian Francis Frith’s photographic project in the latter half of the nineteenth century.  John Sergeant was keen to highlight the importance of Raikes (he described him as was “one of the first campaigning journalists”) and recreated a photograph of the Robert Raikes’ House pub on Southgate Street.

Here’s a link to the preview of Britain’s First Photo Album.

Find out more about Robert Raikes at Wikipedia.