Brooklands Primary School visit

Brooklands Primary School visited the museum in September 2013 for our pARTicipate  Print Power sessions and our Living History performance Strike a Light!- A Match Girl’s Story. The children enjoyed the experience so much that they have written to us to tell us about their favourite parts of the day and a little bit about what they learnt to create our first primary school blog post!

Patrick  – Symbols on Trade Union Banners

National Federation of Women Workers badge“Some banners were carried to support the workers when they were asking for shorter working hours, changes in labour law, closures and cuts in pay and public service. Banners became popular in Britain when Trade Unions started. Images were taken from Protestant and Catholic images as well as Freemasons. It became popular in London when Tutills started to manufacture large scale banners in the 1840s.

“The badge depicts Unity (togetherness), illustrated by the bundle of sticks bound together and the handshake, the symbol of trade union unity. The object of the union is written on the banner, ‘to fight, to struggle, to right the wrong’.”

Lulu visited the museum again after her school visit

“After tap and ballet we went back to the People’s History Museum. We made a badge and I had another look at all the symbols and their meanings.”

Charlie – Print Power

“I also enjoyed my lunch with my friends and teachers. The best part was when we got to work together and push the wooden holder to get the picture. We took it back to school! The fun took the time away, at least we had fun, that’s all that matters.”

Millie  – why you should visit

Brooklands PS drawing

Dyu Strike a Light!

“5M and I enjoyed the fascinating trip to the People’s History Museum. We like making match sticks and bundling them into packs so they can be sold. After that my team and I went to different room to create freeze frame of sweaty work. The poor people used to do this sort of work at home and then selling them for a living. At end of the trip I felt People’s History Museum rocks!”

Josh  – A Great Day Out Whether You Are 9 or 90

“Very interesting and great acting. Reminds me of the powerful perseverance of the amazing suffragettes.

“As well, there are always new events and every bank and school holiday there is screen printing and banner making with professional artist, Dave. A recommended family day out. A whole section of the top floor is old but interesting banners heaven for Dave, I’d imagine!!!!

“A great day out for all friends and family. New things to learn whether you are 9 or 90.”

Luca – My visit to the PHM

“The best part was the screen printing because you could choose the colours, the pictures and the type of meaning. I loved it. It is better than all the rest. I would rate it 5 out of 5. I am definitely going again.”

 Eliza  – Screen Printing

“In the afternoon of our visit to the museum, we tried screen printing. We printed symbols onto coloured paper. Our team printed a dove, which represents peace. We printed with an object called a … Squizzle? Squeazle? – never mind. The staff were brilliant, helping in every way possible. We had so much fun we are all going back as soon as possible. It was the best school trip ever – no competition.”

Ella  – Screen Printing

Brooklands PS drawing 2

Sophie – Strike a Light!

“The People’s History Museum is very interesting because we go as far back as 200 years ago!! Me and my classmates discovered a lot of new words, new facts and basically new EVERYTHING! First of all we did a work shop of making matches, we had to get into groups or 6 and each and every one of us had a job. One job was to make sure no one was talking, cheating and helping each other with their jobs!! There were five other jobs and they were also very important. I really enjoyed the work shop. My group got the most money!! We got 4p and in these days wasn’t a lot but 200 years ago it is quite a lot.

“Come on let’s get down to the People’s History Museum it is great!! It is in Spinningfields a place in Manchester. The best part is that it is FREE!!! It is an absolutely 5 star recommendation! Hope you come and have a visit.”

You can find out more details about our Learning Programme on our website Alternatively you can contact the Learning Team on 0161 838 9190 or by emailing


Matchsticks, Maggie, and a mistake!

At 10.00am on a Friday morning 30 children file into the factory.  They’re late…. Very late.  The foreman barks the instructions at them – Mr Bryant and Mr May will not be happy if they talk, run, or work at someone else’s job.  They must make as many matches as possible and they will be fined if they break any of the rules.  Silence descends.  The counters count out 20 match sticks, the dippers dip them into the phosphorous, the fillers take them out again, and the packers tie them into small bundles.  They earn a mere 3d for each bundle of matches.  They don’t make many bundles. 

At the PHM the Learning Team faces the challenge of taking complex, challenging subject matter and making it accessible for children and adults of all ages and abilities.  Fortunately we have a team of brilliant and talented freelance actors, artists, writers and directors who we work with to bring our stories and collections to life.  The 30 children struggling to make matches were just a few of the thousands of learners each year who participate in our popular Living History workshops.  They were taking part in our Strike a Light! session and would go on to meet Maggie McCallow, a Victorian match girl involved in the strike of 1888.

Meet Maggie McCallow

Meet Maggie McCallow

125 years ago today a group of female workers at the Bryant and May match factory in London went on strike to demand better working conditions and pay.  The white phosphorous used in the production of the matches led to a horrific disease called ‘phossy jaw’, they worked 14 hour days and were fined excessively.  Social activist Annie Besant became involved and after three weeks the strike succeeded. 

Maggie tells the story better than I do!  Come along to our free public performance of Strike a Light! – A Match Girl’s Story tomorrow at 1.15pm to find out more.


If you can’t make the performance, then we have a permanent display dedicated to the Match Girls’ Strike in Main Gallery One.  See if you can spot the typo….

Life in a Box - find out more about the Match Girls' Strike in Main Gallery One

Life in a Box – find out more about the Match Girls’ Strike in Main Gallery One

Oops! Spot the typo

Oops! Spot the typo

Groups can book a performance of Strike a Light! or any of our Living History workshops by emailing or calling the Learning Team on 0161 838 9190. For full details see our Learning Programme.

Just in case anyone was about to report us to Health and Safety – our ‘phosphorous’ is actually plasticine!