On this day … 6 May 1893

The Preston Chronicle carried an extract from the first annual report of the Preston Cinderella Club, an organisation offering free suppers and entertainment to poor children:

Seven free suppers and entertainments for poor children have been given by the club, and were held in the following schools: Shepherd-street (Mission-room), St. Paul’s. St. Saviour’s, Croft-street, North-road Wesley, St. Peter’s, and St. Mary’s.

All the schools were lent, free of charge, and every assistance given us. The authorities have our heartiest thanks. The total number of suppers given was 1,410. The entertainment provided has been satisfactory, thanks to the willing help of friends, the chief being conjurers (2), string band, brass band, quartette party, and a Punch and Judy entertainer. It is proposed to resume the work in October …

… The suppers, &c., are given to the very poorest of children in the hope that by this means their scanty stock of pleasure may be increased. Admission is by ticket, the tickets are distributed by the members of the club, who personally visit the homes of the youngsters.

Boys collecting for the Birmingham Cinderella Club
Boys collecting for the Birmingham Cinderella Club

The organisation was part of a national Cinderella Movement inspired by the Manchester journalist Robert Blatchford, co-founder and editor of the radical Clarion newspaper. Blatchford wrote a series of articles urging the formation of clubs to take food and entertainment to children living in nineteenth-century Britain’s industrial slums.

His advocacy soon paid off, and such clubs were formed throughout the country, becoming known as Cinderella Clubs, after the pantomime character and her release from exploited drudgery. The Wikipedia article suggests they played a part in the formation of the Independent Labour Party.

There is still one club in existence, the Bradford Cinderella Club, and to judge by its website it’s a flourishing organisation. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the club bought land at Hest Bank and built a holiday home for Bradford children on the sea front. It continued for nearly seventy years until storm damage forced its closure.


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