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Working Lads Of Whitechapel

January 2, 2017
by the gentle author

These portraits were taken around 1900 at the Working Lads Institute, known today as the Whitechapel Mission. Founded in 1876, the Institute offered a home to young men who had been involved in petty criminal activity, rehabilitating them through working at the Mission which tended to the poor and needy in Whitechapel. Once a lad had proved himself, he was able to seek independent employment with the support and recommendation of the Institute.

The Working Lads Institute was the first of its kind in London to admit black people and Rev Thomas Jackson, the founder, is pictured here with five soldiers at the time of World War I

Stained glass window with a figure embodying ‘Industry’ as an inspiration to the lads

In the dormitory

Rev Thomas Jackson & the lads collect for the Red Cross outside the Mission

Click here to learn more about The Whitechapel Mission

You may also like to take a look at

Colin O’Brien at the Whitechapel Mission

10 Responses leave one →
  1. Alex Knisely permalink
    January 2, 2017

    Are the names of those shown lost to us now?

  2. January 2, 2017

    Most of the ‘lads’ look so hopeless, they must have had very hard lives. Valerie

  3. January 2, 2017

    They look so poor. Life was very tough in the past.

  4. pauline taylor permalink
    January 2, 2017

    Were there any rules as regard the ages of these ‘lads’ ? Some look like schoolboys whilst others are obviously men. But well done to Rev Jackson for not discriminating against black men, hard times can come to anyone irrespective of the colour of their skin. No doubt some of the crimes that they were accused of would be very minor offences now.

  5. Joy permalink
    January 2, 2017

    Very sad looking men . Respect to the Rev. Jackson .

  6. January 2, 2017

    An amazing peek into the difficult lives of young men from another era. Thank you.

  7. Barbara permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Is there a register of the names of the Lads, do you know?

  8. Revd John Hayes permalink
    January 3, 2017

    Here is a link to the annual report from 1897.
    It gives a bit more information about the mission.

  9. Barbara permalink
    January 6, 2017

    Thanks.. very interesting

  10. Mick Bates permalink
    May 8, 2021

    Very sad. But these were the lucky ones
    Well done all the people who gave these lads a chance in life

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