The doors have reopened at the East End’s last surviving Victorian ragged school smartened up as a reborn museum in an old Regents Canal warehouse after a 21st-century makeover.

The historic school, Stepney’s proud Ragged School Museum, was first opened by Dr Barnardo in 1877 as a place of safety with free education for the children of the poor.

It reverted to a warehouse at the turn of the 20th century, then fell into disuse and was dilapidated until it was turned into a heritage museum in 1990.

But money ran dry and the building in Copperfield Road faced closure — until it was rescued with a £4.8million National Lottery package.

“It’s been a huge challenge,” Ragged School Museum director Erica Davies said. “We urgently needed to repair this building and preserve the stories of the children that are part of its history.

“The museum is witness to universal free education and tribute to the people who struggled to achieve it.”

Its restoration hit a snag with the first national lockdown in 2020, just three days into the project. But Lottery funding kept it afloat.

The museum has reopened with a summer education programme to experience Victorian life in the East End 150 years ago. 

Exhibits include Barnardo’s original Cabinet Office desk complete with his handwritten labels still in place.

The desk was an American invention “to meet the requirements of someone who wanted everything in its place”.

Other famous desk owners included Queen Victoria and US president Ulysses Grant.