Jews’ Free School
This fabulous photo, from the treasure-house that is JCR-UK, shows boy pupils, undated, performing a drill at the Jews’ Free School in London.
Louise Messik, writing on the JCR-UK site, describes the Jews’ Free School, (which still exists as JFS to this day, in a different location), thusly:
The Jews’ Free School is Europe’s largest and most successful Jewish secondary school. It was established in 1732 as the Talmud Torah of the Great Synagogue of London, serving orphans of the community.
In 1822, the School was relocated to Bell Lane in the heart of the East End where, throughout the 19th century, it absorbed thousands of immigrant children. At one time JFS had 4,000 children on roll and was the largest school in the world.
In the inter-war period, children often came straight from the Kindertransport to JFS. During World War II, students were evacuated to East Anglia and Cornwall and the School was destroyed by enemy action. It re-opened in 1958 in Camden Town where its location was central for the London Jewish community of the late 1950s.
Maintaining its tradition of mirroring the demography of the community, JFS left Camden Town in 2002 and relocated itself to state of the art facilities closer to the heart of North West London.
The JFS archives are partially held by London Metropolitan Archives. Search the database and see more photos here.
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Hidden Treasures: Celebrating the documents, photos and artefacts in British archives that tell the story of Jews in Britain