Students explore the gory details behind medicine in Victorian England

On Tuesday 19 June 2018, a group of 53 Year 10 historians visited Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds. The visit provided the students with an excellent body of knowledge for their GCSE History course topic, “Britain, Health and the People”.

The students began the day by exploring how life in nineteenth century Leeds changed due to the Industrial Revolution. The trip along “1842 Street” allowed them to step back in time to experience the stench and sights of the industrial town in a vivid waxwork presentation. This was followed by a session which allowed our young learners to explore medical developments in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century.

After lunch, the group were given the opportunity to watch a harrowing dramatisation of the story of Hannah Dyson, an eight year old girl who had her leg amputated after it was crushed by machinery in a mill where she worked in 1823.  Surgeons at Leeds General Infirmary fought to save her, but she tragically died. Reflection on Hannah’s story, where the students experienced first-hand the horrors of 1820s surgery, naturally led into discussion on what could have been done to save her and why surgery was so dangerous at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The students then explored exhibits that detailed the impact of science and technology and warfare on medicine.

Mr Scarr, Head of History, said

The day was both engaging and informative for staff and students alike. The experience will hopefully strengthen the confidence of our GCSE students as they ready themselves for Year 11 study.”