Hidden Lives Revealed. A virtual archive - children in care 1881-1981 * Image of handwritten text

Arthur's Story

Photograph that inspired this poem or story

a street game

Open larger imageLink opens in a new window

In the harsh times of the Victorian age. Imagine your parents were dead, and had abandoned you. You had no other family, and the only thing you knew was how to survive on the street, beg, steal and borrow without returning. You had no one, sleeping in a diffent corner of a street every night. This happened to a lot of children in the Victorian age and based on real events, this is a story of how the Waifs and Strays Society (The Children's Society today) helps one lad called Arthur.

Why has this happened to me? Was it my fault? Was it something that I did? Why was it happening to me?! These are the sort of questions Arthur asked himself again and again as he walked round the grim city of Islington looking for a corner to spend the night. Arthur's family was no more. His father had died from war wounds and heart disease, his mother unable to cope abandoned Arthur at the market, while doing the shopping. Arthur had assumed that she had somehow managed to move back to her homeland, France. She had met Arthur's father when him and his regiment were doing a tour though France. She had never forgiven him for getting her pregnant, and she Arthur always felt that his mother never wanted him.

As he walked down another cold, dark grimy street Arthur suddenly felt that he was no longer alone. And sure enough when he turned around there he saw a group of at least 10 strong. 10 bulky, strong and imitating teenage boys and girls, Arthur only 11 and a half himself had no chance of one on one, let alone the whole group.

Arthur had heard of these sorts of groups, "the scandals" as they were called. All of them orphans or had no homes or just runaways. They survived by stealing, robbing, and begging among other things. But they were like brothers and sisters. Like family, always looking out for one another and loving each other like family should. At this point in time Arthur didn't know what to do, he just stood there shaking, if he ran away they would surely catch him and then beat him up. As it turned out Arthur's choice was made for him, as one of the beefier lads came towards him and said "Come with us". Arthur still confused and scared followed without a word. They walked roughly for about 10 minutes down dark streets and darker alleyways, as they walked no one said a word. But Arthur had more time to study their faces, body language and personalities. Even though Arthur was only 11, he was extremely smart and educated himself from books, people and the newspapers. And so he came to the conclusion that looking past first appearance they seemed to be pretty nice. And then they arrived.

by a pupil at the Crown Woods School

The Children's Society UNESCO logo Big
           Lottery Fund logo Wellcome Trust