The Truant’s Clog

Of all the measures taken to punish those who did not want to attend school perhaps our ‘truants clog’ is the most unusual.

Although it was designed to humiliate rather than injure, the wooden clog is heavy enough to slow down and bruise any leg daft enough to try to run.

This is the truant’s clog from the Mount School for boys which was situated at the top of Whitby’s Cliff Street. The school started on Church Street in 1810, moving to Cliff Street in 1821 and was run on Lancastrian principles. This was an educational movement led by John Lancaster (1778 – 1838) which used the monitor system. A small number of older students were taught by the masters; and then they in turn taught the younger students. In this way a small number of schoolmasters could teach large numbers of students across all ages, skills and abilities at low cost.

Though highly influential until about 1830, it was gradually replaced by the ‘lecture’ system in use today, with students grouped by age.

A girl’s school opened further down Cliff Street in 1824; both closed in March 1963 but are fondly remembered by many in the town.

Ironically, John Lancaster himself was opposed to corporal punishment, and it is evidently from the time after his system had expired that this clog belongs.

It is not known exactly how old it is, but it was given to Whitby Museum in 1935.

The Northern Echo also have a weekly object of the week. Our clog appeared in last Saturday’s edition. See the article here