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Canon Thomas Major Lester

1829 - 1903
Educationalist

Thomas Major Lester, ‘Major Lester’ as he was affectionately known, was born in Fulham on 26 August 1829, one of six children – 4 boys and 2 girls.  He was educated at a Boarding School in Newcastle and later Christ College, Cambridge.

He was ordained in Chester Cathedral in 1853, following which he became curate at St. Mary’s Church, Kirkdale, Liverpool.

He was a great educationalist and was never happier than when talking to children.  He opened a mission room over the coal shed.  This Ragged Mission Room was the start of his life’s work.  The Kirkdale Child Charity work progressed slowly, his first school with accommodation for 500 children opened in 1862, becoming known as the Major Lester Street School.

The children were first fed, clothed, then educated.  Boys were taught tailoring and printing;  girls were trained so they could earn their own living in domestic service.

"Give the child a fair chance" was his motto and ‘when the people of this country realize that the poor will always be with them and that compulsory education is a folly in the case of half-starved children, they will adopt my methods’.

 It was the unique character of this institution that encouraged him to carry on with the homes when his health and strength were failing.  He trusted that they would continue on his lines when he was no more.  It is said that 10,000 children passed through them during the 48 years they were in existence