Published: 00:00, 31 January 2014
| Updated: 14:25, 31 January 2014
Schoolchildren from around Kent were given a lesson in time travel at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham.
They had got dressed up in Victorian costume for the launch of KM Group's 1852-1912 Digital Archive which was years in the planning and scanning.
The archive includes tens of thousands of pages from the South Eastern Gazette, a forerunner of the Kent Messenger.
It was made possible by a Your Heritage Lottery grant and a group of dedicated volunteers.
Led by 15 members of the Dickens Fellowship in character costume, including Queen Victoria, the pupils were presented with a light-hearted tableaux of how tough life was for children in the 19th century which certainly made them gasp.
Ron Green, a lecturer in journalism at University of Kent, Medway, together with its professor of journalism, Tim Luckhurst, used stories from the archives to illustrate those often harsh times for children as well as adults.
American actress Laurie Strickland, on a trip to England to tread in Charles Dickens' footsteps, led the children from Eastling, Faversham; Godinton, Ashford; Barming. Maidstone; Sturry. Canturbury; St Katherine’s, Snodland and Gordon Road, Strood, in a rousing succession of Hip! Hip! Hip!...Hoorays! with applause to thank everyone involved before they went a tour of the dockyard.
The event at the dockyard was also attended by 30-plus historians, archivists and other interested parties.
Project manager Lesley Bellew said she felt it was a fun way way to launch the archive especially as the dockyard played such an important role during the period.
"She said: The children were really fired up and entered into the spirit of the event.
"I hope they got a lot out of it and went home wanting to know more about Kent's history.
"It was a fitting tribute to everyone's hard work, unfortunately to many to name individually - the volunteers who ensured the pages have gone online have been brilliant."
The archive is free to everyone in the UK. Click here to view the archive
The launch of the Digital Archive at the Historic Dockyard Chatham
Click to view
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