Britain’s rich are thrust into the future. The poor get kicked back into the past

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One of the most important experiments of modern times began in Bradford on 17 April 1907 – and it centred on porridge. Officials went into one of the poorest parts of the city, picked about 40 of the most deprived schoolchildren and began feeding them breakfast and dinner for free. The group got oatmeal porridge every morning, made with milk and treacle, followed by bread and dripping and more milk to drink. The Boer war had turned the malnutrition of working-class British soldiers into a scandal, prompting the government to allow local authorities to give free meals to poor children. And one of the world’s great industrial metropolises was also becoming a birthplace of the free school dinner.

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