Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 09, 2017
Webpage updated: May 19, 2019

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The Devonport Municipal Science, Art and Technical School,
in Paradise Road, between Devonport Park and the LSWR
Railway Station.
From Ordnance Survey sheet CXXIII.7 dated 1914.

In the Devonport Borough Council minutes is an entry dated February 16th 1893 stating that Devonport's Technical Instruction Committee had taken a 5 years lease on number 38 George Street, at an annual rental of 65, for the purpose of creating a technical school.  A subsequent minute, dated August 28th 1893, stated 'that arrangements have been made for classes to be formed there on the 11th of September and for instruction to commence on the 18th of September'.  The students were chiefly engaged in the trades and industries of the Borough and by October 1893 there were 425 students in the register.

"The Technical Institute, Devonport".
From a postcard.

The premises in George Street were found to be inadequate, as a minute of May 29th 1894 makes clear: 'They find, however, that the premises in which the work has been carried on are quite inadequate to afford the accommodation for the subjects already taught, and which are to be numerous in the future.  To obviate this difficulty and in pursuance of the powers given them at the Council Meeting held on the 2nd day of February 1893, "to erect a permanent building", the Committee have been in communication with the Secretary of State for War, with the view of purchasing a piece of ground belonging to the War Department, near the London and South Western Railway Station.  The Committee are now informed that the Secretary of State for War desires that the Council should give full powers for carrying on the negotiation and bringing the purchase to a completion.'

On September 26th 1895 it was minuted that: 'It be resolved on the recommendation of the Technical Instruction Committee that application be made to the Local Government Board for their sanction to a loan of the sum of 8,000 for the erection and furnishing of the new school buildings on the site acquired from the War Department.'  Unfortunately the lowest tender received for the construction of the building, which was to have science and art departments, was 13,268 and the request for permission to borrow had to be increased to 14,000.  The Local Government Board sanctioned this loan on December 9th 1896.

The foundation stone was laid on Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Day, June 22nd 1897, by the Mayor of Devonport, Mr W J Waycott, JP.  The architect was Mr Henry John Snell and the builder was Mr Thomas May, of Cobourg Street, Plymouth.

An inscription on the building reads: 'The erection of this school building was commenced in the year 1897 in commemoration of the 60 years glorious reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria and on completion, was on the 25th Day of July 1899, duly inaugurated and dedicated to the public use and benefit by the Right Worshipful Mayor W Hornbrook Esquire in the presence of and with the assistant of Sir William  H White, KCB, LLB, Dr.Sce, FRS.'  Sir William was a former apprentice in the Royal Dockyard who rose to become the  Director of Naval Construction.  He was given the Freedom of the Borough of Devonport on that opening day.

  The research for this webpage has been undertaken by Debbie Watson, Archivist at the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office.