Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 17, 2016
Webpage updated: April 01, 2021

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The second school opened by the Devonport School Board was in Charlotte Street and was known as the Morice Town Board School.

On August 18th 1873 the Board raised a loan from the Public Works Loan Commissioners of 1,350 at 3% over 50 years for the erection of the School.  The Board also purchased the reversion of the site from Edward Saint Aubyn for 327 in September 1873.  The School was completed on August 18th 1874.  It covered an area of 7,069 square feet.  The total cost of site, buildings & architect's commission was 4,045 15s 5d, which worked out at a cost per child of 5 13s 4d.

The boys' school under Mr Bennett was opened first, in the infants section, which was completed first, on Monday March 2nd 1874.  Then on Wednesday April 8th 1874 the girls and infants were transferred in from their temporary premises at the Wycliffe Chapel.  On the day of the formal opening there were 153 boys, 91 girls under Mrs Eddy, and 163 infants under Mrs Gaud.

Morice Town Board School was formally opened on April 13th 1874 by the Chairman of the Board.  There were boys', girls' and infants' sections, to accommodate 700 children (250 boys, 200 girls and 250 infants).  

The boys' school was on the ground floor, where the school-room was surrounded by classrooms 25ft 6ins by 14ft and 13ft high.  There were sliding partitions so that two rooms could be enlarged into one.  There were also lavatories and a master's private room.  The girls' school-room was above the boys' one, and approached by a wooden staircase.  The infants were also on the first floor, having a school room and two classrooms, one 22ft by 20ft and the other 22ft by 16ft 6ins and both 14ft high.   There was a cloak-room and the mistress's private room. 

Underneath were spacious covered playgrounds, well lit and ventilated and tar paved.  The principle front on the building was 50 feet wide and fronted Charlotte Street.  It was built of blue Pomphlett stone with grey limestone quoins and the windows were dressed with moulded brick-work. 

Messrs Dwelley & Son of Plymouth were the architects and the contractor was Mr Martin of Messrs Hodge and Martin, who tendered 2,395 although this was later increased to 2,644 5s. 

In 1889 the average attendance was quoted as 243 boys, 228 girls and 251 infants.  Master was William Bennett.  Mistress was Mrs Annie Preece.  Infants were in the charge of Miss Eliza Gaud.

New girls' school

A new school for the 350 girls on the register was officially opened by the chairman of the Devonport School Board, the Reverend W H Allin, on Friday October 2nd 1891.  This allowed the old building to be used purely by the infants, who were on the ground floor, and the boys.  This new three-storey building stood on the corner of Charlotte Street and Albert Road.  It was constructed of grey nobbling by Plymouth contractor Mr A R Debnam.  The cost was around 5,000.

The main schoolroom on the ground floor measured 76 feet by 22 feet by 14 feet high.  This room was obstructed by six ugly iron pillars which had been intended to support the building in the event of a fourth floor being added.   When the plan of adding the fourth floor was abandoned, it did not, apparently, occur to anybody that the pillars were no longer required and need not be put in place.   Also on the ground floor were a light and airy classroom, measuring 26 feet by 19 feet and a cloakroom of 13 feet 9 inches by 16 feet.

On the first floor was another schoolroom, of similar dimensions to that below it, which had the added advantage of the lantern light roof, making it very suitable as a public meeting room.  It is not known what rooms were on the top floor given that -- judging by the description given above -- they were outside of the area covered by the lantern light roof.

Outside was a playground measuring 77 feet by 36 feet, tiled with Chudleigh paving bricks, of which a large part was covered by the ground floor schoolroom.

By 1902 the average attendance was quoted as 327 boys, 342 girls and 300 infants and the staff were Master, William Jackman Bennett;  Mistress - Mrs Annie Preece; Infants - Florence Mathes.

The Morice Town Board School in Charlotte Street became the Morice Town Elementary School from June 1st 1903, after the passing of the Education Act 1902, when it was transferred in to the control of the Devonport Local Education Authority.