Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: December 24, 2019
Webpage updated: April 13, 2021

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Camel's Head Elementary School was located in Wolseley Road, at what was at that time the very northern boundary of the Borough of Devonport.

The brand new Camel's Head School building,
with the waters of the Weston Mill Creek immediately in front of it.
From a postcard.

When the Board of Education in London decreed that every pupil in the country had to have a superficial area of 10 feet (previously it was only 8), this meant that new accommodation was required in order to make room for all the children receiving education in the Borough of Devonport.  Ford School and Johnston Terrace School had more scholars than they could accommodate but the Government inspectors had allowed them to continue for the past two or three years until this new school was built.

Thus in 1908 the Devonport Local Education Authority took the decision to erect a new building at Camel's Head.  There were apparently many problems, not least of which was the choice of a site.  It was, to put it bluntly, a mud flat.   However, it was a mud flat that belonged to the Corporation, which meant it was cheap for the Education Committee to rent at just 82 per year.   In order to provide a good, solid foundation, the School was built on a reinforced concrete raft.

Messrs Thornely, Rooke and Barron were asked to design the school and Messrs Wakeham Brothers were contracted to build it for 12,070.   It was constructed of grey limestone. 

On the afternoon of Wednesday February 28th 1912 the new Camel's Head Junior Mixed and Infants' Elementary School was declared open by Lord Saint Levan in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress, Alderman and Mrs Fredman, and Vice-Admiral R H S Stokes, Admiral Superintendent of Devonport Royal Dockyard.  The rest of the guest list read like a "Who's Who" of the great and good of the Borough and included not only those one would expect to be present (Town Clerk, chairman of the Education Committee, the architect, the contractors, and the local inspector of schools) but also some surprising ones like the borough coroner, Mr J A Pearce, the borough librarian, Mr W D Rutter, and a director and the manager  of the Devonport and District Tramways Company.

Luckily the new head master was also invited.   He was Mr Samuel D Brooming, who had for the previous 27 years been the head of Saint Stephen's National School at Devonport.  He apparently moved before he was pushed because at his farewell presentation it was remarked that schools such as Saint Stephen's, a church school, would not exist for very much longer and if he had stayed 'he would have found himself at the end of that time without an occupation'.  The heads of the girls' department, Miss Lily H P Fitzwater from Stuart Road School, and infants' department, Miss Mabel Bryan, from Devonport Higher Elementary School, were not included in the guest list.

What was apparently an unusual feature of Camel's Head Elementary School was that in co-operation with the Sanitary Committee, a school nurse had been appointed.  It also had bathrooms.

Some of the pupils who would have attended this School at its opening were children of the workmen employed by the contractor engaged on the building of the North Yard Extension of the Royal Dockyard.  They would have attended Sir John Jackson's School until this one was completed.

In 1914 the School had accommodation for 276 boys, 276 girls and 464 junior mixed pupils.  Mr Samuel D Brooming was the master of  the boys' school; Miss Lily H P Fitzwater was mistress of the girls' school; and Miss Mabel Bryan was the mistress of the junior mixed school.  The average attendance at that time was 179 boys, 156 girls and 318 junior mixed.

On and as from November 9th 1914, when Devonport was amalgamated with Plymouth, the School came under the management of the Plymouth Local Education Authority.

The Education Act 1918 raised the school-leaving age to the fourteenth birthday.

In 1937, when the School took only senior boys, junior mixed and infants, Mr H Cock was head master of the senior boys' school and Miss M Bryan still looked after the junior mixed and infants' school.

The Education Act 1944 raised the school leaving age to the fifteenth birthday as from Tuesday April 1st 1947 and created Primary schools for the 5 to 11 years olds and Secondary Modern, Grammar and Technical Schools.