Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 13, 2016.
Webpage updated: July 10, 2017

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The origin of the Devonport British Schools is unclear.  Worth, in his "History of Devonport", refers to the establishment in 1829 of the United Mathematical and Commercial School by a group of Dockyard artisans.  He does not say whether it still existed at the time of his writing, July 1870, but tells us that: 'the building is now the property of the congregation of Mount Zion, whose chapel it adjoins. Mount Zion was the Calvinist chapel that later became a Salvation Army Temple.

Later, in 1890, the Devonport British Schools and Mission Room were in Ker Street next to the Salvation Army Temple, which suggests that either the old school was directly taken over by the British and Foreign Schools Society or that they acquired the old premises because they were suitable for their own purposes.

In charge of the Devonport British School for Boys was Mr James Woodleigh Gosling, who lived at 20 South Hill, Stoke.  Pupils entered the school from Saint John Lane at the rear.  The Devonport British School for Girls, under Miss Caroline Shepherd, was entered through the front in Ker Street.

A further branch, the Devonport British School for Infants, was situated at the Wesleyan's Mount Street Mission Hall, in Mount Street, under Mrs Emily Penrose.  She lived at 19 Clowance Street.

By 1897 the Boys School was under the charge of Mr W A Staton and they were entering the building from Saint John Lane, at the rear.   There was now also a Devonport British School for Girls, under Miss Caroline Shepherd.  Their school was entered through the front in Ker Street.  The Infants had Miss Anne Bush as their Mistress.

The Devonport British School for Infants was acquired by the Devonport Local Education Authority, under whom it became the Mount Street Elementary School and was replaced by the brand new Ker Street Infant School. 

On Monday July 24th 1905 Mr John Ward, offered for sale by auction the Devonport British School building.  It was being sold for the remainder of a lease that expired on September 28th 1929, subject to a ground rent of 13 per annum.

The building was described as having, on the ground floor, a large and lofty schoolroom, with lobbies, and a large yard with sanitary conveniences.  On the first floor, approached from its own entrance by its a wide staircase were two large, lofty and well lit rooms, out of which small compartments had been partitioned off.  The premises were available for immediate occupation and could be utilised, it was suggested, as a factory, laundry, store or manufacturing premises.

It was purchased by a Mr Westlake for the sum of 120.