Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 24, 2021
Webpage updated: March 24, 2021

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The final meeting of the Devonport School Board took place on Friday May 15th 1903.  The Devonport Local Education Authority, which was the Education Committee of the Devonport Borough Council, should have taken over on Wednesday April 1st and then Friday May 1st 1903, but finally took over the administration of the schools in Devonport on Monday June 1st 1903.  On that date Johnston Terrace Board School became Johnston Terrace Elementary School, with accommodation for 632 boys, 346 girls and 339 infants.

In 1914 Mr George Blackmore was the master of the boys' school; Miss Louisa Redcliffe, mistress of the girls' school; and Miss Annie Saunders, mistress of the infants' school.  The average attendances at that time were 491 boys, 357 girls and 382 infants.

Following the amalgamation of Plymouth, East Stonehouse and Devonport on November 9th 1914, responsibility for education in Devonport passed to the Plymouth Local Education Authority.

During the Great War, on Wednesday April 4th 1917, the Royal Navy took over Johnston Terrace Elementary School in order to provide extra accommodation to relieve the overcrowding at the Royal Naval Barracks just up the road.

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

Mr William Harper Cornish was appointed Head Master of Johnston Terrace Elementary Council School in July 1928 after 23 years teaching at Somerset Place Elementary School.

An entry in the School Log Book under the date, August 27th 1928, reads: 'Johnston Terrace Boys' School was reorganised this day as a boys' Central School with Mr A E E Cook BA BSc as Headmaster'.

In August 1928 Johnston Terrace Central School was further reorganised and split in to two: a junior mixed and infants' elementary school, under Head Master Mr William Harper Cornish, which continued as Johnston Terrace Elementary School; and Tamar Central School, under Mr T Willcocks, which at that time still accepted boys and girls.

On Friday September 1st 1939 it was announced that the School would be closed until further notice, due to the worsening situation in Poland.  The Second World War was declared two days later.  It was to be nearly three weeks before the School was reopened.  Although there were several air raids during the following weeks, it was not until the early hours of Tuesday August 13th 1940 that damage was done to properties in the vicinity of the School, resulting in pieces of shrapnel being found in the playground.   Things got worse and on Monday August 26th 1940 Mr Cornish recorded in the School's log book that many children in Goschen and Hamilton Streets had lost their homes during an air raid in the late afternoon of the previous day.

During the night of Monday April 21st 1941 Johnston Terrace Elementary School was completely gutted by fire as the result of an air raid.  The School was closed for a month and reopened at Camel's Head Council Junior School, with which it amalgamated in the June.  On June 27th Mr Cornish made a poignant final entry in the log book: 'Today sees the close of what, I hope, is only a passing phase in the life of my school.   Thirteen years ago this child of mine was born.  It grew and flourished; and at one time with nearly 700 children on the roll, it was the largest school in the city.   This afternoon school is over and I relinquish my post with a heavy heart.  Our old school building is destroyed and children and teachers are scattered far and wide.   Only a tiny number with one Class Mistress left (Miss Davey) to carry on the school tradition.  Let us hope that when these dark and bitter days are over we shall be re-united.'

Mr Cornish finished out his teaching career at Mount Street Elementary School, in Plymouth, from where he retired in December 1944.

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.