Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 12, 2018
Webpage updated: April 01, 2021

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The provision of a school for the Keyham Barton area of Devonport had long been agitated for by the Keyham Barton Ratepayers' Association because the nearest schools were the Saint James the Great National Schools in Keyham Road and Johnston Terrace Board School, in Saltash Road. 

On December 22nd 1913 the Devonport Local Education Committee discussed plans to erect a new junior school for 247 children at Keyham Barton.  A loan of 2,835 was arranged and tenders invited.  The architects chosen to design the school were Messrs Thornely, Rooke and Barron and it was to be completed by July 31st 1914.

On January 26th 1914 the tender of 2,632 from Messrs G B Turpin and Son was accepted, although it was increased by 31 on March 23rd for completing the end walls.  The cost of purchasing the site was 800.

The foundation stone was laid on Thursday April 2nd 1914 by Alderman W Littleton, JP, chairman of the Education Committee of Devonport Corporation.  Mr W H Crang was the Director of Education at the time.

Mr Thornely presented Alderman Littleton with a silver trowel with which to execute the task and he declared that the stone was 'Both upright and level, and truly laid'.  The one-storey building comprised a central hall surrounded by five classrooms.  In Alderman Littleton's speech he made reference to the announcement made that day that Plymouth Local Education Authority was to follow Devonport's lead at teaching swimming to its children.

Furnishing the School cost 200.

At a Committee meeting on June 22nd 1914 it was decided to leave decorating the walls and ceiling until the summer of the following year.  Also at that meeting they appointed 34-years-old Miss Mary Elizabeth Brenton of Victoria Road Infants' School at Saint Budeaux as the first headmistress, to start on August 31st.  Her salary was to be 122 per annum.

Keyham College Road Junior Mixed Elementary School was opened for enrolment at 9am on Monday August 31st 1914 'as a matter of urgency'.  The Reverend J Heywood-Waddington, the vicar of the Church of Saint Clement in Warleigh Avenue, offered prayers.  The first staff, under Miss Brenton, were M Burt, E Austin, G Goode, P Lakey and E Rodd.

In November 1914 the School was transferred into the control of the unified Plymouth Local Education Authority.  In July 1918 the Western Morning News carried the first reference to the School as Keyham College Road Junior Mixed Elementary School in a piece about War Weapons Week.

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

Miss Mary Elizabeth Brenton, the Head Mistress, retired in March 1931 due to ill health and passed away on Ash Wednesday, February 10th 1932, at her home, 16 Amherst Road, Devonport.  She was aged 51 years.  Her funeral was held at the Church of Saint Barnabas the Apostle and she was buried at Weston Mill Cemetery.

In 1935 the Headmistress was Miss M E Gilbert.

In 1937 when the School was accepting only infant pupils, Miss M E Gilbert was head mistress of the infants' school.

The School was damaged in the Plymouth Blitz of March 24th 1941 and the pupils were moved to the Saint James the Great National Schools, which were even nearer to the Royal Dockyard.

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.