Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 03, 2016
Webpage updated: December 02, 2018

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At the time of its foundation Plymouth-Dock had only four charity schools.  It was founded at the suggestion of Mr Joseph Trounsell, who on his walks about the town noticed a lot of children "whose only school was the streets".

Inside the Royal Naval and Military Free Schools, with the headmaster,
Mr Nathaniel Cephas Steed, sat at the desk to the left.
Date unknown but between 1891 and 1915.
Note the harmonium on the right.
From the author's collection.

The school was established in the former Assembly Rooms in Cherry Garden Street in 1832 for the purpose of educating 'the sons, daughters, and infants of seamen, retired mariners, mariners, soldiers, fishermen, and watermen'.

After some years it was removed to rooms in Granby Street.  In 1846 the managers decided to open it to children of labourers in the Dockyard, Keyham Steam Yard and other Government establishments.  In 1846 the Earl of Auckland, First Sea Lord, laid the memorial stone of a new building in King Street.  A portrait of the founder, the gift of a Mr William Clifton, was hung in the gentlemen's committee room while a memorial tablet to Mr Trounsell was erected in the infants school-room in 1854.

By 1864 the boys' school room had been enlarged twice and plans were made in 1865 to extend it yet again but the plan was dropped.  However it was carried out in 1867-68 by the addition of a room at the south end of the boys' school.  Although it must have been a free school when it started, by 1868 they were charging School Pence.  Lessons were being taught by a teaching staff of at least 15 people, including monitors.

Only four men were headmasters of the School during its lifetime: Mr Foreman, Mr Good, Mr Carlyon, and Mr Nathaniel Cephas Steed (1857-1942), who oversaw the transition to King Street Elementary Council School.

The Log Book, 1895 to 1938, the Admission Register, 1899 to 1938, and the Index to the Admission Register, are held by the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office.

Following the adoption of the Education Act 1902 on June 1st 1903, the School became a "Non-provided" School under the Devonport Local Education Authority.

In April 1910 the Trustees of the School transferred the site to the Devonport Local Education Authority with the express condition that it be transformed in to an elementary school within the new Education Act of 1903.  Thus the Royal Naval and Military Free Schools became the King Street Elementary Council School, Devonport.