©  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 14, 2018
Webpage updated: September 14, 2018

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Following the acquisition of the Stoke Public Higher School in November 1906, the Devonport Local Education Authority decided to demolish the building and erect a brand new one on the site.  Thus at the start of the new school year in September 1908 the pupils of the Devonport Higher Elementary School, as it was now called, found themselves scattered in different locations around the Town.

The foundation stone for the new building had been laid on December 9th 1908 and the contractor, Mr A N Coles, completed the work in time for the official opening ceremony on September 6th 1909.  It was now to be known as the Stoke Public Higher Elementary School, and was to accommodate 340 boys and 280 girls.  The Head Master was Mr G J Michell BA, who had served in the same capacity during the transition from Stoke Public Higher School. The school day ran from 9am until Midday and then 1.45pm until 4.30pm.  On third of the places was to be filled by examination from the elementary schools of Devonport and two-thirds would be open to fee-paying pupils at a cost of sixpence per week.  At the time there were 10,643 scholars in Council elementary schools and a further 3,416 in voluntary (church) schools within the Borough.

One of the odd features of the building was that the playground for the boys was partly covered and on the ground floor but that for the girls was uncovered and on the flat roof.  It did mean that the girls got themselves photographed more, though.

Girls using the rooftop playground area at Stoke Public Higher Elementary School.

Girls doing 'stick drill' in the rooftop playground at Stoke Public Higher Elementary School.

Two views of those hardy girls using the rooftop
playground.  The lower picture shows them
performing 'stick drill'.
From postcards.

Like most other local schools it was used as military hospital during the Great War, commencing from August 21st 1914.  Classes were dispersed all over the Borough but this proved unsatisfactory so the school moved to Johnston Terrace Council Elementary School where the two schools operated a “double shift” system, with Stoke Public Higher Elementary School working from 1.15pm until 5.15pm.  Full hours were resumed in June 1916.

Stoke Public Higher Elementary School in use as a hospital during the First World War.

Stoke Public Higher Elementary School in
use as a hospital during the Great War.
Note the Red Cross flag flying from the rooftop
From a postcard.

Then at Easter 1917 the School was again on the move, this time to three Sunday School premises at Ford, where they remained until September 1919, when they returned to their own building.

There was evidently still a fee of sixpence per week to pay but this ceased when the Education Act 1918 came into force.  The last fees were collected during the week of March 28th 1919.

By July 1921 the name of Stoke Public Higher Elementary School had been changed to Keppel Place Central School.