Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 24, 2016
Webpage updated: April 01, 2021

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The Stuart Road Board School was opened by the Devonport School Board on the southern side of Palmerston Street, but just visible from Stuart Road, as a Higher Grade School for 322 boys, 322 girls and 410 infants.  High Grade Schools were an attempt by the School Boards of the day to provide a higher standard of education than the elementary curriculum required by the Education Act 1870.

Lord Saint Levan officially opened the School in the presence of the Mayor of Devonport, Alderman W Waycott,  on the afternoon of Thursday July 20th 1893 but very soon afterwards the High Court ruled that any attempt by a school board to provide anything more than elementary education was an illegal use of the rates.  It was thus quickly "down graded" to an ordinary Board School.

Designed by Messrs Hine and Odgers, and built by Messrs A R Lethbridge & Son, the schools were on three storeys.  The infants were on the ground floor, the girls on the first floor and the boys, aged between 11 and 15, on the top storey.  The building was constructed of limestone, with light limestone quoins and dressings of brick from Chudleigh, Millbrook and South Down.  Local industries were well supported.  The clerk of the works was Mr Hoskyn; the plumbing was executed by Mr Bannerman; the painting and glazing was done by Messrs Randall and Prowse; and the furniture fittings were chiefly carried out by Messrs Graves and Sons, of Devonport.

Each department had a school-room of 64 feet by 22 feet and four class-rooms measuring 24 by 20 feet each.  Each pair of class-rooms were divided by a glazed, sliding screen so that rooms could be enlarged or divided as required.   Furthermore, each school was arranged so that the junior and senior classes could be separated.  A babies' class-room was provided within the infants department, with good south-facing light and a gallery.  Cloakrooms and lavatories were situated at the entrance to each school.  The girls accessed their floor by means of wide, duplicate staircases, each having broad and easy granite steps and handrails.  Staff rooms for the infants' and girls' mistresses were between the ground and first floors and those for the masters and managers were between the first and second floors.  All of the rooms had large sash windows, with swing fanlights over to aid ventilation.  In addition there were fresh air inlets for when the windows could not be opened.  They were certainly keen on fresh air.   The rooms were heated by coal fires, which were surrounded by strong iron kerbs.   The coal was kept in cellars in the basement at the rear.

Outside, there were separate playgrounds, each with its own entrance, drinking fountain, closets and play shed.  The playgrounds were paved with Chudleigh paving bricks.

During his speech at the opening ceremony, Lord Saint Levan announced that the cost had been 7,000 and 700 children had already been enrolled.   In fact the schools had been operating for a little while, as Miss Phipps led a large number of the children in singing various songs to entertain the gathering and Miss Edith Macdonald recited the address of Brutus from "Julius Caesar" 'in a manner remarkably clever for one so young.'  Doctor J Rolston, chairman of the Devonport School Board at the time, drew attention to the fine views to be obtained from the windows and hoped that it 'would not prove an inducement to the scholars to leave their lessons.'

In 1901 the average attendance was quoted as 354 boys, 311 girls and 287 infants.  The Master was Mr Frank A Cockram; the Mistress was Miss Rose Jervis and Miss Ellen Matthews looked after the infants.

A centre for evening classes was opened in 1903.

Following the transfer of education from the Devonport School Board to the Devonport Local Education Authority on June 1st 1903, Stuart Road Board School became the Stuart Road Elementary School.