Webpage created: March 26, 2021
Webpage updated: April 20, 2021
HYDE PARK ROAD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The last school in Plymouth to be planned and erected by the Plymouth School Board was in Hyde Park Road, Mutley, but on Wednesday April 1st 1903 the Plymouth Local Education Authority took over and thus it opened as the Hyde Park Road Elementary School.
It was designed by the Board's architect, Mr H J Snell (1843-1924), and the building of grey limestone was constructed by Mr W T Jinkin. The total cost, including fitting out, was £21,800, of which the cost of construction amounted to £15,350.
On the afternoon of Friday May 27th 1904 the Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman Henry Hurrell (1852-1939) JP, officially opened the School. He was accompanied by the chairman of the Education Committee, Alderman J T Bond (1854-1917).
There were three departments to the School. On the ground floor was the infants' school under Miss A Higgins. It could accommodate 512 children. On the first floor was the girls' school, with 430 girls under the charge of Miss K Firks ACP. The 430 strong boys' school was on the second floor, with Mr J H Curtis as their headmaster. Cookery classes were held by Mrs Roberts and the boys' handicraft lessons were under Mr W Bradbury. There were eight rooms in all for the staff.
In the basement was a large classroom for the manual instruction of the boys and another for use in teaching laundry matters to the girls.
Outside was a large playground with the added advantage of large covered sheds for use in wet weather. The playground was tarred and decorated with flower beds around the buildings and boundary walls. Several young trees had also been planted around the boundary.
During the opening speeches it was revealed that the average attendance at schools in England was 84%. It was proudly announced that Plymouth had reached 86.57% during the four weeks ended May 6th.
The occasion was also used to present a silver flower bowl inscribed: 'Presented to the Rev. Professor F E Anthony, MA, JP, on the opening by the Plymouth Education Authority of the Hyde Park-road School, the last school to be erected by the Plymouth School Board, of which body Professor Anthony was chairman for twenty-three years, and a member for the whole of the period of its existence, 1871-1903. -- J T Bond, chairman of the Education Committee, May 27 1904.'
The building was open for public inspection on the Friday from 3 till 6pm and on the following Monday from 6 until 8pm. Enrolment took place on Wednesday June 1st.
In 1914 Mr J H Curtis was master of the boys' school; Miss K Firks ACP was mistress of the girls' school; and Miss L Moore was mistress of the infants' school. The average attendance at that time was 474 boys, 415girls and 484 infants115 children.
Between March 20th 1915 and June 24th 1916 the School buildings were occupied by the military. Classes moved to a variety of temporary locations: Mutley Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Peverell Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Pennycross Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Sherwell Congregational Chapel and the Anglican Church of Saint Augustine of Canterbury.
The Education Act 1918 raised the school-leaving age to the fourteenth birthday.
In 1937 Mr H F Curtis was head master of the boys' school, Miss M Mortimer was head mistress of the girls' school, and Miss A D B Pike was head mistress of the infants' school.
Disaster struck the School on Thursday March 20th 1941 when the building was badly damaged by enemy action. The pupils had to be dispersed to other buildings. On March 25th 1941 half the boys transferred to Montpelier School, where they attended on a split-shift basis from 1.30pm until 5.15pm. The girls went to Laira School, both some distance from Hyde Park Road. Unfortunately for the boys, Montpelier School was destroyed during the night of May 17th 1941 and they were forced to move in to rooms at Pennycross Methodist Chapel.
In July 1941 some 120 boys and girls of what became known as the Hyde Park Emergency School were brought together in rooms at Hope Baptist Chapel, Peverell Corner. Later, when pupils who had been evacuated earlier in the war began to return to Plymouth, a room in the cricket pavilion at the Plymouth Cricket Club was also used for classes.
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.