Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: October 02, 2021
Webpage updated: October 02, 2021




Plympton Senior School was formed in 1924 when the Devon Local Education Authority purchased the former Plympton Public School, which had been privately founded back in 1874.  They took over the buildings which had been erected in Geason's Lane in 1876 and an admission register of 330 pupils, of which only 229 could be accommodated in the existing School and the remainder had to be housed in other buildings around the village.  Clearly a new school was called for.

The site at Geason's Lane was given by Mrs Altha Birdwood, who was formerly the widow of Mr Cecil Edward Bewes, the founder of the School and owner of the land.  The new buildings were opened at the start of the school term and officially opened by Sir Francis Dyke Acland, the chairman of the Devon Education Committee, on Saturday May 5th 1934.

Sir Francis planted a tree in the playground and was then presented with a silver, supplied by Messrs Page, Keen and Page, of Plymouth, with which to unlock the School.  The architect of the building was Mr H Haughton, who had been assisted in his work by the late County Architect, Mr Percy Morris.  The heating, lighting and cooking plant was installed by Messrs Brewer and Phillips, of 66 Regent Street, Plymouth, who employed the Callenders' Kalcoco System exclusively.

The Headmaster was Mr A R George and the chairman of the Board of Managers was Mr Frank Underhill, the founder of Messrs F Underhill Limited, the Plymouth printers and stationers.  The School could accommodate 360 children.

In the new premises the only rooms upstairs were the staff rooms.  The five class-rooms, each holding 40 children, were built around a quadrangle so there was a great deal of light and air in every room.  It was built of brick, with cavity walls, and was pebble-dashed around the outside.  The floors were covered with teak wood blocks, the first (so it was said) to be used in a school instead of the yarrow blocks normally used.  On the roof over the assembly room was fixed a large weather vane, which was continued through the ceiling to the interior so the children could see the direction of the wind from the inside.  'A pleasant diversion for them', commented the local press.

Additionally, the School had two practical rooms, a science room, a manual training room and a domestic science room, the latter fitted with an ironing stove, a low sink to prevent girls from having to lift heavy baths of water, a coal range and electric and gas cookers.  Outside, there were a football ground, a tennis court, and a net ball pitch, a vegetable garden and plenty of space for recreation.

One novelty was that every morning ten boys were allowed to leave their classes five minutes early, with the full support of the head master.  That was because they were the Schools "waiters" and they were allowed the extra time to prepare the School restaurant for lunch time.  The tables for some 100 pupils were laid by the girls, although, oddly, there was no mention of them getting the extra time off to do so.  For three pence a day the children got two courses and a sample menu from May 1934 was:

  • Monday - Brown stew and dumplings, peas or greens, followed by Eccles tart;
  • Tuesday - Beef pudding, greens and milk pudding;
  • Wednesday - Meat and potato pie, turnips, and stewed apple and custard;
  • Thursday - Lentil soup, greens followed by jam and treacle roly-poly;
  • Friday - Shepherd's pie and sultana pudding. 

School hours at the time it opened were 9.15am to 12.15pm and 1.30pm until 4pm.

The Plympton Senior School buildings were used as a rest centre during the Second World War.  Some 1,000 Plymothians were recorded as taking shelter there on the night of Thursday April 24th 1941.

As a result of the Education Act 1944, which received the Royal Assent on August 3rd 1944, as from Sunday April 1st 1945 the Plympton Senior School became Plympton Secondary Modern School.