OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: December 06, 2020
Webpage updated: December 06, 2020

        

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SUTTON HIGH SCHOOL FOR BOYS

Sutton High School for Boys was formed from Sutton Secondary School for Boys, which had been opened on September 13th 1926.

In 1935 Doctor Charles F Jones, MM, BA, took over as Head Master and set about raising the standards.  As a result, the Plymouth Education Committee resolved on November 25th 1937 to change the title of the School to Sutton High School for Boys.

On October 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th 1937 the Board Of Education had inspected the School.  Their report pointed out that the School was debarred from taking fee-paying pupils yet it also was advertised as having lower fees than other local schools.  The Inspectors felt that this gave the impression, 'quite unjustifiably' that Sutton was of 'inferior status'.  Only 30 boys from the first 124 on the list of successful candidates chose to attend Sutton.  The remaining 60 of the 90 pupils who started at the beginning of that school year were thus forced to go to Sutton.

The Inspector's description of the location of the premises will bring back memories to those who attended the School at the time: 'It is a well constructed edifice but is situated in unlovely surroundings, and posses only a very small asphalted playground which is overlooked by houses standing in close proximity, amongst which is a fat-boiling factory.  The fumes from this establishment are at times most objectionable'.  They went on: 'The rooms at the top of the building are light and airy, but as one descends they get gloomier and in the basement work has to be carried on most of the time in artificial light and, in summer, an atmosphere of heat and dust from the street.'  They were certainly impressed by the work carried on, the examination results and 'the character and bearing of the senior boys' but not by the accommodation, which, they considered, required an extension to the Hall to take the whole School; two additional classrooms; sound-proofing of the partition between rooms 7 and 8; a geography room with the necessary equipment; and a science lab with lecture room.

During the Second World War, on May 14th 1941, part of the school was evacuated to Saint Austell in Cornwall while those who remained behind, along with the remnants of Devonport High School for Boys, constituted the Emergency High School.    Doctor Jones set up his headquarters at number 1 Trevarthian Road in Saint Austell while other premises taken over included Carclaze and the Mengu Hall plus Elmsleigh, the home of the Member of Parliament, in Par.  The evacuation ended on July 23rd 1945 and the school merged with those who had remained in Plymouth on September 10th before being joined the next day by over a hundred new boys.

The hut in Constantine Street was erected early in 1951 and a new stage was erected in the hall during the winter of 1951-52.

Mr Archie Moore, the Art Teacher, designed a new-look school badge in 1954.  Also in that year the School Calendar made its first appearance.  They cost 3d each and one enterprising pupil bought 15 and sold them on to pupils at other schools for 4d each.  The first one sold 601 copies, which was only surpassed by number 6, which sold 614 copies.  Issue 8 had a space for examination marks to be added: the print run of 750 completely sold out and it had to be reprinted.  Number 9 was printed after the fire of 1956 and was printed red on a charcoal grey background in commemoration.

At 3pm on Sunday November 27th 1955 the memorial commemorating those former pupils who had lost their lives during the Second World War was unveilled in the School hall.   The service was conducted by the Reverend J Allen James, MBE, MA, BSc, and amogn those present were the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Edwin Broad, and the chairman of the School Governors, Councillor Leslie F Paul. 

Early in 1956 the Chemistry Laboratory on the top floor was reconstructed, the old benches being replaced by new ones running parallel to the blackboard.  The preparation laboratory at the western end of the floor was incorporated in to the Chemistry Lab.  The work revealed a mysterious shaft in the middle of the wall that was knocked down.  It was subsequently discovered that this had been the chimney flue from the Headmaster's study.  It was sealed off and the room fitted with an electric heater.

Unfortunately the months of work was lost in an instant when, during the lunch break on Friday October 29th 1956, the whole of the roof and top floor were gutted by fire.  The lower floors became unusable because of the damage done by the water used in getting the fire under control.  Naturally it was claimed that the fire was started by boys in the Chemistry Lab but this was not the case.   The classes had to be re-housed at Durnford Street, Stonehouse, and York Street, Devonport, while the top of the building was rebuilt.

At that time there was in existence a long-range plan to re-house the School in a brand new building but with the cost of the reconstruction after the Blitz the Plymouth Education Authority could not afford to carry it out so the premises had to be repaired and put back in to use.  The cost of a replacement building was considered to be 150,000.

Doctor Jones retired at the end of 1957 and was replaced by Mr Henry J Bristow, BA, who came from being Deputy Head of Holloway Comprehensive School in London.   In 1966 the School got its first lady teacher, Miss Audrey Brown, BSc.  Mr Bristow retired at the end of the summer term of 1971.  Doctor James S Rowe, MSc, took over and remained until 1984.

Just before this, Plymouth City Council had carried out a study of the structure of secondary education in the City and proposed the closure of the Regent Street building.  The name of Sutton was to be retained for a new, central school when it was built.  Like the 1960s proposal to move the School to the old Pennycross Stadium site, it never came about.

The Regent Street building was closed on Friday July 13th 1984 when the remaining 4th, 5th and 6th form boys transferred to Stoke Damerel High School for Girls located in the old Stoke Public School building that had helped give birth to the school all those years ago.  They were actually housed in an annex across the opposite side of Albert Road, at Stoke, and remained there under the last headmaster, Doctor David McCallan, until Thursday June 26th 1986 when the School finally closed.

Former pupils and teaching staff, including those of any of the parent schools, can join the Old Suttonian Association.