Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: December 24, 2019
Webpage updated: December 25, 2019




The Plymouth School Board was formed on January 31st 1871.

Those elected to serve on the first Board were:  Mr J Pike (Working man, Independent), 4,349 votes; Mr S P Cook (Working man, Wesleyan), 4,171 votes; Mr T Pitts (Churchman), 3,456 votes; Mr J Smith (Wesleyan), 3,119 votes; Mr C F Burnard (Wesleyan), 2,968 votes; the Reverend C T Wilkinson (Churchman), 2,861 votes; the Reverend J Barter (Independent), 2,257 votes; the Reverend Canon Mansfield (Roman Catholic), 2,129 votes; Mr C Norrington (Churchman), 1,967 votes; Mr A Rooker (Independent), 1,927 votes; Rev. F E Anthony (Independent), 1,805 votes; Mr C Bewes (Churchman), 1,768 votes; and Mr R C Serpell (Baptist), 1,739 votes.   There were six unsuccessful candidates, the lowest vote being for Mr R Rundle, a Liberal churchman, 643 votes.

The first meeting of the Plymouth School Board was in February 1871, when Mr R C Serpell was elected as chairman and Mr T Pitts, junior, as vice-chairman.  In March 1871 Mr Henry Soltau was appointed as clerk to the Board.

In January 1872 the Batter Street Girls' School was transferred to the Board.

Mr Soltau resigned in January 1872 to be replace in the April by a Captain Pope.  A temporary school was opened in April 1872, at Mount Street, and the former Millbay National School in Edgcumbe Place, Millbay, was taken over.  The latter became the Edgcumbe Place Board School for Girls.  This was followed in May 1872 by the opening of a temporary school in the Congregational Hall, Treville Street.

When Mr Serpell resigned in August 1872, he was replaced as chairman by Mr T Pitts, junior.  The vice-chairman's post was filled by the Reverend John Barter.  The resulting vacancy on the Board was filled in the November by Mr S Elliott, with 1,457 votes against his opponent, Mr G Jago, with 1,280.

In the meantime, in September 1872, the King Street Ragged School had been transferred to the Board and become the King Street Board School.

Two further schools were transferred to the Board during 1873: King Street Wesleyan School, in Tracy Street, in February; and Catte Street Ragged School in March.  In September 1873 the Reverend John Barter and a Mr Evans offered the Board ten free scholarships at the Plymouth College of Science and Art.

The second Plymouth School Board was elected in January 1874 and the following month Mr Alfred Rooker, the Mayor of Plymouth, was chosen as chairman with the Reverend John Barter once again as vice-chairman.  The election of the Mayor to the Board was well timed as in March 1874 he was able to open Treville Street Board School, the first building erected by the Board.

At that time the Board had acquired the possession of three schools; had acquired the sites and approved the plans of two more (in the east and south-east of the Town); were about to select the sites for schools in the west and north; and they were running two temporary schools.   The plan was to build 8 schools which in addition to the 3 acquired, would give a total of 11.

Castle Street Board School was opened in September 1874.   Also in that year Captain Pope resigned as Clerk and was replaced by Mr James Loye.   He, too, did not stay long and in March 1875 was replaced by Mr Edwin Stribley.   Luckily Mr Stribley stayed until he died in October 1889.

The Reverend John Barter was elected as chairman in July 1875 to replace Mr Rooker, the Mayor, who had died the previous month.  Mr T Pitts, junior, was elected as vice-chairman.  That month also saw the opening of the Sutton Road Board School.

One year later, in July 1876, the then Mayor opened the Wolsdon Street Board School and in January 1877 the Mount Street Board School for girls and infants.

In February 1877 the third Plymouth School Board was elected.  This one saw the appointment of the Rev Frederick E Anthony as chairman, and Mr George Chase as vice-chairman.  the other members were the Rev. Canon Richard Mansfield, the Rev. Thomas Whitby, Mr Nathaniel Barker, Mr Samuel Poad Cook, Mr William Collier James, Mr James Lowe, Mr John Samuel Pike, Mr Thomas Pitts junr, Mr Edwin Roseveare, Mr Joshua Brooking Rowe and Mr Robert Coad Serpell.  Mr Edwin Stribley continued as the clerk, Mr Alfred Hingston as treasurer and Mr J W Wilson as solicitor.

The Station Road Temporary Board School in the Buckland Hall was opened in August 1877 by transferring the pupils from the Edgcumbe Place Temporary (Board) School.

Although the scheme for a truant school was adopted by the Board in November 1877 it was to be over four years before they opened a separate building.

It would seem that the third Board lost its momentum in 1878-1879 because the only event of any note was the acceptance in January 1879 of a prize scheme for Proficiency in Biblical Knowledge.  This was what became known as the "Peek" Prize after its donor, Mr James Peek, of Torquay.

The fourth Plymouth School Board was formed in February 1880, again with the Reverend Anthony and Mr George Chase as chairman and vice-chairman.   Things livened up a bit and the Oxford Street Board Schools were opened in July that year, followed in the December by the enlargement of the Wolsdon Street Board School to take girls and infants.

With the opening of the Palace Court Board School in June 1881 the temporary schools in Batter Street and Stillman Street (formerly Catte Street) were closed.

In March 1882 the Plymouth Truant Industrial School was opened in Laira House.

The fifth Plymouth School Board was elected in February 1883, with the Reverend Anthony again as chairman.  In July 1883 the Station Road Temporary Board School was replaced by the opening of the Union Street Board Schools.

Mr George Chase, the vice-chairman, died in May 1884 and Mr Joseph Willoughby was elected in his place.  In Jun e 1884 evening classes were started for Pupil Teachers.

A Cookery Centre was established at Mount Street Board School in February 1885.

The sixth Plymouth School Board was elected in February 1886.  During their term, in January 1887, the mixed department of Mount Street Board School was opened and Block I of the Cattedown Road Board Schools was opened.  This was followed in March 1887 by the opening of the Mount Street Higher Grade Board School.

In September 1887 the pupil teachers system was discontinued and no pupil teachers were appointed after the end of the year.

The Reverend Anthony continued as chairman when the seventh Plymouth School Board was elected in February 1889.  In October that year the clerk to the Board, Mr Edwin Stribley, died in office and in December 1889 Mr E Chandler Cook (1866-1946) was chosen to replace him.

August 1891 saw the ending of the evening classes for Pupil Teachers.  In October 1891 Block II of the Cattedown Road Board Schools was opened.

On August 25th 1891 the Board resolved that the fees charged in their Schools, including the Higher Grade School, should be abolished on and after September 1st 1891 and an application be made to the Education Department for the fee grant in accordance with the provisions of the Elementary Education Act 1891.

At that time, the Board moved their office to temporary accommodation at 10 Whimple Street.  The clerk to the Board was Mr E Chandler Cook (1866-1946) and the Treasurer was Mr John P Paige of the Devon and Cornwall Banking Company Limited.  Mr J T Bond, of 16 Princess Square acted as their Solicitor and Mr George Jackson LRCP Lond, of Saint George's Terrace was their Medical Officer.  The Board met every Tuesday at 6pm and on the fourth Tuesday the meeting was open to members of the public.

The eighth Plymouth School Board was elected in February 1892, with Mr W Harrison was vice-chairman.  Science and art scholarships were established in March 1893 at the Mount Street Higher Grade Board School.  In September 1893 evening continuation schools were started by the Board.

A new innovation, the Manual Instruction Centre, was opened in May 1894.

The ninth Plymouth School Board commenced their work in February 1895, with the Reverend Philip Williams MA as chairman and Mr S J Page CC as vice-chairman.  A school for deaf and mute children was opened in September 1895.

Girls from the Oxford Street Board Schools were transferred in April 1896 to the new North Road Board School and the Oxford Street Schools became boys only.  Soon afterwards, in June 1896, the pupil teachers system was re-introduced.

When the borough boundary was extended in November 1896 to include Compton and Laira Green, the Egg Buckland and Laira Green School Board and the Laira Board School were taken over by the Plymouth School Board.

April 1897 saw the opening of the Regent Street Higher Grade Board School and the introduction of a Science and Art School within it.

A scheme to introduce Day Industrial Schools was adopted in July 1897.   In January 1898 the Plymouth Special Instruction School for the blind and deaf was opened.

The Reverend Professor Anthony was once again elected as chairman when the tenth Plymouth School Board commenced in February 1898.  His vice-chairman was Mr J P Brown JP, CC.  That Board decided to take no further action in respect of the proposal to open Day Industrial Schools.

Regent Street Higher Grade Board School gained two new departments in May 1898 with the establishment of a Laundry Centre and a Pupil Teachers' Day Centre.

Following an order from the Home Secretary, the administration of corporal punishment when truant pupils were re-admitted to the Truant School was ceased in June 1899.

An educational census had been completed in the Mutley district in September 1898 and this indicated that a new school was required to serve the area.  In January 1900 compulsory purchase powers were obtained to buy Maisonette Cottages in Hyde Park Road as a site for the new building.

For information about the Subjects of Instruction taught in the schools run by the Plymouth School Board at the end of the 19th century go to either Infant Schools; Mixed Schools; Boys' Schools; Girls' Schools; Boys' Higher Grade Schools or Girls' Higher Grade Schools.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Plymouth School Board employed seven Attendance Officers at varying rates of pay.

The last to be opened by the Plymouth School Board were the Salisbury Road Board Schools.   The Plymouth Local Education Authority had taken over financial responsibility for the Schools on Wednesday April 1st 1903 but did not take over the management until Friday May 1st.

Although planned, designed and built by the Plymouth School Board, Hyde Park Road Schools were opened by the Plymouth Local Education Authority.

Fourteen Board schools were transferred to the new Plymouth Local Education Authority on Friday May 1st 1903.