©  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 15, 2018
Webpage updated: March 29, 2021




Early in 1887, the Mayor of Plymouth called a public meeting to consider ways of celebrating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.  They rejected suggestions that funds be raised to provide an art gallery, or a people’s “Palace of Delight”, or a statue or that they should use the money to pay off the loan on the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital.  Instead they resolved to build a Science, Art and Technical School and the Corporation gave part of the site of the Cattle Market towards it.  The building was designed by Mr H J Shortridge.

The foundation stone of the Victoria Memorial Science, Art and Technical School was laid on September 30th 1889 by the Mayor, Mr H J Waring, and Mr T Bulteel.

What then became known as the Municipal Technical School was completed in September 1892 and officially opened at a civic ceremony on October 7th that year.

In the basement were the carpenters' shop, plumbers' shop, mechanical and electrical engineering shop with a gas engine, dynamo and screw-cutting lathe.  There were also rooms for cookery lessons, wood-carving and casting.

The first floor comprised a drawing office for machine and building construction, physics' laboratory, lecture theatre with a n adjoining preparation room, mathematical and other classrooms, an elementary art room, committee room and offices.

On the second floor were the chemistry laboratory, lecture room for physiology, hygiene and chemistry, a dressmaking room, a large antique room, life room and a modelling room.

Preparatory Day classes were held for pupils who had completed their elementary education and desired to train as chemists, engineers, etc.   Advanced Day classes were held for adults who wished to continue their education in science, art and languages.  The science work, which was done in co-operation with the Regent Street Higher Grade School, would enable pupils to sit the degree examination of the University of London.

Evening classes were held for a small fee to enable artisans, clerks, teachers and other employed persons to get further education in science and art subjects.  Classes in mechanical and electrical engineering, plumbing, carpentry, typography, dressmaking and woodwork were held up to City and Guilds standard.   Instruction in chemistry, physics, biology and pharmacy were recognised by the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons.  A complete set of x-ray apparatus was available.  Medical students could complete their first year's examination locally, saving them from having to live away from home.

There were 800 students attending the School in 1898/99, under the supervision of Mr J Burns Brown, BSc, Head Master of the School of Science and Technology, and Mr Frederick Shelley, ARCA, Head Master of the Art School.

By 1899 an extension costing £9,000 had been sanctioned by the Town Council and this was completed in 1903.

Following the amalgamation of Plymouth and Devonport in 1914, the Devonport and Plymouth Schools became one.

The Principal applied to the Government in December 1916 and again in April 1920 for it to get College status but he was unsuccessful until March 1926.