Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 28, 2021
Webpage updated: March 28, 2021




By the Education Act 1902 the management of the Plymouth Public Free Schools was to be transferred to the new Plymouth Local Education Authority, which was actually the Education Committee of Plymouth Borough Council.  In fact the transfer was not accomplished until 1908 and the legal date of the transfer was not until March 15th 1909. 

Plymouth Public Elementary School had accommodation for 908 boys, 497 girls and 371 infants..

In 1914 Mr A L Strachan BA was master of the boys' school; Miss H Medland the mistress of the girls' school; and Miss Scott the mistress of the infants' school.  The average attendance at that time was 397 boys, 251 girls, and 241 infants.

By this time the School had become very overcrowded and some classes were held in the school room attached top the Ebenezer Methodist Chapel and others in the school room of the Cobourg Street Primitive Methodist Chapel in York Street.  Plans fore a new building were approved in 1913, with the work scheduled to begin in 1915, but the Great War put a stop to that.

The Education Act 1918 raised the school-leaving age to the fourteenth birthday.

It transpired that the delay in  starting on the new building was fortuitous as it enabled the original plans to be redrawn in accordance with more up-to-date accommodation standards and to make allowance for the requirement of the Education Act 1918 for the Borough to have a "Central" School.  The revised plan, therefore, was for the building to be erected on a widened Cobourg Street, with the playgrounds to be on the southern, sun-facing side, adjacent to the new road.  It would be 223 feet in length and 72 feet in width, and be of three stories but with a mezzanine floor between levels one and two.  The boys would occupy the top floor while the girls would be on the middle floor.  The Plymouth Public Elementary School of junior mixed pupils would occupy the ground floor, with the head mistress being Miss J E Coldham, previously the head mistress of the girls' school.

The new building was designed by Messrs Thornely and Rooke and constructed in local limestone and Portland stone by Messrs A N Coles and Son.  The foundation stone was laid by the Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman R W Winnicott JP, on September 16th 1925.  It was completed in 1927 and officially opened by the President of the Board of Education, the Right Honourable the Lord Eustace Percy MP, in the presence of the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr James J H Moses, on May 3rd 1927.

It is not clear when the pupils transferred from the old building to the new one but they were certainly in occupation at the start of the new academic year in September 1927, with Mr W H Buckley BA BSc continuing as the head master of the Plymouth Public Central School for Boys and a Miss H M Dovey appointed to head the Plymouth Public Central School for Girls.   

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.