Webpage created: July 16, 2017
Webpage updated: April 19, 2020
SALISBURY ROAD BOARD SCHOOLS
Salisbury Road Board Schools, in the Saint Jude's area of Plymouth, were the last erected under the auspices of the Plymouth School Board.
Salisbury Road Board
It was comprised of two blocks of buildings. The eastern one, known as the Special Block, was occupied on Monday January 5th 1903 and was the only one of its kind in the West of England. Each pupil was allowed 20 square feet of floor space, which was double the normal amount allowed by the Board of Education. It housed three distinct mixed schools but still the boys and girls were kept apart by six distinct entrances and four distinct staircases.
Special Instruction School
The whole of the ground floor formed the Special Instruction School, accommodating 96 children. There was an assembly hall measuring 53 feet by 24 feet, and four classrooms, 22 feet by 22 feet, two for the girls and two for the boys.
School for the Deaf and Dumb
At the eastern end of the first floor was the School for the Deaf and Dumb, accommodating about 50 children. Their assembly hall measured 26 feet by 24 feet, and there were three classrooms each measuring 23 feet by 16 feet, which were divided by shutters which could be folded back to create one large room.
Also on the first floor were six small rooms for the masters and mistresses.
The Main or Western Block contained the infants' school on the ground floor. They had a schoolroom 55 feet by 22 feet and five classrooms of about 25 feet by 21 feet, two classrooms of 22 feet by 18 feet, and 'a special room for babies' that measured 30 feet by 25 feet. On each of the three floors the main schoolroom and several of the smaller classrooms were divided by shutters, which could be opened up to make one larger room, if required. The infants' school could accommodate 512 children.
On the first floor the girls' school was laid out exactly the same as the ground floor except that the babies' room was provided with facilities for teaching cookery. The girls' school was approved to 480 children.
A boys' school for 430 children occupied the top floor, and followed the same layout as the other floors except that the cookery room was equipped for teaching art and could be used by the senior classes of both schools at different times (heaven forbid that the boys and girls should mix!).
At the southern end of the main block was a basement, in which there were large classrooms for teaching manual subjects to the boys and laundry work to the girls.
This block had eight small rooms for the use of the staff as well as toilets, cloakrooms and store rooms. Each department had two entrances, one at each end, and fireproof staircases.
During the preparation of the plans for the building, which was designed by Mr H J Snell of Plymouth, it was noticed that the Deaf and Dumb School would be occupying only half of the space and it was decided to turn the remainder over to a Pupil Teachers' Centre, which was transferred here from Regent Street. Again there were separate entrances for male and female teachers leading to one science lecture room and two large classrooms.
Both the Special Block and the Main School were heated by hot water provided by a boiler in the basement but each room was capable of being heated independently. The staircases and corridors were of fireproof construction and the buildings were lit by gas.
The two blocks were erected by Messrs W E Blake and Son of Salisbury Road. The walls were faced with grey limestone with red bricks being used around the door and window openings. Portland cement was used for the window sills. The total cost of the schools, including site (£7,925), buildings (£22,317), furniture (£1,371), supervision (£2,199), legal fees and new roads (£636), was £34,448 11s 6d, involving an annual charge on the rates of £1,491 for repayment of the principal and interest of the loan. Some £10,000 had been saved in not following the original plans for the buildings and Mr Debnam, the chairman of the Sites and Buildings Committee, himself a builder, commented at the opening ceremony that 'If the new authority took Regent-street schools as their model for outside work, it would be nothing less than a public scandal.'
On Monday April 20th the children moved in. Sir George Kekewich KCB, former Secretary of the Board of Education, formally opened the Schools on Monday April 27th 1903. The day was organised by the Plymouth School Board, under its chairman, the Reverend Professor F E Anthony, even though Plymouth had adopted the provisions of the Education Act 1902 on April 1st 1903. The choice of that date was because the Board's financial year ended on March 31st so it was a most convenient date to hand over financial responsibility. However, from a management point of view the Board continued in operation until Thursday April 30th, with the Plymouth Local Education Authority taking over the fourteen Board schools the following day.
It was stated at the opening ceremony that the buildings were constructed to take 1,422 and during the past week 1,158 had been in attendance.