Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 17, 2017
Webpage updated: March 25, 2021




The Oxford Street Board Schools in Plymouth were due to be completed in February 1880.  They would accommodate 312 girls and 200 infants and were intended for the children then housed in the Tracy Street Sunday School premises.  That school had been started in January 1872.

This temporary Board school housed 359 girls and 138 infants.  There was a head teacher for each department and the girls' school had in addition one certified teacher, six pupil teachers and 2 monitors.  In the 1879 school year there were 333 girls on the register while the average attendance was 251.  The infants' department had one assistant teacher, two pupil teachers and three monitors.  Here there were 182 on the register and an average attendance of 155.  The premises were rented off the Trustees of the King Street Chapel at a cost of 60 per year.

Purchasing the site for the permanent school building cost the Plymouth School Board 1,181 14s while the buildings themselves cost 4,357 16s.  The buildings were erected by Messrs Foot and Lethbridge from the designs of Mr Silvanus Trevail of Tywardreath in Cornwall.

The main entrance was actually from King Gardens.   The infants' department was first, with a large and lofty main schoolroom measuring 42 feet 6 inches by 22 feet 3 inches.  It had galleries recessed into Oxford Place and towards the rear of the building, providing desk accommodation for 120 pupils.   Opening off this room were three large class-rooms, two accommodating 28 children each with 32 in the third class-room.  There was near the entrance a babies' room, for 42 children.  The usual cloakrooms, lavatories and mistresses' rooms were provided and separated the infant school from the junior girls' school.

Fronting on to King Gardens, at the top of a gentle slope, was the junior girls' schoolroom, which measured 42 feet 6 inches by 20 feet.  At the lower end of this room was an entrance lobby, with cloakrooms and lavatory.  Adjacent were two class-rooms capable of accommodating 39 children each.

At the lower end of the building and running at right-angles to the front was the senior girls' schoolroom of the same dimensions as that in the junior school.  Again, there were two class-rooms capable of holding 39 children but the rooms were divided by a sliding partition, which could be pushed back to create one large room.  At the far end were the mistresses' room, private lavatory, cloakrooms and children's' lavatory.

Thanks to the  natural slope of the site it had been possible to create a covered play area of 2,350 square feet beneath the senior girls' school. 

Oxford Street Board Schools were opened in February 1880 by the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr William Derry (1817-1903).

In 1888 the average attendance was 308 girls and 290 infants with the head teachers being Miss Kate Firks and Miss L Moore respectively.

Because it started to suffer from chronic overcrowding, work started in 1894 on erecting a new building, to which the girls and infants were transferred.  The North Road Board School was opened on Friday April 10th 1896.  Oxford Street School then became boys only.

Just prior to the Local Education Authority taking over responsibility in 1903, the schools had an average attendance of 314 boys, under Mr J H Curtis, and 230 infants, under Miss L Haydon.  At that time the school also housed a cookery centre, under Mrs I Roberts.

Following the transfer of responsibilities for education from the Plymouth School Board to the Plymouth Local Education Authourity, as from April 1st 1903 the former Oxford Street Board Schools became the Oxford Street Elementary School.