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




The Palace Court Board School in Stillman Street, Plymouth, was built to replace the boys' Ragged School in King Street and the girls' and infants' schools that the Board had established in rooms adjoining the Batter Street Chapel.  The Ragged School had been taken over by the Plymouth School Board on Lady Day (March 25th) 1873 for a period of five years but was transferred to the Congregational Hall in Stillman Street.

Designed by Mr H J Snell and constructed by Messrs Lapthorne and Goad, the School was opened formally opened by the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr F A Morrish, on the evening of Tuesday May 31st 1881.

The girls and infants entered the building from Stillman Street and their classrooms were on the ground floor.  The girls' schoolroom measured 68 feet by 22 feet and there were four classrooms each of 20 feet by 18 feet.  The schoolroom for the infants measured 30 feet by 28 feet and they had four classrooms ranging in size from 22 feet by 16 feet to 16 feet square.  There was also a Kindergarten for children of three to five years of age under the control of either a monitress or a young pupil teacher.

On the first floor was the boys' school, entered from Peacock Lane.  Their schoolroom measured 49 feet 6 inches by 22 feet 6 inches and there were four classrooms ranging from 20 feet to 22 feet by 18 feet.  Above the boys' school were apartments for the accommodation of a caretaker.

Outside there were tarred play areas, separated by a substantial wall in which there was a doorway but it was to be kept locked by the caretaker.  Macfarlane's lavatories were provided in both areas.

At the top of the stairs to the boys' school were an office and lavatory for the master and directly opposite was the cloakroom, which was arranged so that the boys entered by one door and exited by another to avoid pushing and confusion.   The main schoolroom was furnished with fifty "Dual" desks manufactured by Messrs Colman and Glendenning of Norwich.  These were thought to be the only examples in the Westcountry.  They each measured 8 feet 6 inches in length and accommodated two boys.  They were arranged in rows five deep, the front of one desk forming the back of the other.  The four classrooms were similarly fitted, two with 20 desks, one with 19 and one with 15.  Each room had a slow combustion grate and gas was provided throughout the building.

Just in side of the main entrance to the girls' school was the room for the mistress, with a cloakroom  opposite.  Their main schoolroom was fitted with 70 of the "Dual" desks, and three out of the four classrooms were furnished with 20 desks each.  The infants had an indoor lavatory.  The main schoolroom was fitted with raised seats in a gallery.  Three of the classrooms were equipped with 50 "Dual" desks measuring 3 feet long by 20 inches high.   They had flat tables ruled in squares.

Accommodation was provided for 288 girls, 257 infants and 247 boys but when lessons began on Wednesday June 1st 1881 there were 340 girls and around 170/180 infants from the Batter Street School and 180 boys from the temporary school in Stillman Street.

The purchase of the site cost 2,600 and the construction work a further 4,527.  The total cost, after including furniture, architect's commission and the salary of the clerk of works, amounted to 8,027.

In 1888 the average attendance was 248 boys, 248 girls and 230 infants.   The Master was Mr Josias Back, the Mistress of the girls' school was Miss Mary Gowing and the Mistress of the infants was a Miss Collings.

By 1901 the average attendance of girls had risen to 286 and Miss Jane Wills and Mrs J McDonald had joined Mr Back in charge of the schools.

Following the transfer of responsibilities for education from the Plymouth School Board to the Plymouth Local Education Authority, as from April 1st 1903 the Palace Court Board School became the Palace Court Elementary School.