Webpage created: July 17, 2017
Webpage updated: April 02, 2023
EDUCATION IN OLD PLYMOUTH | PLYMOUTH SCHOOL BOARD
REGENT STREET HIGHER GRADE BOARD SCHOOL
On Monday April 26th 1897, 146 boys in the Mount Street Higher Grade School, Plymouth, transferred to a new building in nearby Regent Street, where along with boys and girls from other elementary schools in the area, they formed the Regent Street Higher Grade Board School. The lower school was in the basement, the upper school on the top floor and the girls were sandwiched in between.
However, before that date an entrance examination had been held on Saturday March 20th 1897 at which 94 pupils were examined, presumably all boys. 53 passed and 41 failed.
The new School was to take 932 children split into two sections, the Organised Science School for 284 scholars (presumably all boys) and the Public Elementary School, which comprised 330 boys and 318 girls. Education was free of charge but entrance to the Science School was ranked as a scholarship worth three guineas. Books and stationery were freely provided. Altogether, 200 boys and 100 girls made up the first admission.
Mr Stanley Leatherby always claimed to be the first boy to enter the building when he was leading a party of boys that were transferring books from Mount Street School. Mr Harold Curtis was the first boy on the school register.
The building had cost £17,800 and was constructed of limestone with yellow brick facings. There were 86 stairs from the basement to the top floor. The building was officially opened on the evening of Friday April 30th 1897 by the Permanent Secretary to the Education Department, Sir George Kekewich, KCB. Before that took place, some 500 guests were invited to view the new premises, entering by the eastern doorway. Then at just before 7pm, Sir George and the official party arrived at the western entrance, where he was presented with a large, silver key with which to open the door. Also present were Lady Kekewich, the Reverend P Williams, chairman of the Plymouth School Board, and Alderman C H Radford, the Mayor of Plymouth.
The caretaker and his wife lived in two rooms in the basement. The caretaker was a Mr Kent and this gave rise to the nickname of "Kent's Cavern" for the basement of the School.
Miss E E Wagstaff was Headmistress of the girls' school. In May 1898 the girls started doing laundry classes. Mr W L Cocks, MA, was Headmaster of the boys' school until September 19th 1898, when he became the principal of the Plymouth School Board's new Pupil Teachers' Centre, also housed in the Regent Street building. He remained responsible for the Science School, however. Mr J T Lethbridge succeeded him in the Lower School and remained until the School was closed in 1926 prior to the amalgamation with Keppel Place School, Devonport, to form the new Sutton Secondary School.
Following the Education Act 1902, the Plymouth School Board transferred its responsibility for education to the Plymouth Local Education Authority on April 1st 1903. The School continued to be known as the Regent Street Higher Grade School, though, merely dropping the word "Board".
In the meantime the upper, science, school closed on July 28th 1905 and transferred to the Technical College. And when, on April 2nd 1906, Higher Grade Schools ceased to exist, it became the Regent Street Intermediate School. The initials RSIS were displayed on the school caps.
An Old Higher Gradians' Association was formed in October 1910.
One of the teachers who started at Regent Street Higher Grade Board School in 1897 and who continued with Sutton Secondary School for Boys until his retirement in 1933 was Mr Francis William Foster (1870-1953).