OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 12, 2017.
Webpage updated: July 12, 2017

        

EDUCATION IN OLD PLYMOUTH

SAINT ANDREW'S NATIONAL SCHOOLS

The forerunner of today's Saint Andrew's Church of England Primary School, in Citadel Road, Plymouth, were the Saint Andrew's National (or Parochial) Schools. 

It is somewhat surprising to learn that the mother parish of Plymouth, Saint Andrew's, was almost the last to have its own schools.  Children were sent either to the nearby Free School in Cobourg Street or to the National schools in the adjoining newer parishes.  A Sunday School was carried on in rooms in Catherine Street, adjoining the old workhouse, staffed by ladies and gentlemen from the congregation of the Church.

In early 1861 a letter was published in the local press in which attention was drawn to the unsatisfactory state of the parish in not having its own school.  This prompted the Vicar, the Reverend John Hatchard, to take action and he subscribed 100 towards the cost of a school, provided that the parishioners would undertake the task of setting it up.  After the Vestry Meeting on Tuesday April 2nd 1861, the members had a discussion about the Reverend Hatchard's offer and a public meeting was called to consider the matter.  As a result a committee was formed under the chairmanship of Mr Charles Theodore Bewes.

Their first appeal was a resounding success and they decided that they should open a boys school as quickly as possible rather than wait until sufficient funds had accumulated to build their premises.  Negotiations were entered into with the Vicar and a boys day school was at once opened in the Sunday School rooms in Catherine Street.  A certified teacher by the name of Mr William Mulhall was engaged and he opened the School on October 3rd 1861, with just three boys. 

By the end of the first week the attendance had been doubled and it continued to grow rapidly.  At the end of 1862 there was an average daily attendance of 78 boys, which further increased to 113 by Christmas 1863.

The committee were not resting in their search for a suitable site for a new building, however.  They eventually purchased from Mr Frederick Whiteford Pym, of Compton Gifford, a site in Princess Street Ope but the cost, around 900, exhausted their funds.  Undaunted, they pressed ahead with the plans for the building and made a separate appeal to the parishioners for the money to continue.  Along with a Government grant of 515 and a further 100 from the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church, they soon raised nearly 3,000 and were able to proceed with the building of the new and commodious school-house.  On July 26th 1863 Mr C T Bewes, acting on behalf of the Vicar of Saint Andrew's, laid the foundation stone, after which the children were taken to Horrabridge as their annual treat.  The building was designed by Mr Oswald C Arthur, a local architect, and erected by Messrs Call and Pethick at a total cost of 2,721 0s 1d.  

On January 18th 1864 the boys' school transferred to its new home.  On that same day a mixed school of 40 girls and infants was opened on the ground floor under a Miss Hannaford.

By March 1865 the School had grown so  much that the managers found it necessary to appoint an assistant master to the boys' school and split the girls and infants into separate establishments, the latter under a Miss Bell, warranting the erection of some additional class-rooms at a cost of 150.

As a result of the success of the St Andrew's National School, the committee decided in 1866 to start a new district school at Southall Buildings, in West Hoe Road between the Millbay Soap Works and Millbay Docks.  This carried the alternative and more aristocratic name of Edgcumbe Place, where the School occupied number 5 along with Mr Thomas Philp, painter, and his family. 

On Monday July 23rd 1866, the first day of the new school year in those days, the Millbay National School was opened with 20 pupils.  In the afternoon there were 40 pupils.

The main Saint Andrew's National School building in Princess Street Ope was a two-storey block, each floor having a separate entrance.  The school-rooms extended the whole of the length of the building, with a wing completing the shape of the letter L.  This had the advantage of dividing the noise of the room and allowed it to be separated by means of a curtain when needed.  The room is 22 feet wide and one arm of the rectangle is 70 feet , the other somewhat shorter.  The upper storey is used by the boys while the girls and infants use the ground floor, divided by a partition.  The third wing, which was being added in 1868, will provide class-rooms for the use of the boys and infants.

The staff in 1868 consisted of the head master and an assistant master in the boys' school plus three pupil teachers and one monitor.  There was a mistress, one pupil teacher and two monitresses in the girls' school and the same for the infants' school.

A thorough grounding in the three Rs was given along with lessons on the Bible and the Church of England Catechism.  Needle-work was taught to the girls.   The upper classes of the boys were also taught geography and grammar while a few of the more advanced pupils received lessons in Euclid (geometry) and algebra, preparing them for the competitive examinations of the Dockyard and Steam Yard.

The infants paid a penny per week; the girls 1d or 2d and the boys up to three pence a week.  The school pence realised 63 14s in the boys' school in 1867; 20 2s 5d in the girls' and 17 0s 11d in the infants' school.

Government grants in 1867 amounted to 74 16s, boys; 26 2s 6, girls; 33 0s 4d, infants; and 8 1s 8d for the boys' evening school.  Voluntary subscription amounting to 120 were also collected.

Expenditure amounted to around 450 per year, or 18s per child each year.  The largest expense was on teachers' salaries and these were stated to be 180 in the boys' school, 56 in the girls', 51 in the infants' and just 12 for the boys' evening school.

New pupils were enrolled every Monday morning by the master and mistress and the parents were expected to attend with them.  The committee periodically examined the new entrants to ensure that only those fairly entitled to avail themselves of the benefits of the schools were enrolled.

The school was governed by a body of 12 managers, including the vicar and his two curates.

By the end of the 19th century the pupil numbers had risen to 422 and the Board of Education's inspector commented that: 'The children are very orderly and are taught with much care and creditable intelligence.'  However, he also noted that: 'The desks were not firmly fixed to the floor' and that 'The dangerous stove at the foot of the gallery in the classroom was not guarded'.

In 1871/72 the newly formed Plymouth School Board took over the Millbay National School at renamed it the Edgcumbe Place Board School.