Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 09, 2017
Webpage updated: March 20, 2021

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The Devonport Municipal Science, Art and Technical School,
in Paradise Road, between Devonport Park and the LSWR
Railway Station.
From Ordnance Survey sheet CXXIII.7 dated 1914.

In the Devonport Borough Council minutes is an entry dated February 16th 1893 stating that Devonport's Technical Instruction Committee had taken a 5 years lease on number 38 George Street, at an annual rental of 65, for the purpose of creating a technical school.  A subsequent minute, dated August 28th 1893, stated 'that arrangements have been made for classes to be formed there on the 11th of September and for instruction to commence on the 18th of September'.  The students were chiefly engaged in the trades and industries of the Borough and by October 1893 there were 425 students in the register.

"The Technical Institute, Devonport".
From a postcard.

The premises in George Street were found to be inadequate, as a minute of May 29th 1894 makes clear: 'They find, however, that the premises in which the work has been carried on are quite inadequate to afford the accommodation for the subjects already taught, and which are to be numerous in the future.  To obviate this difficulty and in pursuance of the powers given them at the Council Meeting held on the 2nd day of February 1893, "to erect a permanent building", the Committee have been in communication with the Secretary of State for War, with the view of purchasing a piece of ground belonging to the War Department, near the London and South Western Railway Station.  The Committee are now informed that the Secretary of State for War desires that the Council should give full powers for carrying on the negotiation and bringing the purchase to a completion.'

On September 26th 1895 it was minuted that: 'It be resolved on the recommendation of the Technical Instruction Committee that application be made to the Local Government Board for their sanction to a loan of the sum of 8,000 for the erection and furnishing of the new school buildings on the site acquired from the War Department.'  Unfortunately the lowest tender received for the construction of the building, which was to have science and art departments, was 13,268 and the request for permission to borrow had to be increased to 14,000.  The Local Government Board sanctioned this loan on December 9th 1896.

The foundation stone was laid on Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Day, June 22nd 1897, by the Mayor of Devonport, Mr W J Waycott, JP.  The architect was Mr Henry John Snell and the builder was Mr Thomas May, of Cobourg Street, Plymouth.

An inscription on the building reads: 'The erection of this school building was commenced in the year 1897 in commemoration of the 60 years glorious reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria and on completion, was on the 25th Day of July 1899, duly inaugurated and dedicated to the public use and benefit by the Right Worshipful Mayor W Hornbrook Esquire in the presence of and with the assistant of Sir William  H White, KCB, LLB, Dr.Sce, FRS.'

In the centre of the north wall, immediately opposite the main entrance, was a stained glass window by Messrs Fouracre of East Stonehouse, representing the development of naval architecture during the career of one of Devonport's illustrious sons, Sir William White, who rose from a Dockyard apprentice to become the Director of Naval Construction and was elected a Freeman of the Borough on that opening day.  The window was presented by the Mayor, Mr William Hornbrook.

Down in the basement were the rooms for mechanical engineering, woodwork, a clay-modelling room, a plumbers' workshop and the engine and boiler room for the building.  The caretaker also had an apartment here.

On the ground floor were five classrooms, a large lecture hall that doubled as a room for technical drawing, a committee room and the secretary's office.

Chemistry and physics' laboratories and a lecture room measuring 57 feet by 26 feet, were at the west end of the first floor, with three art rooms and a commercial room at the eastern end.  There were cloak rooms and lavatories at both ends on each floor.   A stone staircase in the centre of the building led from the ground floor to the basement while two wooden staircases at either end took students to the upper floor.

Classes were held in connection with the Science and Art Department, the City and Guilds of London Institution, the Society of Arts and the Worshipful Company of Plumbers.  Being a Royal Dockyard borough, about 80% of the students were drawn from there in connection with mechanical science courses.

Alderman John Bright James, the out-going Mayor, presented the Town with the clock and chimes in the tower.  The local press commented 'that Devonport is badly off for public clocks in which reliance can be placed, whilst of the few there are not one is illuminated at night'.

The Clock was formally dedicated on Monday September 8th 1898.  The hour bell weighed one ton and the four quarter bells ranged from half a ton downwards.  The bells were hung in the thickness of the walls and were therefore visible from outside, an unusual arrangement in Devon.  Only the church bells at Barnstaple and North Tawton were similar.  Fortunately for the local residents, the chimes only operated between 6am and 10pm.

On September 26th 1910 the Devonport Local Education Authority appointed Mr William Sandiland Templeton as Principal of the Devonport Municipal Science, Art and Technical School.  When the amalgamation of Devonport with Plymouth took place on November 9th 1914, Mr Templeton became Principal of the combined Plymouth and Devonport Technical Schools.


  Some of the research for this webpage has been undertaken by Debbie Watson, formerly Archivist at the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office.