Sunday, March 6, 2011

The First School on Creed Street

I have written about the Creed Street school before, but I want to put up this post as a prelude to writing about the later schools on Church Street and Aylesbury Street.

For some reason the first school, built here in 1841, has been barely photographed. The building at present functions as a library and town meeting room. The 1841 building has been enlarged and reduced in its lifetime and ceased to operate as as school in 1906, when a new school building was opened on Aylesbury Street.

In this view here the white northern section was at one time the central hall of the school buildings which were built on a U-shaped plan. This plan drawing from 1860 will show the extent of the original.

As far as I can gather, the east facing part of the building was used as a Boys' School while the north wing was used for a girls' classroom and an infants' classroom. The southern wing was a house for the schoolmaster. The buildings on the left were later 19th century enlargements.

A new Boys' School was built on Church Street in 1896, then on the outskirts of the town, and the Creed Street School was used only by Girls and Infants. This state of affairs continued until 1906 when a new Girls and Infants School opened on Aylesbury Street.

I don't think there were any immediate plans for the Creed Street building, but that year there was a fire in the old Market House on Glyn Square which left it gutted, so the Friday Market activities moved into the empty building. It was used for this purpose until the Agora was opened in 1980.

Here is a contemporary description of this first school written by Sir Francis Bond Head in his book Stokers and Pokers.
For the education of the children of the Company's servants, a school-house, which we had much pleasure in visiting, has been constructed on an healthy eminence, surrounded by a small court and garden. In the centre there is a room for girls, who, from nine till five, are instructed by a governess in reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, grammar, history, and needlework. Engaged at these occupations we counted fifty-five clean, healthy faces. In the east wing we found about ninety fine, stout, athletic boys, of various ages, employed in the studies above mentioned (excepting the last), and learning, moreover, mathematics and drawing. One boy we saw solving a quadratic equation—another was engaged with Euclid—others with studying land-surveying, levelling, trigonometry, and one had reached conic sections.
            At the western extremity of the building, on entering the infant-school, which is under the superintendence of an intelligent looking young person of about nineteen years of age, we were struck by the regular segments in which the little creatures were standing in groups around a tiny monitor occupying the centre of each chord. We soon, however, detected that this regularity of their attitudes was caused by the insertion in the floor of various chords of hoop iron, the outer rims of which they all touched with their toes. A finer set of little children we have seldom beheld ; but what particularly attracted our attention was three rows of beautiful babies sitting as solemn as judges on three steps one above another, the lowest being a step higher than the floor of the room. They were learning the first hard lesson of this world—namely, to sit still; and certainly the occupation seemed to be particularly well adapted to their outlines ; indeed their pinafores were so round, and their cheeks so red, that altogether they resembled three rows of white dumplings, with a rosy-faced apple on each. The picture was most interesting; and we studied their cheerful features until we almost fancied that we could analyze and distinguish which were little fire-flies—which small stokers—tiny pokers—infant artificers, &c.

The earlier post on this school can be found here.

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