A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 9. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1970.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Education. (fn. 1)
The first attempt to provide some form of public education in Swindon came in c. 1764 when the free school was opened in Newport Street. (fn. 2) Sunday schools connected with the Independent and Wesleyan chapels in the early 19th century provided some additional schooling and in the early days of the Independent chapel there was an 'academy' conducted by the minister for about 16 pupils. (fn. 3) For a few years after 1835 there was also a British school for girls held in a room adjoining the Newport Street chapel. (fn. 4) The early-19th-century town also had a fair number of small private schools. (fn. 5)
This provision was probably not inadequate for a town of some 2,000 persons, which Swindon was in 1841. But the arrival of the G.W.R. works in 1843 created a demand for schooling which could not be supplied by the schools of the old town. This the G.W.R. Company recognized and in 1845 it opened its own school in Bristol Street. (fn. 6) The school was intended at first for employees' children only but it was soon admitting others and very quickly outgrew the accommodation available. There was also in the mid 19th century a mixed school run by the Unitarians behind their chapel in Regent Street. (fn. 7)
After the Education Act of 1870 a new National school was built in the old town to replace the former free school (fn. 8) and in 1874 the G.W.R. Company built a larger school in College Street. (fn. 9) But by 1877, with the enforcement of school attendance by the Act of 1876, there was a deficiency of 1,196 school places and a school board was set up covering the two districts of Old and New Swindon. Among its first members were the manager and chief accountant of the G.W.R. works. (fn. 10) At this time 1,200 children were attending the G.W.R. schools and 670 the National school. (fn. 11) Within three years of its formation the school board built four new schools and was leasing at a nominal rent from the G.W.R. its school in College Street. (fn. 12) In 1878 the first Roman Catholic school in the town was opened. (fn. 13) By 1881 there were places for 2,415 children in the board schools and 794 in voluntary schools. (fn. 14)
Between 1881 and 1891 the school board opened two new schools and extended two others (fn. 15) but school building could not possibly keep pace with the growth of the town and much use had to be made of temporary accommodation. In 1891 the total number of school places in the old and new towns was 6,777. (fn. 16) With the boundary changes of 1890 schools at Gorse Hill and Even Swindon were transferred to the Swindon School Board (fn. 17) and between 1891 and 1901 the board built one new school and extended four others. (fn. 18) Immediately following the Education Act of 1891 fees ceased to be charged in elementary schools in Swindon. (fn. 19)
The standard of education provided by the Swindon schools was high. In 1894 all were graded excellent and in 1898 the level of exemption from school was raised to standard VII while the rest of the county had a standard V level of exemption. (fn. 20) Evening schools were begun by the school board in 1893. (fn. 21) A Higher Grade School for boys was opened in 1891 and in 1898 was followed by a similar school for girls. (fn. 22) A Central Higher Grade School was moved to the school built in Clarence Street in 1897. (fn. 23) At this time there were over 100 pupil teachers in the Swindon schools and a Pupil Teacher Centre was opened in 1897 where they were instructed on two or three half-days a week. (fn. 24)
Until 1891 all further technical education in the town was provided by the Mechanics' Institute. (fn. 25) In 1887–8 nearly 500 students were attending technical classes and extra room had to be found in the town's schools. (fn. 26) In 1891 the Swindon and North Wilts. Technical Instruction Committee was formed to administer the Further Education Acts of 1889 and 1891. This committee then took over the technical classes previously run by the Mechanics' Institute and in 1896 opened the Swindon and North Wilts. Technical Institute in Victoria Road. (fn. 27)
After the Education Act of 1902 Swindon became a Part III authority responsible for elementary education. (fn. 28) By arrangement with the county council, the authority for higher education, the borough council also took over the functions of the Swindon and North Wilts. Technical Instruction Committee and a higher education sub-committee of the borough education committee was eventually formed on which sat representatives of the county council. (fn. 29) The borough council then levied a penny rate, the maximum permitted, and asked the county council to impose a special rate upon the town of a further ½d. in the £ towards the cost of secondary and technical education. (fn. 30) This special rate rose gradually to 6¼d. in the £ and, amongst other things, made possible a wide distribution of scholarships and free places in the secondary schools.
Encouragement to broaden the school curriculum was given by the extra grants offered by the Department of Education for the introduction of various new subjects, including practical instruction. Provision for the teaching of practical subjects had been made in the Central Higher Elementary School, opened in Euclid Street in 1904, (fn. 31) and a manual workshop had been added to the Technical Institute in 1899, but the elementary schools had no such facilities. The schools in Ferndale Road, built in 1907, (fn. 32) included a domestic centre and similar centres were provided at three other schools within the next few years. Woodwork classes were begun for boys in 1913. (fn. 33) After the Education Act of 1918, which required authorities to provide practical instruction for older pupils, centres for this were added to schools at Lethbridge Road in 1924 and Broad Street in 1925. (fn. 34)
Swindon was one of the five or six areas in the country to set up a Day Continuation School under the Education Act of 1918. It was opened in 1920 and ran for two or three years before closing. (fn. 35)
The Education (Provision of Meals) Act of 1906 was put into operation in Swindon in 1907–8 and to a greater extent in 1908–9. In 1910–11 the service was considered unnecessary, although it continued over the years on a small scale and could be extended in times of need, as it was during the General Strike of 1926. It was further developed during the Second World War before becoming the school meals service after the Education Act of 1944. (fn. 36)
The medical inspection of school children in Swindon had been carried out to a limited extent for some time before the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act of 1907 made it obligatory. (fn. 37) After the Act the town's medical officer of health conducted inspections until 1914 when a full-time school medical officer was appointed. A school nurse was employed in 1910. In 1913, under optional powers granted by the 1907 Act, a school clinic was begun in a classroom converted for the purpose and a part-time school dentist was appointed. Some arrangements for the education of physically or mentally handicapped children had been made by the school board and in 1916 the education committee started a special class in Westcott infants' school for the mentally handicapped. The physical welfare of children in Swindon schools benefited greatly from the voluntary work of the Swindon Schools Athletic Association formed in 1912 to promote organized school games and sports. (fn. 38)
When in 1927 the Commonweal Secondary School was opened, this with the Euclid Street, and College secondary schools gave Swindon three secondary schools. (fn. 39) In 1933 all places in these schools were opened to competitive examination and fees were remitted on a scale fixed in proportion to income. (fn. 40)
The growth of the town north of the railway in the 1920s and the boundary extensions of 1928 created an urgent demand for more school places. Schools were particularly needed for the council's first large housing estate at Pinehurst. (fn. 41) In c. 1926, in accordance with the requirements of the Board of Education, the education committee drew up a three-year programme of educational development based on the recommendations of the Hadow Report. But much new building was required before the programme could be carried out and this was prevented by the economic slump of the 1930s. Between 1935 and 1939, however, two new schools were built and some existing schools were either enlarged or modernized. (fn. 42)
By the Education Act of 1944 Swindon ceased to be a local education authority for elementary education but became the only excepted district within the county. (fn. 43) Many functions were then delegated to the borough. The 1944 Act gave the force of law to the recommendation of the Hadow Report and with the completion of the Drove Secondary School in 1946, schools in Swindon were reorganized on the lines which had been planned in c. 1926. After the raising of the school leaving age in 1947 additional buildings were provided at many schools.
After 1953 the number of children attending Swindon schools increased from just over 10,000 at the rate of 1,000 a year. As the housing estates to the north and east of the town were built schools had to be provided for them. In 1965 (fn. 44) the grammar and secondary modern schools were reorganized on a 'two-tier' comprehensive basis. Selection at elevenplus was abolished. The secondary modern schools became high schools for the 11 to 14 age group and the grammar schools became senior high schools for pupils prepared to remain at school for at least two years after the age of 14. In 1966 there were over 20,000 children in the Swindon schools.
Church of England Junior and Infants' Voluntary Controlled School. Some time before 1764 a fund was raised by voluntary subscription to found a free school. (fn. 45) Here it was intended to instruct 20 poor children in religion, according to Church principles, and in arithmetic, but in no other subject. (fn. 46)
In 1764 a small house with a garden in Newport Street was bought as school premises. (fn. 47) The Horne and Cooper endowments (see below) enabled a few girls to be taught in addition to the 20 boys originally provided for. (fn. 48) In 1819 the school had 37 boys and 11 girls. (fn. 49) The master's salary for teaching the boys was £34 a year with £3 3s. for coal. For the girls he received another £10. (fn. 50) In 1834 boys were admitted as soon as they could read and were allowed to stay in the school for 5 or 6 years. A small charge was made for books and stationery. (fn. 51)
In 1836 the first school house was pulled down and a new one built on the same site. The Government and the National Society made grants. (fn. 52) By 1853 the building was considered hardly big enough for the then 78 pupils. (fn. 53) Five years later there were 100 pupils, one certificated master, and some pupil teachers. The one classroom measured 60 ft. x 30 ft. and was equipped with parallel desks. The school was said to be fairly well supplied with books and apparatus; discipline and instruction were good. (fn. 54)
In 1863 the school was divided into three departments, girls, boys, and infants. (fn. 55) A few years later the accommodation was quite inadequate and in 1870 the school was closed. New buildings in King William Street were opened in 1871 (fn. 56) and were described as 'very impressive'. (fn. 57) In 1872 fees were 3d. for boys and girls, 2d. for infants, and 4d. for tradesmen's children. Would-be pupils were being turned away in 1881 for lack of space. In 1886 the vicar introduced a morning religious service. Classroom accommodation was enlarged in 1890.
In 1903, when average attendance was 607, (fn. 58) the school came under the control of the Swindon Education Committee. (fn. 59) In 1938 average attendance was 276. The school became a mixed junior and infant school (Church of England, voluntarily controlled) in 1946. (fn. 60) In 1964 there were 176 children on the roll. (fn. 61)
The school received a number of endowments. Thomas Goddard, lord of the manor, by a deed dated 1764, granted a rent-charge from a meadow in Eastcott. (fn. 62) William Nash granted another rentcharge, but after his death in c. 1787 £200 was invested instead for the benefit of the school. The interest on both these endowments was used in 1903 for the maintenance of the school buildings. (fn. 63)
Soon after the school was founded Mary Horne left £100 to provide for the teaching of a number of poor girls. After Mary's death her sister Elizabeth (d. 1793) distributed £5 annually to educate 5 girls selected by her. (fn. 64) To augment Mary Horne's endowment, Joseph and Elizabeth Cooper conveyed in 1796 about 9 a. in Stratton St. Margaret so that half the annual income arising from the land might provide for the education of some more poor girls in the school. The other half was to be spent upon the poor. In 1834 the income from the educational part of the charity was £23 16s. and for the past 18 years the schoolmaster had received £9 a year for teaching 10 girls. In 1896 all the property was sold and £1,034 was invested. (fn. 65)
In 1849 Elizabeth Kemble bequeathed £100 to the school. This was added to William Nash's gift and both were drawn upon in 1870, and later, for the buildings of the school in King William Street. (fn. 66) A gift of £200 made in the will of Alexander Anderson, dated 1874, was also used to improve accommodation in the school. (fn. 67)
A Scheme of 1905 provided that a body of trustees, who were to include the lord of the manor and the Vicar of Swindon, were to administer all the school's endowments which were to be known jointly as the Old School Foundation. (fn. 68) The site in Newport Street was sold in 1909 and the proceeds invested. Income was used to maintain the King William Street school and to provide scholarships to secondary schools. The scholarships were supplemented by maintenance grants which in 1930 were usually of about £2 and were used to buy school books. In 1962 the income of the foundation was £38. (fn. 69)
G.W.R. School, Bristol Street, later Sanford Street. By his will, proved 1842, G. H. Gibbs, a director of the G.W.R., left £500 towards building a church and a school for the housing estate then growing up around the railway works. (fn. 70) The company appealed for more funds and the response was so good that both church (St. Mark's) and school were opened in 1845. (fn. 71) The school was to be non-sectarian and was intended for children of the G.W.R.'s employees. It was supervised by the company's board but was open to government inspection. Reading, writing, arithmetic, some geography, history, and scripture were taught. Fees were 4d. a week for juniors and 2d. for infants. Children of parents not connected with the G.W.R. were admitted at 1s. a week. (fn. 72)
In 1847–8, when there were two masters and 168 pupils, the school was rather unfavourably reported upon by a government inspector, although he found 'abundant means and appliances for instruction'. (fn. 73) Next Year, however, an improvement was noted. There was then an infant school of 127 and a mixed school of 90, taught by a master and 2 pupil teachers. (fn. 74) In 1850 the standard of education was said to be praiseworthy. (fn. 75) There were 180 children in the mixed department in 1859, taught by a certificated master and pupil teachers. The building was described as excellent, discipline good, and instruction sound and comprehensive. All arrangements were said to be on a most 'liberal scale'. The infant department was housed in an excellent classroom, recently built, with boarded floors and galleries. (fn. 76)
In 1858 a local committee was set up to supervise the school. (fn. 77) Early in the 1870s it was clear that the building was too small to meet the demand for places in it. (fn. 78) Towards the end of the decade the girls were moved, first to temporary accommodation, and later to new premises on a site acquired by the G.W.R. in College Street. (fn. 79) In 1881 the boys were transferred from Bristol Street to a new school in Sanford Street, one of the first to be built by the Swindon School Board. (fn. 80) About this time a persistent feud between the boys of the G.W.R. school and those of the National school in Old Swindon (fn. 81) broke into active rioting, which lasted several days. (fn. 82)
Although after 1881 the boys of Sanford Street ceased to come under the direct control of the G.W.R., the school's curriculum was influenced to some extent by the needs of the company. (fn. 83) In 1888 science began to be taught and special attention was paid to drawing. (fn. 84) In the 1880s a few pupils, who stayed at school after the age of 13, were formed into a special 'science' class, taken for the most part out of school hours by a pupil teacher. At this time too the older boys with some of the girls from the College Street School gave Christmas concerts in the Mechanics' Institute and the money thus raised was used to provide cash prizes, known as 'scholarships'. (fn. 85) In 1909 average attendance was 780. (fn. 86) In 1946 the school became a boys' secondary modern school. (fn. 87)
The G.W.R. continued to use the Bristol Street buildings for other purposes after the school closed. In 1965 they housed a research laboratory of British Rail. (fn. 88)
College Street School. The girls of the G.W.R. school in Bristol Street were organized as a separate department with their own classrooms by 1863. (fn. 89) In 1871 overcrowding in the school was so bad that girls and infants were moved to temporary accommodation in the 'Wesleyan room'. This was presumably the nearby 'Barracks' in Faringdon Road. (fn. 90) Next year they moved again to the Drill Hall in Church Place, which the inspectors considered to be most unsatisfactory as accommodation.
In 1874 girls and infants moved to premises built for them by the G.W.R. in College Street. The Wilts. and Berks. Canal, which ran immediately behind the school, proved to be a great hazard for the children. The G.W.R. handed over management of the school to the school board in 1881. (fn. 91) In the 1890s alterations were made to the buildings, including the addition of a new classroom and a teachers' room. In 1897, when average attendance was 785, (fn. 92) the headmistress complained that because her pupil teachers were attending the special central classes held for them elsewhere, there were 99 girls with only one teacher in standards VI and VII, and 98 in standard II. Next year part of the school was used as a Higher Grade School for girls, but this, which at one time had 70 pupils, was transferred to Clarence Street in 1903. (fn. 93)
In 1946 the school became a mixed junior school with 11 classes. In 1961 the site of the school was required for the development of Swindon's new shopping centre, and the building was demolished. The 295 children and their teachers were then transferred to the Clarence Street school. (fn. 94)
Queenstown Infants' and Girls' Schools. This was one of the first schools to be built by the Swindon School Board. (fn. 95) It was opened in 1880 as an infants' school for 204 children. (fn. 96) Attendance three years later was said to be 293. (fn. 97) In 1885 a girls' school was opened on the same site with accommodation for 250. (fn. 98) Numbers in the school remained fairly constant until the 1920s, although the infants' accommodation consisted only of one long room with a recess and two classrooms. (fn. 99) In 1938, because of rebuilding, the infants were moved to the College Street Infants' School, and in 1939 the two infants' schools were amalgamated in the College Street premises. (fn. 100) After 1939 and until 1946 Queenstown was a girls' school. In 1946 it became an infants' school. (fn. 101)
Westcott Infants' and Primary Mixed Schools, Birch Street. This was one of the three infants' schools built by the school board immediately after its formation in 1877. (fn. 102) Until permanent buildings were ready, the school was housed in the Drill Hall. (fn. 103) The school was eventually opened in 1881 with accommodation for 286. (fn. 104) In 1892 a mixed school for 491 children was added and in 1893 there was a total of 894 children. (fn. 105) In 1897 the infants' school was enlarged. (fn. 106) In 1964 it had 130 children on its roll. (fn. 107) In 1946 the mixed school became a secondary modern school for which more rooms were added in 1956. (fn. 108) In 1964 the Westcott and Jennings Street Secondary Modern Schools were united to form the Westbourne Secondary School. The buildings of both schools were then used and there were 375 children on the roll.
Gilbert's Hill Girls' and Infants' Schools. These schools, in Dixon Street, opened in 1880 with a head teacher, an assistant mistress, and 42 children under nine. (fn. 109) Fees were 2d. a week for infants, and 3d. for children in the first standard. In 1881 the school become a mixed infants' and girls' school. Accommodation seems to have been inadequate from the early days, and in the early 1880s cloakrooms had to be used as classrooms. From 1886 the school was conducted as two separate departments, but under one head teacher. In 1890 some extensions were made to the buildings and separate head teachers were appointed for the two departments. In 1895 average attendance was 458. (fn. 110) For a time in 1914 the school was transferred to Dowling Street Mission Hall, because its premises were required by the military authorities. Throughout the 1920s the inspectors were criticizing the fact that three classes were taught in the main room, but no change was made. In 1938 average attendance was 227. (fn. 111) In 1946 the older girls were transferred either to Clarence Street Junior School, or to the Drove Secondary School, and the Gilbert's Hill School has since been used for infants only. In 1964 there were 65 children on the roll. (fn. 112)
Holy Rood School. This school was opened as a fee-paying school attached to the Roman Catholic church in Regent Street in 1878. (fn. 113) In 1899 it moved to new buildings in Groundwell Road and in 1905 changed its name to the Swindon Holy Rood Roman Catholic School. Average attendance in 1906 was 124 pupils (fn. 114) and in 1932 227. (fn. 115) After 1946 the school was reorganized to become an infants' and junior school. A few years later the school began to be seriously overcrowded and temporary accommodation had to be used in various parts of the town. For a time some classes were held in huts at the Lawn, Old Swindon. A new infants' wing was added to the Groundwell Road school in 1953 but the school remained overcrowded. In 1957 there were 980 children on the school register and there were 24 classes spread over 5 centres in the town. The opening of new Roman Catholic schools in Swindon in 1958, 1961 and 1963 gradually reduced the pressure on the accommodation at Groundwell Road and in 1964 there were 445 children there in 12 classes.
Clifton Street Junior and Infants' School. This school began in the Drill Hall, Church Place, in 1883 with 37 boys and 8 girls. (fn. 116) The staff comprised a head master, a certificated assistant mistress, and 2 pupil teachers. Infants were admitted a few months later. The site on the corner of Clifton and Radnor Streets was bought by the Swindon School Board in 1884 and a school built to accommodate 625 children. (fn. 117) The boys' department (downstairs) was completed in 1884, the girls' (upstairs) in 1885, and the infants' building in 1886. (fn. 118) The infants' school was slightly enlarged in 1890. (fn. 119) Average attendance for the whole school in 1909 was 839. (fn. 120) The older children continued to be taught in separate departments until 1939, when boys and girls were combined to form the Clifton Street Mixed School with 270 children between the ages of 7 and 14 on the register. In 1946 the school became a mixed junior and an infants' school. In 1950 it was much enlarged and altered. (fn. 121) In 1964 there were 264 juniors and 110 infants on the roll. (fn. 122)
Lethbridge Road Junior and Infants' School. This school in Lethbridge Road, Old Swindon, was opened in 1891 on a site offered at a low rent by A. L. Goddard, lord of the manor, after a long controversy between Goddard and the school board. (fn. 123) It had 8 classrooms and a hall and opened with 64 girls and 80 boys between the ages of 7 and 14. The staff comprised a head master, one assistant, and one first-year pupil teacher. (fn. 124) Numbers increased rapidly and only a year after opening there were 282 children on the register. Between 1890 and 1892 an infants' school to serve this district was held in the Sunday schoolroom of the Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Bath Road. In 1892 the infants moved into the Lethbridge Road school, using one classroom and a hall, partitioned by curtains into 3 classrooms. In 1893 there were 198 infants in the school. The early log books reveal much concern over truancy and bad attendance. A 'parents' day' was instituted in 1896, but to the first of these, held on a very wet afternoon, not a single parent came. In 1896 pupils in standard III were being taught science. In 1935 the infants were moved into wooden huts, which were still being used in 1964 when there were 180 children on the roll. The mixed school became a mixed junior school in 1946 and in 1964 had 250 pupils on the register. (fn. 125)
Gorse Hill. This school in Avening Street, Gorse Hill, then a tithing of Stratton St. Margaret, was opened in 1878 by the Stratton St. Margaret School Board to accommodate 450 boys, girls, and infants. (fn. 126) The infants' department had a hall and 8 classrooms built for it in 1882. In 1890, when Gorse Hill came within the Swindon boundary, the school was taken over by the Swindon School Board. The following year a new boys' and girls' department was opened. (fn. 127) The accommodation in the infants' school was considered suitable for 573 children, but in 1906 there were 735 on the register, and the average attendance for the whole school was 1,258. (fn. 128) In 1910 the school was still overcrowded in spite of the building of the Ferndale Road school nearby, and it was not until this school was enlarged after the First World War that attendance figures at Gorse Hill began to adjust themselves to the accommodation available. (fn. 129)
In 1946 the older children were removed from the school, leaving separate infants' and junior schools at Gorse Hill. (fn. 130) For some years before schools were opened at Penhill (in the 1950s), children from that estate were taken by bus to Gorse Hill. Even after the Penhill schools were opened, classrooms in the Gorse Hill Junior School had to be used to relieve overcrowding in the new schools. In 1964 there were 202 children on the roll.
Even Swindon Junior and Infants' Schools. These schools lay outside the Swindon boundary until 1890. In 1880 a school for boys and girls of all ages was built by the Rodbourne School Board at the junction of Hughes Street and Rodbourne Road. (fn. 131) This originally had 6 classrooms, but 2 more and a central hall were added in 1895. An infants' school was built on the same site in 1884. The head master found that of the 138 children admitted in 1880, nearly 30 could not say the alphabet. He had difficulty in persuading parents to buy copy-books and slates, and in 1881 the board decided to provide these free of charge. Absences were caused from time to time by the inability of parents to pay 'school pence', but when these were abolished in 1891, attendance was 'the best . . . for many months'. The first head master served the school for 39 years. He showed great initiative in approaching firms for books and equipment. In 1890 the school was transferred to the Swindon School Board when Even Swindon was taken within Swindon's boundary. In the winter of 1908 free breakfasts of bread and milk were supplied at the school and during the Christmas holidays. The school comprised about 300 pupils aged between 7 and 14 years until 1946 when it became a junior mixed school and the older children were sent to the Jennings Street (later Westbourne) Secondary School. (fn. 132) In 1964 there were 213 children on the roll. (fn. 133)
Clarence Street School. This school with accommodation for 885 children was built in 1897 at the corner of Clarence and Euclid Streets. To it was moved a Central Higher Grade School which had been using temporary accommodation in Regent Street. (fn. 134) The school opened with 235 boys and 115 girls and a staff consisting of a head master, 3 certificated assistants, 2 other assistants, and 3 pupil teachers. (fn. 135) A separate infants' school was built in 1903. (fn. 136) The extra places that this gave in the mixed school were used to enlarge its standard VII, and for a time the school was overcrowded. (fn. 137) With the opening of the Euclid Street Higher Elementary School in 1904, however, some of the senior children were sent there. (fn. 138) Clarence Street was then divided into two separate boys' and girls' departments. (fn. 139) In 1909 average attendance was 891. (fn. 140) In 1946 Clarence Street became a junior mixed school. Children from the Walcot and Park estates attended the Clarence Street School until schools were built nearer their homes and in 1958 there were over 1,000 children in the Clarence Street School which used the by then disused school building in Euclid Street as an annexe. In 1961, when the College Street School was closed, the pupils and staff from there were transferred to Clarence Street. (fn. 141) In 1964 there were 430 children on the roll. (fn. 142)
The College Secondary School. A Higher Grade School for boys in Swindon was begun in temporary accommodation in 1891. (fn. 143) In 1896 a Day Secondary School for boys was opened in the newly built Technical Institute in Victoria Road which thenceforth and until 1952 housed both technical college and secondary school. (fn. 144) At first the school was known as the Technical Secondary School, but in 1926 it came to be called the College Secondary School. (fn. 145) After 1897 the school began to admit girls as well as boys and scholarships awarded by the county council enabled children living outside the town to attend. (fn. 146) A workshop and engineering laboratory were added in 1899 and further additions were made in 1902. (fn. 147) In 1905 there were 196 pupils: in 1924 there were 480. (fn. 148) In 1927 when the Commonweal Secondary School in the Mall, Old Swindon, was opened, (fn. 149) a number of pupils from the College School were transferred to form the nucleus of the new school. (fn. 150) In 1943 the College and Euclid Street secondary schools were amalgamated to form the Headlands Secondary School. (fn. 151) The buildings of the two schools, which were only a short distance apart, continued to house the newly amalgamated school until 1952 when it moved to new premises built for it in Headlands Grove. (fn. 152)
Euclid Street School. In 1897 a day training centre was opened in Euclid Street for the many pupil teachers employed in Swindon's board schools. (fn. 153) In 1904 the Euclid Street School became a Central Higher Elementary School and to it were sent many of the pupils from the former Central Higher Grade School in Clarence Street. (fn. 154) The school opened with a staff of 14 teachers and 305 pupils. (fn. 155) At first children could enter the school between the ages of 10 and 12 and stay from 1 to 3 years. But in 1907 the age of entry became 12, and the duration of the course 3 years. Among other subjects physics, chemistry, French, woodwork, cookery, and technical drawing were taught. The head master took pains to find work for his pupils when they left the school, but there was little for girls to do in the town before 1911 when the G.W.R. began to employ girl clerks. In 1919 the school became a secondary school, providing the same standard of education as the College Secondary School. (fn. 156) In 1943 these two secondary schools were amalgamated to form the Headlands Secondary School, and the buildings of both were used for the combined school. In 1952 the school moved to new buildings specially built for it in Headlands Grove. (fn. 157) The Euclid Street buildings were then used as temporary accommodation to relieve overcrowding in other schools. In 1964 they housed a day training centre run by the Newton Park Training College, Bath, for mature students intending to become teachers.
Jennings Street School. This school to serve the Rodbourne district was opened in 1904 with accommodation for 580 boys and girls and 198 infants. (fn. 158) In 1909 average attendance was 575. (fn. 159) In 1946 it became a mixed secondary modern school and in 1964 was amalgamated with the Westcott Secondary Modern School to form the Westbourne Secondary Modern School. (fn. 160)
Ferndale Schools. The expansion of Swindon north of the railway line in the early 1900s created the need for another school to serve that area, and in 1905 a site was acquired in Ferndale Road. (fn. 161) The school was opened in 1907 as a mixed and infants' school. (fn. 162) Numbers rose quickly and by 1910 there were 725 children in the school. (fn. 163) In 1926 a new building was provided for the infants, and all the earlier buildings were used for the older children. (fn. 164) In 1932 average attendance was 1,048. (fn. 165) A domestic science centre was opened in 1942 and enlarged in 1963. (fn. 166) Just before the Second World War new buildings were added, and in 1946 the school was reorganized as separate junior and secondary schools. In 1964 there were on the roll 246 children in the infants' school, 282 in the junior school, and 399 in the secondary school.
Commonweal Grammar School, the Mall. This school was opened in 1927 as a secondary school with accommodation for 276 children. (fn. 167) To form a nucleus, 156 children from the College Secondary School and 41 from the Euclid Street Secondary School were transferred to the new school, which also took 76 new entrants. (fn. 168) The buildings included 13 classrooms, numerous specialist rooms, a gymnasium, dining hall, and kitchen arranged around two courtyards. Numbers increased with the expansion of Swindon, but were reduced by the opening of Park Grammar School in 1960. In 1964 there were 718 pupils. The buildings were extended, mostly after 1950, and in 1964 had an additional 6 laboratories, a needlework room, music room, and 8 more classrooms.
Rodbourne Cheney School. A school at Rodbourne Cheney was opened in 1892 with 34 children, of whom 22 were infants. (fn. 169) The site and the extent of the premises are unknown but references in the log book to 'the room' suggest but a single classroom. In 1894, when there were 80 children on the register, a new school was opened at the junction of what in 1964 was Broadway and Moredon Road. Numbers rose quickly and reached 160 in 1895. In 1904 the infants' class became a separate infants' school and the next year there were 201 children between 7 and 14 years of age in the school. In 1906 2 new classrooms were added and new subjects such as swimming, gardening, and domestic subjects began to be taught. In 1912 the present (1965) infants' school was built. The school was transferred to the Swindon Education Committee in 1928 when the Swindon boundary was extended to take in Rodbourne Cheney. After the re-organization of the Swindon schools in 1946 Rodbourne Cheney School took infants and juniors only. With the growth of Swindon's northern suburbs after 1930 numbers in the school rose considerably and the building was overcrowded. This was remedied when new schools were opened at Pinehurst (1935) and Moredon (1953). Between 1953 and 1955 Rodbourne Cheney was used as an annexe to the Pinehurst schools. But in 1955 the buildings were modernized and Rodbourne Cheney again became a separate school. In 1964 it had 148 infants and 144 juniors on the roll. Entries in the log books show that in its early days this was a village school, unaffected, unlike most of the Swindon schools, by the requirements of the G.W.R.
Pinehurst Schools. After the boundary extensions of 1928 there was urgent need of new schools to serve the northern parts of the borough. The need was greatest on the Pinehurst housing estate which had been built by the corporation after the First World War. In 1930 Pinehurst Infants' School was opened for 210 children in temporary accommodation. (fn. 170) Permanent buildings were ready in 1934. In 1935 Pinehurst Junior School for 449 children and Pinehurst Secondary School with 425 pupils were opened. As this part of Swindon was developed during the 1950s children from other housing estates came to the Pinehurst schools until new schools were built for them. In 1955 there were over 650 children in the infants' school, 817 in the junior school, and over 800 in the secondary school. In 1964 the numbers were 336, 527, and 576.
The Drove Infants' School. This school was opened in 1941 with 246 children transferred from Clarence Street Infants school. In 1964 there were 101 children on the roll. (fn. 171)
Swindon and North Wilts. Technical Institute, later the College. This was opened by the Swindon and North Wilts. Technical Instruction Committee in 1896 in Victoria Road on a site presented by W. V. Rolleston. (fn. 172) Grants were made by the Department of Science and Art and the county council and the institute was open to a certain number of pupils outside Swindon. (fn. 173) Day and evening classes were provided and the first day classes were attended by between 50 and 60 pupils. (fn. 174) From soon after its opening until 1952 the institute also housed a secondary school for boys and girls. (fn. 175) In 1926 the institute was reorganized as a college of further education and the following year was renamed the College. In 1928–9 it had 1,995 students in day and evening classes. (fn. 176) In 1961 extensive new buildings were opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. (fn. 177) In 1966 there were 4,639 full-time and 511 part-time students. (fn. 178)
The first building in Victoria Road was designed by Messrs. Silcock and Reay (fn. 179) and is of red brick with symmetrically placed gables. Additions were made to the building from time to time but in 1958 work was begun on a site overlooking Regent Circus on a large new block which was to overshadow the original building completely. (fn. 180) It is a six-storied building of reinforced concrete with flank walls of charcoal-coloured brick designed by Charles Pike and Partners. (fn. 181)
Schools opened between 1946 and 1964. (fn. 182) Twenty seven schools were opened between these years and are listed below. The date of opening is given in brackets and is followed by the number of children on the roll at April 1964: Central Special School E.S.N. (1946), 120; Drove Girls Secondary (1946), 598; Headlands Grammar (1952), 536; Moredon Infants (1952), 167, Junior (1953), 288, Secondary (1955), 550; Penhill North Infants (1955), 412, Junior (1957), 529, Secondary (1958), 440; Walcot East Infants (1957), 342, Junior (1959), 450; Walcot West Infants (1957), 312, Junior (1959), 382; Walcot Secondary (1958), 532; Lawn Infants (1958), 353, Junior (1958), 437, Secondary (1964), 244; Park North Infants (1959), 609, Junior (1961), 536; Park South Infants (1963), 434, Junior (1964), 347; Park Grammar (1960), 570; Merton Fields (Penhill South) Secondary (1963), 134, Penhill South Infants (1963), 217, Junior (1964), 289. Three Roman Catholic schools were opened: St. Joseph's Secondary (1958), 702; St. Mary's Infants and Juniors (1961), 436; Holy Family Infants and Juniors (1964), 512.
Private Schools. In 1835 there were five private schools catering between them for 105 children. (fn. 183) George Nourse's Classical and Commercial School for boys, established in Prospect Place by 1830, survived until c. 1867. (fn. 184) After the 1840s, when there was a great shortage of school places in the new town, numerous private schools opened in the old town for the children of more prosperous parents. Most lasted for a few years only but the Classical Commercial and Mathematical School begun by S. Snell in 1869 survived in 1964. (fn. 185) In 1881 it became known as Swindon High School. It was recognized by the Board of Education in 1907. Sandhill House School, fouuded by the Revd. Richard Breeze in 1855, continued until at least 1882. (fn. 186) Mr. Fentiman's Academy which flourished in the mid 19th century was attended by Richard Jefferies. (fn. 187) Among private schools for girls Colville House School, begun by Ellen and Clara Cowell, lasted from 1881 until 1945. (fn. 188)
John Burgess, Vicar of Manningford Bruce, directed in his will, made before 1559, that 7s. 5d. should be distributed annually on the feast of St. Gregory among the poor. (fn. 189) Out of this 1s. 2d. was to be paid to the five most deserving cases and the rest distributed among other poor persons. The charity was dispensed regularly until 1782, when, by mistake, it was included in the church account. In 1795, and for some years after, it was not paid at all but in 1826 Ambrose Goddard paid the arrears.
Eleanor Hutchins, James Lord, and Henry Cuss, according to an inscription on Eleanor's monument in the parish church (Holy Rood), each gave £20 to be invested for the benefit of the poor at Easter. (fn. 190) In 1737 £3 was distributed. The income was said to derive from land in 1786. The charity payments had evidently lapsed by 1834 when it was decided to distribute £3 yearly again. In 1903 the charity was represented by a rent-charge of £2 10s. from West Swindon Mead.
Before 1701 Edmund Goddard devised an annual rent-charge of 20s. from North Laines Farm to be paid on Shrove Tuesday to the poor. (fn. 191)
Richard Goddard, by his will dated 1650, devised a tenement in Wroughton, known as Arnold's Estate, for the benefit of the poor. (fn. 192) The gift was overlooked until 1730 when the testator's grandson, Richard Goddard, paid the arrears of rent. In 1834 the total rent was £11. The property was later sold and the proceeds invested with those arising from the sale of the Brind and Broadway charity lands (see below).
Margaret Brind, by will dated 1740, bequeathed £100 for the poor. The interest was to be distributed yearly on 20 July. (fn. 193) Mary Broadway, also by will dated 1740, bequeathed £20 to be invested for the benefit of poor widows and the interest to be distributed yearly on 13 April. (fn. 194) In 1757 the bequest, together with the capital of Brind's Charity (see above), was used to buy a small amount of land in Stratton St. Margaret. In 1831 the rent from this brought in £9. When the open fields of Stratton St. Margaret were inclosed an allotment in Upper Stratton was made to Swindon church. The share of the poor, known as the Poor's Allotment, was reckoned at two-fifths of the land allotted. In 1800 4 a. at the southern end were set apart for the benefit of the second poor.
In about 1884 all land belonging to the Richard Goddard, Brind, Broadway, and Poor's Allotment charities was sold. (fn. 195) Of the proceeds, £1,171 was invested as a fund for the poor and £203 as a fund for widows. In 1903 the gross annual income of the poor fund was £30 and of the widows' fund £5. That year the money available for widows was distributed among 37 women, of whom 12 received 3s. 1d. and 25 3s. each.
Richard Gray, by his will proved in 1807, gave £400 for the benefit of the second poor, the money to be distributed about March every year to widows, widowers, and single men and women over 60 years of age. (fn. 196) In 1903 the gross annual income of this charity was £10 and about 40 persons received 5s. 6d. each.
Elizabeth Evans bequeathed £70 to provide 6 poor women of over 60 years of age with new gowns on the feast of St. Thomas every year. (fn. 197) The capital was invested in 1787. In 1834 the interest had been received and applied regularly and, because cloth was cheap, eight rather than six gowns were distributed. In 1903 the income of this charity was £2 10s. and six linsey gowns were given away.
Mary Horne by a testamentary paper gave £100 for poor householders not receiving relief from the parish, as well as £100 for the free school. In 1784 Mary's sister, Elizabeth, distributed the interest on this legacy and when she died in 1793 desired in her will that all her sister's bequests should be regularly paid. Joseph and Elizabeth Cooper augmented the Horne charities by settling certain land upon the trusts of Mary Horne's will. In 1796 they conveyed 9 a. in Stratton St. Margaret to James Crowdy, who was to pay half the income to the schoolmaster of the free school for teaching a number of girls, and to distribute the other half among the poor. In 1834 the income was £23 16s., of which £9 was paid to the schoolmaster and the remainder was distributed among poor householders in sums of 2s. 6d. or less. In 1896 all the property was sold and £1,034 invested. The annual income was then divided equally between the poor and the free school. In 1903 £12 18s. 6d. was distributed among the poor. (fn. 198)
Harriet Rolleston, by her will proved in 1870, settled £300 in trust to provide, under the name of the Vilett Charity, coal and blankets for the poor at Christmas. (fn. 199) The gross annual income in 1903 was £8 2s. 4d.
John Harding Sheppard, by his will proved in 1877, gave £200 to be invested for the benefit of 12 aged poor persons at Christmas. (fn. 200) In 1904 the gross annual income, known as Sheppard's Dole, was £5 2s. 6d. and was distributed among 12 beneficiaries.
Richard Bowly, by his will proved in 1885, gave £200 to provide for a distribution of blankets at Christmas. (fn. 201) In 1903 22 recipients received a blanket each.
All the above charities for the poor were in 1903 advertised in Old Swindon only, although residents in the new town could apply. (fn. 202) More beneficiaries, it was explained, came from the old town because at that time there was more regular employment and consequently less poverty in the new town. Between three and four hundred people usually applied for coal and blankets, and that year (1903) 250 people received 2 cwt. of coal each and 50 people a blanket. No account was taken of religious denominations.
Alexander Anderson, by his will dated 1865, bequeathed about £1,636 for the benefit of the poor. (fn. 203) This money, with £32 given by the local board, was used to build 4 almshouses in Cricklade Street. The almspeople could be men or women over 60, widowed or single, residents in Swindon for more than 3 years, and not in receipt of poor relief. Preference was given to people reduced by misfortune from better circumstances. The inmates of houses no. 1 and no. 2 received small weekly pensions. In 1897 John Chandler by declaration of a trust gave £100 to provide a pension for the inmate of house no. 3. In 1903 all four inmates were women. Because each newly-elected almsperson was placed in house no. 4, which had no pension attached, there was no great demand for admission.
In 1906 a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners united all the above-mentioned charities under the title of the United Charities. (fn. 204) It was directed that certain of these, namely, the Bowly, Evans, and Gray charities, together with Sheppard's Dole (now raised to a minimum payment of 10s.), should be applied for their original purposes. The main purpose of the Scheme, however, was to amalgamate the remaining charities, thenceforth to be called the Almshouse and Nursing Charities, so that the joint income could be used to meet the increasing cost of maintaining Anderson's Institution (by this time called Hostel). Any residue might be distributed to the poor in other ways. A small benefaction to Anderson's Hostel was included in the will of J. E. G. Bradford, proved in 1912. In 1952 this produced an income of £9. Stipends to the inhabitants of Anderson's Hostel ceased to be paid in 1954 and were replaced by additional grants from the National Assistance Board. An additional Scheme of 1960 provided that almspeople should make a maximum weekly contribution of 7s. 6d. towards the maintenance of the almshouses. An extraordinary repair fund was also established at this date. The houses are of stone with north-facing windows overlooking the churchyard. The date 1877 is inscribed on the building. Each house has a living room and pantry on the ground floor with a large bedroom above.
Assets of the United Charities in 1960 comprised the four almshouses, a £1 rent-charge issuing from North Laines Farm (Edmund Goddard's Charity), another of £2 10s. from West Swindon Mead (Hutchins, Lord, and Cuss Charities), and unspecified stock. In 1962 the charities had an annual income of £110 and only residents in the ancient parish of Swindon were eligible to benefit.
Three charities were founded for the poor of the municipal borough. Henry James Deacon, by his will proved in 1916, bequeathed money to be dis- tributed amongst the poor of Swindon not in receipt of poor relief. The income amounted to £24 in 1966 and was distributed amongst 34 aged poor persons. (fn. 205) Arthur Joseph Colbourne's charity for the sick poor, founded at an unknown date, was governed by a Scheme of 1953. In 1965 the income was £256. (fn. 206) Charles Langley Brooke, by his will proved in 1916, bequeathed money to be invested and the income used to apprentice two poor boys born and living in the borough. The income amounted to £70 in 1965. (fn. 207)