A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17, Offlow Hundred (Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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In this section
- Pleck Church of England School, otherwise Pleck and Bescot National School or St. John's National School.
- St. Andrew's Church of England Junior and Infants' School, formerly Birchills National School or St. Peter's (Birchills) School.
There was a school at Walsall by 1377, when Robert the schoolmaster was admitted as a burgess. (fn. 1) In the 1490s a Walsall chantry priest, John Staple, kept a school where he taught poor children free. (fn. 2) The school was not attached to his chantry, and there is no evidence that any of the chantry priests kept school in the 1540s. The chantry commissioners in fact suggested that a school which existed at Shenstone should be transferred to Walsall, one of the six Staffordshire towns which they considered suitable sites for free schools. The proposal came to nothing, but a grammar school was eventually established in the town by royal charter in 1554. (fn. 3) At Bloxwich the minister kept a school in his house in the mid 16th century; in 1613, however, the house was a tavern, and the school had apparently been discontinued. (fn. 4) It was succeeded by an endowed English school for Bloxwich and the surrounding hamlets, established in 1617. Between 1656 and 1662 Walsall corporation maintained a school for poor children, possibly a precursor of a Blue Coat charity school which existed in the town by the earlier 18th century. A dissenting charity school was endowed by George Fowler by his will of 1699. (fn. 5)
Several Sunday schools had been established in Walsall and Bloxwich by 1813, the first in 1789 in connexion with Dudley Street Independent chapel. (fn. 6) In 1819 there were in the parish, besides the endowed schools, 5 schools taught by masters, with 96 boys and 21 girls; 25 schools taught by mistresses, with 178 boys and 322 girls; an unspecified number of boarding schools for boys, with 58 pupils; and four Sunday schools, with 843 pupils. It was stated that the Walsall poor had sufficient schools but that the Bloxwich poor were short of them. (fn. 7) In 1833 more than 1,200 children attended day schools in the parish and there were over 1,700 pupils at Sunday schools. (fn. 8)
A survey of elementary education in the town in 1870 showed that there were 5,755 children at day schools, 462 at night schools, and 14 'half-timers'. It was considered that over 2,000 extra school places were needed. (fn. 9) A school board was formed in 1871, (fn. 10) and it was then discovered that in fact over 4,000 extra places were required. (fn. 11) A by-law making school attendance compulsory was passed in 1872, but for many years Walsall had the worst attendance record of any of the Black Country boroughs. It was not until c. 1900, after the formation of a school attendance committee, that the position improved. (fn. 12)
In 1903 Walsall, as a county borough, took responsibility for all stages of public education. In 1929-32 schools were reorganized on the basis of the Hadow Report. (fn. 13) In 1947 a bilateral secondary school was established; by 1973 comprehensive secondary education was general except at the town's two voluntary aided grammar schools, Queen Mary's Schools, whose future was then undecided. (fn. 14)
In 1894 the board established a pupil-teachers' centre. The governors of Queen Mary's Schools were empowered to set up a pupil-teachers' centre in 1904; all pupil-teacher training was given at Queen Mary's Schools from 1906 until its abolition c. 1920. (fn. 15) In 1968 the borough opened an education development centre to provide courses and other in-service training for teachers employed by the borough. (fn. 16)
Special education for handicapped children began in 1894 when, under the 1893 Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act, (fn. 17) the board began to pay for children to attend the deaf, dumb, and blind institutes at Edgbaston, Birmingham. (fn. 18) The borough opened a special open-air school for delicate or anaemic children, one of the first in the country, in Reedswood Park in 1919. (fn. 19) The Open Air School, from 1951-2 Reedswood Park Day Special School, (fn. 20) moved to temporary premises in Willenhall in 1968 (fn. 21) and to purpose-built premises in Skip Lane in 1970, when it became Three Crowns Special School. (fn. 22)
The Midland Truant (later Beacon) School at Lichfield, an industrial school for boys, was built in 1893 by Walsall and the boroughs of Burton-uponTrent and West Bromwich. (fn. 23) The industrial-school system was abolished in the early 1920s; Walsall then took sole responsibility for Beacon School and reopened it as a residential school for mentally defective children in 1926. (fn. 24) It was co-educational until 1940-1, when it began to admit only boys. (fn. 25) After extensive rebuilding, completed in 1971, it became co-educational again in 1972. (fn. 26) In 1959 the corporation opened the non-residential Castle Special School in Odell Road, Bloxwich. (fn. 27) A training centre in Brewer Street for mentally handicapped children, managed by the Department of Health and Social Security, was handed over to the borough in 1971 and renamed Mary Elliot Special School. (fn. 28)
The education committee maintained a day nursery from c. 1917 until the early 1920s; (fn. 29) shortly after it was opened there was an attempt, apparently unsuccessful, to develop it into a nursery school. (fn. 30) From 1930-1 nursery classes were formed in some infants' schools; there were seven such classes by 1934. (fn. 31) During the Second World War the council established three nursery schools, Coal Pool, Fullbrook, and Sandbank. (fn. 32) Two more nursery schools, Little Bloxwich and Blakenall (later Valley), had been opened by 1973. (fn. 33) In 1969-71 12 nursery classes had been added to primary schools. (fn. 34)
A camp site for Walsall schoolchildren was bought in 1926 at Streetly in Shenstone by a voluntary body, the Walsall School Children's Holiday Camp Trust. (fn. 35) The site was sold in 1960, and in 1969 the trust bought a house and small estate at Llangollen (Denb.). It was subsequently developed by the trust in partnership with Walsall corporation as Bryntysilio Outdoor Education Centre, the trust providing holiday courses there for deprived children and the corporation using it as an outdoor education centre for secondary-school children. (fn. 36)
Several charities provide scholarships and grants for Walsall children and young people. They include the Fishley Educational and Apprenticing Foundation, the C. C. Walker Charity, and the Blanch Wollaston Walsall Charity. (fn. 37)
Queen Mary's Schools.
Queen Mary's Grammar School was founded in 1554 and endowed with former chantry lands in Walsall, Tipton, and Norton Canes. (fn. 38) It was housed in a building on Church Hill adjoining the churchyard.
From 1793 the governors maintained a separate elementary school for 40 boys in Chatterton's Fold off Park Street. (fn. 39) In 1802 another elementary school for 40 boys was opened in Park Street; it was expanded to 50 boys in 1803. From 1806 until 1814 a master at Bloxwich was paid to teach writing and arithmetic to 25 boys there. (fn. 40) In 1815 the grammar school moved to a house in Park Street. The elementary schools in Chatterton's Fold and Park Street were merged and reopened as a Lancasterian school in the former grammar-school building. An infants' school was set up in Park Street in 1831. In 1833 there were 35 boys and 35 girls at the infants' school; it was financed partly by the governors and partly by weekly payments from the children. (fn. 41)
In 1837 the grammar school was subdivided into a grammar school, which remained in Park Street, and a commercial school, which took over the premises of the Lancasterian school. The grammar school left Park Street in 1847 and was housed in the grand stand at Walsall race-course until 1850, when it and the commercial school moved into newly erected buildings in Lichfield Street. In 1873 it was renamed the high school and the commercial school became the lower school. The two schools were reunited in 1893 to form a single high school, renamed Queen Mary's Grammar School in 1909.
In 1893 the governors opened Queen Mary's High School for Girls in buildings in Upper Forster Street adjoining the boys' buildings in Lichfield Street. In 1918 they leased Moss Close, a house in Mellish Road, as a junior department for the grammar school, buying it in 1926. In 1924 Mayfield, a house in Sutton Road, was bought; it became a preparatory school for the girls' high school and a mixed kindergarten. The estate attached to Mayfield had already been bought in 1913 and 1921.
In 1947 the grammar school and the girls' high school, by then direct-grant schools, took instead voluntary aided status. (fn. 42) Mayfield became an independent preparatory school, though managed by the Queen Mary's Schools governors. It remained such in 1973. (fn. 43) The first stage of a new boys' grammar school was opened on the Mayfield estate in 1961. Moss Close was then closed and the junior boys moved to the Lichfield Street buildings. (fn. 44) The second stage was opened in 1965; the grammar school then vacated the Lichfield Street buildings, which were taken over by the girls' high school.
Bloxwich Church of England Junior and Infants' School.
By will proved in 1616 William Parker, a London merchant taylor and a native of Bloxwich, left land to the Merchant Taylors' Company to provide a stipend of £20 for the minister of Bloxwich chapel. A condition of the bequest was that the minister should, without charge, teach the boys of Great and Little Bloxwich, Walsall, and Harden, 'and others that dwell in odd houses in Walsall parish' to read English, both printed and handwritten. The school was to be held in either the chapel or the minister's house. (fn. 45) In 1617 a newly appointed minister subscribed also as master of Bloxwich school. (fn. 46)
The minister was still the schoolmaster in the early 18th century. (fn. 47) By the early 19th century, however, he no longer taught but paid £8 of the £20 stipend to a master who taught 15 poor boys to read. (fn. 48) Between 1806 and 1814 the governors of Walsall grammar school also paid the master £25 a year to teach 25 boys writing and arithmetic. (fn. 49) In 1819 the payment was being continued by the parish. (fn. 50) The chapel clerk was the master in the early 19th century. He lived in the non-resident minister's house rent-free and apparently taught the children there; (fn. 51) the 'day school in the chapel yard' mentioned in 1813 (fn. 52) was presumably the minister's house. In 1826, however, John Baylie, the newly appointed minister, decided to occupy the house. Then homeless, the school declined into a Sunday school, meeting in public house clubrooms. (fn. 53)
Baylie re-established the school in 1828 as a National school for boys and girls, built on a site given by Lord Bradford at what is now the northern end of High Street, Bloxwich. Fees of 1d. or 2d. a week were charged, but part of the income from Parker's bequest was used to provide free education at the school for 15 boys. (fn. 54) In 1833 108 boys and 70 girls attended on weekdays and 140 boys and 80 girls on Sundays. In 1844-5, with the aid of grants from government and the National Society, a classroom and an infants' schoolroom were added. A teacher's house was built in 1846. (fn. 55) In 1857 the basic weekly fee was 2d. for boys and girls and 1d. for infants. There was an additional fee of 2d. a week for older girls and for boys who attended an extra class held between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. (fn. 56)
In 1862 the schools were rebuilt on the same site. (fn. 57) They were enlarged c. 1900. (fn. 58) In 1931, after further additions and alterations to the buildings, the schools, by then known as Bloxwich Church of England Schools, were reorganized as senior mixed and junior mixed and infants' schools. The senior mixed school became a secondary modern school after the 1944 Education Act. Both schools took voluntary controlled status in 1948. (fn. 59) In 1974 the secondary school was closed and its buildings were taken over by the junior and infants' school. (fn. 60)
Blue Coat Church of England Schools.
Between 1656 and 1662 the corporation paid a man to teach poor children. (fn. 61) The payments may mark the establishment of the town's Blue Coat charity school; (fn. 62) if so, the school must have been supported by private donations after 1662, for the corporation seems to have made no further payments. No Walsall charity school is mentioned in a list published in 1709. (fn. 63)
By will dated 1723 the Revd. John Whittingham, headmaster of Walsall grammar school 1666-88, bequeathed £200 to the corporation after the extinction of life interests, to the use of the charity school, if it existed. (fn. 64) By the later 18th century the corporation was paying £10 a year to the Blue Coat school, the interest on the bequest. (fn. 65) Three smaller bequests had brought the school's endowment to £245 by 1773. (fn. 66) Jacob Smith of Walsall (d. 1800) bequeathed a further £100 in the form of a 25-year annuity of £4, (fn. 67) and by 1804 the school also received rent of £2 10s. yearly from land at Dudley (Worcs.) given by a John Taylor. (fn. 68) By then, however, most of the school's income came from collections and subscriptions. From at least 1765 collections in aid of the school were taken at an annual charity sermon preached at St. Matthew's on Wake Sunday, and by 1773 there were also subscribers. (fn. 69) In 1804 the school's income was some £123, of which about £20 came from the collections and about £60 from subscribers. (fn. 70)
By the later 18th century the school consisted of 24 boys and 16 girls. According to rules drawn up in 1779 they were to be elected by subscribers at the age of seven and must leave school at twelve. Boys were taught the elements and girls the elements, knitting, and sewing. 'Blue coat' clothing, traditionally worn at such schools, was provided annually. (fn. 71)
In 1776 the mayor granted the Blue Coat schoolmaster the use of the 'cross chamber' for a schoolroom. It was presumably the room in the market house in which the school was held in the 1790s. (fn. 72) The market house was demolished in 1800 and the school moved to premises in Digbeth, adjoining the George. The building consisted of a single schoolroom with a teacher's house attached, but in 1818-19 a second storey was added to the school to house a Sunday school. (fn. 73) Henceforth there was accommodation for 140 boys and 160 girls. (fn. 74) In 1819 free education was provided for 25 boys and 25 girls (24 boys and 16 girls being given blue-coat uniform), and there were 100 fee-paying children. (fn. 75)
By the mid 1820s the Digbeth building was unsafe and the school was meeting in borrowed rooms. As a first step towards its reinvigoration a National school was established in connexion with it in 1825. (fn. 76) In 1826 the two schools were formally united as Walsall Blue Coat and National School, which in 1827 moved back into the Digbeth building, repaired and enlarged to accommodate 228 boys and 228 girls. (fn. 77) In 1830 25 boys and 25 girls were taught free and 20 of each sex were also clothed; the remaining 125 boys and 108 girls paid 1d. a week. (fn. 78)
In 1859 the school moved to a larger building in St. Paul's Close designed in the Early English style by Henry Cooper of London. It was claimed to be the handsomest school building in the county and comprised schools for both sexes and houses for a master and a mistress. There was a large domestic science room for the girls, with a wash-house where laundering could be taught. The money for the site and the building came from gifts, subscriptions, the sale of the old school and of the school's land at Dudley, and a grant from government. (fn. 79) From 1884 the school took the older pupils from St. Matthew's Church of England School, and in 1906 the St. Matthew's School building became officially the Blue Coat infants' school. (fn. 80) After the 1891 Elementary Education Act the Blue Coat managers abolished school fees for infants, though continuing to charge them for older children. (fn. 81)
The St. Paul's Close building was closed in 1933; it was bought by the corporation and its site became the town's central bus station. Senior pupils were moved to a new building in Springhill Road, juniors to the former St. Matthew's vicarage in Hanch Place. (fn. 82) The infants' school moved into the Bath Street council school building after that school was closed in 1940. (fn. 83) In the reorganization after 1944 the senior school became secondary modern. In 1953 the governors decided to retain voluntary aided status and to provide new buildings for the secondary school. In 1965 the secondary school moved to Birmingham Street, the junior school to Springhill Road, and the infants' school to Hanch Place. From 1972 the secondary school was expanded to form a larger comprehensive school with its own sixth form. The building of the former Chuckery council school was used as an annexe, and in 1973-4 additional buildings were being completed in Birmingham Street opposite those of 1965. (fn. 84)
The Dissenting Charity School
By will dated 1699 George Fowler devised land in Windmill Field, Walsall, upon trust, the income to be used for teaching poor children of the town of Walsall. (fn. 85) Fowler was a prominent Walsall Presbyterian, (fn. 86) and the feoffees of 'the dissenting charity school' who held land in Windmill Field in the 1760s and 1770s (fn. 87) presumably belonged to the town's Presbyterian meeting-house. From the late 18th century the charity was applied to a Sunday school established at the meeting-house, which had by then turned to Unitarianism. In the early 19th century some 30 children were taught reading and writing without charge. In 1823 writing lessons were given on weekday evenings in addition to the instruction on Sundays. (fn. 88) In 1855 the school held morning and afternoon sessions on Sundays and afternoon and evening sessions on Thursdays. Some 70 children attended on Sundays. (fn. 89)
Pleck Church of England School, otherwise Pleck and Bescot National School or St. John's National School.
A National school was established at Pleck in 1825. It was then estimated that there were at Pleck 60 children aged between 7 and 13 who needed cheap or free schooling; the schoolroom which was built on the waste that year with the aid of a grant from the National Society was designed for fifty. It was proposed that they should pay fees of 2d. a week. (fn. 90) The school was put in the charge of a mistress. (fn. 91) In 1855 the population of Pleck was increasing rapidly and the 'small, ill-conditioned room' had become inadequate. A new school with a teacher's house attached was built on a site in Pleck Road given by Lord Bradford. Building grants were made by government and the National Society; local contributors included working men living in Pleck. The 1825 building was possibly retained as an infants' schoolroom. (fn. 92) Services were held in the new building until the opening of St. John's Church in 1858. (fn. 93) The new school was apparently opened in January 1856, and by September there were 54 boys and 46 girls on the books, all paying pence. The master conducted an evening school in connexion with the day school; it was held twice weekly, and attended by men and boys working in local collieries. (fn. 94) The building was enlarged in 1867, with the aid of a government grant, to provide separate schoolrooms for boys and girls. (fn. 95) In 1930 the building was remodelled and became an infant's school only. (fn. 96) It was closed in 1962. (fn. 97)
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Junior and Infants' School, formerly St. Thomas's Roman Catholic School.
From 1825 a Roman Catholic day school was held in a small room next to the chapel of St. Thomas the Apostle in Harden Lane (now Harden Road), Bloxwich. (fn. 98) A schoolroom was built adjoining the chapel c. 1830. In 1833 some 56 pupils attended on weekdays and some 76 on Sundays. It seems that normally only reading was taught. Children whose parents could afford it were charged 1d. a week; there were extra fees of 1d. a week for writing and 1d. for arithmetic. (fn. 99) St. Thomas's was replaced by a new church, St. Peter's, opened in High Street, Bloxwich, in 1869; (fn. 100) the school was replaced in 1870, when a school was opened in Harrison Street, behind the new church. In 1871 it had 65 pupils on the books, all paying pence. (fn. 101) Numbers increased rapidly and three extensions had been built before 1899, when a new building was added; the 1870 building became the infants' department. (fn. 102) Senior pupils left in 1963 when Francis Martyn Roman Catholic High School was opened. (fn. 103) The school moved in 1972 to new buildings in Lichfield Road, Bloxwich. (fn. 104)
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Junior and Infants' School.
In 1831 or 1832 a day and Sunday school for boys and girls was established in Vicarage Place in connexion with St. Mary's chapel. In 1833 80 pupils attended on weekdays and a few more on Sundays. Children whose parents could afford it paid 2d. a week. (fn. 105) In 1834 it was described as a charity school with an orphanage attached. (fn. 106) By 1855 the building had been enlarged and there was a day school under the care of the Sisters of Charity of St. Paul with an average attendance of some 150; there was a community of the Sisters in St. Mary's parish c. 185363. (fn. 107) In 1861 there were 50 boys, 71 girls, and 48 infants, all paying pence. (fn. 108) A new infants' department known as St. Joseph's Infants' School was opened in Glebe Street in 1912, the earlier building being extended and becoming a mixed department. (fn. 109) Senior pupils left in 1963 when Francis Martyn Roman Catholic High School was opened. (fn. 110) The Vicarage Place building was damaged by fire in 1967 and the school was housed in the former Bath Street council school until 1970, when a new St. Mary's School was opened in Jesson Road. (fn. 111)
St. Peter's Church of England Junior and Infants' School.
In 1840 a building for a day and Sunday school for boys and girls was opened on a site in John Street given by Thomas Fowler. Some 130 children attended the day school on the first morning. (fn. 112) The money to build it was raised locally by a group of trustees headed by the vicar of St. Matthew's. When the parish of St. Peter was formed in 1845 the incumbent became manager of the school. In 1846 it was united with the National Society. There was then an average week-day attendance of 80 boys and 100 girls, and a further 80 boys and 30 girls attended on Sundays. The boys' curriculum consisted of the elements and religious instruction; they paid 1d. a week, or 3d. a week if they wrote on paper instead of slates. By 1849 there was also an infants' school held in a small temporary schoolroom. (fn. 113) It was replaced later in 1849 by a schoolroom for infants, also in John Street; the National Society contributed towards its cost and the cost of a house for two teachers, built at the same time. The infants' schoolroom was enlarged in 1866. (fn. 114)
In 1870 the girls were moved from John Street to buildings in Whitehouse Street erected with the aid of grants from government and the National Society. An infants' school was opened there in January 1871, and in February there was an average attendance of 120 girls and 90 infants. (fn. 115) In 1914 the boys were transferred from John Street to new buildings in Marlow Street. (fn. 116) In 1933 Marlow Street became a junior mixed school and Whitehouse Street an infants' department. Whitehouse Street was closed in 1955 and the infants joined the juniors in Marlow Street. (fn. 117)
Christ Church Church of England Junior and Infants' School, Blakenall Heath.
In 1843 John Baylie, minister of Bloxwich, opened a National school for infants at Blakenall Heath, a branch of the National school at Bloxwich. Lord Bradford gave the site, and there were grants from government, the National Society, and the archidiaconal board of education. Queen Adelaide contributed to the building fund. (fn. 118) The building was also used as a mission church. (fn. 119) In 1846-7 a mistress, with some volunteer helpers on Sundays, taught 40 boys and 44 girls on Sundays and weekdays and 20 more boys on Sundays only. (fn. 120) The buildings were repaired and enlarged in 1861 and older children admitted; the first qualified mistress was appointed in 1863. (fn. 121) When Christ Church, Blakenall Heath, was opened in 1870 the school ceased to be used for worship. Responsibility for it passed to the new parish formed in 1873. (fn. 122) The buildings were altered and improved in 1928 and it subsequently became a junior mixed and infants' school. (fn. 123) It took voluntary controlled status in 1951. (fn. 124) It moved to new buildings off Harden Road, Blakenall Heath, in 1971. (fn. 125)
St. Paul's School, Shaw's Leasowes.
There was an Anglican Sunday school at Shaw's Leasowes in 1840, and a day school connected with St. Paul's Church had been established by 1845 in a building there owned by the grammar school governors. (fn. 126) In 1846-7 a mistress taught 65 boys and 25 girls, and the school was supported by subscriptions and pence. (fn. 127) Control later passed, apparently in 1851, to the managers of St. Peter's National schools, who rented the building from the governors. In 1857 there were 60 children on the books. (fn. 128) The school had been closed by 1860. (fn. 129)
Wesleyan School, Bloxwich.
A Wesleyan Methodist day school for boys and girls, with a master and mistress, had been established at Short Heath, Bloxwich, by 1845. It seems to have been closed soon after 1850. (fn. 130)
Ablewell Street Wesley School or Walsall Wesleyan Day School, later Ablewell Street Council School.
A Wesleyan Methodist day school was opened in 1845 in a newly erected building in Forster Street. The managers stated in 1847 that it was open to children of all denominations. (fn. 131) When the Wesleyans built a new chapel in Ablewell Street in 1859 the old Ablewell Street chapel was converted into a day and Sunday school, presumably to replace the Forster Street building; the ground floor became an infants' school and a first floor was inserted to accommodate older children. The new school building was opened 1860 with two teachers and an average attendance of 80 boys, 50 girls, and 95 infants. (fn. 132) Ablewell Street became a council school in 1922. (fn. 133) It was reorganized to form a junior and infants' school in 1930 and was closed in 1931. (fn. 134)
A ragged school was established in Pig Lane in the late 1840s by a group which included the vicar of Walsall's wife and E. T. (later Sir Edward) Holden. It may be the Walsall Ragged Sunday school which existed in 1848. In 1849 or 1850 it was moved to a newly erected building at Townend Bank. It was closed in 1850 because, Holden subsequently explained, 'the smell of the children was such as to impair the health of the teachers', and later that year the building became a Primitive Methodist chapel. (fn. 135)
St. Matthew's Church of England School.
An infants' school was opened in 1853 on a site given by Lord Bradford adjoining the east end of St. Matthew's Church; access was from Hill Street. Building grants were received from government, the National Society, and the diocesan board of education. There was accommodation for 150 in a single schoolroom, and a teacher's house was attached. (fn. 136) In 1855 there were 100 infants on the books, paying 2d. a week. (fn. 137) Subsequently older children were also admitted. From 1884 the school was run in conjunction with the Blue Coat schools and in 1906 the building became the Blue Coat infants' school. (fn. 138)
St. Andrew's Church of England Junior and Infants' School, formerly Birchills National School or St. Peter's (Birchills) School.
In 1855 the managers of St. Peter's National schools opened a branch school in Hollyhedge Lane, Birchills. The school and a teacher's house stood on a site given by Lord Bradford and were built with the aid of grants from government and the National Society. The school was used as a mission church until St. Andrew's was consecrated in 1887. (fn. 139) In 1857 there was an average daily attendance of 80 children, paying weekly fees of 2d., 3d., or 4d.; the teacher conducted an evening school thrice weekly. (fn. 140) Birchills became an infants' school c. 1870; (fn. 141) older pupils were again admitted in the later 1880s. (fn. 142) It was handed over to the new parish of St. Andrew in 1890, but continued to be known as St. Peter's (Birchills) School until after the Second World War. (fn. 143) The buildings were enlarged in the 1890s. (fn. 144) It became a junior mixed and infants' school in the early 1930s. (fn. 145)
St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Junior and Infants' School
A day school was established in 1859 in a newly built schoolroom behind St. Patrick's Church in Blue Lane East. There was an average attendance in 1861 of 170, some of whom were apparently taught free. (fn. 146) A separate room for infants was added in 1864 and a new infants' school opened in 1902. (fn. 147) The school buildings were improved in 1929-30. (fn. 148) Senior pupils left in 1963 when Francis Martyn Roman Catholic High School was opened. (fn. 149) The school moved into new buildings in Blue Lane East in 1967. (fn. 150)
Caldmore Church of England School
In 1866 the vicar of Walsall appealed for funds to build a school and teacher's house at Caldmore. A government grant was also obtained. (fn. 151) The school, for boys, girls, and infants, with a teacher's house attached, was opened in 1867 on the corner of Caldmore Road and St. Michael Street. (fn. 152) When the new parish of St. Michael and All Angels was formed in 1872 the school was handed over to it. (fn. 153) In 1907 the infants' department was closed. (fn. 154) In the early 1930s Caldmore, by then a mixed school, became first a mixed and infant's school and then a junior mixed and infants' school. (fn. 155) It was closed in 1959. (fn. 156)
Wednesbury Road Congregational School, later Wednesbury Road Board School
There were British and infants' schools in connexion with the Congregational chapel in Wednesbury Road by 1869. (fn. 157) Larger day and Sunday schools were opened adjoining them in 1871. (fn. 158) By 1876 there were 476 pupils; but the managers could not afford to maintain the school, and in 1880 the building was leased to the board. (fn. 159) It continued as a board school until 1884, when Palfrey Board Schools were opened; it was again used as a temporary board and council school from 1902 to 1905. (fn. 160)
Whittimere Street School.
In 1869 the trustees of the Methodist Free Church in Whittimere Street established a day school in their Sunday-school building. In 1872 there were 41 boys, 56 girls, and 27 infants on the books, with an average attendance of about 85. Fees ranged from 2d. to 6d. a week. The day school may have continued until the chapel closed in the early 1880s. (fn. 161)
Centenary Wesleyan School, later Centenary Council School.
In 1870 a day school was established at Centenary Wesleyan Methodist chapel, Stafford Street; it occupied the Sunday-school rooms adjoining the chapel. A few days after it was opened there were 70 pupils, all paying pence. (fn. 162) In 1873 the school moved into new buildings in John Street with accommodation for 300 children. (fn. 163) It was transferred to the borough in 1930. The buildings were remodelled, and the school was reopened later in 1930 as a senior and junior council school for boys. (fn. 164) It was closed in 1934. (fn. 165)
Other public elementary schools in existence before 1871.
These included infants' schools in Church Street and at Townend Bank in 1834; (fn. 166) another infants' school which had been established in the Windmill area by c. 1847 and still existed there in 1851; (fn. 167) and a British school in Bridge Street, opened in the early 1850s. (fn. 168)
Schools opened since 1871.
Abbey Junior and Infants' School, Glastonbury Crescent, Mossley, was opened in 1964. (fn. 169)
Alumwell Comprehensive School, see Wilfred Clarke School.
Alumwell Junior and Infants' Schools, Primley Avenue, consist of an infants' school opened as a junior and infants' school in 1951, and a junior school added in 1954. (fn. 170)
Bath Street School was opened in 1875 as a board school for boys, girls, and infants. (fn. 171) It was a mixed and infants' school in 1902 (fn. 172) and became a junior mixed and infants' school in 1931. (fn. 173) It was closed in 1940, the population in its area having been reduced by slum clearance. (fn. 174) The buildings were subsequently used by the Blue Coat Infants' School and St. Mary's Roman Catholic School. (fn. 175)
Beechdale Infants' School, Remington Road, was opened in 1955. (fn. 176)
Beechdale Junior School, Remington Road, was opened in 1959. (fn. 177)
Bentley Drive Junior and Infants' School was opened in 1967. It was Walsall's first open-plan school and was one of the earliest in the country to be built for team-teaching. (fn. 178)
Blakenall Heath Junior and Infants' Schools, Blakenall Lane, consist of a junior school opened as a junior and infants' school in 1928, and an infants' school added in 1931. (fn. 179)
Busill Jones Junior and Infants' Schools, Ashley Road, Bloxwich, consist of an infants' school opened as a junior and infants' school in 1950, and a junior school added in 1953. (fn. 180)
Butts Junior and Infants' School, Butts Road, originated as a National school in Butts Road, opened in 1868 and standing in that part of Rushall which was added to Walsall in 1876. (fn. 181) Later in 1876 the building was leased to the board and reopened as a board school. In 1880 it was replaced by a new board school for boys, girls, and infants, standing on the corner of Butts Road and Cecil Street. The new school was enlarged in 1882 and became a junior and infants' school in 1933-4. (fn. 182)
Chuckery Junior and Infants' Schools, Lincoln Road, were what remained in 1973 of a group of council schools built on a site between Lincoln Road, Tong Street, and Chuckery Road. (fn. 183) The first was opened in Tong Street in 1905 to house senior and junior mixed schools. New junior and infants' schools were added in 1931 and remained in use as such in 1973. When they were opened the former junior mixed school became a senior school for girls and the former senior mixed school a senior school for boys. (fn. 184) The two senior schools became secondary modern in 1945. In 1959 they were formed into a single mixed secondary modern school, which was closed in 1972. Its building became an annexe of the Blue Coat secondary school.
Croft Street Junior and Infants' School, Birchills, was opened in 1894 as a mixed and infants' board school and was enlarged in 1899. (fn. 185) In 1923 the mixed department was divided into separate boys' and girls' departments, and in 1929 it was again divided into junior mixed and senior girls' departments. (fn. 186) The senior girls' department became a secondary modern school for girls in the reorganization after 1944 (fn. 187) and was closed in 1965. (fn. 188)
Delves Infants' School, Bell Lane, was opened in 1937. (fn. 189)
Delves Junior School, Bell Lane, was opened in 1972. (fn. 190)
Edgar Stammers Junior and Infants' Schools, Harden Road, consist of an infants' school opened as a junior and infants' school in 1949, and a junior school added in 1951. (fn. 191)
Edward Shelley Schools, Scarborough Road, Pleck, were opened in 1930 as a junior school and a selective central school which specialized in technical education. (fn. 192) In the reorganization after 1944 the central school became a technical high school. (fn. 193) The junior school closed in 1958 and the technical high school absorbed Walsall Secondary Technical School. (fn. 194) The technical high school became part of the new Wilfred Clarke comprehensive school in 1971, (fn. 195) and in 1973 the Scarborough Road building was used as an annexe to the comprehensive school. (fn. 196) And see Walsall Secondary Technical School.
Elmore Green Junior and Infants' School, Elmore Row, Bloxwich, originated as a mixed and infants' board school opened at Elmore Green in 1882. (fn. 197) In 1902-3 lack of space at the school compelled the transfer of the younger boys to temporary premises in High Street, Bloxwich; (fn. 198) a building for a junior mixed school was added at Elmore Green in 1904. (fn. 199) In 1906 the schools were reorganized into junior mixed and infants' and upper-standard schools. (fn. 200) The latter was recognized by government as a higher elementary school in 1908 and as a selective central school in 1922-3. (fn. 201) It offered commercial and academic courses; (fn. 202) in the reorganization after 1944 it became Elmore Green High School, offering grammar, commercial, and technical courses. (fn. 203) In 1958 its pupils and staff moved to new premises in Lichfield Road, Bloxwich, to form the nucleus of the comprehensive T. P. Riley School. (fn. 204) In 1973 its Elmore Green buildings were being used as an annexe to T. P. Riley School.
Field Street School, see Richard C. Thomas Schools.
Forest Comprehensive School was opened in 1973 in the buildings formerly occupied by W. R. Wheway School. It also shared an annexe in Field Road with Manor Farm School. (fn. 205)
Francis Martyn Roman Catholic High School, Dartmouth Avenue, Coal Pool, a voluntary aided secondary modern school, was opened in 1963. (fn. 206) Its buildings became an annexe of St. Thomas More Roman Catholic comprehensive school, Willenhall, in 1973. (fn. 207)
Frank F. Harrison School, Leamore Lane, was opened in 1965 as a comprehensive secondary school. Its buildings were extended in 1968 and 1971. (fn. 208)
Green Rock Junior and Infants' School, Mersey Road, Goscote, was opened in 1950. (fn. 209)
Harden Junior and Infants' Schools, Goldsmith Road, consist of an infants' school opened as a junior and infants' school in 1938, and a junior school added in 1939. (fn. 210)
Hatherton Lane Infants' School, Bloxwich Lane, Beechdale, was opened in 1956. (fn. 211)
Hatherton Lane Junior School, Bloxwich Lane, Beechdale, was opened in 1960. (fn. 212)
Hillary Street Junior and Infants' Schools, Pleck, originated as a mixed and infants' board school opened in Hillary Street in 1893. (fn. 213) A higher elementary school was added in 1906 and remained one of Walsall's two central schools until Edward Shelley Schools were opened in 1930. (fn. 214) It then became a senior mixed school, was transformed into a mixed secondary modern school in the reorganization after 1944, (fn. 215) and was closed when Wilfred Clarke School opened in 1971. (fn. 216) The mixed department, which had become a junior mixed school in 1929, and the infants' school were still open in 1973. (fn. 217)
Joseph Leckie School, Walstead Road West, the Delves, was opened in 1939 as two senior schools, for boys and for girls, in a single building. (fn. 218) In 1947 they were combined to form a bilateral secondary school taking both selective and non-selective pupils. It was the first such school in the country and represented Walsall's first move towards comprehensive secondary education. (fn. 219) Extensive new buildings were added in 1972 and the school then became fully comprehensive. (fn. 220)
Leamore Junior and Infants' School, Bloxwich Road, was opened in 1873 as a board school for boys, girls, and infants. (fn. 221) The boys' department was closed in 1916 because of the wartime shortage of teachers. In 1919 the girls were moved into the vacant department, the infants to the girls' department, and a domestic-science centre was opened in the infants' department. When a domestic-science centre was opened at Field Street School in 1925 that at Leamore was closed, and Leamore became a mixed (from 1929 a junior mixed) and infants' school. (fn. 222)
Little Bloxwich Church of England Junior and Infants' School, Grenfell Road, Little Bloxwich, originated in 1873 or possibly earlier as a day and Sunday school run as a branch of the Blakenall Heath National school. There was no school building; the day school met in a small room in a public house, the Sunday school in the same room until 1875 and then in a villager's kitchen. (fn. 223) A National school building was opened in Pelsall Lane in 1877; a leading promoter of the enterprise was J. E. Bealey of the Hills, Bloxwich. (fn. 224) The managers were those of the Blakenall Heath National school. They allowed the first mistress to run a privateadventure school in the building, presumably because they could not afford to pay her a salary; it was not until 1878 that, with a new mistress, they took full control. There was then an average attendance of some 50 children, all paying pence. (fn. 225) The school was reconstructed and enlarged in the 1930s when it became a junior and infants' school. It took voluntary controlled status in 1951. In 1971 it moved to its present buildings. (fn. 226)
Lower Farm Junior and Infants' School, off Buxton Road, Bloxwich, was opened in 1968. (fn. 227)
Manor Farm School was opened as a comprehensive secondary school in 1973 in the buildings in Field Road, Bloxwich, formerly used by Richard C. Thomas School. (fn. 228)
Mossley Infants' School, Mossley Lane, Bloxwich, was opened in 1959. (fn. 229)
Mossley Junior School, Tintern Crescent, Bloxwich, was opened in 1962. (fn. 230)
North Walsall Junior and Infants' Schools, Derby Street, originated as a council school with senior mixed, junior mixed, and infants' departments, opened in 1904 on a site bounded by Derby, Kent, Essex, and Hereford Streets. (fn. 231) The senior department was recognized as a higher elementary school in 1906, becoming a senior school for boys in 1929 and a secondary modern school for boys in the reorganization after 1944. (fn. 232) It was closed in 1965. (fn. 233)
Palfrey Junior and Infants' Schools, Milton Street and Sun Street, were opened in 1884 as a board school for boys, girls, and infants. The boys' department was housed in a building in Sun Street and the girls' and infants' departments in a building in Milton Street; the school's playgrounds lay between the two streets. (fn. 234) A senior mixed school was added in Milton Street in 1906. (fn. 235) In 1929 the boys' and girls' departments were reorganized as junior departments and the senior school became a senior school for boys. (fn. 236) The latter was closed in 1939 on the opening of Joseph Leckie School. The junior girls' department moved into its building, the infants moved into what had been the junior girls' department, and both departments shared the infants' building. (fn. 237) The junior departments were reorganized as a junior mixed school in 1956. In 1957 the infants' school moved into the Sun Street building and the junior school took over the entire Milton Street building. (fn. 238)
Park Hall Junior and Infants' School, Park Hall Road, was opened in 1970. (fn. 239) Junior and infants' classes had been held elsewhere since 1969. (fn. 240)
Priory Junior and Infants' School, Odell Road, Bloxwich, was opened in 1972. (fn. 241)
Richard C. Thomas School, Bloxwich, was opened in 1912 as the mixed Field Street council school. It became a senior school in 1929. (fn. 242) In 1932 a senior school for girls was built on the Field Street site, the earlier building became a senior school for boys, and the two were named Richard C. Thomas Schools. (fn. 243) They became secondary modern schools in the reorganization after 1944 and were merged to form a single mixed secondary modern school in 1960. (fn. 244) It was reorganized as Manor Farm comprehensive school in 1973. (fn. 245)
Tantarra Street School was opened as a board school for boys, girls, and infants in 1873. It was a mixed and infants' school by 1902 and was closed in 1931 on the opening of new junior and infants' schools at the Chuckery. (fn. 246)
A technical day school for boys was opened in 1891 at the Science and Art Institute in Bradford Place with 52 pupils. (fn. 247) The institute was taken over in 1897 by the borough, which continued the school. In 1905-6 there were 150 pupils and the school had been recognized by the Board of Education as a secondary school. The Board, however, demanded alterations to the building and more staff and equipment as the price of continued recognition. The council refused to meet the demands and closed the school in 1906. (fn. 248)
T. P. Riley School, Lichfield Road, Bloxwich, a comprehensive secondary school, was opened in 1958 and subsequently extended. In 1973 it was using the buildings of the former Elmore Green High School as an annexe. (fn. 249)
Walsall Secondary Art School originated in 1912, when a junior full-time art department, the first in any English art school, was opened at the municipal School of Art. (fn. 250) Pupils, selected by examination from the town's elementary schools, were admitted at 14 (later 13), and took two- or three-year courses in which art and craft work was mingled with general education. (fn. 251) In the reorganization after 1944 the department was recognized as a secondary school. (fn. 252) It was closed in 1954. (fn. 253)
Walsall Secondary Technical School originated in a junior full-time commercial course established at the Technical College in 1937 and a junior engineering course established there in the early 1940s. In the reorganization after 1944 they were recognized as secondary schools. (fn. 254) In 1948 they were amalgamated to form a single school, which ranked as a department of the college and was in the charge of a college lecturer. Pupils selected by examination were transferred to it from secondary modern schools at 13 and took two-year technical or commercial courses. (fn. 255) In the early 1950s most classes were held in the college's Bradford Place building. (fn. 256) Responsibility for the school was transferred in 1956 to the headmaster of Edward Shelley High School and the length of the courses was extended to three years. (fn. 257) The school was merged with Edward Shelley High School in 1958, when the closure of Edward Shelley Junior School made it possible for the Bradford Place pupils to be transferred to Scarborough Road. (fn. 258)
Whitehall Junior and Infants' Schools, West Bromwich Road and Weston Street, originated as a board school for boys, girls, and infants, opened in West Bromwich Road in 1899. (fn. 259) The infants were moved to a separate building in Weston Street in 1903. (fn. 260) In 1929 the boys' and girls' departments in West Bromwich Road were reorganized as a senior school for girls and a junior mixed school. (fn. 261) The school buildings were extended in 1932. (fn. 262) The senior school for girls was closed in 1939 on the opening of Joseph Leckie School. (fn. 263)
Wilfred Clarke School, Primley Avenue, a purpose-built comprehensive secondary school, was opened in 1971. It was the first school in Walsall to be designed for use as a community centre out of school hours. (fn. 264) It was renamed Alumwell Comprehensive School in 1974. (fn. 265)
Wisemore Board School, for boys, girls, and infants, was opened in 1873. (fn. 266) The boys' department was closed in 1930 (fn. 267) and the school itself in 1937. (fn. 268)
Wolverhampton Road Board School, for boys, girls, and infants, was opened in 1883. (fn. 269) A new building for the infants was opened on the opposite side of the road in 1901. (fn. 270) A senior mixed school in a new building was added in 1906. (fn. 271) In 1929 the schools were divided into four departments, senior boys, senior girls, junior mixed, and infants. (fn. 272) The senior departments became a secondary modern school in the reorganization after 1944. (fn. 273) The junior and infants' departments were closed in 1967 and the secondary modern school in 1971. (fn. 274)
W. R. Wheway School, Hawbush Road, Leamore, a mixed secondary modern school, was opened in 1954, brought into full use in 1955, and extended in 1971-2. (fn. 275) It was reorganized as Forest Comprehensive School in 1973. (fn. 276)
Scientific and literary institutions, further and higher education.
A mechanics' institute, with a library and reading room, was established in Freer Street in 1839 under the presidency of Richard James, a merchant and factor. The annual subscription was 10s. (fn. 277) Although it was avowedly non-political and non-sectarian it had been promoted by Francis Finch, the Radical M.P. for the borough; Peter Potter, Lord Bradford's agent, feared that it had been founded 'entirely for factious and party purposes' and alleged that one of the secretaries was 'an avowed and proselytising infidel'. (fn. 278) The secretary in question, Joseph Hickin, a leading Walsall Radical, had been a prominent member of the Walsall Political Union and later became chief clerk and organizer of the Anti-Corn Law League's headquarters. (fn. 279) The Tories used their influence to undermine the institute, forbidding their employees to attend; by 1841 its membership, originally over 100, had dwindled to 35 and it was in debt. (fn. 280) It survived, however. (fn. 281) By 1845 it had moved to Lower Rushall Street, where it remained in 1850. (fn. 282) In 1851 the 38 members had a library of 119 volumes and there were occasional lectures. The subscription had apparently been raised to a guinea or 10s. 6d. a year. (fn. 283) The institute was evidently disbanded shortly afterwards. (fn. 284) An attempt to found another mechanics' institute began in 1857 but was transformed into a campaign, eventually successful, to establish a free library. (fn. 285)
In 1841 the Walsall Library, founded in 1800, became Walsall Library and Philosophical Institution. A museum and a laboratory were opened and lectures and discussions organized. The aim, to promote literature, science, and the arts 'on Christian principles', suggests a conscious rivalry with the mechanics' institute, but the £1 annual subscription limited membership to the more prosperous. In 1844 the managers attempted to attract a wider membership by offering clerks, shopmen, and apprentices a 7s. 6d. subscription and evening classes in geography, history, arithmetic, and ethics. (fn. 286) The effort was, however, unsuccessful; despite the attraction of two courses of lectures a year there were only 64 members in 1851, and the institution appears to have remained a middle-class body until it closed in 1875. (fn. 287)
A working men's college was established in 1860 in union with a similar college founded at Wolverhampton in 1857. Seventy students attended its first series of classes. (fn. 288) It evidently did not survive the decline of the Wolverhampton college, which closed in 1865.
Other institutions included the Bridge Street Mutual Improvement Society, which from c. 1860 met at the schoolroom of Bridge Street Congregational chapel under the presidency of the minister; (fn. 289) a Walsall Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Society, which existed by 1861; (fn. 290) the Walsall Church of England Institute, established in 1863; (fn. 291) and the Butts Working Men's Institute, formed by 1873. (fn. 292) Free lectures for working men were begun in 1861 in connexion with the public library. (fn. 293) Several Sunday morning adult schools were founded in the 1880s. (fn. 294)
Technical education in the town apparently began with the establishment in 1854 of Walsall School of Design and Ornamental Art. It was founded by W. Smith, a local sculptor, and was at first poorly attended; it may, however, have survived until at least 1865. (fn. 295) About 1861 drawing was taught at an evening class held in the schoolroom of Goodall Street Baptist chapel. The teachers were unpaid and the pupils' fees of 1d. an evening were spent on materials. (fn. 296) The minister of the chapel, A. A. Cole, was chiefly responsible for the formation of the class and later became prominent as a promoter of technical education in Walsall. (fn. 297)
Schools were established in connexion with the Science and Art Department in 1869: the Walsall Artizans' Art Class in Bridgeman Place and the Ablewell Street Science Institution in the schoolroom of the Ablewell Street Methodist chapel. (fn. 298) In 1871 the art class took rooms over the railway station. (fn. 299) The schools tended to duplicate each other's work: some science was taught at the art school, some drawing at Ablewell Street. In 1872, therefore, they united to form the Walsall Science and Art Institute. The M.P. for the borough, Charles Forster, had worked for the merger and became the institute's first president. (fn. 300) The rooms over the railway station and the Ablewell Street schoolroom continued to be used. (fn. 301)
In 1874 the institute's managers disbanded the art classes. A separate school of art was immediately established in Bridge Street by a group which disagreed with the managers' action; it too was held in connexion with the Science and Art Department. By 1876 there were some 140 pupils and a branch had been established at Bloxwich. (fn. 302) In 1879 it was reunited with the institute. (fn. 303)
By 1884 annual enrolments at the institute had risen to some 600; accommodation was inadequate and the institute was threatened with the loss of its government grant. (fn. 304) A site in Bradford Place for an institute building had already been presented in 1882 by Lord Bradford. In 1887 the mayor successfully appealed for funds to erect and equip such a building, to be the town's memorial to Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. (fn. 305) It was opened in 1888, a threestorey building of red brick with terracotta dressings, designed in a free Gothic style by Dunn & Hipkiss of Birmingham. (fn. 306) In 1888-9 some 1,600 students enrolled for classes in art, literature, music, science, and technology. (fn. 307)
Walsall adopted the Technical Instruction Act in 1890 and the corporation's technical instruction committee became members of the institute's committee of management. In 1897 the institute was handed over to the corporation and became the Walsall Municipal Institute. (fn. 308) From 1908, when the art school moved into separate premises in Goodall Street, (fn. 309) the institute concentrated on providing scientific, technical, and commercial education. In 1927 it was renamed Walsall Technical College. (fn. 310) By at least the early 1930s the Bradford Place building had become too small for the college's work and additional premises were being used elsewhere in the town. (fn. 311) By 1937-8 enrolments had risen to 1,315. (fn. 312) From 1937 until 1956 there was a full-time junior department. (fn. 313)
In 1938 the corporation and the county council agreed to replace the college by a jointly-run technical college on a site provided by the corporation in Wisemore. (fn. 314) Owing to the war building did not start until 1949, and the first instalment of the new Walsall and Staffordshire Technical College buildings in St. Paul's Street, a workshop block, was not fully taken into use until 1952. (fn. 315) A laboratory wing was added in 1956. From 1957 the college, until then jointly administered by the Walsall and Staffordshire education committees, had its own governors, consisting of representatives from the corporation, the county council, and Birmingham University. (fn. 316) A further wing, containing an assembly hall, classrooms, and offices, was completed in 1959 and the Bradford Place building was then vacated; a workshop bay was added at Wisemore in 1960. (fn. 317) Most of the college's daytime work was subsequently conducted in the new building, and from 1969, with the opening of another block containing classrooms, refectory, and students' common room, all the day classes were held at Wisemore. (fn. 318) In 1974, following local government reorganization, the county council withdrew from the joint administration of the college, which was renamed Walsall College of Technology. (fn. 319) The main college buildings, designed by Hickton, Madeley & Salt in association with the county architect, (fn. 320) consist of two blocks in a modern style.
In 1908 the Municipal School of Art moved from Bradford Place to a building in Goodall Street formerly occupied by the public library. (fn. 321) It was known as the Municipal Technical School of Art between the two World Wars, (fn. 322) subsequently as the Municipal School of Art and Crafts, from 1967 as Walsall School of Art and Crafts, and from 1974 as Walsall College of Art. (fn. 323) A junior full-time department existed from 1912 to 1954. (fn. 324) Premises adjoining the Goodall Street building were acquired and brought into use in 1927-8; they were demolished and an annexe built on the site in 1929-30. (fn. 325) The former institute building in Bradford Place became an annexe of the school of art in 1959, when it was vacated by the technical college. (fn. 326) The school of art began day-release courses in fancy leathergoods manufacture, a leading Walsall industry, c. 1944, and in 1974 it was one of only three centres for leathergoods training in Great Britain. (fn. 327)
The West Midlands College of Education, for training men and women teachers, was opened at Gorway in 1963 as a college of Birmingham University School of Education. (fn. 328) It is maintained by Walsall education committee; its governing body, appointed by that committee, includes representatives nominated by Birmingham, Sandwell, and Wolverhampton corporations. In 1974 the college became the first establishment of its kind to have all its courses approved by the Council for National Academic Awards. There were then some 1,200 students.
The college stands on a site of c. 48 a. at the junction of Broadway and Birmingham Road which includes the former Gorway House estate; (fn. 329) it is approached from Gorway Road. Its first buildings included student residences and a four-storey teaching block raised on supports. Subsequent additions have included a drama studio, a tutorial block, and a study block (1968); a library (1971); and two student hostels, a dining hall, a medical centre, staff and teaching accommodation, a physical-education complex, and a music centre (1972). (fn. 330) All were designed by Richard Sheppard, Robson & Partners. (fn. 331)
A boarding school for boys existed in Rushall Street by 1766, and Thomas Bowen, minister of the Unitarian chapel and author of an English grammar, kept an academy in the same street in the early 19th century. (fn. 332) There were other, more specialized, teachers in the town: a writing-master c. 1756 and a drawing-master who established a school in 1780. (fn. 333) A Mrs. Hawkins kept a Roman Catholic academy at Bloxwich from c. 1816 to c. 1819, members of the Arrowsmith family kept another in King Street, Walsall, from 1820 to c. 1822, and a Mrs. Pemberton opened another at Bloxwich c. 1822. (fn. 334)
Directories list 18 or more academies in 1841 and 13 in 1868. (fn. 335) Only the more respectable schools were listed, and in 1870 Walsall had 15 privateadventure schools with fees of more than 9d. a week. (fn. 336) Even so, it was claimed in 1855 that there was only one private school of any note in the town, George Bayley's Ablewell House Academy, established c. 1843 in a house on the corner of Ablewell Street and Lower Rushall Street. (fn. 337) In the mid 1860s only 150 middle-class boys attended private schools, a figure considered by a government inspector to be 'unusually small' for a town of Walsall's size, and there were only two middle-class girls' schools, with 37 day pupils. (fn. 338)
Dame schools and the poorer sort of privateadventure schools appear to have flourished throughout the 19th century without, in general, leaving much trace. Thomas Jackson, who kept a cheap private-adventure school at his house between 1828 and 1832, taught the sons of colliers and brickmakers. He later recalled that he 'had to cultivate ignorance of the grossest kind, and stupidity in its natural state . . . all [were] as ignorant as the young animals of the field; no kind of decency taught them at home, they were naturally hardened in impudence'. (fn. 339) By 1870 there were 30 dame schools and cheap privateadventure schools in the town, with over 1,000 pupils. (fn. 340) They survived the establishment of the first board schools and continued to find custom among parents who were unwilling to comply with the board's stricter attendance regulations; they were, however, adversely affected when, in 1891, most board and voluntary schools abolished school fees. (fn. 341)