In his account of the founding of the congregational church at Pokesdown, Mr. Elias Lane, writing in 1896, mentioned that when the original chapel was opened in 1835, the building was also used for a day school. The teacher was Miss Susan Farwell, who later married Mr. William Taylor. Being the only school in the neighbourhood, it was attended by children not only from the hamlet of Pokesdown, but also from Tuckton, Iford and even Holdenhurst.
Since at no time in its life was any application made for Government grant for this school the records of it are very sparse. It was transferred to the new buildings in 1858. Mrs. Taylor was in charge of the school for about thirty years, and was succeeded by Miss E. Sparke, trained at Homerton College. From time to time there is brief mention of the day school. In 1887 over one hundred children from the school took part in the celebrations for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. As late as 1897 there is a notice in the church magazine that a day school for young children is held in the room at the rear of the church, conducted by Miss Sparke, who was then living nearby at Clarence Cottage in Southbourne Road. In a notice of the death of Miss Sparke in 1902, it is mentioned that she had served the school for 25 years. The dates are not really precise; the school seems to have petered out in the later 1890s.
In connection with the proposed St. James Church, it was decided that a school should be built; this was in line with the general policy of the Rev. Morden Bennett, who regarded the provision of a school as an essential part of the establishment of a new local church. Naturally, the school buildings were designed by Street, to be in harmony with the architecture of the church. The school was opened in 1857, and served also as a chapel pending the opening of the church late in 1858. The original school building now forms that part of St. James School nearest to the church drive.
Records of the school exist from 1862, in which year the Government regulations required that a log book be kept in all schools which were in the receipt of a government grant. A charge of one penny a week was made for each child, with a maximum of four pence a week for any individual family, the members of the School Managers were the Rev W. Battersby, the Rev. Morden Bennett, the Vicar of Christchurch (the Rev. W. Burroughs), Admiral Popham and Mr. W. Farr of Iford House.
The number of children attending the School in November 1862 was forty nine. The government grant for the year ended 31st March 1874 was only i9.3s.4d.
As the district developed, the number of pupils increased, so that in 1874 it became necessary to enlarge the premises. On 3rd November a corner stone was laid by Mrs. Harcourt Popham, of an extension which was designed by Mr. A. H. Parken, of Bournemouth. The builders were Messrs. Hoare Brothers and Walden, of Pokesdown, and the extension costing about £600 provided accommodation for an additional ninety pupils. For a short period, from 18th March to 5th April 1875 the children were accommodated in the Mechanics Institute, whilst the final stages of the building were completed, and the extension was opened at a formal ceremony on 15th April.
Numbers of children continued to increase, and in 1881 there were one hundred and twenty six attending, whilst in 1887 there were some two hundred children from the school marching in the local procession in connection with the Queen's Jubilee. Because of the ever increasing cost of running the school, the fee was raised in 1886 to three pence a week, with a maximum of eight pence for an individual family.
In the autumn of 1886 the Managers decided that further accommodation was necessary, and they agreed to build a separate infants' school. Thirteen tenders for this were received and that of Messrs. Scott and Michell, amounting to £279, was accepted. The new block was completed in 1887, and provided room for one hundred and twenty six pupils. By 1893 a further extension was required.
Messrs. T. Head and Sons of Boscombe secured the contract, and the architect was R. G. Pinder whose plans provided additional accommodation for ninety three scholars, making a total of one hundred and seventy six. The new building cost £550, and in design was similar to school buildings by the same architect erected in Boscombe and Malmesbury. This project was part of the scheme of the Bournemouth Church Schools Extension Committee.
Half a century later the Education Act 1944 required additional facilities being provided in schools, and during the years 1954 to 1957 an extensive programme of modernisation was carried out, including the building of a new Hall and some new classrooms. All the original buildings were modernised and incorporated into the school. Known for a long time as the National School, then as Pokesdown C. of E. School, it was renamed St. James' School in about 1950.
Towards the end of the 1890s the school was still very full, and in September 1896 the Vicar wrote in the Parish magazine on the subject, as detailed in the next paragraph.
"It has been evident for some time past that additional school accommodation must be provided to meet the requirements of the parish. H.M. Inspector in his last report called attention to the fact and since then the question of how best to provide it has been a matter of grave anxiety to the school managers. There were two courses open to us, (1) either to enlarge our present national schools, which owing to the indefatigable and self denying exertions of the late vicar and his managers, were enlarged at a comparatively recent date, or (2) to start a new school in a different locality. After carefully weighing the matter in all its bearings, the managers unanimously decided that inasmuch as the present national schools were unfortunately situated at some distance from the centre of the population, and that parents residing within the borough boundaries found it inconvenient to send their young children so far, the better course would be to establish a new school in that portion of the parish which lies within the borough of Bournemouth."
The question then arose, how was this to be done? The building known as the Mission Room in Somerset Place, Freemantle, was admirably suited for the purpose. It is a substantial stone building of some size and well situated. The parishioners will be gratified to hear that when the managers represented the case to the trustees, they met with a most kind and generous response, and have been granted a lease of the building for twenty one years at a nominal rent of ten shillings per annum. We now confidently look to the parishioners to do their part in the matter. The managers estimate that it will cost about one hundred pounds to satisfy the requirements of the Department. Additional teachers will also be needed to carry on the work and generally the expenses will be considerably increased.
Although Somerset Road is just outside the boundary of Pokesdown, the School was so closely connected with St. James that it is appropriate to record something about it here.
Some adaptations to the building were necessary, and an appeal for funds was launched; this brought in about £85 towards the revised total of £250 required. A grant of £90 was given by the Bournemouth Voluntary Schools Association. The opening of the school was performed by the Mayor of Bournemouth, Alderman Hosker, on 24th April 1897, and in his speech he praised the efforts which had been made to establish the school.
Known as the Freemantle School, the first headmistress was Miss Amy Evans, and during the first term forty seven children were admitted.
A clothing and boot club was started in February 1899 for the benefit of children in the school. In the same year H.M. Inspector called attention to the difficulties facing teachers; sixty eight infants were in three classes all taught by one teacher and a monitor. From 1st October the school was reorganised to accommodate infants only, the older children being transferred to St. James School.
In the severe cold of January and early February 1902 it was necessary to keep the gas lights on all day in an effort to supplement the inadequate heating of the open fires, and the temperature in the school did not rise above fifty or fifty one degrees.
In 1917 it was renamed Somerset Road C. of E. School, as by that date the name of Freemantle for the surrounding district had dropped out of general use. The premises were quite small, and the playground very restricted, and the school was eventually closed in 1922.
When the Sisters of the Cross moved to Parkwood Road from Bournemouth, their primary aim was to provide larger and purpose designed buildings for their convent and for their girls' boarding school. However, they soon saw that there was a need for an elementary school for local Catholic children, and in 1888 a small school was started in a house with eight children. One of these was William McArdle, later to become a well known motor car pioneer and an airplane pilot in the early days of flying.
A site of just over half an acre of land, situated between the convent and St. James' Square, was the gift of Mrs. James to be used as the site for a permanent school. The foundation stone of Holy Cross School was laid on 16th August 1889. The precise date of the opening of this building is not known, but it was likely to have been early in 1890. It was built in local white bricks with red brick dressings, and consisted of a large schoolroom and two classrooms, giving space for one hundred pupils.
The premises were modernised in 1957 and two classrooms added. Then in 1972 a block of three temporary classrooms was provided on a detached site. However, this was still not sufficient to meet the needs of the School and in 1978 entirely new buildings were completed, on a fresh site. This site fronted Christchurch Road, but in the interests of safety the entrance to the school was put in St. James' Square. The three temporary classrooms were on the same site as the new school. On the opening of the new buildings it was renamed Corpus Christ! School, as the original owners, the Sisters, had left Boscombe at that date.
A public meeting was held in Pokesdown towards the end of 1897 to discuss the need for a non-sectarian school for the district. The following committee was elected to consider the advisability of seeking to establish a British School - that is a school affiliated to the British and Foreign Society in whose schools religious instruction was based on Bible teaching: the Rev. C. E. Stanton, the Rev. H. Schofield, the Rev. S. Beard, the Rev. Stedman, the Rev. G. Dee, Messrs. Bolton, Freak, Eicock, Giles, Harris, Ives and Stanton.
This Committee met on nine occasions and were unanimously of the opinion that such a school was urgently required in Pokesdown. In reporting to a public meeting held in the Cromwell Hall on 25 February 1898, chaired by Dr. Dickie, the Committee stated that a British school would be eligible for grant from the Department of Education. It was estimated that out of the population of four thousand nine hundred and twenty seven in Pokesdown there were about eleven hundred children of school age. For these there were about eight hundred and fifty school places available in existing schools leaving about three hundred children totally un-provided for, though of that number about fifty attended the Boscombe British School and excluded about the same number of Boscombe children from that school.
The Committee having thoroughly gone into the question of a site of the building of a school, recommended the purchase of a site and dwelling house situate at the comer of the Oxford Avenue and Sunnyhill Road as being the best and cheapest available site in the district. The cost of the site and dwelling house would be £660. They recommended the erection of a school to accommodate about three hundred and fifty, and had estimated that the erection of such a school would cost about £2,000.
Knowing that two gentlemen on the committee were interested in land upon the Stourfield Estate, they were approached upon the subject, but they were at first unwilling to say anything with regard to the matter. A short time afterwards the site recommended was offered by the Stourfield syndicate at the price named, and the committee were, after investigation, convinced that the site was the best that could be got for the money.
Mr. Bolton seconded the adoption of the report, remarking that there was no more important question before the district. The question of the site was a matter of contention, but it was a matter for the committee which they would appoint that evening to decide. They must remember that any site they may choose would have its disadvantages. Mr. Smeed Prall said he was instructed by several gentlemen who resided near where the intended site was situated and they were much opposed to it. He pointed out that the Stourfield syndicate had sold land on their estate with an express condition that no school was to be erected anywhere upon the estate save with their permission. The gentlemen he represented were of opinion that such a school would reduce the tone of the neighbourhood.
The Area School Attendance Committee were aware of this pressure on school accommodation, and in June 1898 the Committee received a report from Mr. G. Troke, the School Attendance Officer, on the subject.
He found, he said, there were, chiefly of the mechanic and labouring classes, eleven hundred and six children under thirteen years of age and about one hundred and fifty more of the residential class. He had not found any of the former who were of age to go to school who were not entered on the books of one school or the other. The Officer said there was accommodation for six hundred school children in Pokesdown. Then many went to Freemantle and Boscombe, and three hundred and seventy three were under school age. At the National School they had four hundred and twenty, and there was accommodation for three hundred and seventy five. At the "Holy Cross" School there were seventy eight, with an accommodation for two hundred.
The Officer, continuing, said that ninety seven from Pokesdown went to Freemantle School, eighty one to Boscombe British School, thirteen to St. John's School, and four to Southbourne, while sixteen had left school. There were also eighty four children attending private schools in the district. There ought to be accommodation provided at once for at least two hundred children. The Officer further stated that he believed there was a proposal to build a British School in Pokesdown, and that the National Schools were also going to be extended. Mr. Bolton said the plans for a proposed British School were in the hands of the Education Department at the present time.
A meeting under the auspices of the Bournemouth Free Church Council was held on 11 July at the Pokesdown Congregational Church to receive a report from the committee appointed to further the provision of an non-denominational school. It was estimated that the cost of building such a school would be about fifteen hundred pounds.
Mr. E. G. Lawrence asked, concerning the deeds of the school, whether the Bible would be read in the school as in other British schools, and it was intimated that the school would be run upon the usual British school lines, as laid down by the British and Foreign School Society. It was also intimated that as long as there was room in the school children from Iford and other places could not be refused admission.
In view of the objections made to the proposed site in Sunnyhill Road, the Committee decided not to take up the offer of that land. Instead, they were able to obtain five adjoining building lots in Stanley (now Livingstone) Road. Mr. Corbin Harris was appointed architect for the new school. During negotiations with the Government Education Department regarding the plans, it was intimated that the site was not large enough. Consequently, the Committee were able to buy the next adjoining plot for one hundred and fifty pounds and this met the situation.
On 28th January 1899 tenders were invited for the erection of the school. Four were received: Jenkins and Sons £2,337, Mr. Whittaker £2,019.13s., Mr. Meadus £1,940 and Mr. F. Eicock £1,490. Mr. Eicock's tender was accepted.
The Trustees of the British School were: William Bolton, grocer; Henry Cook, oil merchant; William Butler, gentleman; Alfred Ives, grocer; Corbin Harris, surveyor; Jesse Giles, grocer and baker; Alexander Abbot, county auctioneer.
Work on the new school had started in February7 1899, and on 8th March a ceremony of laying memorial stone was arranged. There were five stones to be laid, respectively by Miss Lassel, Mrs. Risdon Sharp, Mrs. Dickie, the Rev. W. Robinson B.A. (President of the Bournemouth Free Church Federation) and Mr. W. Bolton, Chairman of the School Managers.
Mr. Corbin Harris said that in building the school four points had to be considered, viz., sanitation, light, heat, and superficial area, and he thought that they had overcome any difficulty in those directions. The building would be of red and white brick on the outside with glazed brick inside. The total size would be fifty three thousand eight hundred cubic feet, and the area of the schools and cloak room, five thousand three hundred square feet. There would be ample provision for lighting, about nine hundred square feet, and the premises would be well ventilated and heated by stoves of which the heating capacity would be sixty thousand cubic feet.
Inside the school had a central hall, flanked on each side by three classrooms. The hall itself had a dado of glazed brickwork and there was a fine open timber roof.
The Committee had selected out of about four dozen competitors, a headmaster whose testimonials were of the highest character. Mr. Payne (of Lytchett Minster), the master selected, was going to inculcate into the minds of the children right and moral teaching, and such teaching would be given according to the capacity of the children.
Mr. Payne, the selected headmaster, having spoken explaining the lines upon which he intended to cany on the work of the school, the Rev. T. D. Hooper gave a brief address; and at the end of the ceremony a collection was taken which brought in almost ten pounds. A public tea followed in the Cromwell Hall. Flags and streamers to decorate the site were loaned by the District Council.
The School opened for classes on 21 August, when members of the Building Committee were present. The school bell began to ring at about a quarter to nine, at which time the scholars assembled and engaged in play until nine o'clock, when they were formed up in Indian file and marched into school under the direction of their new schoolmaster. After a brief service the scholars dispersed to their classrooms.
A formal opening ceremony was held on 31 st August, at which Mr. T. Hankinson, Secretary of the Bournemouth British Schools, took the Chair. The principal speaker was Mr. W. Caine, M.P.
The Rev. S. Beard, Secretary to the School Committee announced that over three hundred children had been entered on the books, showing that there was a real need for the School. Mr. Ives, the Treasurer, reported that the school had cost £2,300, plus £300 for furnishings. There was a sum of £218 in hand, and the Committee had to rely on subscriptions to meet the loan repayments.
In addition to the headmaster, Mr. Payne, the teachers included Mrs. Payne and Miss Mathews.
The school was transferred to the newly formed Bournemouth Education Authority in 1903, at a purchase price of just over three thousand pounds. The whole district continued to expand, and pressure on the accommodation steadily increased, so that in 1909 the Education Committee asked the Borough Engineer to prepare plans for a separate infants block to be built on the adjoining plot of land. Outline plans were approved in September 1909 for five classrooms and a hall to take two hundred and fifty pupils. However, as it had been decided to build a new school in Cranleigh Road, the Committee decided to hold over the Pokesdown project to see whether this would be necessary.
The opening of Stourfield School did not entirely solve the matter, so that in 1914 the Education Committee proposed to build two additional classrooms. The outbreak of war in August of that year led to the postponement of this; instead, the Committee leased the Temperance Hall in Darracott Road, the former Wesley Chapel, for use as a temporary classroom. This lease was continued until March 1922, when on its termination the class was transferred to the Pokesdown Technical School building. In 1923 it became possible to go ahead with building the additional rooms at the school, and in March the tender of Messrs. J. Stone, amounting to three thousand and thirty seven pounds was accepted.
In September 1939 the senior pupils were transferred to the newly opened Boscombe Secondary School, and Pokesdown became a primary school for junior and infant children. However, the outbreak of war meant that the school was faced with becoming host to St. Jude's Infants' School, evacuated from Southampton. Pokesdown School continues to serve the district, having some additional accommodation provided, and with some modernisation of the original buildings. New buildings will replace the 1899 premises in 1997.
It was in 1897 that, following a suggestion made by Mr. H. Davis, a number of local residents met to consider the possibility of providing a science, an and technical school. Mr. Davis was an auctioneer and estate agent whose office was in Christchurch Road, nearly opposite the station. The majority of children left school at about the age of thirteen, and the provision of suitable further instruction was thus very desirable. It was emphasised at the meeting that such education was an essential factor in the national effort to maintain pre-eminence in world markets. A Committee was formed, and Dr. Dickie and Mr. R. V. Sherring started classes in rooms rented over a shop belonging to Messrs. Frampton & Co. in Christchurch Road.
The classes covered a wide range of subjects, including carpentry and joinery, geometry, wood carving, cookery, drawing, dressmaking, building construction, shorthand and book-keeping. More than one hundred and sixty students were enrolled, and many had to be turned away since there was not enough room.
Encouraged by the success of these classes, the Committee felt that more ample accommodation was necessary, and made unofficial approaches to the District Council to see whether the Council would build premises. The Council were unable to consider such a venture in view of its already existing commitments, and in these circumstances a number of local people undertook to erect a school. A good site was obtained in Christchurch Road at the comer of Hannington Road, and on 5 July 1898 plans prepared by the Boscombe architect Mr. James Morley were approved. Mr. H. Heal was appointed building contractor.
The foundation stone was laid on 14 September 1898 by Mr. Abel Smith, the local Member of Parliament, at a ceremony presided over by the Rev. Dr. Moore White, Vicar of St. James, and Chairman of the Organising Committee. This was followed by a reception at "Windermere", the home of Dr. Dickie.
The building, which cost two thousand four hundred pounds, had a frontage of forty feet on Christchurch Road, and a depth of eighty five feet on Hannington Road. Construction was in Bridgewater brick, with blue Staffordshire brick and Bath stone dressings. In the basement there were three large rooms for kitchen, laundry and carpentry and joinery. On the ground floor was a large hall sixty feet by thirty feet; this was not to be part of the school, but was to be available for public use and also for University Extension Lectures. The first floor had a large art room over the hall, and two classrooms. The height of the building to the roof ridge was fifty four feet. Lighting was by gas and heating by open fires.
A notice in the Bournemouth Guardian in September 1899 announced that the art classes were to start in the new building on 25th September, and other classes on 2nd October. There was a formal opening ceremony on 18th October which was performed by Dr. White, followed by a lunch. The members of the School Committee were Dr. Moore White, Mr. W. Bolton who was Vice-Chairman, Miss Pratt, Miss Baker, the Rev. K. Hosgood, the Rev. H. Schofield, Dr. Dickie, Mr. J. King who represented the Hampshire County Council, Mr. Anstie the treasurer and Mr. H. Davis, secretary.
When the Bournemouth Local Education Authority was formed in 1903, the Education Committee rented the premises for one hundred pounds a year and continued the classes there until the opening of the Municipal College at the Lansdowne in 1913.
The Education Committee also established in the building a centre for cookery classes for girls from several local schools from 1908, and a similar centre for woodwork for the boys.
For a few months after the opening of the Municipal College, the hall was used as a cinema, under the name Clarence Cinema, but this use terminated in March 1915. The accommodation was also used for a clinic, and for a time as a meals centre for necessitous children. During the earlier part of the second war from 1939, the National Society's Training College for Domestic Science was evacuated to Bournemouth and used the Pokesdown Technical School. After the war the Education Committee no longer needed the premises and the building became the property of the Bournemouth Health Committee, from whom it was absorbed into the National Health Service in 1948.
It continued in use as a clinic until closure in 1993. Fortunately it escaped the fate of Douglas House.
Reproduced with permisson of the Author.
© J. A. Young