The earliest record of a school in the town is to be
found in the will of Thomas Parkes who died in 1602. He
mentions the setting up of a school for 10 poor
children. It seems likely that the school was merged
with the Charity School in the 18th century.
The Charity School used one of two upper rooms in the
Market Cross building as a classroom and had about 100
scholars, most of whom paid 2 pence a week for their
tuition. 20 of the pupils (12 boys and 8 girls) received
free tuition which was paid for by an annual collection
at St. Bartholomew's Church. 8 of the boys also received
free clothing. The school master taught monitors who
then taught the other children. The school was held in
the Market Cross building until its demolition in 1824.
The upper rooms in the Market Cross were also used as
a classroom for the Wesleyan Sunday School, run by
Charles Loxton. He was a strict disciplinarian and would
punish wrongdoers by placing them in an iron cage and
hoisting it to the roof.
In 1818 the Select Committee into the Education of
the Poor produced a report into the extent of education
in Wednesbury. It stated that there was a common day
school in which 37 to 40 children were instructed. It
The poor are without sufficient means of
education, and desirous of possessing them.
In 1823 the Wesleyans erected their own school at
Spring Head. The teachers, like Loxton, were
disciplinarians who would dismiss a child for being
absent on 3 successive Sundays and impose fines for
negligence. About 20 years later a new and larger school
was built on the site, which survived until the Holyhead
Road Council School opened in 1912.
The British and Foreign Society School opened in 1820
at the old Quaker Meeting House in Lower High Street.
The Market Cross building.
|Lancaster's monitoring system was used for the
children in which the monitors displayed a letter for
the children to copy in sand with their forefinger.
By 1845 there were 140 pupils. The building was
described as being badly ventilated with only a few
windows opening at the top.
It's likely that after 1851 the pupils were all girls
because in that year the British School for boys opened
in Russell Street.
|In 1861 Harrison's Directory describes it as the
"British School in Lower High Street for girls only". F.
W. Hackwood made a list of the town's schools that
existed in 1870 in his "Wednesbury Papers" of 1884. As
the school is not included in the list it must have
closed before then.
The British School for boys
transferred to Old Park Works thanks to Samuel Lloyd and
remained there until the formation of the Board Schools
Edward Elwell of Wednesbury Forge opened a school at
Wood Green for the education of the children of his
workmen. The school closed around 1874 and was rented by
the School Board until 1880.
St. Bartholomew's Church opened the town's first
church school at Church Hill in 1829. It began as a
Sunday school and was enlarged and opened as a day
school in 1843 with accommodation for 300 children. A
playground was added in 1852 and by 1854 there were 380
children, consisting of 180 girls and 200 boys. Other
church schools included the National School at Moxley,
which opened in 1837-38, St. James's School, which
opened in 1845 and St. John's School which opened in
There were also schools for children of the middle
classes such as Peter Tanner's Private Academy for Young
Ladies and Gentlemen, which stood on the corner of Lower
High Street and Holyhead Road, and Mrs. Ladbury's Ladies
Boarding School on Church Hill. The early schools did
not however, provide education for the children from
very poor families. The first school in the town to do
so was opened by a clothier and auctioneer named
Heseltine, who had a shop with a public salesroom at the
back, on the corner of Market Place and Union Street. He
conducted a Sunday school in the salesroom until 1868
when he moved to Wolverhampton. When he moved he gave
every boy who attended the school a new suit and a new
dress to every girl.
Education Act and New Schools
changed as a result of the 1870 Education Act which
divided the country into around 2,500 school districts,
each with an elected School Board. The Boards were to
examine the provision of existing elementary education
in their district, and if there were not enough school
places they could build and maintain schools out of the
rates, and decide whether to make the schools fee paying
or let children in free. Succeeding Acts in 1876 and
1880 made it compulsory for all children to attend
Wednesbury School Board was elected on 15th
March, 1871 and held its first meeting on 30th March.
Initially the Board hired rooms for classes in the
Congregational School in Russell Street and the Wesleyan
School on King's Hill. School Inspectors were sent by
the Education Department to inspect local schools.
Unfortunately Russell Street School was condemned as
unsatisfactory by the inspector and so would soon close.
The Board decided to build its first school at Mesty
Croft, which opened in February, 1880. Nine months later
the second Board School opened in Lower High Street with
accommodation for 640 children, including those
transferred from Russell Street. In 1886 the
accommodation was increased to 740 and houses were added
for the headmaster and caretaker.
The Old Park British
School for boys closed in 1888 and so a replacement
school was built at King's Hill with accommodation for
733 children. The schools at Mesty Croft and Lower High
Street were enlarged in the 1890s.
photographs of the old King's Hill Primary
The Lower High
Street Board School became the Mountford Primary School,
and in 1964 the St. John's Church of England School,
after replacing St. John's previous school in Russell
Street. The buildings were demolished in 1980.
|Local ratepayers opposed the Board schools which
were financed from the rates. Opposition also came from
the voluntary schools which had accommodation for nearly
three times as many children as the Board schools.
Attendance figures in the Board schools were much higher
than in the voluntary schools, where there were a lot of unfilled
places. Many parents moved their children from the
voluntary schools to the Board schools in order to
reduce their fees.
Church Hill with St. Mary's
Convent School in the centre.
|The Board schools had the advantage of better
tuition under qualified instructors, and taught a
wider range of subjects including cookery, and
From 1889 until 1890 Wednesbury also had
a Higher Grade School which offered a wider range of
subjects including chemistry, foreign languages, and
mechanics. The school could accommodate 120 pupils
who each paid a fee of 1 shilling a week for their
tuition and books. The school got off to a good
start with 90 children attending, but the number
soon fell to 48 and the school closed. The decline
in numbers was mainly due to the opening of the
Municipal Technical College in 1892, built as a
result of the Technical Instruction Act of 1889.
The School Boards were abolished as a result of the
terms of the1902 Education Act which gave local
councils the task of appointing an education
committee to oversee education in their area.
Wednesbury's Education Committee carefully
controlled their expenditure, often to the detriment
of the children and schools. From November 1905
children younger than 5 years of age were not
allowed to attend school and the committee limited
the amount of money spent on each child for books,
apparatus, and stationary to just 3 shillings a
year. Things got so bad that teachers ended up
paying for materials themselves.
In 1908 during an
inspection, 5 of the voluntary school premises were
found to be unsatisfactory and as a result 3 of them
closed in 1912 when the Council School was built in
Holyhead Road. They were the Wesleyan Schools at
Spring Head and Holyhead Road, and the Church School
The next great change took place as a result of the
Hadow Reports of 1926 and 1930 which recommended that
elementary schools should be divided into primary
schools for the under 11s and senior schools for the
older children. This reulted in the building of several
School in 1927
|Hobs Road Primary
School in 1931
|Old Park Road
Senior School, King's Hill (accommodation
Senior School (accommodation 1,460)
Mesty Croft School was extended in 1931 and a
number of other schools were built in the following
School in 1923
|St. Mary's Convent
School, Church Hill opened in 1930, closed
in the summer of 1965.
|Walton Road School
|St. Mary's Primary
School in 1940
As a result of the Education Act of 1944 the control
of the town's education was passed onto the County
Council in 1945.
Boys High School
The school opened in
September, 1924 in the residence of the late Sir
Albert Pritchard, one time Chairman of the
Governors. There were initially 50 boys, but the
number soon increased to 100. In the autumn of 1926
the first of 3 major extensions were added,
consisting of an assembly hall, 2 science
laboratories, and 2 additional classrooms. In 1932,
two more classrooms, an art room, a library,
cloakrooms and a wash lobby were added.
autumn of 1960 further extensive alterations and
additions were carried out, consisting of a new
science block of 4 laboratories, a dining room and
kitchen, extensions to the hall, conversion of the
existing science rooms into a woodwork room, and an
art-and-craft room, new cloakrooms, changing rooms,
and adequate washing facilities, with showers.
old Pritchard house was demolished and replaced with
a new administrative block, a greatly enlarged
library, 2 new classrooms and a division room. After
which there were 10 classrooms and a total of 19
teaching rooms including the specialised areas. In
1958 the school was equipped with a fine modern
stage with excellent lighting equipment, and
alterations were made to the assembly hall so that
it could also serve as a gymnasium. The school
caretaker was re-housed at a corner of the school
playing fields which at the time covered around 4 to
5 acres. Tennis courts were also added to the
playground. By the early 1960s the number of
children on the roll had reached 362.
Wednesbury Girls High School
The school opened in Hydes Road in
September 1958 to provide grammar school education for
about 350 girls aged 11-18. The buildings were designed
to include a very good library, 3 laboratories and
preparation rooms, an art room, a domestic science room,
a magnificent gymnasium, specialist rooms for geography
and music, and a very well equipped kitchen and dining
room. The grounds were drained and laid out to provide
extensive playing fields.
This lovely photo
belongs to Charles Hippisley-Cox. His
grandmother, Anne Lavender, who lived in
Union Street, is the girl second from
the left, in the back but one row, with
curls in her hair, and a large dark bow
on her dress. If anyone can identify the
school, or any of the children, please
me an email.
|This is the
shoe shop in Union Street where Ann
Lavender (who is in the photograph
above) was born. Her mother Emma ran the
shop, which was owned by Anne's uncle
The boys in the
photograph are Alf and Tom Lavender,
brothers of Jack Lavender
who founded J. H. Lavender at Stone
Cross, the aluminium casting firm, which
is still there today.
The shop still
survives, and is now a chip shop.
Wednesbury County Technical
The College was
founded in 1894, and in 1914 moved into a handsome
block of buildings on the corner of Walsall Street
and Kendrick Street. Extensions were opened in 1929
when 3 acres of adjacent land were purchased for the
building of a foundry and pattern-shop, an X-ray
laboratory, a photographic laboratory, physical
metallurgical laboratories, an automobile workshop
and several new classrooms. The college was a
specialised institution dealing with advanced work
in engineering, metallurgy, foundry work, pattern
making, and related subjects.
College in 1918.
County Technical College.
Courtesy of Brian
Groves and John Hellend.
building at a later date. Then called
Kendrick Campus, a part of Sandwell
Courtesy of Brian
Groves and John Hellend.
Staffordshire College of Commerce
The college was established in 1926 as the County
Commercial College, in the old Science School in
The Staffordshire College of
|It moved to The Limes in Wood Green in 1931 and
became a centre for advanced commercial and academic
studies with 2,500 full time and part time students.
In 1946 the college started a scheme for
commercial apprenticeships which was adopted by 20
midland firms. It also established lunchtime foreign
language classes in local works which won national
publicity for the college.
There were 2 evening institutes
which all became part of the technical and commercial
Evening Institute, Holyhead Road
Provided evening instruction in
technical, commercial and general subjects. The building
opened in 1896 and branch classes were held in Addison
Street Woodwork Centre and Lower High Street Primary
School. The technical and commercial classes prepared
young people for admission to the courses at the
technical and commercial colleges. There were
dressmaking, tailoring, homecraft, embroidery, woodwork,
elocution, and first-aid classes.
Hill Evening Institute, King's Hill Secondary Modern
School, Old Park Road
Provided evening instruction in
dressmaking, woodwork, amateur radio and cookery.
On August the 12th, 1896, a new Science School,
occupying a position between the Post Office and the School Board
Offices was opened by the Mayor, Councillor Knowles. The building
included an exhibition room with a valuable collection of chemical
and metallurgical specimens, a metallurgical laboratory, with
furnace room attached, a balance room, and a photographic developing
Above the exhibition room and metallurgical
laboratory were the chemical and physical laboratories, a lecture
hall, a classroom, a balance room, a gas analysis room, stores, and
a teachers' preparation room. Included in the building were
four stained glass windows, one of which was given by J. H.
Thursfield, the 3rd mayor of the borough. It represented a
laboratory with the portraits of Lord Kelvin, Faraday, Davy, and
Roger Bacon in medallions. Another window, given by Councillor J.
Knowles, the 5th mayor, represented a blacksmith at work, with
portraits of Stephenson, Bessemer, Watt and Siemens in medallions,
corresponding with those in the other window. The two others in the
lecture hall represented a working colliery and the Willingsworth
iron furnaces. The building was designed local architect C. W. D.
Joynson and built by Thomas Tildesley of Willenhall at a cost of
The school's roll was to teach the proper way
of using a large range of tools, and to give the student an
intelligent grasp of workshop practice.
This institution, formed in September, 1892 at
the Art Gallery, succeeded the old Science and Art Classes. Tuition
was given in the following subjects:
Physics; Metallurgy; Iron and Steel
Manufacture; Metalwork; Woodwork; Machine
Construction; Mechanical Drawing; Freehand,
Model, Geometrical and Perspective Drawing;
Drawing from the Cast and Shading;
Elementary Design; Plant Drawing; Monochrome
Painting; Elementary Geometry; Needlework;
Shorthand (Pitman's system); Practical
Mathematics; Applied Mechanics; Practical
Drawing; English; Book Keeping; Music;
Dressmaking; Cookery; and Typewriting.
Some classes were held at the
Science School and others at the Art Gallery.
Bromwich College of Commerce and Technology
West Bromwich College of Commerce
and Technology had a site in the Tame Valley, off Woden
Road South. The college's Department of Automotive
Studies opened in new buildings on the site, on 3rd
November, 1983. The following photographs show the
construction of the buildings and some interior views. I
must thank Brian Groves and John Hellend for the
||Work gets underway in May
|By July the building begins to
take a more recognisable shape.
||The building nears completion
in July, 1983.
|A general view of the site,
also taken in July 1983. The new building is on the
||The building in August 1983.
||The Diesel Shop.
The Engineering Shop.
||The Unit Overhaul
The Body Shop.
||The Mechanics Department.
One of the classrooms.
||An overall view of the
Proceed to the