AD/24 Stoke Damerel High School For Girls Collection 1900s 1980s

Collection of photographic records pertaining to the school formerly Keppel Place Central School, 1908-1914; Higher Elementary Girls' School, 1914-1926; Stoke Damerel Secondary School, 1926-1937; and Stoke Damerel High School, 1937-1986.

Sutton Secondary School for Boys was formed from the amalgamation of Keppel Place School, Stoke, and Regent Street Higher Elementary School, Plymouth. The former had started in 1821 as Stoke Public School (pictured right) but been renamed in 1909. Regent Street Higher Elementary had been formed in 1873 as Mount Street Girls' School which, in 1887, joined with the boys' section to form Mount Street Higher Grade School, which moved into its own new building in Regent Street in 1897. The lower school was in the basement, the higher on the top floor and the girls' section was sandwiched in between.

The new Sutton Secondary School opened on September 13th 1926, with Mr Alexander L Strachan, formerly of Keppel Place School, as headmaster and nine teachers each of the two original schools. It was the first free secondary school in Plymouth.

Although it was claimed by the Doctor Jones that the school badge was based on the emblem of St Wilfred, he was not a patron saint of fishermen. The emblem of St Andrew, which is actually the St Andrew's Cross standing upright instead of oblong as on the flag, was the inspiration. He was the patron saint of fishermen and was also the dedication of Plymouth and Stoke Damerel's main churches, thus linking the two towns from which the original schools came. When two St Andrew's crosses are joined they look like a fishing net.

The four "houses" were named after the constructors of the lighthouses on the Eddystone Reef - Winstanley, Rudyerd, Smeaton and Douglass. The first issue of "The Suttonian" was published in April 1927.

In 1935 Doctor Charles F Jones, MM, BA, took over as headmaster and set about raising the standards. As a result, the Plymouth Education Committee resolved on November 25th 1937 to change the title of the School to Sutton High School.

During the Second World War, on May 14th 1941, part of the school was evacuated to St Austell in Cornwall while those who remained behind, along with the remnants of Devonport High School for Boys, constituted the Emergency High School. The evacuation ended on July 23rd 1945 and the school merged with those who had remained in Plymouth on September 10th before being joined the next day by over a hundred new boys.

Doctor Jones retired at the end of 1957 and was replaced by Mr Henry J Bristow, BA,who came from being Deputy Head of Holloway Comprehensive School in London. In 1966 the school got its first lady teacher, Miss Audrey Brown, BSc. Mr Bristow retired at the end of the summer term of 1971. Doctor James S Rowe, MSc, took over and remained until 1984.

Just before this, Plymouth City Council had carried out a study of the structure of secondary education in the City and proposed the closure of the Regent Street building. The name of Sutton was to be retained for a new, central school when it was built. Like the 1960s proposal to move the School to the old Pennycross Stadium site, it never came about.

The Regent Street building was closed on Friday July 13th 1984 when the remaining 4th, 5th and 6th form boys transferred to Stoke Damerel High School for Girls located in the old Stoke Public School building that had helped give birth to the school all those years ago. They were actually housed in an annex across the opposite side of Albert Road, at Stoke, and remained there under the last headmaster, Doctor David McCallan, until Thursday June 26th 1986 when the school closed.

View the complete catalogue of items within the collection here: AD-24_Catalogue.doc

AD/24/1 - Dated photographs
AD/24/2 - Undated photographs
AD/24/3 - Official staff portraits and school portraits
AD/24/5 - Events and excursions (loaned photographs)

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