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From Preachers to Teachers

Truro Grammar School was founded by Walter Borlase in 1547 for the education of boys.

Two of its former pupils were Sir Humphry Davy, scientist and inventor of the Miner’s Safety Lamp, and the missionary Henry Martyn.

The Old Grammar School can still be seen in St Mary’s Street where the crest of the Borough Council is still in situ in the room where the boys would have toiled with their education.

In 1877 the school was re-formed as the Cathedral School and was situated behind the Cathedral. It eventually closed in 1960.

Pictures opposite show the interior of The Old Grammar School in which the Borough Crest can still be seen on the wall today and boys working in the Science Lab of Cathedral School 1915.

Grammar School Interior

Children at Desks

Teacher Training

The Cornwall Central School, established in May 1812 in Fairmantle Street, was not only for the education of children, but the training of teachers for monitorial schools which would be opened in Cornish parishes -

“to promote the best interest of the State and of our own Established Religion.”

In 1813 Margaret Rogers was the first student to leave Truro training college to form her own school in Helston. She was followed by hundreds of others, sent out to all parts of the world over a period of 125 years.

In 1859 the Diocesan training college for school mistresses was opened in Agar Road. Young women aged 18 years entered the college after an apprenticeship of four or five years as a pupil teacher. Men were trained at St Luke’s College, Exeter. The women’s training college closed in 1938.

Other Schools in Truro

Truro School (formerly Truro College) began life in 1880 and opened its doors to boys only in 1881.

This was a Methodist School, just as the Cathedral School was Anglican. Education had been a haphazard affair and these two schools grew out of a need for middle class education for boys .

Thanks to the churches, elementary schools were provided.

British schools however, were open to the children of parents of every religious persuasion, and were managed by a Committee of the Friends of Education who were selected without any reference to political party or religious sect. Holy Scripture was read and taught daily, but in a form that represented no religious denomination.

Truro also had a Ragged School in Campfield Hill, to enable the poor and destitute to gain an education of sorts.

Dame schools existed in Truro but all traces of these have gone. There were also academies and finishing schools which aimed to complete the children’s education and which are now filled by our secondary education.

The Truro British Schools (Truro British Mixed School and the Truro British Infants School) were opened in 1898 on the site which from January 1905 became known as Truro Bosvigo Council School.

Pictures opposite show Truro School in the 1890's and a class of boys sitting at their desks. 

Truro School 1890

Boys at Desks 

Schools for Girls

Truro High School for Girls was opened on 3rd of May 1880 at 27 Lemon Street with fifteen girls on the register ranging from 10 to 17 years old.

Eight months later with the numbers increased to forty the school moved into larger premises at 8 Strangways Terrace which was a boarding establishment. The new school buildings were opened in Falmouth Road on 24th September 1897, where it remains today.

The County Grammar School for Girls was opened in Strangways Terrace in 1906 and moved to its new premises in Treyew Road in 1925, until 1993 when it was demolished to make way for a supermarket.

The Foundation stone from the Grammar School can still be seen set into a wall on the site of the school.

The pictures opposite show the Truro High School for Girls and an image depicting the demolition of the grammar school.

Truro High School for Girls

Demolition of the Grammar School 

The 1870 Education Act

Following the 1870 Education Act, each child was to have a place at school and attendance was compulsory.

Central Technical Schools were opened in Union Place in 1899 for both men and women, bringing together the Truro School of Art, Science and Technical classes. In the 1930s the building became a secondary school for 11-15 year old boys.

By 1902 the County Council was responsible for schools, and over the century new schools were built to meet the needs of a growing population and changes in education delivery.

These included the Technical School for boys in Union Place and Daniel Road School for Girls. Both these schools closed when a new mixed secondary modern school was opened in 1958, called Penwethers.

In September 1979, Truro’s comprehensive schools opened with Penair as a newly built school at St Clements; and with Penwethers assuming its new role as Richard Lander School, now on a spacious new site near to Threemilestone.

The ‘Tech’ in Union Place was run down and closed over the following months.

In 1993 Truro College opened its doors to provide further and higher education to the people of Cornwall.

The picture opposite depicts a Domestic Science Lab. 

Domestic Science Lab