OLD TOWN STREET - FORMER INFANTS SCHOOL AND LIBRARY
At the junction of Stockton Hill and Old Town
Street, you will see the Victorian library and school building, which is
now the Dawlish Christian Fellowship.
In 1819 the National Parochial School was established in Old Town Street
at a cost of £120 for 130 children with 90 boys and 40 girls. Funded by
a government grant of £40, local subscriptions and ‘children’s pence’.
The Infants’ School was added in 1820, which catered for 140 children.
These schools were under the Government control and a yearly diocesan
inspectorate, run by a Board whose chairman was the Vicar and the
Religious instruction was Church of England. In 1819, a Poor House was
built in Old Town Street with accommodation for a workhouse master, the
school was erected on part of the workhouse yard. In later years a new
boy’s school was built higher up the hill to accommodate over 200 boys.
The girls and infants stayed in the Old Town Street site, this was
enlarged in 1898.
The Madras system was adopted whereby cleverer or older children taught
the younger ones. This was brought in by Alexander Bell after seeing the
methods in schools for children of the military in Madras, India. It was
also known as the Monitor system. In 1860s, Miss Fanny Hill was the
school mistress. Some local ladies would come into the classroom to help
with needlework and dictation and teach the children hymns and poems.
However, the teacher and her monitress had to control up to 122
Memories of Helen Cornelius; c1908
“I was born in Dawlish in Dec 1904 and I started school at the age of
three in Jan 1908 in the Infant’s School, Old Town Street and was taught
how to count, spell, read and write. Firstly though I had to learn the
alphabet and how to count, the latter by a counting frame.
The School was divided into three classrooms, the first for the three
year olds and the second (for 4 year olds) appeared rather odd as it was
a kind of gallery with shallow steps. The third classroom was slightly
larger for the children age 5 and 6. At the age of seven we were
transferred to either the Girls School or the Boys at Longlands
according to sex.
The teachers always wore black satin aprons – this I think was because
the white chalk was very dusty.”