LOCATION 14
 

 

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 children.

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.”