The first schools in Darlaston were Sunday schools, founded by local churches. Shaw in his Staffordshire history mentions the following:

A school was built in 1793 in the churchyard and had a large number of pupils. Sunday schools were first established here in 1790 and are supported by voluntary subscriptions, and about £10 which is annually collected at the church on the Wake Sunday, the Sunday after St. Lawrence, when sermons are preached for that purpose.

In 1818 the Select Committee into the Education of the Poor produced a report into the extent of education in Darlaston. It stated that there were day schools with 365 boys and girls, and Sunday schools with 180 boys and girls. All supported by subscriptions. The report concluded that:

The poorer classes are more than commonly destitute of the means of educating their children, and are so desirous of them, that the rector is endeavoring to establish a national school, but is in danger of failing through want of sufficient resources; and the  greatest proportion of the inhabitants having been employed in the manufacture of arms, are now reduced to the greatest poverty and distress.

The Elementary Education Act was Passed in 1870, but it took 8 years for the School Attendance Committee of the Local Board to be formed under the provisions of the Act, which stated that:

1. The country would be divided into approximately 2,500 school districts.
2. School Boards were to be elected by ratepayers in each district.
3. The School Boards were to examine the provision of elementary education in their district and if there were not enough school places, schools could be built and maintained from the rates.
4. The school Boards could make their own by-laws and charge fees or let children in free.

The Act allowed women to vote for the School Boards and serve as candidates on them. Something that was unheard of in local government at the time. The School Attendance Committee consisted of 10 members with Samuel Rubery as Chairman. Unfortunately the committee didn’t live up to expectations and little was done to provide the school places that were required under the terms of the Act. As a result the Education Department sent a peremptory order to the town in 1883 demanding that the terms of the Act be followed.

Slater Street school in a state of dereliction.

The Local Board quickly responded and the Darlaston School Board was formed. Seats on it were eagerly contested in the election that followed. The election battle was fought between Nonconformists and the Church, with a resounding victory for the Nonconformists. The members were as follows:
Enoch Horton – Chairman
Joseph Corbett – Clerk
G.P. Butler James Harper
D. Etchells James Slater
C. Green J. Shingleton
J. Green Stephen Wilkes
Within four years the number of school places available in the town had risen from 1,664 to 2,495. The schools in 1887 were as follows:

Boys & Girls


Members of Staff
Old Church National School
Smith Street
417 195 Mr. George Reed
Miss Hannah Howl
Miss M. Howl
All Saints’ National School
Whitton Street
275 120 Mr. John Wharton
Miss Mary White
Miss Emily Ayres
St. Joseph’s Catholic School
Church Street
115  - Miss Marie Jane Rose
Wesleyan School
Pinfold Street  
307 208 Mr. William James
Miss Mary Baggott
St. George’s Board School
St. George’s Street
145 112 Mr. Henry Child
Mrs. E. Cuslace
Central Board School
Slater Street
392 boys 200 Mr. J. E. Cherrington
Miss A. Grice
Ms. S. Williams

For some years, Higher and Technical Education Evening Classes were held in the Town Hall during the winter months. They were organised by the Higher Education Committee of the Council. The Principal was Mr. Walter Macfarlane, F.I.C., Committee Chairman; Councillor A. Slater, B.A., Secretary of the Evening Classes; Joseph Corbett, Assistant Secretary; and W. J. Carter.

Slater Street School

Originally the Central Board School, which was built by the School Board. It opened in July 1885 as a boys' school and was enlarged in 1893. The first headmaster was Mr. J. E. Cherrington. On the first day there were 29 children present in the morning and 33 in the afternoon. For many years the school suffered from a bad attendance record. It seems that both the children and their parents had not grasped the importance of education. Any excuse to stay away was taken. Such events as Wednesbury wake or the local flower show were a good excuse not to go to school.

Some of the children, whose parents worked in coal mines or ironworks used what they called 'Saint Monday' as an excuse to stay away on Mondays. Although parents whose children were frequently absent would be reported to the school attendance officer for truancy, and could be taken to court and fined, little was actually done to solve the problem. One group of children who lived at Catherine's Cross were frequently absent and became known as the 'Cross Gang'.

In 1915 an article appeared in a local newspaper suggesting that the Staffordshire Education Committee had decided to release thirteen year old boys from school. Immediately thirty boys left the school and were sent to work by their parents. It took a lot of effort by the attendance officer to get them back to school again. July became known as the 'Trip Season' because children were often absent in order to attend outings from local churches, chapels or public houses. Sometimes older children were expected to stay at home to look after younger brothers or sisters when their parents went on a daily outing.

Another important factor affecting attendance was illness. Every year there were outbreaks of the flue, measles, chickenpox, smallpox, and scarlet fever. They often reached epidemic proportions and resulted in the closure of the school. In severe winters it was difficult to keep the school warm because of the inefficient heating system. Sometimes the school had to be closed because of burst pipes.

In those days, many of the children were expected to deliver their father's dinner at work, during the school lunch break. In wet weather when they got 'soaked to the skin', they would be kept home in the afternoon. Sometimes children would stay away because they were helping their father at work or had a part time job. Some of them stayed away when they were working in the hop fields when their parents went hop picking.

A few of the children were from poor families who were unable to provide them with adequate food or decent clothing. Some of them had sore feet because of a lack of proper shoes. Others stayed away because they had no shoes. A clothing fund committee sometimes visited the school to help the poorest children. On at least one occasion Mr. William Winn visited the school and provided the poorest boys with a breakfast consisting of tea and buns.

By the 1920s, several new practical subjects were introduced including woodwork, gardening and bulb growing. Many of the boys excelled at sport. The school football team regularly won the Wednesbury and District Challenge Shield and League Cup. In 1921 the relay team won the relay race at Rubery Owen's sports day. Joseph Evans, who was captain of the football team was also captain of the England team in a schoolboy international event and played against Scotland at Glasgow.

Mr. Cherrington retired on the 30th November, 1925. They were hard years, at a time when many of the children were from poor families who didn't value the education system and couldn't wait for their children to start earning money for the family.

In the intervening years things gradually got better, as people's standard of living improved and attitudes changed.. The old slums disappeared and people had higher expectations.

In 1958 part of the school was badly damaged after an arson attack. As a result, a number of temporary classrooms were built, which stayed in use until the school closed.

Slater Street School closed in the mid 1960s and continued to be used for a variety of purposes for many years. Unfortunately the buildings suffered from a series of arson attacks in February 2005 and as a consequence were demolished at the beginning of March 2005.

Slater Street School playground.

The teaching staff at Slater Street School in the early 1950s. Courtesy of Brian Groves. Thanks also to Lee Cadman. Left to Right:
Back Row: Mr. Taylor (art), Mr. Moore (P.E.), Mr. Lewis (music), Mr. Pounall (woodwork), Mr. Pountney (English), Mr. Leavesley, Mr. Anderson (science).
Middle Row: Mr. Williams (maths), Mr. Morris (maths), Mr. Law (headmaster), Mr. Hull (R.E.), Mr. Earnshaw (geography), Mr. Jones (geography).
Front Row: Mr. Walker, Mr. Ellis (music), Mr. Ayres (woodwork), Mr. Williams (maths), Mr. Perry (metalwork), Mr. Harper, Mr. Jenkins (History, English Literature).
If anyone has any further information please send me an email.

A class at Slater Street School in 1951 or 52. The teacher is Mr. Walker. Courtesy of Norman Newton.

Slater Street Woodwork and metalwork building in 2003.

Looking towards the entrance on the right-hand side of Slater Street School in 2003.

The demolition of Slater Street School in 2005.

Slater Street Junior School

The school was often listed in directories under Central Council Schools, along with the senior boys school. Bert Millington, who attended the school until 1945 has the following memories of the infants and junior school, which was in-between the senior boys school and Victoria Road.

When I entered the school, the Head was Miss Cook and she was followed at a later date by Mr. Nicholls. The
teacher for the reception class was Miss Pomeroy, who had a large double room with a moveable screen separating the day to day activities from what was a large playroom with toys and games beyond. During my six years at the school I also had the following teachers: Miss Fullwood, Miss Jones, Mrs Page and Mrs Davenall. We took the first 11 plus exam in 1945 and Ivor Taylor, Clive Gasser and myself passed for Wednesbury Boys High School. Mary Britton and another girl passed for Bilston Girls High School.

Some of the other youngsters in our class were: John Dean, Trevor Simmonds, Bernard Southam, Raymond Walters, Desmond Parkins, Billy Tolley, Leonard Parker, Walter Kent, June Cadman, Marina Duckhouse, Jean Beechy and Joan Evans.

I have many happy memories of Slater Street Infants and Junior School. My time there coincided exactly with World War 2. I entered  the first class (Miss Pomeroy's) in 1939. In 1941 all the children were taken to Station Street to line the road and wave as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Guest Keen and Nettlefolds factory, which was turning out war equipment of various sorts. I remember being somewhat disappointed as the royal car swept past and it was difficult to see the occupants.

At some point the school also took in a number of children who were evacuated from London. I think it must have been in the later stages of the war  rather than the beginning, because we questioned them over and over about Doodlebugs and we asked them to draw pictures. I think other schools also had groups of evacuees from London.

Bert Millington

A class from Slater Street Junior School in 1955.

If anyone has any memories of the school or further information, please contact me. I will be delighted to hear from you.

A lovely photo of a group of children at a local school, year and school unknown. One of them is possibly Henrietta Davis. Courtesy of Gill Harding. If anyone can identify the location or any of the children please contact me.

Another lovely photo from Gill Harding. Again the location and children's names are not known. If anyone has any further information, please contact me.

St. Lawrence’s School

Often called the Parish Church School opened in April 1869 when the old school established in 1836 in the graveyard was demolished. The buildings were enlarged twice within the first 20 years and the school possessed a good playground. In 1880 evening science classes began and were attended by 165 students.

St. George’s Board School

Opened in  1844 as a Sunday school and was handed over to the School Board in 1883. An new school was built in 1894 at a cost of £5,550.

All Saints’ National School

Opened in July 1874 with an infants department at James Bridge built in 1894.

The Wesleyan School

Opened in 1846 as a Sunday School. It was built by Thomas Adams at a cost of £439.19s.6d. and designed by G.W. Green. It became a day school under Government inspection in 1860 and was enlarged and improved. In 1865 there were approximately 100 pupils and by 1901 the number had risen to 479.

Mr. Harold P. Fullwood. Headmaster of the Wesleyan School in 1901.
Miss Baggott. Infant Mistress of the Wesleyan School, in 1901.

St. Joseph’s Catholic School

The school was founded in 1875 in Church Street and rebuilt in 1964 in Rough Hay Road. The buildings were expanded in the 1980s and a new nursery opened in 1993, and enlarged in 2002.

Dorsett Road School

Dorsett Road School was the first of a new generation known as the 'Staffordshire Type' of school. It opened in February 1907 but was very different from the earlier types of school building, featuring better ventilation without draughts, more compact construction, and very economical running. It created a more healthy environment than in the other overcrowded schools of the day. A visiting school inspector remarked after a visit on a cold February day:

I could see how the ventilation was working. It was a cold day, and there was some snow. It was remarkable that when I walked into the classrooms there was no smell.

The school was enlarged in 1911. In traditional schools, illnesses such as coughs and colds could quickly spread, resulting in poor attendances. At Dorsett Road there were no classroom smells, so everyone felt fresher at the end of the day. The new type of school was designed by Dr. Reid, the County Medical Officer, and the architects, who collaborated to produce a healthier environment for the children. They had clearly come up with the right solution because many such schools were built throughout the country. Darlaston still has one school of this type, Salisbury Street J.M.I.

The 1912 Kelly's Staffordshire directory lists three teachers: Master: Mr. Albert D. Fullwood J.P.; Mistress: Miss Mary Millner; and Infants' Mistress: Miss Jane Wyatt B.A. The school was by far the largest school in the town, with accommodation for 1,140 pupils, twice as big as any other.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, several government reports were produced by a number of committees, under the chairmanship of Sir William Henry Hadow. They became known as the Hadow Reports, and had a great impact on education at the time. The reports recommended a division of elementary schools into primary schools for children under the age of 11, and senior schools for older children. This necessitated the building of many new schools including Pinfold Street Primary School, and Rough Hay School.

In the mid 1930s the decision was taken to close Dorsett Road School and transfer the pupils elsewhere. When Pinfold Street Primary School opened in September 1936, a large number of pupils moved there. Others went to Old Church School, Slater Street School, Salisbury Street School, and Rough Hay Primary School.

Dorsett Road School finally closed in 1939 and was acquired by Longmore Brothers in order to extend their site. Many of the school buildings were soon demolished, others survived until the 1970s. All that remains today is a short length of the old school boundary wall in Dorsett Road Terrace, which divides the newly built Woods Bank estate from the end house in the Terrace.

All that remained of the school in 1965. Courtesy of Bill Beddow.

A class of boys at Dorsett Road School in about 1910. From an old postcard.

A class of boys at Dorsett Road School in about 1918. The teacher on the left is Miss Clapham, the teacher on the right is Mr. F. W. Forward. 5th from the left in the first row standing is Richard Ashmore. Courtesy of John and Christine Ashmore.

A class of boys at Dorsett Road School in about 1919. In the centre at the back is Mr. F. W. Forward.

A class of seven year olds at Dorsett Road School.

Another class at the school, with head teacher Miss Rees on the left.

Dorsett Road infants class 7 (five year olds) from around 1919. The lady in the background with the dog is head teacher Miss Rees. To her left is class teacher Miss Crowson. From an old postcard.

A class of girls at Dorsett Road School in about 1919. From an old postcard.

A class at Dorsett Road School in 1920.

A class of girls at Dorsett Road School, in about 1920. On the second row from the front, on the far left with a large bow in her hair is Emma Sylvia Bott. Courtesy of Madeleine Freelove.
Emma Sylvia Bott was born on the 22nd May, 1911 in Peartree Terrace, off New Street.

A mixed class of children at Dorsett Road School in the 1920s. On the right is head teacher Miss Rees. Courtesy of John and Christine Ashmore.

A class of boys at Dorsett Road School in the 1920s. Courtesy of John and Christine Ashmore.

A girl's class at Dorsett Road School in 1927. Fifth from the right, on the third row from the front is Rose Flavell.

Pinfold Street Primary School

Pinfold Street Primary School.

Read the history of Pinfold Street School

Rough Hay Primary School

Rough Hay Primary School officially opened on Tuesday 14th May, 1940, as part of the education reforms instigated by Sir William Henry Hadow. Many of the new pupils had been transferred from the old Dorsett Road School.

Rough Hay Primary School. As seen in 2007.

The school had a nursery, which became an infants department. There were separate playgrounds for infants and juniors. In the 1970s much of the school was refurbished, and a new layout introduced.

A class from the mid to late 1940s. On the extreme left is Derek Groves.

Another photograph taken in the same classroom, possibly on the same day as the one above. Courtesy of Keith Robinson.

If you can name anyone in the photographs above, or have any photographs I can include here, or have any information about the school, please send me an email.

Moxley Primary School

Moxley Primary School officially opened as the 'County Infants School' on 26th March, 1928. It was built in 1927 by Thomas Jones, and designed by Joynson Brothers of Darlaston, in response to the 1926 Hadow report. The total project including the purchase of the land, building of the school, equipment and furniture cost £8,600.

The school was officially opened by William Henry Wesson, Mayor of Wednesbury, and owner of the nearby Victoria Ironworks. There were initially five classrooms of approximately the same size that were accessed from the rear corridor, in which was the main entrance, and two entrance lobbies. In the early 1960s and early 1970s, extensions were added at the back of the school.

The school closed in November 2006 following its amalgamation with the Dorothy Purcell Junior School in Bull Lane. The amalgamation was due to falling pupil numbers at each school. The school in Bull Lane then became Moorcroft Wood Primary School. The 1960s and 1970s extensions were demolished in 2009 following a fire. The main building itself was demolished in August 2010.

The school in 2006, then called Moorcroft Wood Primary School.

A plan of the school with the later extensions.

The school in 2007, after closure.

The assembly hall during demolition in 2009.

Another view of the school in 2009.

A final view, taken after the demolition of the rear extension.

A class photograph taken at Moxley Primary School in 1954. Courtesy of Ken Phillips.

A class photograph taken at Moxley Primary School in 1955. Seated in the centre behind the trophies is Mr. Warner. Courtesy of Ken Phillips.

A class photograph taken at Moxley Primary School in 1956. Courtesy of Ken Phillips.

King's Hill School

Read about King's Hill Primary
School and view some photographs

This photograph was kindly sent by Rob Pheasant, who is 2nd from the right on the middle row. The photograph was taken at King's Hill infants school in 1962.

Back row left to right: Roger Yarnell, Kevin Smith, (Unknown), Nanette Walls, (Unknown), (Unknown), Nigel Foster, Paul Wright, Adrian Read, David Adams, Andrew Bourne.

Middle row left to right: Anita Gosh, Karen Holland, Pauline Perry, Anne Willoughby, Kevin Groves (Unknown), (Unknown), (Unknown), Robert Pheasant, Judy Hogan.

Front row left to right: Kathleen Jones, William Wilkes, (Unknown), (Unknown), Vivian Birch, Susan Carlas, Andrew Peach, (Unknown but Andrew Peach’s brother), Walter Kent, Barry Cooper.

The teacher was Miss Cooper.

Another class photograph taken at King's Hill infants school. This one is from around 1960. Courtesy of Sylvia Peters. Last but one on the second row is Sylvia Platt, and next to her at the end of the row is Carol Parker. 

If anyone has any other photos taken at the school (infants, juniors, or seniors) please send me an email.

Salisbury Primary School was Salisbury Street Secondary Modern Girls' School in the 1950s. The following photo from that time shows the school staff:

Back Row, left to right: Mr. Davies, ? , Miss Spedding, ? , Mrs Ashcroft, Miss Lowe, Miss Bosworth, ? , Mr. Wilkins, Mr. Ellis.
Front Row, left to right: Mrs Harper, Miss Goodreid, Miss B. Jones, Miss Garrington, Miss Keatley (headmistress), Miss Skinner, Mrs Barnett, Miss Barnett (no relation), Mrs Hodson (secretary).

Return to
A New Town Hall
Return to
Proceed to
 Close of the Century