Education in Bradford on Avon

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire


Fitzmaurice Grammar School, Junction Road

The former Fitzmaurice Grammar School, Junction Road, Bradford on Avon

In 1239 “Master William rector of the scholars of Bradeford” was one of the witnesses to a document, which could imply that there was some sort of school in Bradford at that time. From 1524 schooling in Bradford was provided by the priest of Thomas Horton’s chantry in Holy Trinity parish church and it survived the chantry’s dissolution in 1540. However, in 1559 Queen Elizabeth was persuaded to appropriate its funds, and those of the school in Trowbridge, towards funding a school in Salisbury. It seems that some kind of schooling continued and rents on some pieces of land were given over by Edward Norton [Horton?] to support the foundation of a Grammar School in Bradford in 1584. A schoolmaster, John Stockton, was appointed by the church in 1612 and there is record of another, Edward Dicke, being appointed in 1675. An enquiry into a list of Wiltshire schools in 1672 had included one in Bradford. It has been suggested that what is now the house at 7 St Margaret’s Street may have been originally built early in the 17th century to hold this school, because of its resemblance to schools in Corsham and Cricklade.

Saxon Church

Bradford’s Free Grammar School was finally set up, by Rev John Rogers in part of an old building near the church, in 1712. This is the building that was recognised as the Saxon Church in 1856.

The British and Foreign School Society set up a non-denominational school in 1817 in the building in part of what is now St Margaret’s car park that had been bilt as the Quaker Meeting House and had already been used as a school from 1806. This British School was soon teaching up to 200 pupils. A British School for girls was opened in the old Church House, Church Street 1854 to 1874.

Undenominational School, Masons Lane

The condition of the school building in St Margaret’s and its surroundings amid factories become increasingly bad and the British Society did up a former woollen cloth mill on Mason’s Lane that had been burnt down in 1869. This was opened as an Undenominational School for infants and girls in 1874 and, with closure of the old school, the boys were moved there too in 1880. It closed in 1924 after its landlord had given notice to quit and a new non-denominational County School was built.


County Technical (Fitzmaurice Grammar) School

The County Technical School was opened in temporary premises in Frome Road in 1891 and then in a purpose-built building in Junction Road in 1897, designed by Bradford-born architect Thomas Ball Silcock. Its cost of £3,288 was paid for by Lord Fitzmaurice, Erlysman Pinckney, Clothworkers  Company, Department of Science & Arts and Wiltshire County Council. It was renamed Fitzmaurice Grammar School following its benefactor’s death in 1935. It closed in 1980 in a reorganisation which saw it merged with Trinity School as the present St Laurence School.

Bradford National School, Church Street

Trinity Church National School, also later known as the Parochial School, was opened by the Church of England’s National Society for the Education of the Poor in a new building in Church Street in 1836. It educated boys downstairs and girls upstairs, under a master and a mistress. The building is now two houses.

Trinity School, Newtown

By the later 19th century the demand for places after education was made compulsory grew too great for the building and a bigger Trinity School was built just up the hill, on Newtown, in 1896. After the Second World War it became Trinity Secondary Modern School. It moved to new buildings in Ashley Road in 1962 and the Newtown building was later demolished.

Christ Church National School

Christ Church National School was opened by the Anglicans at Mount Pleasant, next to the recently built church, in 1847. The original building was paid for by Captain Septimus Palairet, who was instrumental in bringing the rubber industry to Bradford in the following year. An infants school was added to the site in 1878, again privately paid for, this  time by Miss Isabella Poynder of Leigh House. A new school, currently with about 400 pupils, was built nearby in 1956 and the old buildings are now The Mount Pleasant Centre, a social club.

A piece of land in Poulton Field, next to Trowbridge Road, was purchased in 1919 with the plan that the County Council would build a primary school there. The Council failed to build it until a petition and open meeting of the town demanded it, reinforced by the prospect of the Undenominational School becoming homeless. The County Junior Mixed and Infants’ School was built and opened in 1928. It adopted the name of Fitzmaurice Primary School in 1985, after the Fitzmaurice Grammar School had closed.

St Laurence School

In 1948 it was suggested that Trinity Secondary Modern School and Fitzmaurice Grammar School should unite, but it did not happen at that time. Only in 1980 did they join to become the present St Laurence School, at a green field site between Ashley Road and Churches, that had been newly built for Trinity to move to in 1962.

There were private schools of various sizes which usually had a short life, often closing with the retirement or death of the teacher. The Rev Dr Francis Knight (1767-1838) was running one such in Bradford at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1817 it moved to South Wraxall Manor House and lasted until 1826. His son Rev Joseph Philip Knight (1812-87) composed music of popular songs and hymns, including Rocked in the cradle of the deep.