The picture of St Mary's School was drawn by Rose Allinson. This present building dates back to 1854 and replaced the older National School building on the corner of New Buildings and Wood Street. In its location on Station Road it was first built as a Sunday School, with the original schoolroom measuring 62 feet by 54 feet in a fine Gothic style with a bell gable at the front. Messrs Thomas and George Harrold were responsible for the design and building which cost £540.16 shillings, including fittings.
In 1856 the Day School was opened alongside the Sunday School building at a cost of an extra £400. Patrons included Earl Howe of Gopsall Hall and the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. Staff at the School consisted of a master and mistress with provision for pupil teachers. By the early 1860s there were over 200 pupils.
The Inspector's Report for July 1863 stated - 'Discipline, fairly good. Instruction and fitness for training apprentices, fair. Religious Knowledge, fair. Reading, Writing and Drawing, fairly good. Needlework, pretty fair. The School suffered from want of a playground.' The staff consisted of a master, Mr Todd, a mistress, Mrs Todd and 3 pupil teachers. At times there were as many as 340 pupils. Mr Todd also ran a Night School and instructed the pupil teachers. He began work at 7.30 am each day.
There is an exhibition relating to St Mary's School at the Museum this season with a variety of artefacts many of which are over a century old. In addition there are memories of former staff and pupils.
Author: Hugh Beavin
Written for: Hinckley Historian Magazine