St Martins Northern School
Much of what is recorded here is sourced from the Westminster City Archive, which holds the remaining Minute book of the School’s Management Committee.
The Schools’ Records have this entry:
“…. St. Martin’s Northern Schools Castle Street, Long Acre. Supported by voluntary contributions. Appears in the Parochial Directory for 1854. Originally there were two separate schools for boys and girls,with a master for the boys and a mistress for the girls. In 1903 it had accommodation for 581 pupils….”.
Castle Street was renamed to Shelton Street in 1930`s (~ 1937) as part of rationalization of street names in the area.
The inside cover of the Management Committee Minute book has this hand written text:
“…. the school took the place of a school near the west end of Long Acre and is described by inhabitants as a tumble down building not originally intended as a school. There is no evidence to show how long this school had been in existence. The School was built in 1849 to 1850. The building had two floors and a roof which was a covered playground. Three or four years later, in consequence of a child falling over into the street and being killed, the use of the playground was given up and another floor was added to be used as a school of art.
The Architect was Mr James William Wild and the school was built by Howard and Nixon at a cost of £2,444 ….”
The Mercers Company had granted a 999 lease at £2 p.a. in 1848 and the School opened October 17th 1850. The opening of the School was recorded in the Illustrated London News of 19th October 1850.
The “School of Art” that occupied the upper floor of the original building became the Saint Martins School of Art. The minutes record that in November 1913 St Martins School of Art moved from the premises and that the Mercers company granted a further tenancy for ground that was used as a playground.
Horatio Childs appears very early in the Minutes in 1904 being in dispute with the mistress of the girls school, concerning an alleged indecent conduct of some of the boys of the school!
The Minutes of January 1918 record the air raid of 28th January 1918. Five children were killed and several injured; the school was closed on the following day by order of Horatio Childs, who was the headmaster at the time. The school management committee approved the action of the head master.
Letters of condolence were sent from the School to each family and offered to pay for public funeral expenses. The minutes in March report the settlement of an insurance claim for air raid damage and the doubling of the sum assured to £6,000. The memorial plaques for those lost in the air raid were detailed at this meeting.
Other sources report that the air raid of the 28th January was one of the most serious of the period, Oldhams print works in Long Acre and the ‘Bourne and Hollingsworth’ store in Castle Street being specifically mentioned as being severely damaged.
On May 31st 1918 the school was closed for the day in honor of the award of the Military Medals to Old Boys of the School
Sergeant A Smith
Sergeant H Holland
The meeting minutes of the 9th August 1944 note that enemy action on June 22nd damaged the school and report an interview with Architect to discuss if the school building was a “total loss” or “seriously damaged”.
Reference to the ‘LCC Bomb Damage Maps’ indicate that the junction of Shelton Street and Drury Lane had been hit by a ‘V1’ flying bomb. Several buildings are shown as total loss and many along the street as damaged.
The final entry in the minute book is from 1957 and deals with the winding up of The Foundation and land lease passed back to Mercers company from which it had been granted.