Albert Primary School, Penarth

Albert Primary School, Penarth

This school, the first Penarth Board School, opened in September 1876. At the time it was one of only a few buildings in this area of the parish.

The school had only been open a month when Mrs J Polkingthorne, the first head teacher, recorded that pupil Fred Sandford had been rescued from drowning in the nearby quarry, which is now covered by Belle Vue Park. In 1877 she recorded the most difficult event of her 40-year tenure, the death by drowning at the quarry of William Richards, of Plassey Street, and his 3-year-old brother Frank.

Stone from the quarry was used for the school, which was built on open glebeland (land given to the pastor) next to the Belle Vue Cottage Nursery. The nursery was replaced in 1881 by the Urban District Council building, converted to the Belle Vue Court flats in 1974.

Penarth’s population doubled between 1880 and 1890, and extensions were added to the school in 1883 and 1886. They were designed by John Coates Carter, who also designed Penarth’s Paget Rooms. The front walls of both extensions have interesting painted friezes by Cornish artist Robert Norton Nance, who often visited his brother in Westbourne Road, Penarth. One frieze shows girls lifting dumbbells. The other shows boys doing homework and playing with a mouse!

The road outside was known as Parish Road when the school was built. It was one of the farm tracks that crisscrossed the parish of Penarth as recently as 1850. In 1880 Parish Road was developed into Stanwell Road. The name relates to Stanwell, in London, where the Norse ancestors of the Windsor family (major landowners in Penarth) settled in the 15th century.

The school became Albert Board School in 1899 when this stretch of Stanwell Road was renamed in honour of Prince Albert (1819-1861), husband of Queen Victoria.

With thanks to Martin Gossage

Postcode: CF64 1BX    View Location Map

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