Date Posted... Jan 10th 2022

Archive Attic: 1921 Census

The launch of the 1921 census on 6 January this year (on the Find My Past website) offered an opportunity to take a look at the school just over 100 years ago.

The census took place on Sunday 19 June 1921 (postponed from its original date of 24 April due to industrial unrest). The census return was made by the headmaster, H.W. Vinter, and included everyone present at the school on the 19 June – boarders and staff staying on site.

The 1921 will be the last significant census release for a while because the 1931 census was destroyed by fire, and the 1941 census didn’t take place because of the Second World War. There is the 1939 Register but many of the entries are still officially closed and blacked out.


The summer term in 1921 began on 4 May and the School had a total of 187 boys on its roll, with 86 boarders and 101 day pupils. The census shows that 85 of the boarders were present at school on 19 June.

The majority of the boarders were aged between 13 and 15. There was only one 18-year-old and three 17 year olds.

The youngest four boarders recorded in the census were 9 years old; the youngest of the four had started in January 1921 at the age of 8 (he was also the youngest of the whole school).

A new feature of this census was the noting of the marriage or orphanhood status of entrants. Anyone aged 15 or over had their married status recorded (all the boarders were single). For those under 15 it was recorded if their parents were alive or not. There are six boarders whose fathers had died, but it not clear, possibly unlikely, that they died during the First World War.

The census shows that there were three sets of twins among the boarders at the time.

Just over half of the boarders were born in Cornwall. Two came from the Isles of Scilly.  27% came from across the Tamar, in England and Wales. The remaining 21% were from abroad but British-born; they came from as far away as India, South Africa, Rhodesia and British Guiana. One of the youngest, 9-year-old George Curties came with his brother from Singapore; his name sadly later appears on the School’s Second World War Memorial. From cross-referencing with school archive material, many of the fathers of these overseas pupils were involved with mining.

There were also three 19-year-olds recorded,  two of whom were listed as ‘visitors’ – H.C. Ingle (TS 1912-18) a ‘Divinity student’ and F.K. Exell (TS 1916-21) a ‘Science student’ – suggesting they were continuing their studies for university entrance and were too old to be termed ‘schoolboy’. The third, Leslie Brewer (TS 1918-21) was a ‘pupil-teacher’ gaining supervised experience in the Form I classroom but given the elevated title and description of ‘assistant master’ and ‘schoolmaster’ in the census.


Along with the headmaster Herbert Vinter (TS 1883-1921) there were also three assistant masters present when the census was taken, in addition to Leslie Brewer: Charles Bray (TS 1921-22), Cecil Horsey (TS 1921-21) and Reginald Truscott (TS 1917-21), two of whom were married. Also recorded were Emma Opie (TS 1894-1921), the matron, and her assistant Louisa Cook, the ‘wardrobe keeper’. There was also a visiting nurse, Ida Bone, and the headmaster’s sister Emily, who carried out ‘home duties’.

By the end of August both Mr Vinter and Mrs Opie had retired from their posts at the school. Mrs Opie was  over 70, and H.W. Vinter was in his mid 60s.

Interestingly, the census also mentions domestic staff employed by the school. Ida Menear, the cook, was a British born resident from Ohio, USA and a widow with four children under 15. There were also six general domestic servants recorded, girls aged between 15 and 19.

We have recently been given a copy of the March 1921 school photograph by Kevin Sheen and Jem Trewhella, both CO76. The photo includes many of the boarders and staff who were recorded in the census a few months later.


The School in March 1921

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