Headmaster’s Blog, Monday 26 January 2015

135 years ago The opening of Truro School

Monday 19 January 2015 marked the 135th anniversary of the opening of Truro School. The first cohort of 35 boys would not have guessed that in 2015 their school would be a thriving community of over 1000 boys and girls from Nursery through to Sixth Form.


Truro Wesleyan Middle Class College [1] opened on Monday 19 January 1880 with a public ceremony in the school room of the Congregational Church, River Street [2] followed by a dinner at the Royal Hotel [3]. Speakers included the headmaster George Turner, who stated that


…one great thing had been secured – they had started well – (applause). They had made a good start in having so many of the public present to support them; and in the number of pupils they had secured already. They as yet lacked a valuable aid to a school – traditions of the past; but there was one encouraging thing: if they had no good traditions they had no bad ones – (applause). They started fair; and they looked to these boys to make the traditions of the school – (applause).


… They would try in that school to work on the principle that what was worth doing was worth doing well – (applause) – and carrying out its integrity the motto on the School seal – “Esse quam videri” – to be rather than to seem to be (applause).


The school’s aim was to provide an education fit for a middle class boy, whether classical or commercial, to enable further study or to enter a trade, combined with a ‘foundation of truth, the principle of all Christian morality’, which it was thought ‘alone can make a worthy British Citizen’.


The first lessons were held the following day, Tuesday 20 January 1880, for 35 pupils (25 boarders and 10 day boys) with two members of staff – the headmaster and his assistant Mr Vincent.


Numbers grew and within a few years the present main school building was built and opened. Until then the school was based at 4 Strangways Terrace and the large lecture hall and classroom in River Street were used for lessons.


George Turner later recalled the first days of the new school:


Early in January 1880, order began gradually to arise from a veritable chaos of boxes and furniture of all sorts… Some ten days … previous to opening… not a bed for the boys had come to hand from the manufacturers, and the inaugural address had been given before the following problem was solved … Boys who right cheerfully weathered that awkwardness were ready for anything, and so they proved themselves. How much of the general care and regard for discipline grew out of the first 25 it would be hard to say. All honour to them and the start they gave the College…


… The limited recreation ground around the School premises, despite the perpetual smell of tan, was at any rate large enough to shout in. The garden square behind the house which once boasted a grass plot, but knew grass no more for years, was a playground … every nook and cranny of it was soon known to all…


…The field up the hill, just beyond Lander’s monument, witnessed the first football practices … Another field near the railway, notwithstanding hillocks innumerable and grass luxuriant, gave scope for learning the mysteries of cricket…


…Despite the difficulties inseparable from the start, life then was very enjoyable, though not a pupil knew how to work a vulgar fraction, though little more than the three R’s so-called had crossed their mental horizon, though many a Cornishism would buzz through the air, the incorrectness of which, when pointed out, would shake their simple faith in the old county and show them that the world was bigger than any part of it…


The fact that I am the 10th Truro School Headmaster in 135 years perhaps gives you a sense of the commitment that my predecessors have had to their school. I consider it a great privilege to be able to serve Truro School now and in the years ahead.


My thanks to our archivist Jo Wood for gathering the photos (Which you can see in our gallery) and copy for this short blog.

  1. Quickly shortened to Truro College, and renamed Truro School in 1931.  ↩
  2. Now part of Truro Arts Company Shop, next to the Royal Cornwall Museum.  ↩
  3. Now Mannings Hotel in Lemon Street.  ↩