Penn Mill board school

Penn Mill Board school

St Michael's Avenue

Yeovil's second board school was built to accommodate an ever-increasing population at the town's eastern end, although the original intention had been for it to be used by the children who had been attending the British School in Vicarage Street. The Penn Mill Elementary School, built in St Michael's Avenue, was designed by local architect J Nicholson Johnston and opened in 1895. It had accommodation for some 270 children, with girls and boys taught separately.

Housed in a single story building the new school was something of an improvement over the Board's first school in Reckleford, being better heated, ventilated and lit as well as having a hot water supply.

According to The Building News edition of 29 June 1898 “These schools, which cost £1,390, are built of brick with Ham stone dressings, and have accommodation for 600 scholars - 200 infants and 400 mixed. They are planned on the central hall system, and the classrooms are separated by sliding partitions. Mr HW Pollard, of Bridgwater, was the builder, and the architect was Mr J Nicholson Johnston, A.R.I.B.A., of Yeovil.

In 1912, at long last, a staff room was incorporated in the building.

During the Second World War, from 1942, the school became an 'Assembly Place' and a  'Rest and Feeding Centre', one of four schools used as such, and had a capacity to sleep 100 and offer a hundred meals per sitting. The Centre was available for the benefit of people whose homes had been destroyed or made uninhabitable by enemy action, or who were required to vacate their homes temporarily on account of danger from unexploded bombs. It was also available for the benefit of people whose normal means of cooking meals at home were cut off owing to damage to the public gas or electricity supply systems, or of wage earners who had migrated from the town to adjacent areas for a few days but who required their mid-day meal in Yeovil. No charges were made for meals supplied at the Centre for the first 48 hours after an air raid, but thereafter payment would be required. It was also designated as an ARP First Aid Party Depot.

Two Second World War air raid shelters survive at Penn Mill infants school, St Michael's Avenue, photographed below. They are both triple chamber shelters with a protective porch to the entrance at each end, with the opening on the south side of the porch facing the school. They are built of red brick with a concrete roof with ventilation bricks below. They are each 30ft (9.1m) long externally.


To visit the website of Pen Mill Infant and Nursery Academy - click here


The architect's perspective drawing of the new Penn Mill Board School, from the 29 June 1898 edition of The Building News.


An event from the 1909 Sports Day at Pen Mill School.


Courtesy of Bill and Audrey Robertson

Teachers and pupils of 'Penn Mill Infants, Group 1'. Photographed around 1910.


From my collection

Enlarged from a postcard, this photograph was taken in 1913 from the top of Wyndham Hill. Across the bottom of the photograph are the roofs of houses on the south side of Sherborne Road, at top left is St Michael's church and at top right is St Michael's Hall. At centre and running to centre right is the Penn Mill Elementary School - at this time less than twenty years old.


The gable date stone of Penn Mill Board Schools. Photographed in 2013. 


The Penn Mill school air raid shelters - at left is the porch of the eastern shelter which is mirrored in the western shelter at centre.  Photographed in 2013.