At the present time Thornbury has several good schools. Of these schools only two, St Mary’s School and Gillingstool have a history going back before 1950’s.
Gillingstool Primary School – this school has evolved out of the British School which was built on the site in Gillingstool in 1863. The school replaced an earlier British School which had been built about 1838 in Bath Road and the earlier school was mentioned in the 1839 Robson’s directory when George Hoare was the school master for boys and Mary Longstreeth was the mistress for the girls. The School was marked as the British School on the 1840 Tithe Survey as being the property we later knew as 7 & 9 Bath Road.
The name of the new school changed several times, becoming the Thornbury Board School and then the Council School. Until 1965 it provided education for children up to school leaving age. In 1965 the new Castle Secondary School was built in Park Road, and thereafter the Council School provided only primary education. In 1968 it changed its name to The Leaze School until 1985 when it became Gillingstool Primary School.
We have extracts from the school log book during the period of 1939 – 1945. They provide an interesting insight into how the school was affected by the War. Click here to read the extracts
We have not had time to write up a history of this school, but anyone interested should read the book written by Tony Cherry called ‘The History of a School’. This can be bought at the Thornbury Museum and is available for loan at local libraries.
St Mary’s Primary School – founded as the National School in 1837, it was originally sited on a small plot of land adjoining the Churchyard, outside of the Castle walls. A new school was built in 1862 on the current site. Click here to read more
We have listed below other schools which existed in Thornbury in the past.
Of these the Thornbury Grammar School has the longest history. This school was finally closed in 1972 when the school was transferred to new buildings at Alveston under the new name of Marlwood. The old school buildings in Gloucester Road became the Castle Upper School and later the Castle Sixth Form Centre. Click here to go to our separate website which includes a large collection of photos of the school, staff and pupils.
From the 17th century Thornbury had two Free Schools which provided some eduction for a limited number of children who could afford the small fees, which were subsidised by a group of charitable bequests. It was not until 17th May 1879 that the endowments of these two schools, the old Grammar School in Castle Street and Attwells Free School in St Mary Street were combined and Thornbury Grammar School emerged. A new school was eventually built in the Gloucester Road. George Nixon was appointed the new headmaster and he saw the school through these changes.
The Thornbury Union Workhouse, opened in 1839, had its own school incorporating separate school rooms for boys and girls who lived in the Workhouse. We are not sure when this school closed, but the log books of the National School show that children from the Workhouse were attending the school. We assume that children from non-conformist families may have chosen to attend the Council School. The book ‘I’m a Pauper, Get Me Out of Here’ written by Tony Cherry details the history of the Workhouse and includes lots of details and stories about this school. The book can be bought at Thornbury Museum and is available for loan from Thornbury Library.