The Development of St James's School
Built 1850, demolished 1970.

Thus when I first saw the school, it was a group of inter-connected bungalow buildings with high slate roofs. The Infants were in the original building, near the road, with the school-keepers' house next to it. A much larger room ran parallel, divided in half by a wooden partition and the two halves were each divided into two by curtains, so that lessons on either side had to be kept quiet. In addition there was the fifth classroom which had been added in 1912. I never saw the 1931 additions which were made after I left.

In 1925 I had no conception of why the roof rose so high. That penny did not drop for thirty years and is discussed more fully later on. When I first sat in the room my pleasure was in the huge vault; in working out how the joints fitted together; how the iron tie bars prevented them from spreading and the whole ridge from collapsing. Pleasure in the way the iron had been hammered to form long, smooth welds and that magnificent central eye, with a vertical rod tying the cross bar to the peak of the roof. It was like sitting under a great cathedral vault and feeling the joy of the structure.

An imaginative young teacher had started these dreams. One afternoon he sprang to life, acting out being a building. He stood against the wall and became that wall. The class had felt the weight of the bricks pressing down on the top of his head, so heavy that he almost buckled at the knees. Then, when the walls had been built to door height, he acted the bricks above the doorway, unsupported and loose, raining down on his head. This made us laugh, but he found a solution - a lintel. A beam of wood or concrete over the head of the door would bridge the gap and support the bricks above.

 

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