It all started in 1813…
Cock Road school was erected in 1813 by the Bristol Methodist Sunday School Society as their first purpose built premises. They had already opened a number of others in the city and on the eastern fringe, largely in rented properties for a number of years; but Cock Road was its first flagship. The building was designed architecturally to remain a distinct church appearance, which proved a great weakness when exposed to the needs of education. No doubt it was expected to “double up” as a place of worship at weekends - this is confirmed in a delightful entry which records pupil punishment for “sliding down the banisters!"
We know from other surviving records that the school actually closed mid-century, for the lack of success, and the property was put up for auction. However providence arranged, no-one turned up for the sale!! Nevertheless it re-opened after a couple of years and continued to serve until 1892 when the school closed and the building was put up for sale again. Shortly before, all the pupils walked in procession to the new school in Cadbury Heath situated on the corner of Wraxall and Cadbury Heath Road. The building there served another 100 years before being moved to new premises in Lintern Crescent where it now stands.
The diaries give an almost day by day account of what life must have been like in those days running a school. Parents needed to be persuaded to send their children along. We perhaps need to remind ourselves that the state had taken virtually no role whatsoever in providing education during the Cock Road school period. It had been slow to implement the 1870 Foster Act. There was no real commitment whatsoever until the Local Government Act 1888 arrived setting up County Councils, County Boroughs, Education Authority’s with the abolition of School Boards which came some years later. The diaries present a picture of extreme poverty when homes and schools lacked the very basic of amenities like sanitation and clean drinking water, and it was no surprise that large numbers of children and staff regularly succumbed to water borne diseases, and occasionally death itself. Both staff and children often walked quite long distances to school. Thanks to the 1881 census some of them have been traced, and we know for example that Lucy Stone as a young pupil/teacher walked daily to the school from Bell Hill St George.
There are no pictures of the building, simply a Loxton drawing which of course indicates that at least part of it remains, converted to cottages on the site. It is situated a short distance from the junction with Wraxall Road, opposite the deep inclining footpath (in those days a road) leading to Cock Road bottom. A date stone on the building indicates a partial rebuild in a superior quality stone than the original into a partial conversion to a shop facing the road which closed also for business some years ago. A diagonal row of cottages are to the rear, strongly believed to be part of the original structure as the same outlines indicated on a Tythe map drawing of the 1830’s.
Forward to more recent years, Cadbury Heath School decanted almost half its pupils to the newly built school in Parkwall in the early fifties and the biggest change of all arrived immediately at the end of WWII when the school changed from being an elementary school, catering for the 5-14 year olds, to being a Primary School which is its present status and function. The school moved to its present site in Lintern Crescent in 1992.