Today it is difficult to imagine the 1870s pit bank as a prime site for Sedgley School Board's new Mount Pleasant school. Here, in October 1879, on ground purchased from local ironmaster Benjamin Whitehouse, Mr. William Baker opened a state of the art building erected at a cost of about £3,600. The architect, Archibald P. Brevitt, designed the L shaped layout with high ceiling classrooms heated by coal fires and accommodation for about 500 scholars. Outside toilets were de rigueur. By the turn of the century William H. Price was the master and Miss Emily Hampton was the mistress in charge of the infants.
An impression of Mount Pleasant Board School in the 1880s © John Wilkes
Mixed and infant schools with separate entrances for girls, boys and infants!
In 1903/4 additional buildings, including the Cookery Centre, were opened on the west side bounded by Mount Pleasant Street and Ivyhouse Lane. For a short period this was the Girls School, but boys were admitted in June 1908. Miss H. L. Fletcher was the first headteacher, followed by Richard Earp [1937/38], then Stan Grange [1938 to 1967]. Latterly the Junior School became the Primary School. This closed in July 1986, and although briefly considered as suitable for community use, demolition followed in January 1991. The Sedgley School Board foundation stone disappeared in the dust and a residential development soon filled the vacant plot.
Mount Pleasant Primary School in the 1980s © Beryl Wilkes
Left - originally the 'Cookery Centre' & right - originally the 'Girls School'
1913 saw the completion of alterations to the original school including the addition of a much-needed hall. Now the Senior School, later the County Secondary School, it prospered until around 1970 when, as the Coseley School annexe, final closure took place. [Coseley's facilities for secondary education were enhanced in 1933 with the opening of the Manor School and again in 1969 with the Coseley School.]
Mount Pleasant Secondary School in the 1950s © Ron Baker
The 1913 hall partly obscured the Victorian frontage
As early as 1987 the empty Mount Pleasant Secondary School was earmarked for archive storage. Previously some records had been available at Dudley Central Library while others were scattered around the borough. Eventually the home of Dudley Archives & Local History Service opened in March 1992.
The Archives entrance in 2005 © SLHS
Left - 1879 west wing & right - end of 1913 hall
By 2004 the Mount Pleasant facilities fell short of national standards and user requirements. In principle, relocation to Kingswinford was thought possible with the proposed sale of the Coseley site used to help fund the move. Local residents resisted any decisions that might lead to the loss of both the prestigious service and demolition of a unique building - even in January 2006 the final outcome was uncertain.
The Archives rear view in 2005 © John Wilkes
The 1879 west wing is the dominant feature
The Victorian features of Mount Pleasant, with quality exterior brickwork, interior walls covered with glazed bricks to window sill level and solid carpentry throughout, reflect an educational design worthy of protection. Unfortunately the boarded up windows and internal painting scheme obscure many of the original features. This is Coseley's last C19th 'public edifice' and a fine example of the rapidly disappearing Black Country Board Schools.
Victorian gable in 2005 © SLHS
1879 legend - 'Mount Pleasant Schools'
Stonework on the two fine brick gables is inscribed Mount Pleasant Schools and Coseley Council Schools. The latter may once have read Sedgley Board Schools.
Photographs of the demolition of Mount Pleasant Primary School can be found here.