1873 Branscombe school plan is rediscovered

ORIGINAL Branscombe Primary School architectural plans dating back to 1873 have been unearthed after spending almost three decades in a loft. Jan Devereese and her partner, Dave Trotter, who discovered the drawings, now want to return them to their rightf

ORIGINAL Branscombe Primary School architectural plans dating back to 1873 have been unearthed after spending almost three decades in a loft.

Jan Devereese and her partner, Dave Trotter, who discovered the drawings, now want to return them to their rightful owner.

The six plans, produced by E Swansborough, were rescued by Dave after he found them in a skip when he was working on the renovation of Branscombe Rectory in the 1980s.

He took them to his Feniton home and forgot all about them until last week when Jan was rooting through a box in their attic for pictures and re-discovered them.


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Jan, who now works for the Herald as an editorial assistant, said: "When I re-discovered them I thought 'oh brilliant'. Doing this job has made me more au fait with the areas and it crossed my mind about the work carried out on the school."

The plans, which are numbered from II to VII, were folded and had no protection other than being stored in a box in Jan's loft in Feniton.

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She added: "I assume the first plan is missing but they have survived pretty well considering they haven't been looked after."

"We would really like to give them back to the school as we feel that is their rightful place."

Neil Swait, acting head teacher of Branscombe Primary, said: "This is a very significant find for the school and the local community and will give the children at Branscombe the opportunity to carry out some exciting historical research into the history of our school."

Kingsley Squire, whose father Stanley Squire was the schoolmaster of Branscombe School from 1933-1962, is amazed the plans were dumped in a skip in the first place.

He said: "It is a very significant find and is amazing for the history of the village- it just shows what is thrown away."

Barbara Farquharson, of the Branscombe Project, said: "I have seen copies of the plans in the Devon Record Office and, in fact, we made some copies, and used them in the school exhibition we did last year. There's an interesting story attached to the building of the school."

Its history is detailed in a book written by Ethel McWilliam-the mother of district councillor Margaret Rogers.

According to the book '100 years of a village school: 1878-1978', the school was founded on the back of the Education Act of 1870 and the driving force was Reverend Robert Swansborough.

Barbara, who has undertaken much research into the history of the village and the school, said when the Education Act was passed, communities had to decide whether to go for a state school or a church school.

She explains: "Branscombe 'Squire' - Henry Ford, and the new vicar, the Reverend Tomkins, opted for a church school and plans were going ahead in 1870. Then there was a terrible (and very funny) falling out between the squire and the vicar. "Eventually on Guy Fawkes Night 1871 the vicar was burnt in effigy and the next Easter he left the village.

"The Reverend Swansborough became the vicar and his brother, Edward Swansborough, a London architect, drew up the plans. There was a whole load of shilly shallying over grants and costs but the school opened in 1878.

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