The following account is taken from English Heritage's report that it wrote as part of its full review of the school as a possible building deserving listed status.The request to EH for this review was made by the Bishopston Society in response to seeing the proposed Council's design for an extension to the primary school. This was felt to be totally lacking in sympathy with ithe original architecture.
Bishop Road Primary School in Bishopston, Bristol, is a former board school of 1895-6 built to plans by the architect William Venn Gough (1842-1918) who also designed the extensions of 1902-5. The school, built for the Horfield School Board, opened in January 1896 to serve the newly-expanding suburb of Bishopston, characterised by late-C19 and early-C20 terraced housing. It catered for boys, girls and infants. The first headmaster, Mr Edgar, set high standards and pupils often won scholarships to local grammar schools whilst others achieved success through sport. The school soon expanded and by 1905 was housed in the three main buildings which survive today (Edgar Building, Grant Building and Silverthorne Building), originally each with their own outdoor playgrounds. The second edition Ordnance Survey map published in 1903 shows the current Edgar Building and Grant Building. As indicated by the revised Ordnance Survey map published in 1916, the Silverthorne Building to the north had been added by then, and the former infant school wing to the east of the Edgar Building had been extended to the rear. The latter underwent a number of changes during the late-C19 and early-C20, and in 1947. It is claimed to have been (partially) rebuilt during these building phases, though this could not be fully verified on site nor are the historic architectural drawings (mostly concerning proposals) conclusive on this matter.
In 1939 the pupils' leaving age was raised and subsequently part of the school was used for secondary education. After the Second World War the school educated children from 5 to 16 years (Infant, Junior and Secondary), housed in the three buildings on the site. In 1947 the Infants wing was altered and given a canteen to provide school meals. During the 1960s and 70s the Silverthorne Building was used as a Teacher Training Centre.
In 1979 the Infant and Junior Schools were amalgamated to form the current Primary School. The Secondary School closed in the mid-1980s. In the late 1980s / early 1990s the school was extensively refurbished: the roof over the main hall was replaced and windows were replaced with new ones, except for those to the south front of Edgar Building, which the Council, together with the exterior of the Lodge, sought to preserve. Today, with circa 630 pupils, Bishop Road is one of the largest primary schools in the City.
Famous former pupils include the Bristol born stage - and film actor Cary Grant (born Archibald Alexander Leach, 1904 - 1986), who became one of Hollywood's classic leading actors, and the Bristol - born theoretical physicist Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1902-1984), who made fundamental contributions to the early development of quantum mechanics and electrodynamics, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933.
Horfield School Board was set up in 1871 under the provisions of the Public Elementary Education Act of 1870. Boundary extensions of 1897 led to a merger of the board with Bristol School Board which operated from 1871 to 1903. The use of the Gothic or Tudor style was prevalent for Board Schools in Bristol until the 1890s after which the Queen Anne style, following examples in London, was also used. Board Schools in Bristol frequently have a high central hall with spreading single storey blocks around it.
William Venn Gough, born in 1842 in Frome, Somerset, is an important Victorian architect who was based in Bristol. From 1872 he had an office in Nicholas Street, and between 1898 and 1906 he was based in Hampton Road before moving to Bridge Street in 1914. He designed many prominent buildings in the City, such as Cabot Tower, Brandon Hill, 1897-98 (listed at Grade II and situated within a Grade II registered park) and the former Port of Bristol Authority Docks Office in Queen Square, 1889, listed at Grade II. However, Gough is probably best known for his school buildings in Bristol, which include Colston's Girls School, 1891 (listed at Grade II), Bedminster Bridge Board School, c1895 (listed at Grade II) and St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School House, 1895 (listed at Grade II).