Posted: Tuesday, 23 August 2016 @ 11:14
The Bishop of Coventry officially opened Intec Business Colleges Head Office in Rugby last week. The Old School in Pennington Court, which was a former infant school belonging to the Coventry diocese, is now home to one of the leading work based training providers in the UK. At the opening Bishop Christopher was given a tour of the new building before taking part in a forum alongside members of the business and education community in Rugby.
The forum gave Bishop Christopher the opportunity to find out more about the impact of the current economic situation within this part of his Diocese and listen to views on education and skills training from those on the ground. Bishop Christopher also met members of staff before officially opening the building.
Bishop Christopher said, “It is brilliant to see what has happened with this former infant school and that this building is continuing to be used for the betterment of life. A wonderful tradition of providing education, skills and training is being continued although it is being re-expressed in a new and exciting way.”
John Herman, Managing Director of Intec, said, “We were delighted to have Bishop Christopher officially open our building and we are very happy that he is pleased with the restoration we have done. This building, which dates back to 1845, has belonged to the Church since it was built and it is fitting that the Bishop is now able to see what it is being used for.”
During the renovation works for the building, a couple of fragments of wood were found inscribed by Victorian workmen. One tells us that EJ Parker, an apprentice painter to Mr Harris, apparently enlisted in the 9th Lancers on 27th December 1900 and was discharged the following day. The other has the names H Cowley and H Maggot and a date of 1907. This provides a fitting connection to Intec who currently operate an Apprenticeship training programme for young people throughout the UK.
The Story behind Old School, Pennington Court
There is a carved stone plaque on the outside of the building which says: “St. Matthews District School 1845”. Around this time there was a major building programme of infant and junior schools throughout the country following the National Schools Plan. In May 1845, the Church provided land for a school ‘for the poor persons of and in the parish of Rugby’ in Pennington Street in the district of St. Matthews.
The school was originally called St. Matthews District School and accommodated 170 children of all ages. Over the next five years, the school was enlarged and improved, however it was still not able to meet demand. In 1852, the older boys and girls moved into a newly built St. Matthews School in Bridget Street less than a quarter of a mile away.
The school in Pennington Street was renamed St. Matthews Infant School and from then on took only children under seven years old, some as young as two years old. Parents were at first required to pay 2d per week for children to attend the school but in 1877 this went up to 3d. Free education was introduced in 1891 and in 1898 the school became so overcrowded that children under four years old were no longer admitted.
Not much further information exists until 1939 when the school was renovated and then closed for about a month when war was declared. In 1941 an air raid shelter was constructed on site which no longer exists.
In 1946, the school changed its name again to St. Matthew’s C of E Infant School and in 1948 came under the control of the Local Education Authority. Some time after this date, the building no longer served the purpose as a school and the children moved to a new school.
Little information is available until 1970 when the building became Rugby’s first Multi Racial Youth Centre and Community Relations Council Offices. Up until 2007, when Intec bought the building, the school was used by community groups and for a time was used by a pre-school play group.