Built in 1910 at a cost of around £1,000 it catered for the needs of adult learning at a time when the levels of adult literacy and numeracy where low. Cookery and domestic sciences classes were also held for girls from St Andrews. Pupils living near Bason Bridge were known to travel by train to their classes. Courses were also held in shorthand and typing, accounting and business management, science and general technical subjects. When the Infant’s School moved from Princess Street the Institute moved in and became the Community Education and Adult Learning Centre and the old building was renamed Belmont House and became a drop in and counselling centre for the Adult Mental Health Service Information courtesy of WInston & Robert Thomas: ‘The Book of Burnham-on –Sea’.
The King Alfred Secondary School opened in a new building on the Highbridge Rd in 1957 taking the secondary aged pupils from the Technical College.
John Strickland tells us:
“My parents moved to Burnham in 1948 when my father was given a teaching position at this facility. I can remember him taking me (I would have been aged about six) with him when he supervised after-school sports in the School’s sports fields of Pilsmouth farm which were behind where Margaret Crescent is now.
“After leaving St Andrews on the sea front, I had lessons for a while in this building when it was called Technical College. I can remember being taught by Mr Maddie, Mr Stone and Mr Lloyd. One of my first lessons was being shown the workings of a Van der Graf generator. To see the vivid electrical spark produced was quite something and I often wonder what happened to the machine.
Some lessons were held in a small room on the top floor, which had the old air raid siren on the roof directly above. In my time the siren was used to call the firemen to the fire station in Princess Street. When it sounded the noise was so loud the lesson had to stop.
“Being on three storeys and with wooden stairs the noise of pupils moving between classes was quite loud and seemed to reverberate throughout the building.”
The playground was tarmacked and very small and had very little outdoor seating so it was a race to get to sit on the lid of the coal bunker. Being metal and very old the lid was split in many places and I can remember tearing my trousers when jumping off and having to put my satchel over both shoulders to hide my embarrassment on my walk home.
During morning break times we were allowed to buy yesterday’s buns for a few pence from Marchent’s Cake shop nearby.
When some of the classrooms at King Alfred’s became ready we had mornings in the Technical School and afternoons at King Alfred’s and walked between the two buildings.”
Above School group, Pier St. Below in school yard. Dates unkown