North Laine History

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The St Nicholas Memorial School

Frederick Place

St Nicholas memorial was set up in 1851 and funded privately as a school for poor girls. Its initial premises was in Gloucester Lane, now Gloucester Road at the corner with Vine Street. It was endowed by Mrs Rose as a memorial to her adopted daughter who had died in childhood. This location next to a street with a number of slaughter houses was not ideal and was described as ‘a desolate waste of poor habitations’. In 1854 the school relocated to 35 Frederick Place – a street “opposite broad open gardens and a row of workmen’s dwellings”. In that year St Nicholas Church was restored as a memorial to the Duke of Wellington and the school was so named for that reason.

As North Laine developed with the arrival of the Locomotive and Carriage works in the late 1840s and 1850s, Frederick Place found itself no longer overlooking countryside and by the 1890s the school room windows were regularly being “invaded by all sorts of missiles by the street boys” and the school inspector reported that the “towering structures” opposite were blocking light to the schoolroom.

The school closed down in 1944 but the building remains as a block of flats.