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Talbot Street School

Talbot Street School
Plaque no. 15
Date of plaque unveiling
18 May 1973
Alice McFarlane, London historian and ex-teacher
600 Talbot Street, London, Ontario

The building was demolished in 1981 and the plaque is now mounted in the Ivey Family London Room, Central Library, London Public Library, 251 Dundas Street, London, Ontario.

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In June 1858, Common School trustees purchased a lot on Talbot Street for a new school from pioneer London resident, William Kent. Later the same year, a two-room frame school was built to accommodate the overflow of children from the old Union School on King Street. In 1865, 114 boys and 95 girls were in attendance.

By 1882, the old school was seen as grossly inadequate and was replaced by a two-storey brick building with four large classrooms. On a wintry school day in 1892, the building caught fire. According to the firehall diary, problems arose when the fire hydrant was found frozen. A second fire wagon arrived, but by this time the roof had fallen in and two firemen were injured. The evening London Free Press reported that although the school had been gutted, all 500 children had escaped, thanks to fire drill training.

Even before the fire was extinguished, the school board had met and arranged for students to attend class in the First Methodist Church, the London Collegiate Institute and the Park Avenue Presbyterian Church. The rebuilding of the school was finished in time for September classes.

Talbot Street School housed London’s first kindergarten, and also its first Mothers’ Club in 1905. This club aided the establishment of nursing services and welfare projects in the schools.

For many years this school served the finest residential area of London. Among its pupils were children of well-known London families such as Calder, Carling, Gillespie, Gunn, Harris, Ivey, Kingsmill, Labatt, Meredith, Reid, and Westervelt. One pupil, Frank Gahan was later Magistrate for the Channel Island of Guernsey; Floy Lawson married Duncan MacArthur, Minister of Education in the Hepburn government; and Benny Wilson became a Rhodes scholar.  Twenty Talbot students gave their lives in the First World War and eleven in the Second World War.

Talbot Street School was demolished in 1981. Condominiums now occupy the site.