Dudley School of Arts and Crafts was housed in the building on the corner of St James's Road. The building was opened with an elaborate ceremony in 1884. It was designed originally to house a free library, an art school and a single room art gallery.
By 1913, the Art School had established a firm place in Dudley and was seen as a vital asset to the town. A new library had opened in 1900 and so the art school expanded into the available space.
Ivo Shaw, became Principal in 1913, intending to only stay a few years. He was an artist and craftsman and was able to turn his hand to any of the arts and crafts taught in the school.
When World War I broke out, Shaw was 32 and in a Reserved Occupation. However, he felt compelled to join the war effort.
In early 1920, Shaw met Percy Shakespeare. He gave him a pencil and some paper after Percy confessed he liked to draw.
Recognising his talent Ivo Shaw took him into the school and waived the fees.
So began Percy's Shakespeare's art education. From the start Percy had a remarkable gift for figure drawing. He could see the lines in the human form and put them on paper with rare and confident precision. And he was prepared to work hard.
He spent at least six years attending Dudley School of Art, either full or part time.