England, who resumed on 200 for three after losing the toss, had enjoyed the better of the first day's play with Alastair Cook scoring a century.
However, the tourists' attack was far less wayward Friday. But their recovery was hampered by Paul Collingwood, who survived a close lbw appeal, being dropped twice.
Collingwood was 63 not out at lunch, Ian Bell 23 not out.
Daren Powell, the pick of the attack Thursday with two for 52 from 18 overs, followed up with a spell Friday of six overs for nine runs.
And Jerome Taylor took one for 20 in eight overs - a vast improvement on his wicketless first day return of six overs for 35 runs.
England started Friday with Cook 102 not out and Collingwood unbeaten on 21 after the West Indies quicks, not helped by a lack of match practice that meant they hadn't bowled any 'live' overs since arriving in England, failed to exploit Thursday's overcast conditions and a green pitch fully.
Cook was 102 not out and Collingwood unbeaten on 21.
With sunshine and blue skies overhead, conditions were now ideal for batting. Against that, the West Indies bowlers had the benefit of a full day's play behind him.
Taylor was unlucky when Durham's Collingwood, on 31, drove loosely outside off-stump in Friday's fourth over only for Daren Ganga at gully to drop the two-handed catch with England 211 for three.
Second slip Runako Morton summed up West Indies' mood by beating the turf.
Soon afterwards Taylor had an lbw appeal against Collingwood, now on 32 and playing no stroke outside off-stump, rejected by Pakistan umpire Asad Rauf.
First change Corey Collymore should have had Collingwood out for 36 with his second ball of the day when a top-edged hook lobbed towards backward square leg where Taylor, seemigly losing the ball in the sun, dropped the catch.
Colingwood went on to complete a 94-ball fifty with five fours.
Earlier, Cook was out to the first chance he offered.
Cook, who on Thursday had spoken of wanting to follow mentor Graham Gooch's advice and make sure he turned his hundred into a 'big-un', went for 105 when a square cut off Taylor was caught at backward point by Dwayne Bravo.
Essex left-hander Cook, 22, batted for just short of five hours and faced 196 balls with nine boundaries in what was his fourth century in eight matches this season.
This was also his fifth hundred in 15 Tests but, frustratingly for both him and Gooch, his highest score at this level remained the 127 he made against Pakistan at Old Trafford last year.
His exit left England on 219 for four and brought in Ian Bell, batting down the order in the spot usually taken by injured all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.
It took Bell 17 balls and 37 minutes to get off the mark such was the bowlers' improved accuracy.
England first innings: 280 (A. Strauss 33, A. Cook 105, K. Pietersen 26, P. Collingwood (not out) 63, I. Bell (not out) 23) in 84 overs