Saturday, 26 April 2008

Another mysterious school

The District line of the London Underground sends a probe without much conviction from Earls Court into South London, crossing the river at Putney. I took this line from Wimbledon to Kensington High Street to buy a rucksack, since that street has the biggest branches of Millets, Blacks and Ellis Brigham. On the way there I was excited (such is the phase I'm currently in) to see the back and one end of a fine school building from the raised section of track between Putney Bridge and Parsons Green. It was classic School Board for London so I attempted to take photos on the way back.

[All images -- click to enlarge]

Today I found it on the bike and photographed the front. It’s flats now; recent building and security make it impossible to get round the sides or into the playground at the back.

But what is this school? It’s on New King’s Road, Fulham, and as I said is classic SBL: look at its standard 7-part symmetrical construction, each function (classrooms, mezzanine teachers’ rooms and cloakrooms, staircases and halls) separately displayed through the articulation of the elevation to provide interest along the street frontage. (The simple line of the back, as seen in the shots from the train – a line of classrooms on each floor, varied only by the shaping of the gables – wouldn’t have been tolerated by the architects at the front.)

I now have with me the final report of the School Board for London, published in 1904 before they were disbanded, to be replaced by the Education Committee of the London County Council.

It’s a beautiful production of 378 pages with much of the information I've been trying to get from more obscure sources, including a complete list of SBL schools and pull-out maps. Imagine some public body now going to that sort of trouble before being closed down.

The list and maps clear up a number of my puzzles, but not this one. On the relevant map school on New King’s Road doesn’t appear.

You see Putney Bridge. North of that New King's Road curves east. The school is in that first triangle formed by the road and the District Railway.

The school’s absence leads me to wonder whether it was built after the end of the SBL, in the early days of the LCC’s school building programme – the architect was the same, T.J. Bailey.

Bailey designed for the early LCC education authority the surviving 1905 building on the Mina Road site of what is now Walworth Academy and was Walworth (comprehensive) School, where I once worked. There was talk of the new Academy (it took over last September) demolishing this handsome building, but I see from the Southwark Council planning applications website that it is to be preserved. Good!

Here’s the brochure for opening ceremony:

You can see that a wall originally divided the boys' from the girls' playground. They had separate entrances, the girls to the ground floor and the boys to a staircase to the first floor.


icklenellierose said...

Hello! Just found this blog post whilst trying to search for pictures of this school.
I went to this school from 1994-2000 and can tell you it is New Kings School. It is NOT flats - my mother worked there until last year. It is still a functioning school.
It used to be called Holman Hunt School, after the famous painter, because his house formerly resided on that spot of land. It changed names in the early 90s, because the school amalgamated with another school, Munster School (on Munster Road, now the building of St John's School) and a new name was chosen.
There are apparently plans for it to amalgamate with yet another school in the near future.
Hopefully this info helps you!

Pete Medway said...

I'm very glad of that information -- thank you. I should now be able to find out when it was built, by which authority and which architect.

Unknown said...

Hello Pete,

Found this quite by chance. My Dad ( and his many brothers and sisters) went to the school in the early 1900s - he was born in 1907 and lived in Hurlingham Road. My cousins tell me he designed the school badge.

Are you the Pete Meday who used to write on English teaching in the 1970s and 80s? If so, I have admired your work for many years. I was myself an English teacher for about 20 years and then worked in various universities for the next 20 years. Am currently at the Institute of Education.

Happy 2014

MIchael Fielding

Pete Medway said...

Mike, that's me -- nice to be remembered and thanks for the kind comment. Are you the Mike Fielding who worked on the history of an unusual East End school, the name of which I momentarily forget. We met once at Ivor's in Sussex.
Good to have a bit more on the past of the 'mysterious school' -- thanks.