Friday, 9 May 2008

Special issue of The Victorian

Cathy Burke put me on to this. I tried to order this issue from the website of the Victorian Society but ended up infuriated and blasted off an email. Within five minutes I had a phone call from the President, Ian Dungavell, apologising for their ‘frightful’ website and saying he’d put a copy in the post himself, which indeed he did, with a nice note, and I ended up impressed. By the magazine, too – what a terrific cover, for a start.

Inside there’s this, of one of the classic T.J. Bailey London board schools, Kennington Road:

The school’s a classic in part because of its clear 7-part plan and elevation: working outwards, central hall on each floor (infants, girls, boys), staircase, cloakrooms and teachers’ rooms (notice how two fit in the height of the middle floor hall), and classrooms. Each element has a quite different roof treatment. The colour hasn’t come out too well in my copy of the photograph but you can see the distinctive London style: yellow stock brick with red brick to pick out corners, string courses and fancy bits.

There’s also an article about the Manchester Board Schools, which are somewhat different:

The top one is Crumpsal Road: red only (brick, with terracotta for the ornaments); two storeys, not three (did they have more land to spread out on?); five elements, not seven. The windows are very similar to London ones – large, white-painted, sash, some with rounded tops.

Personally I find all that red a bit oppressive, especially when it’s dirty as remember it used to be (like everything in northern cities when I was a kid).

Soon I want to go back to Bradford, where I grew up, to photograph the board schools which, like the houses, are of stone, in a style that is nothing like Queen Anne. Bradford was one of the most progressive school boards in the country, strongly socialist in direction, so the schools were of high quality. My last visit was before I was interested in school buildings, and my photography wasn’t a success in any case. All I got of my junior school, Horton Bank Top, were these -- I hope it's still there when I go back:

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