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University of Greenwich, Woolwich Campus: Original Building, Gymnasium to Rear and Corner Entrance Range with Attached Railings

A Grade II Listed Building in Greenwich, London

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Latitude: 51.4909 / 51°29'27"N

Longitude: 0.0652 / 0°3'54"E

OS Eastings: 543470

OS Northings: 178907

OS Grid: TQ434789

Mapcode National: GBR NJ.WMD

Mapcode Global: VHHNK.2STF

Plus Code: 9F32F3R8+93

Entry Name: University of Greenwich, Woolwich Campus: Original Building, Gymnasium to Rear and Corner Entrance Range with Attached Railings

Listing Date: 25 September 2003

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1390637

English Heritage Legacy ID: 490890

ID on this website: 101390637

Location: Woolwich, Greenwich, London, SE18

County: London

District: Greenwich

Electoral Ward/Division: Woolwich Riverside

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Greenwich

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Woolwich St Mary Magdalene with St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

Tagged with: University building

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25-SEP-03 (Southeast side)

University of Greenwich, Woolwich Campus:
original building, gymnasium to rear and
corner entrance range with attached


Also Known As: University of Greenwich, Woolwich Campus: original building, gymnasium to rear a nd corner entrance range with attached railings, THOMAS STREET

Polytechnic. 1890-1 incorporating mid-C19 house and with gymnasium to rear, extended 1892; all by H H Church. Major addition including corner entrance, 1916-17 by T P Figgis and A E Mumby.

Façade to Calderwood Street of brick with terracotta piers and quoins, and stone details; slate roofs. Rendered rear façade of earlier house survives in courtyard at the back. Gymnasium of brick with timber roof largely hemmed in by later buildings. Corner addition of Portland stone; roof obscured behind parapet.

Plan: main range converted into a series of workshops and laboratories on two main floors with attics; large gymnasium set to rear. Corner block of three storeys and basement; it has a circular entrance hall and stairwell, with teaching and recreational rooms off.

Main façade to Calderwood Street of seven bays with two-bay addition of 1892 to right, in same Tudor Gothic style save that there is a small tower to the extreme right, originally with cupola. Shaped gables to attic storey and small projecting oriel. Round-headed Gothic windows to ground floor in flat stone surrounds; first floor windows divided into two by sill band. Entrance in addition to right has double doors under tripartite toplight, with over it a stone plaque inscribed: WOOLWICH POLYTECHNIC YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN INSTITUTE. Addition of 1916-17 of 2-1-3 bays around corner into Thomas Street. High parapet forms a tripartite composition with higher centrepieces to both Calderwood and Thomas Streets and segmental pediment on corner. Giant Ionic order to first and second floors with tripartite casement windows in stone surrounds between on both levels, swags in aprons to central second-floor windows. Channelled rustication to corner and elaborate first-floor window with carving over keystone. Round-arched windows to ground floor with keystones; Grecian style railings to basement areas. Corner entrance with steps set in rusticated surround has double doors with glazed surrounds and toplights, all with leaded glazing, set under round-arch with voussoirs and keystone topped by a lion.

Interiors: The original building simple and robust, with tiling to central corridors and timber balustrade to staircase. More elaborate is the gymnasium. This has pilasters to the walls and an open timber-truss roof with lines of posts and was originally toplit. More decoration survives behind inserted movable seating. In the corner addition, elaborate circular hallway with mosiac floor (the initials WP entwined in centre), engaged columns and dentiled cornice. Iron balustrading and timber handrails to first-floor opening and to adjoining stairs. Above the hall a dome with toplight and oeil de boeufs between pilasters. Thick timber doors to the adjoining rooms. Classroom interiors not of special interest.

Woolwich Polytechnic was founded by Frank Didden, with the support and following the principles of his mentor Quentin Hogg, and opened to students in October 1891. It was the second Polytechnic, meaning 'of many arts and techniques' in the country, and like Hogg's pioneering venture looked to combine an educational role with social and religious functions. All these elements can be seen in the architecture of Woolwich Polytechnic, uniquely. Hogg recommended that a gymnasium was the most essential ingredient of a Polytechnic, and the original name above the side door on Calderwood Street demonstrates the Christian endeavour of its founders. After the Polytechnic was refounded in 1894 it assumed a more purely educational role, concentrating increasingly on higher technical education appropriate to its location, and secured funding from the London County Council that made the more ambitious corner addition possible. This is included for its architectural splendour. The three elements form a contiguous whole at the corner of the Polytechnic's historic town-centre site.

PRO ED 83/76, 90/170, 90/447
LCC Council Minutes, 28 July 1914.
Collin Brooks, An Educational Adventure, A History of the Woolwich Polytechnic, London, Woolwich Polytechnic, 1955
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1983, p.283.
A Stuart Gray, Edwardian Architecture, London, Duckworth Press, 1985
Andrew Saint, 'Technical Education and the early LCC' in Saint, ed., Politics and the People of London, London, Hambledon Press, 1989, pp.71-92.
Thomas Hinde, An Illustrated History of the University of Greenwich, London, University of Greenwich, 1996.

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