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Wirksworth Junior School

A Grade II Listed Building in Wirksworth, Derbyshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.0827 / 53°4'57"N

Longitude: -1.5677 / 1°34'3"W

OS Eastings: 429056

OS Northings: 354024

OS Grid: SK290540

Mapcode National: GBR 59H.LJ7

Mapcode Global: WHCDV.WSN4

Entry Name: Wirksworth Junior School

Listing Date: 15 June 2009

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393320

English Heritage Legacy ID: 506408

Location: Wirksworth, Derbyshire Dales, Derbyshire, DE4

County: Derbyshire

District: Derbyshire Dales

Civil Parish: Wirksworth

Built-Up Area: Wirksworth

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Wirksworth St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Derby

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Listing Text

WIRKSWORTH

812/0/10019 WASH GREEN
15-JUN-09 Wirksworth Junior School

II
Elementary school. 1912. Designed by George Widdows, architect to Derbyshire's Education Committee from 1904 and Chief Architect to Derbyshire County Council in 1910-1936.

MATERIALS: Red brick laid in English garden wall bond, rendered and painted above cill level, with tile dressings and tiled roofs and brick chimneys.

PLAN: The school is a butterfly plan, with central octagonal hall and four wings, each with a cross wing at the end with slightly advanced gable facing inwards.

EXTERIOR: The school is built in the Arts and Crafts style, with steeply pitched roofs and low eaves. The opposing V shaped elevations to north and south are the same. The north-east and south-east facing elevations are of one and a half storeys, with two hipped dormers with casement windows above a three arched arcade, now glazed. In the corner between the two wings are paired tall hipped dormers with two mullions and one transom each, with cills below eaves level, the tips of their roofs just joining. The north-west and south-west facing elevations have a tall central window rising above the eaves to a hipped dormer roof, with two wooden mullions and two transoms. To the north, this window is flanked by a narrow window and door, and to the south by two windows. To the east, the single storey cloakroom block conceals the elevations to the centre, leaving only the tall hipped dormers towards the centre and the gable ends of the cross wings visible. The ends of the rafters are visible under the eaves. The roofs of the gable ends are slightly swept, with tiled kneelers. Each gable has a central tall window divided by two mullions and two transoms, flanked by two narrow windows with brick relieving arches with a herringbone pattern tiled infill, and brick drip mould over. Under the gable eaves is a dentillated pattern in tile, and a similar pattern runs above the lintels, with a dentillated line in miniature above. Immediately under each gable is a pattern of ventilation holes. All windows are wooden, with small panes, and retain their original openings, including hopper openings to the lower panes. Some original cast iron rainwater hoppers survive.

INTERIOR: At the centre of the building is the school hall, octagonal at ground floor level. The hall is lit by the tall paired hipped dormers where the wings meet at first floor level, creating a cruciform shape. Square piers between the paired windows support wide arches. The floor is of polished concrete blocks. The arches between the piers and outer walls at ground floor level are segmental, and there are segmental arches to openings to stairs and classroom corridors.

Each wing contains two units. In all cases the end cross wing is a large classroom at the end of a corridor; both east wings have a smaller classroom to one side of the corridor (that to the north is now a kitchen), while both west wings contain cloakrooms and lavatories, now offices. These retain their glazed bricks to dado height. The east wing corridors were originally verandahs, and although now enclosed, the octagonal wooden supports on concrete octagonal bases still survive, as does the exposed brickwork, now internal, and windows. Classrooms all have niches for blackboards with to one side a built in cupboard (of varying sizes), and to the other a blocked fireplace with glazed brick surround, painted over.

Two enclosed staircases off the hall lead to staff rooms on the first floor. Original doors and built in cupboards and shelves survive, and some doors retain their original furniture, including the locks to the lavatories.

HISTORY: Wirksworth Junior School was designed by the architect George H. Widdows (1871-1946) and was completed in 1912. It was one of a large number of new schools built to Widdows' designs by Derbyshire County Council in the early C20. Derbyshire had the greatest percentage increase in population in the country in the 1890s, particularly due to the growth of the coal mining and textile manufacturing communities in the east of the county. Widdows had come to Derbyshire in 1897 as Chief Architectural Assistant to Derby Corporation. Following the 1902 Education Act, responsibility for schools in the county passed to Derbyshire County Council. In 1904 Widdows was appointed architect to the Council's Education Committee. In 1910 he was appointed Chief Architect to the Council, although schools remained his predominant concern. By the time he retired in 1936, he had designed some sixty elementary and seventeen secondary schools.

Widdows was at the forefront of the movement to build schools in which high standards of hygiene were as important as educational provision. The first major conference on school hygiene was held in 1904, and in 1907 the Board of Health brought in legislation which required schools to become subject to regular medical inspections. Widdows worked with his Medical Officer, Sidney Barwise, and two deputy architects, C. A. Edeson and T. Walker, to develop a series of innovative designs introducing high levels of natural daylight and effective cross ventilation in schools. His designs, in a neo-vernacular style, were characterised by open verandah-style corridors linking classrooms with generous full-height windows. His distinctive and influential plan forms were based on a linear module which could be arranged in different configurations to suit the size of school required and the shape of the available site.

The advances Widdows made in school planning were recognised by his contemporaries. In an article on provincial school building in 1913, The Builder stated that his work 'constitutes a revolution in the planning and arrangement of school buildings... a real advance which places English school architecture without a rival in any European country or the United States.' The plan of Wirksworth Junior School is illustrated in this article.

There is now a flat roofed cloakroom block to the east, between the north-east and south-east wings, enclosing the once open verandah. The 1922 OS map shows some sort of structure here, but indicates that the verandah was still open.

SOURCES: G. H. Widdows, 'Derbyshire Elementary Schools: Principles of Planning', paper presented to Royal Sanitary Institute on 25 February 1910, in Royal Sanitary Institute Journal (1910), 92-116.
'The Derbyshire Schools', The Builder, Vol. 105 (31 October 1913), 460-461.
The Builder, Vol. 107 (10 July 1914), 44-45; (17 July 1914), 74-75.
G. H. Widdows, 'School Design', RIBA Journal, Vol. 29, No. 2 (26 November 1921), 33-45.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Wirksworth Junior School is designated at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* It is a notable example of the work of George Widdows, who is nationally acknowledged as a leading designer of schools in the early C20 and an exponent of advanced ideas on school planning and hygiene.
* This school is an early and rare example of Widdows' butterfly plan type. The original plan form remains clearly legible and has not undergone significant alteration.
* It retains all of the notable elements of its original design and is very little altered. The later enclosure of the verandah corridors has been achieved without the loss or permanent concealment of original fabric.
* The exterior is of distinctive architectural quality and displays interesting massing, close attention to detail and the well-crafted use of materials.
* The interior retains a number of original fixtures and fittings of special interest, including tiling, built in cupboards and fireplace surrounds.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Reasons for Listing

* It is a notable example of the work of George Widdows, who is nationally acknowledged as a leading designer of schools in the early C20 and an exponent of advanced ideas on school planning and hygiene.
* This school is an early and rare example of Widdows' butterfly plan type. The original plan form remains clearly legible and has not undergone significant alteration.
* It retains all of the notable elements of its original design and is very little altered. The later enclosure of the verandah corridors has been achieved without the loss or permanent concealment of original fabric.
* The exterior is of distinctive architectural quality and displays interesting massing, close attention to detail and the well-crafted use of materials.
* The interior retains a number of original fixtures and fittings of special interest, including tiling, built in cupboards and fireplace surrounds.

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