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Gainsborough School Including Caretaker's House, Outdoor Wcs and Covered Play Areas, Handicraft Block and Special School

A Grade II Listed Building in Hackney, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5462 / 51°32'46"N

Longitude: -0.0255 / 0°1'31"W

OS Eastings: 537013

OS Northings: 184878

OS Grid: TQ370848

Mapcode National: GBR K2.B84

Mapcode Global: VHGQV.HDWK

Entry Name: Gainsborough School Including Caretaker's House, Outdoor Wcs and Covered Play Areas, Handicraft Block and Special School

Listing Date: 11 December 2009

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393587

English Heritage Legacy ID: 506204

Location: Hackney, London, E9

County: London

District: Hackney

Electoral Ward/Division: Hackney Wick

Built-Up Area: Hackney

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Mary of Eton Hackney

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text


735/0/10229 BERKSHIRE ROAD
11-DEC-09 HACKNEY WICK
Gainsborough School including caretake
r's house, outdoor WCs and covered pla
y areas, handicraft block and special
school

II
Board school, designed by TJ Bailey for the School Board for London, 1899, completed in stages up until 1918. Later alterations.

EXTERIOR: Gainsborough School is a three-storey, stock brick building with stone dressings and copings, timber sash windows (modern replacements of the originals) and pitched and hipped tiled and slate roofs (again, modern replacements in sympathetic materials). The principal elevation is to the south and comprises a central hall range of five bays, flanked by stair towers (with pyramidal roofs, lead caps and cupolas), then link blocks of four bays, terminating in end blocks which have shaped Dutch gables with stone coping. This frontage has some characterful details, including the baroque stone panels beneath the windows in the link blocks bearing the dates of construction, volute-shaped kneelers and stone oculi to the gables, and rubbed brick aprons beneath some of the windows. The north elevation is less varied, with the same gabled end blocks but a single central range twelve bays wide; it relies on the sheer scale of fenestration for architectural effect. The east and west returns are plainly fenestrated in the same pattern as the principal elevations, that is flat-arched windows on the lower floors, segmental-arched on the top. There are separate entrances for infants, girls and boys some of which have inscribed lintels.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The school forms part of an ensemble of associated buildings on the site. There is a CARETAKER'S HOUSE at the south-west corner of the playground, located on the upper floors of a building which originally housed the cookery classroom on the ground floor and the laundry above. The glazed brick stairwell leading from ground to first floor and large open rooms on both floors survive. This building also bears the school's only plaque: wrapping around its street-facing corner and reading 'S B for L' and 'Berkshire Road Schools 1899'. There are OUTDOOR WCs lining the southern boundary to the playground, as well as COVERED PLAY AREAS or bike sheds, all the originals. A second COVERED PLAY AREA is to the north of the site alongside a single-storey former HANDICRAFT BLOCK. Facing Berkshire Road is a smaller, single-storey school building, originally a SPECIAL SCHOOL for children whose mental or physical health required particular care. This brick building comprises two parallel ranges with rendered gabled ends with a link corridor in between. The side elevation windows break through the parapet into gabled dormers, which are rendered in roughcast. The roof is slate. Other windows have red rubbed brick flat arches. Inside, the timber rafters and metal tie-beams of the original roofs survive, but the building has been refurbished very recently and most features and finishes are modern. A light-weight timber canopy wraps around the north and west sides of the building, providing covered outdoor space. This has necessitated the bricking-in of one of the end gable windows.

INTERIOR: the plan survives well, with classrooms leading off a central hall on all three floors, which were originally for infants (ground), girls (first) and boys (second). There are four stairwells, those to the south also serving the attic storey, lined with russet glazed bricks, painted over in the main. There also appear to be glazed bricks to dado height in some corridors and the halls, but these have been painted over too. A good number of the original features and fittings survive including: parquet flooring in the hall, glazed partitions between classrooms, internal windows between the hall and classrooms and the mechanisms for opening them, timber lanterns above the link corridors on the third floor, niches with flues which once housed cast-iron stoves and some doors and radiators. The small offices housed in mezzanines above the main corridors were originally teacher's staff rooms and the headteacher's rooms. The attic art classrooms has the original wooden open truss roof.

HISTORY: Gainsborough School was originally called Berkshire Road Schools, after the street that runs along its western boundary (the plural denoting the school was for boys, girls and infants). It served around 1,000 children when complete.

The pioneering Elementary Education Act of 1870, steered through Parliament by William Forster and thus known as 'Forster's Act', was the first to establish a national, secular, non-charitable provision for the education of children aged 5-13. A driving force behind the new legislation was the need for a literate and numerate workforce to ensure that Britain remained at the forefront of manufacture and commerce. Moreover, the extension of the franchise to the urban working classes in the 1867 Reform Act also alerted politicians to the need to, in words attributed to the then Chancellor, 'educate our masters'. The Act required partially state-funded elementary schools to be established in areas where existing provision was inadequate, to be managed by elected school boards. The School Board of London was the first to be founded (in 1870), and the most influential. The Board was one of the first truly democratic elected bodies in Britain, with both women and members of the working classes on the board. It comprised 49 members under the chairmanship of the former Viceroy of India, Lord Lawrence, and included five members of parliament, eleven clergymen, the scientist Thomas Huxley, suffragists Emily Davies (an educationalist) and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (a doctor), and a working-class cabinetmaker, Benjamin Lucraft. The Board's politics were ambitious and progressive, as epitomised by its passing of a by-law in 1871 compelling parents to send children to school; this was not compulsory nationally until 1880.

Such was the achievement of the London School Board in the last quarter of the C19, that by the Edwardian period few neighbourhoods in London were without a red brick, Queen Anne style, three-storey school designed by ER Robson, the Board's architect, or his successor TJ Bailey. The Board's adoption of the newly-fashionable Queen Anne style was a significant departure from the Gothic Revival deemed appropriate to educational buildings up until that point, and created a distinctive and highly influential board school aesthetic. Around 500 board schools were built in London, many in densely-populated, poor areas where they were (and often remain) the most striking buildings in their locales. The Board did not escape criticism, however, both on the grounds of expense to rate-payers and for potentially radicalising the urban poor through secular education. Yet its supporters were unapologetic, as the words of Charles Booth, justifying the expense of more elaborate schools in the East End, indicate: 'It was necessary to strike the eye and hold the imagination. It was worth much to carry high the flag of education, and this is what has been done. Each school stands up from its playground like a church in God's acre, ringing its bell'. Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Naval Treaty' (1894) also lauded the new metropolitan landmarks as 'Beacons of the future! Capsules with hundreds of bright little seeds in each, out of which will spring the wiser, better England of the future', thus epitomising the reformers' confidence in the power of universal education to transform society. The striking design of many of these schools is illustrative of this special history.

SOURCES
SAVE Britain's Heritage, Beacons of Learning (1995)
Elain Harwood and Andrew Saint 'Report on Listing of London Board Schools' held at NMR (1991)
Timothy Walder, 'The evolution of the classic school design of the School Board for London (1870-1904): a reassessment of the role of Edward Robert Robson' (Institute of Education, University of London MA dissertation, 2006)
James Hall, 'The London Board Schools 1870-1904: Securing a Future for these Beacons of the Past' (University of Bath MSc. dissertation 2006-7)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Gainsborough School is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* one of the grandest board schools in East London which flamboyantly fulfilled Charles Booth's ambition to plant the flag of education in the late-C19 capital's poorer neighbourhoods;
* the dramatic roof-scape of cupolas and gables and the almost palatial scale of the school makes an impact from some distance away;
* good quality materials and detailing and a reasonably well-preserved interior;
* the school and its surrounding ancillary buildings form a characterful ensemble of late-Victorian and Edwardian educational buildings.

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

Description


735/0/10229 BERKSHIRE ROAD
11-DEC-09 HACKNEY WICK
Gainsborough School including caretake
r's house, outdoor WCs and covered pla
y areas, handicraft block and special
school

II
Board school, designed by TJ Bailey for the School Board for London, 1899, completed in stages up until 1918. Later alterations.

EXTERIOR: Gainsborough School is a three-storey, stock brick building with stone dressings and copings, timber sash windows (modern replacements of the originals) and pitched and hipped tiled and slate roofs (again, modern replacements in sympathetic materials). The principal elevation is to the south and comprises a central hall range of five bays, flanked by stair towers (with pyramidal roofs, lead caps and cupolas), then link blocks of four bays, terminating in end blocks which have shaped Dutch gables with stone coping. This frontage has some characterful details, including the baroque stone panels beneath the windows in the link blocks bearing the dates of construction, volute-shaped kneelers and stone oculi to the gables, and rubbed brick aprons beneath some of the windows. The north elevation is less varied, with the same gabled end blocks but a single central range twelve bays wide; it relies on the sheer scale of fenestration for architectural effect. The east and west returns are plainly fenestrated in the same pattern as the principal elevations, that is flat-arched windows on the lower floors, segmental-arched on the top. There are separate entrances for infants, girls and boys some of which have inscribed lintels.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The school forms part of an ensemble of associated buildings on the site. There is a CARETAKER'S HOUSE at the south-west corner of the playground, located on the upper floors of a building which originally housed the cookery classroom on the ground floor and the laundry above. The glazed brick stairwell leading from ground to first floor and large open rooms on both floors survive. This building also bears the school's only plaque: wrapping around its street-facing corner and reading 'S B for L' and 'Berkshire Road Schools 1899'. There are OUTDOOR WCs lining the southern boundary to the playground, as well as COVERED PLAY AREAS or bike sheds, all the originals. A second COVERED PLAY AREA is to the north of the site alongside a single-storey former HANDICRAFT BLOCK. Facing Berkshire Road is a smaller, single-storey school building, originally a SPECIAL SCHOOL for children whose mental or physical health required particular care. This brick building comprises two parallel ranges with rendered gabled ends with a link corridor in between. The side elevation windows break through the parapet into gabled dormers, which are rendered in roughcast. The roof is slate. Other windows have red rubbed brick flat arches. Inside, the timber rafters and metal tie-beams of the original roofs survive, but the building has been refurbished very recently and most features and finishes are modern. A light-weight timber canopy wraps around the north and west sides of the building, providing covered outdoor space. This has necessitated the bricking-in of one of the end gable windows.

INTERIOR: the plan survives well, with classrooms leading off a central hall on all three floors, which were originally for infants (ground), girls (first) and boys (second). There are four stairwells, those to the south also serving the attic storey, lined with russet glazed bricks, painted over in the main. There also appear to be glazed bricks to dado height in some corridors and the halls, but these have been painted over too. A good number of the original features and fittings survive including: parquet flooring in the hall, glazed partitions between classrooms, internal windows between the hall and classrooms and the mechanisms for opening them, timber lanterns above the link corridors on the third floor, niches with flues which once housed cast-iron stoves and some doors and radiators. The small offices housed in mezzanines above the main corridors were originally teacher's staff rooms and the headteacher's rooms. The attic art classrooms has the original wooden open truss roof.

HISTORY: Gainsborough School was originally called Berkshire Road Schools, after the street that runs along its western boundary (the plural denoting the school was for boys, girls and infants). It served around 1,000 children when complete.

The pioneering Elementary Education Act of 1870, steered through Parliament by William Forster and thus known as 'Forster's Act', was the first to establish a national, secular, non-charitable provision for the education of children aged 5-13. A driving force behind the new legislation was the need for a literate and numerate workforce to ensure that Britain remained at the forefront of manufacture and commerce. Moreover, the extension of the franchise to the urban working classes in the 1867 Reform Act also alerted politicians to the need to, in words attributed to the then Chancellor, 'educate our masters'. The Act required partially state-funded elementary schools to be established in areas where existing provision was inadequate, to be managed by elected school boards. The School Board of London was the first to be founded (in 1870), and the most influential. The Board was one of the first truly democratic elected bodies in Britain, with both women and members of the working classes on the board. It comprised 49 members under the chairmanship of the former Viceroy of India, Lord Lawrence, and included five members of parliament, eleven clergymen, the scientist Thomas Huxley, suffragists Emily Davies (an educationalist) and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (a doctor), and a working-class cabinetmaker, Benjamin Lucraft. The Board's politics were ambitious and progressive, as epitomised by its passing of a by-law in 1871 compelling parents to send children to school; this was not compulsory nationally until 1880.

Such was the achievement of the London School Board in the last quarter of the C19, that by the Edwardian period few neighbourhoods in London were without a red brick, Queen Anne style, three-storey school designed by ER Robson, the Board's architect, or his successor TJ Bailey. The Board's adoption of the newly-fashionable Queen Anne style was a significant departure from the Gothic Revival deemed appropriate to educational buildings up until that point, and created a distinctive and highly influential board school aesthetic. Around 500 board schools were built in London, many in densely-populated, poor areas where they were (and often remain) the most striking buildings in their locales. The Board did not escape criticism, however, both on the grounds of expense to rate-payers and for potentially radicalising the urban poor through secular education. Yet its supporters were unapologetic, as the words of Charles Booth, justifying the expense of more elaborate schools in the East End, indicate: 'It was necessary to strike the eye and hold the imagination. It was worth much to carry high the flag of education, and this is what has been done. Each school stands up from its playground like a church in God's acre, ringing its bell'. Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Naval Treaty' (1894) also lauded the new metropolitan landmarks as 'Beacons of the future! Capsules with hundreds of bright little seeds in each, out of which will spring the wiser, better England of the future', thus epitomising the reformers' confidence in the power of universal education to transform society. The striking design of many of these schools is illustrative of this special history.

SOURCES
SAVE Britain's Heritage, Beacons of Learning (1995)
Elain Harwood and Andrew Saint 'Report on Listing of London Board Schools' held at NMR (1991)
Timothy Walder, 'The evolution of the classic school design of the School Board for London (1870-1904): a reassessment of the role of Edward Robert Robson' (Institute of Education, University of London MA dissertation, 2006)
James Hall, 'The London Board Schools 1870-1904: Securing a Future for these Beacons of the Past' (University of Bath MSc. dissertation 2006-7)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Gainsborough School is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* one of the grandest board schools in East London which flamboyantly fulfilled Charles Booth's ambition to plant the flag of education in the late-C19 capital's poorer neighbourhoods;
* the dramatic roof-scape of cupolas and gables and the almost palatial scale of the school makes an impact from some distance away;
* good quality materials and detailing and a reasonably well-preserved interior;
* the school and its surrounding ancillary buildings form a characterful ensemble of late-Victorian and Edwardian educational buildings.

Reasons for Listing

Gainsborough School is designated for the following principal reasons:
* one of the grandest board schools in East London, designed to contrast with the poor, semi-industrial character of the vicinity in the late-C19, and flamboyantly fulfilling Charles Booth's ambition to plant the flag of education in the area;
* the almost palatial scale of the principal elevations is striking and the dramatic roof-scape of cupolas and gables is visible from some distance away;
* good quality materials and detailing and a reasonably well-preserved interior;
* the school and its surrounding ancillary buildings form a characterful ensemble of late-Victorian and Edwardian educational buildings.

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