History in Structure

The Henry Building at Katesgrove Primary School Including Boundary Wall and Former Caretaker's Cottage

A Grade II Listed Building in Katesgrove, Reading

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Latitude: 51.4493 / 51°26'57"N

Longitude: -0.9731 / 0°58'22"W

OS Eastings: 471459

OS Northings: 172757

OS Grid: SU714727

Mapcode National: GBR QLH.JX

Mapcode Global: VHDWT.2TYV

Plus Code: 9C3XC2XG+PQ

Entry Name: The Henry Building at Katesgrove Primary School Including Boundary Wall and Former Caretaker's Cottage

Listing Date: 16 June 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393842

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507775

ID on this website: 101393842

Location: Coley, Reading, Berkshire, RG1

County: Reading

Electoral Ward/Division: Katesgrove

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Reading

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Reading St Giles

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

Tagged with: Cottage

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The Henry Building at Katesgrove Primary School including boundary wall and former caretaker's cottage


Board school, 1873 by Joseph Morris, extended 1891 and 1902

MATERIALS: Red brick with blue-brick banding and diaper patterns; tiled roof.

PLAN: School originally built on a T-plan, with single-storey infant school to north and two-storey girls' and boys' range at right angles to south; this still largely survives, albeit with later additions and some subdivision and amalgamation of spaces. Infant school built around large open hall or schoolroom (original gallery now removed), with smaller schoolroom (now meeting room) to south for advanced infants, and babies' room (now staff toilets) projecting to west. The latter now flanked to right by two-storey wing added in 1891 with entrance lobby below and staffroom above, and to left by later nursery block. Range of three classrooms to east of hall added in 1902. Two-storey cross-range to south has former girls' and boys' schoolrooms (now library) on ground and first floors, each with three classrooms to south, the latter extended in 1891.

EXTERIOR: Proto-Arts and Crafts Gothic style with much use of polychrome and moulded brickwork. Multi-pane mullion-and-transom windows of painted timber - many now replaced with modern double-glazed units - are set in pointed relieving arches with projecting hood-moulds and patterned or tiled tympana. Strongly asymmetrical elevation to Katesgrove Lane, the various elements expressed as a series of gabled projections of differing heights, with steeply-pitched roofs and tall corbelled stacks; 1891 wing similarly detailed but in slightly lighter brick. Polygonal office (now resources room) to right and nursery block to left probably added 1902. Two-storey south elevation to playground has two tall gabled projections, that to right extended outward in 1891. East (rear) elevation partly obscured by sloping site; two two-storey gabled wings to left, single-storey four-gabled classroom range of plain red brick to right added in 1902. Covered timber bridge on tall iron columns linking first floor to raised playground: this is shown on 1879 Ordnance Survey map, but was largely renewed in 2006.

INTERIORS: Former infant schoolroom has open scissor-truss roof of five bays with hammer-beams and cusped arch braces; trusses rest on moulded stone corbels, and at cornice level is a double band of dog-tooth moulding. Stone fireplace (now blocked) with Gothic details in centre of east wall. Doors to classrooms are part-glazed with multi-pane overlights. Most classrooms have open timber roofs concealed by suspended ceilings. Some have dog-tooth cornice details and simple brick fireplaces, all now blocked.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a) brick boundary wall with Gothic-arched entrance gateway to Katesgrove Lane; b) to north of main building, former catetaker's cottage of 1878, extended 1897-9 to form laundry and housewifery classrooms.

HISTORY: Prior to the establishment of the Reading School Board, the industrial suburb of Katesgrove was served by a small charity school for 184 pupils run by Charlotte Pell. The area was identified early on as suffering a particular shortage of school places; the Board took over the existing school in 1872 and the following year commissioned the borough architect Joseph Morris to prepare designs for a much larger replacement for 678 pupils, on a sloping site formerly occupied by a villa known as Katesgrove House. Morris' school, built at the bottom of the slope, was designed to accommodate girls and infants on the ground floor and boys above, with the boys' playground placed at the top of an embankment and accessed via a timber bridge. Construction was undertaken by a group of contractors led by the local firm of Wheeler Bros. In 1878, in response to worsening vandalism outside school hours, Morris was employed to design a caretaker's cottage for the site; this was extended in 1897-9 to serve as a laundry and housewifery classroom.

In 1890-2 the new Central Boys' School was built at the top of the embankment to designs by William Ravenscroft by the builders Winter & Fitt of Reading. The Katesgrove boys' department was moved wholesale to the new school, and boys were also transferred from other schools in the borough. Meanwhile, in 1891, Morris was brought in again to extend and adapt the 1873 Katesgrove building to form a girls-only school. Further classrooms, again by Morris, were added in 1902. The site was used as a military hospital during the First World War. The boys' and girls' schools were finally merged in the 1960s; Morris's 1873 school is now known as the Henry Building, and the former Central Boys' School as the Dorothy Building.

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. At the beginning of 1871, Reading Borough Council petitioned the Government for the immediate establishment of a school board in the town, bypassing the usual preliminary inquiry. Elections were held in March 1871; the resulting nine-member board mainly comprised members of the town's social elite - three clergymen, two prominent industrialists, the headmaster of a local private school - but also included a local boot-maker, Jesse Herbert. The design of new schools was at first undertaken by the Berkshire county surveyor Joseph Morris, although other architects were brought in after 1890. The Board continued to oversee the building of new schools and the extension of existing premises until 1903, when responsibility for elementary education passed to the Borough Council.

Joseph Morris (1836-1913) was the leading architect in Reading during the later C19. Articled to the county surveyor John Berry Clancy, his first major independent work was the new church of St Paul at Highmoor, Oxfordshire in 1859. In Reading he was responsible for numerous offices, factories and houses, the latter ranging from large suburban villas to workers' terraces; he also restored and extended the town's two medieval churches of St Lawrence and St Mary. He was appointed Berkshire county surveyor in 1872, and it was probably in this capacity that he was selected to produce designs for the Reading School Board; his work included schools at Coley (1872), Katesgrove (1873), New Town (1874) and Oxford Road (1880-3), the latter together with SS Stallwood, his partner in the decade following 1875. From 1884 he became involved with the millenarian sect known as the Agapemonites, for whom he designed a large and ornate church in Clapton, north London (1893-6). Morris established an architectural dynasty in Reading that included two of his nephews and two of his children; his daughter Violet was one of the first women to join the profession.

Bradley, S and Pevsner,N., The Buildings of England: Berkshire (revised edn., forthcoming).
Gold, S.M., A Biographical Dictionary of Architects at Reading (1999).
Minutes of the Reading School Board (1871-1903), Berkshire Record Office R/EB1

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Henry Building at Katesgrove School, built in 1873 to designs by Joseph Morris, and extended in 1891 and 1902, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a striking and idiosyncratic design by the leading local architect of the mid-C19;
* Historic interest: one of the first pair of schools to be developed by the Reading School Board, and one of the earliest outside London.

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