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Centre for Greater Self Awareness (The Old Ragged School)

A Grade II Listed Building in Castle (Castell), Swansea

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6231 / 51°37'23"N

Longitude: -3.9439 / 3°56'37"W

OS Eastings: 265532

OS Northings: 193379

OS Grid: SS655933

Mapcode National: GBR WRX.4T

Mapcode Global: VH4K9.LGDK

Entry Name: Centre for Greater Self Awareness (The Old Ragged School)

Listing Date: 29 December 2004

Last Amended: 29 December 2004

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 83278

Building Class: Education

Location: Main elevation to the street and facing rear elevation of Central Library and College of Art building.

County: Swansea

Community: Castle (Castell)

Community: Castle

Locality: Alexandra Road

Built-Up Area: Swansea

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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Swansea

History

First established in Orchard Street by public subscription and landowner donations in 1847 for the educational, religious welfare and medical support of impecunious families in Victorian Swansea. From 1871, it also provided night schools as well as religious instruction, social activities and a winter soup kitchen. The Ragged School moved the short distance to its present site in 1911, the date recorded on incised stones over the main doorway and on the four foundation stones. Architect currently unknown (possibly Glendinning Moxham?).

Exterior

Striking, symmetrical red brick fa├žade in Wrenaissance style. Two storeys, three bays with open pediment supported on banded brick pilasters to advanced centre; bracket cornice to pediment linked to banded pilasters of outer bays with plain parapets in front of slated roof with gabled and slatted opening over hipped end. Rising into pediment is a large round-arched window with masonry keystone, brick voussoirs and small-pane glazing with thermal treatment to head. Band course to sill over stone tablet inscribed: "RAGGED SCHOOL. Founded 1847. Rebuilt 1911". Multiple brick arched doorway (in the manner of Lutyens) with radiating fanlight and double 3-panel doors up 3 stone steps. Outer bays have small recessed oculi with stone keyblocks over band course above segmental-headed lights (blind to left-hand) with keystones and small-pane glazing. Foundation stones dated August 24th 1911 to bases of pilasters.
Two-storey and basement 5-bay brick elevation to Richard's Place with taller end bays and banded quoins. Three thermal-style windows to centre of upper floor and segmental-headed windows elsewhere, all with stone keystones; plain lintels to basement. Small 2-storey extension for stair tower to far left.

Interior

Within main doorway is a vestibule flanked by an office (with panelled and glazed partition to main hall) and an openwell staircase with stone treads and metal handrail. A vertical T-beam has been inserted into stairwell for additional support. Main hall combined from former classrooms has tall cast-iron columns which support full-width timber floor-beams; plain boarded dados conceal fireplace openings to inner wall, original panelled and boarded doors. Polygonal pulpit front has been relocated here from upper floor.
Upper floor was used as a chapel and retains 4 large timber trusses with bolted joints to collar beams and kingposts with curving braces; angle braces to wall posts set onto stone corbels. Boxed-in bell housing in sloping ceiling of first roof bay from street end. Arched thermal-style windows to outer side with open fireplaces to stripped inner wall; far gable wall retains blocked arched opening flanking doorways to twin extensions for services and staircase with detail as before. Basement has shuttered concrete cross beams and ceiling supported by cast iron columns; blocked doorway in stair well formerly led under roadway to wartime bomb shelters at Old Police Station.

Reasons for Listing

Included for its special interest as a very scarce example of a voluntary educational building whose definite architectural quality and character has survived largely intact. Group value with Central Library, the Old Police Station and other listed buildings in Alexandra Road.

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