Enfield Technical College
Former Technical College and Technical School, including gymnasium to side. 1938-41 by Middlesex County Architect's Department, W T Curtis Chief Architect, H W Burchett, Education Architect. Concrete frame clad in red brick and tile, with flat roofs. Largely symmetrical plan, with broad ranges flanking central staircase tower; two parallel ranges to sides; a central hall, now the entrance to the library, with courtyards to front and back; with single-storey 1990s recreation hall to rear and original gymnasium to side. The rest of the building is mainly of three storeys, with six-storey tower.
Strong Scandinavian influences in the tile patterns, mouldings, glazing and proportions. 14-bay entrance (north) front either side of central tower. The tower is entirely glazed to front, as are the 13 bays to either side over slightly projecting ground floor with smaller horizontal leaded windows. The large upper windows, with metal glazing bars, are set between a highly stylised giant order of tiled engaged columns that read as great ribs or fins the length of the building. Similar tiled treatment with curved corners, and curved brick drums forming outer walls to entrance, which has projecting concrete canopy inset with round lights and original metal double doors in similarly glazed surrounds with toplight over. The treatment of double-height continuous glazing in metal window surrounds continuous along the sides of the building, the end returns to the main front repeating the giant tiled order. Single-storey former workshop range to rear, now converted to seminar rooms, and recreation hall attached in c.1996, not itself of special interest but complimentary in design.
Front courtyard elevation with round drum extended into it, of three storeys with continuous bands of windows, those to upper floors with strongly horizontal pattern. The same pattern is repeated in the two- and four-light windows found to either side, while the ground floor is more continuously glazed, with double metal doors opening into the (finely landscaped) courtyard to either side. Rear single-storey workshop range remodelled as classrooms in 1992, with new windows set in large areas of brickwork.
Interiors. The interiors were completed only after 1945. Ground-floor entrance hall has cream tiled columns extending into the drum noted above, and coved ceilings. Corridors with classrooms and offices to either side on ground floor and second floor. In the centre of the building, the former hall has been adapted as the entrance to the library, which occupies the entire first floor, and which has been opened up between columns to create an open-plan working environment. The hall, however, retains its coved ceiling, with octagonal mouldings, and fluted proscenium surround.
Five-bay gymnasium of nearly double height, the central three bays fully glazed between large tiled engaged drums repeating the pattern of ribs or fins found on the north facade.
Attached retaining walls either side of main entrance door.
Enfield Technical College and School grew out of a social centre and institution for evening classes founded by Sir Joseph Wilson Swan, inventor of the incandescent light bulb and, as a partner in the firm Edison and Swan, a major local employer. In 1905 the institution was taken over by Middlesex County Council, who in 1911 built was is now called the Swan Annexe in Ponder's End High Street. By the 1930s that building was too small for the growing number of apprentices studying there, either at the school (for 13-16 year-olds), or by day release or evening classes at the College. In 1962 the School, named in 1959 the Ambrose Fleming Grammar Technical School in honour of the pioneer of the thermionic valve, moved to a separate site. The College was reorganised in 1967 into faculties of arts and technology, and since becoming part of Middlesex Polytechnic and subsequently Middlesex University has specialised increasingly in social sciences.
The Middlesex County Council Architect's Department, under Curtis and Burchett, began designing schools and college buildings in a Dudokian style in 1932, choosing its brick-clad concrete forms as a quick, low-cost and attractive way of building that was also appropriate to British conditions. The style was refined in a series of primary and secondary schools, but this is among their most ambitious and modern compositions, with Swedish references in the implied order and use of vertical tilework. It is included as among their most ambitious and prestigious buildings, which was not published because of the outbreak of war, but which was nevertheless completed much as intended.
Ambrose Fleming School, 1911-1961. School Magazine, Jubilee Edition, pp.4-9
T F T Baker, ed., Victoria County History, Middlesex, vol.V, 1976, pp.256-7
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 4: North, 1998, p.441