DARUL UMMAH COMMUNITY CENTRE (FORMER LOWER CHAPMAN STREET SCHOOL) INCLUDING FORMER SCHOOL KEEPER'S HOUSE, COOKERY BLOCK AND PLAYGROUND SHELTER

Overview

Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1393896

Date first listed: 09-Aug-2010

Statutory Address: DARUL UMMAH COMMUNITY CENTRE (FORMER LOWER CHAPMAN STREET SCHOOL) INCLUDING FORMER SCHOOL KEEPER'S HOUSE, COOKERY BLOCK AND PLAYGROUND SHELTER, 56, BIGLAND STREET

Map

Ordnance survey map of DARUL UMMAH COMMUNITY CENTRE (FORMER LOWER CHAPMAN STREET SCHOOL) INCLUDING FORMER SCHOOL KEEPER'S HOUSE, COOKERY BLOCK AND PLAYGROUND SHELTER
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Location

Statutory Address: DARUL UMMAH COMMUNITY CENTRE (FORMER LOWER CHAPMAN STREET SCHOOL) INCLUDING FORMER SCHOOL KEEPER'S HOUSE, COOKERY BLOCK AND PLAYGROUND SHELTER, 56, BIGLAND STREET

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: Tower Hamlets (London Borough)

National Grid Reference: TQ 34822 81073, TQ 34843 81093

Reasons for Designation

The Darul Ummah Community Centre, a former London board school built to designs of 1873 by ER Robson in 1874-5, with additions by TJ Bailey of 1885-6, is recommended for designation at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * date: one of the earliest surviving schools built for the London School Board by its official architect ER Robson, following the seminal Education Act of 1870 * architecture: displays the hallmarks of Robson's developing Queen Anne house style, including gablets, red brick dressings, tall sash windows and a rare set of carved stone plaques showing Knowledge Strangling Ignorance and giving the name of the school and the board * external completeness: the early school was not substantially demolished when TJ Bailey made additions in 1885-6 and these have architectural interest too; * planning: includes a rare-surviving double staircase offering separate circulation for girls and boys and is one in a group of schools where Robson first departed from the traditional provision of large schoolrooms * group value: the site includes one of the first playground sheds to be constructed (in 1879), an early cookery school of 1882, and the schools keeper's house of 1875-6

Details



788/0/10278 BIGLAND STREET 09-AUG-10 56 Darul Ummah Community Centre (former L ower Chapman Street School) including former school keeper's house, cookery block and playground shelter

II Former London board school, 1874-5, by ER Robson and 1885-6 by TJ Bailey with later alterations. The late-C20, single-storey extension in the former playground to the east of the building lacks special interest.

MATERIALS: London stock brick with red brick and stone details, slate roofs, and timber sash windows painted white.

EXTERIOR: The former school has three storeys throughout, except one section to the south-east where there are additionally art classrooms in an attic storey under a pitched roof. The western elevation is entirely of 1874-5 and comprises a projecting, central entrance block under a polygonal roof (which may be missing a cupola or weathervane) flanked by rows of windows, and then projecting end bays with hipped roofs. The windows are round headed on the ground floor, segmental headed on the first and second floors, some of the latter breaking through the eaves into triangular pedimented gablets. These taller windows have flanking red brick pilasters; all the windows have red brick dressings and stone keystones. The central entrance block is defined by a greater density of architectural features: a lunette, windows under triangular pediments, windows under segmental pediments, stone plaques and the two doors (with carved stone plaques reading 'Girls School' and 'Infants School') . The original timber doors survive to the former girls' school entrance, but the infants' school entrance is now a window; this conversion appears to have happened some time ago, possibly in 1885-6. The return elevations to the north and south have segmentally arched windows in red brick surrounds; the elevation to the south appears to have been rebuilt in its upper parts; to the north the windows have been partly infilled in brick. As well as the Ann Street School plaque, a second stone panel on the western elevation reads 'School Board for London' in capital letters. In between the two lettered panels is a stone relief plaque set into a carved brick aedicule, depicting Knowledge Strangling Ignorance. The original model was designed by Spencer Stanhope, a friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and is in the pre-Raphaelite style for which the latter is famous.

The eastern elevation comprises a section of the rear of the 1874 school to the north and Bailey's extension of 1885-6. Bailey's composition is symmetrical at its northern end, with a central bow-fronted hall flanked by stairwell and cloakroom bays with small square or rectangular windows, and tall end chimney stacks. The roof is flat to provide a rooftop playground (a feature of inner urban schools in this period) bounded by brick piers and iron railings, with a metal play shed to protect children from the elements. An historic photo of c1900 in Tower Hamlets Local History and Archives Library shows that the piers and railings have been remodelled. The southern part of Bailey's range is a four-window-bay block with part-flat, part-pitched roof. The pitched roof houses the drawing classrooms, accessed via the rooftop playground, and its shaped gable contains a plaque reading 'Lower Chapman Street School' set into a brick aedicule. Bailey's extension is in a similar style to Robson's original school. The windows are flat headed with red brick gauged heads and those on the second floor are set in segmental red brick relieving arches which run across the fa├žade. The return to the south of Bailey's extension is largely blind, but for four classroom windows and an arcade in red brick.

INTERIOR: The rough configuration of corridors and rooms survives, with some alterations. The distinction between Robson's and Bailey's parts of the building is readable, but partitions have been inserted in some of the former schoolrooms and other rooms have been opened up to create larger spaces. There are suspended ceilings in places and concrete beams have been inserted into many of rooms on the lower floors at an undetermined date. The open truss roofs survive in the second floor schoolrooms and classrooms, the timber trusses resting on stone corbels. There are dado rails in most of the 1874-5 schoolrooms. Brick chimneybreasts, in the corners of some rooms and projecting from the side walls in others, indicate the location of former fireplaces. The school was later heated by cast iron radiators and these survive too. The double stair in the 1874-5 section survives complete with metal balustrade and handrail, which changes to timber in the upper flights. The two 1886 stairwells are typical of their date, and wider than the older stair. Most doors have been replaced, but there is a single surviving door from the 1874 school leading from the stairwell to one of the schoolrooms.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The two-storey school keeper's house of 1875-6 is stock brick with red brick dressings, a pitched slate roof and a central brick chimney stack. It has paired timber sash windows, painted white. The windows on the eastern elevation are set in a red brick relieving arch with keystone and flanking brick pilasters. The interior was not inspected. The cookery block of 1882 is single storey with red brick dressings to the timber windows, a pitched slate roof and a large end brick chimney stack. This served the cooking range, and the wide-arched recess in which it stood is still visible internally. There is also a single-storey playground shelter, an early example dating to 1879.

HISTORY: The former Lower Chapman Street School was designed by ER Robson in the first half of 1873 (the tender acceptance date is 2 July 1873) and was constructed in two stages. The first, the entrance block in the centre of the western elevation, the five window-bay range running north of it, and the return to Bigland Street, opened in June 1874; the second, the range running south of the entrance block, opened the following year. This staged construction was because houses had to be demolished to build the school, which could only be achieved gradually. The school was to be named Ann Street School, after the street (now Tillman Street) running along its western side. This is reflected in the carved stone panel on the western elevation reading 'Ann Street School Tower Hamlets'. By the time the school opened, however, its name had been changed to Lower Chapman Street School, which is the original name of the road to the north (now Bigland Street). A stone panel reading 'Lower Chapman Street School' is located on the eastern elevation. A second stone panel on the western elevation reads 'School Board for London' in capital letters. In between the two lettered panels is a stone relief plaque set into a carved brick aedicule, depicting Knowledge Strangling Ignorance. The original model was designed by Spencer Stanhope, a friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and is in the pre-Raphaelite style for which the latter is famous.

The school was built to accommodate 199 boys, 203 girls and 222 infants, with places for a further 140 boys, 141 girls and 155 infants when the design was completed in 1875. The boys were on the first floor and the girls on the second, and each floor had two large schoolrooms (located to either side of the stairwell) and three classrooms (two in the block facing Bigland Street; one in the southernmost part of the Tillman Street range); the infants were on the ground floor. The upper floors were accessed by two self-contained staircases within the same stairwell. The girls' entrance on the west side of the building led to the staircase which ran straight to the second floor, with no access to the first, and the staircase inside the boys' entrance, originally on the east side of the building, led only to the first floor. This unusual double staircase design was illustrated in Robson's influential book School Architecture, published in 1874. A school keeper's house was added in 1875-6, a covered playground shed in 1879 and a cookery block, for instructing children in housekeeping, in 1882.

In 1885-6 the school was extended to designs by Robson's successor, TJ Bailey. A second range running north-south, abutting the older school along its eastern wall (which was retained inside the new building with new doors inserted), was added. This provided a corridor for circulation between classrooms, which Robson's first school did not, a new hall and two classrooms on each floor, two additional staircases, cloakrooms, third-floor drawing classrooms and a rooftop playground. A further 120 boys, 120 girls and 170 infants could thus be taken at the school, bringing its total capacity to 1,470 children in 1886.

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 ratepayers 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 Board and LCC schools is thus illustrative of this special history.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: This former London board school is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * date: one of the earliest surviving schools built for the London School Board by its official architect ER Robson, following the seminal Education Act of 1870 * architecture: displays the hallmarks of Robson's developing Queen Anne house style, including gablets, red brick dressings, tall sash windows and a rare set of carved stone plaques showing Knowledge Strangling Ignorance and giving the name of the school and the board * external completeness: the early school was not substantially demolished when TJ Bailey made additions in 1885-6 and these have architectural interest too; * planning: includes a rare-surviving double staircase offering separate circulation for girls and boys and is one in a group of schools where Robson first departed from the traditional provision of large schoolrooms * group value: the site includes one of the first playground sheds to be constructed (in 1879), an early cookery school of 1882, and the schools keeper's house of 1875-6

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 508276

Legacy System: LBS

End of official listing