Acland Burghley School


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Acland Burghley School, 93 Burghley Road, London, NW5 1UJ


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Statutory Address:
Acland Burghley School, 93 Burghley Road, London, NW5 1UJ

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

Greater London Authority
Camden (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Secondary school by Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis 1963-7.

Reasons for Designation

Acland Burghley School, Camden, 1963-7 by Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest; the design’s bold elevational treatment and skilful handling of pre-cast concrete components and their finishes confer a strong aesthetic while respecting the wider Victorian townscape. The jewel-like, top-lit assembly hall is a particularly notable feature where the use of timber and concrete gives a rich texture; * Plan-form: the innovative plan, comprising three towers radiating from a central administration core with the linked assembly hall, remains relevant and fit for purpose, affording permeability and appropriate levels of accessibility combined with practical and humane functioning spaces; * Architects: Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis were one of the country’s foremost post-war architectural practices with a number of listed educational buildings to their name; * Historic Interest: the London County Council was at the forefront of innovative architectural approaches to the design of non-selective secondary schools. Acland Burghley favourably compares with the listed Lilian Baylis and Haggerston Schools, and is a good example of a school commissioned from well-regarded architects during this formative period.


The first school on the site opened in 1884 as the Burghley Road School, a mixed elementary school for 118 girls and 127 boys designed under E R Robson, architect to the School Board for London. It was joined in 1895 by a second building to the east for senior pupils. In 1905, the senior boys moved to a new school in Fortress Road named Acland School, the senior girls staying at the Burghley Road site until 1931 when they were moved to a school on Chesters Road (later known as Brookfield School). The junior boys and girls stayed at Burghley Road.

After the Second World War, the Labour-dominated London County Council (LCC) pioneered single-stream ‘comprehensive’ education. Acland and Burghley schools were amalgamated in 1959 in a new building to be built on the site of the Burghley Road school buildings. Like most authorities, peaks in the capital programme were flattened by farming out work to private architects on an approved list. It was under Leslie Martin (Architect 1953-56) that the LCC became a major public patron, with commissions handed to the likes of Denys Lasdun, Erno Goldfinger, Chamberlin Powell and Bon, Powell and Moya, Architects’ Co-Partnership and Stirling and Gowan. By 1960 Michael Powell was in charge of the LCC’s Schools Division and it may have been through his offices that Howell Killick Partridge and Amis (HKPA) were offered a 1,320-place comprehensive school in Tufnell Park, the amalgamated Acland Burghley school. It was an early commission for the practice, whose partners met in the Housing Division of the LCC Architect’s Department in the 1950s, designing the Alton West estate.

The plan had to be sufficiently flexible to permit educational reorganisation and allow for the retention of the old buildings until the new school was ready for occupation. Between 1963 and 1967 the new building was completed in phases, its layout stepping around the C19 buildings, allowing the school to continue on its site. The assembly hall was the last element to be completed, after the occupation of the teaching towers. As the new building was occasioned by the merger of two schools, the senior teaching staff was involved in briefing. Unusually, the educational structure was dictated not by the LCC’s educational officers but by the ambitious headmaster, L A V Abley. There were to be no houses but a horizontal division into lower, middle and upper schools, with three pairs of year groups. The school was officially opened by Dr Tait, Vice Chancellor of the City University, on May 24th 1968.

There have been some alterations to the building. Most notably the original casement windows have been replaced with double-glazed aluminium alternatives. The front entrance at the south elevation has been set back and the door replaced. The gymnasia and games hall, a large-span, folded-plate structure designed by John Partridge, burnt down in 1979, to be replaced by a lightweight, large-span steel structure. In 2007 a new two storey music and dance centre was designed by Gollifer Langston Architects attached to the south of the west range. Grilles have been added to the ground floor of the south elevation of the library in the west range, and the recessed ground floor of the west elevation of the administration core has been built-out to be flush with the floors above. A new lift tower has been constructed to the right (east) of the main entrance and a glazed entrance has been added to the ground floor of the southernmost teaching tower.

Internally the student reception in the main vestibule is remodelled from the original medical room and store. The cloakrooms to each teaching tower are now offices. The ground floor of the west range has been remodelled to form a specialist learning centre for autistic pupils. New build in the covered space accommodates the computer suite. The dining room has been extended and reconfigured and the toilets and cloakrooms have renewed fittings. A Learning Disability Department has been formed in the central core and both this and the remodelling to form the new Sixth Form Centre has necessitated the removal of some of the ground floor. The internal acoustic walls to the assembly hall have been punctured and some of the original lights have been removed.


Secondary school by Howell Killick Partridge and Amis (HKPA, lead partner: Stanley Amis), 1963-67, with additions of the late C20 and 2007.

STRUCTURE AND MATERIALS: the structure is a combination of pre-cast and in-situ concrete elements, clad with pre-cast panels with an exposed aggregate finish of Walley flints. Internal finishes are of painted, shuttered concrete and rendered blockwork.

PLAN: a drawbridge-like entrance ramp leads from the main entrance gate on Burghley Road to the principal entrance to the school at the south elevation of the administration core. From the main door, a north-south aligned central core of administration and staff rooms at ground floor and teaching rooms above are accessed by corridors at the ground and first floors. Specialist departments are grouped over the central core with top-lit arts studios fanning out at the second floor. Radiating out to the east of the central core are the three teaching towers with classrooms grouped around staircases and paired year rooms for assemblies and dining at the ground floor. Above them are three storeys of classrooms. A linear west range links to the administration core at its north end and adjoins the later sports hall to the north-west* and arts block of 2007 to the south (not assessed for listing). The school’s emphasis on music and drama was crystallised in a separate hexagonal assembly hall built on the site of one of the C19 school buildings to the south-west of the administration core and linked to it by an external, covered walkway of exposed concrete. To the north, the site was sliced open by a railway cutting. This was decked over with pre-cast concrete beams to provide a playground*, car park* and a sports hall*.

EXTERIOR: three teaching towers of five storeys are attached to the three storey administration core, with the west range of three storeys. These different elements are united by a consistent architectural treatment of bands of aluminium fenestration (replacements for the boxed-out, double-sliding acoustic windows) and canted flint aggregate panels over octagonal columns with infill panels of grey brick and fair-faced in situ concrete. A new lift tower* has been constructed to the right (east) of the main entrance* and a glazed entrance* added to the ground floor of the southernmost teaching tower, both are excluded from the listing except for the curving canopy to the main entrance which is included. The buildings have flat roofs with mostly renewed sky lights*. The windows are early C21 replacements*, but some of the external doors, apart from the main entrance doors*, are contemporary.

The teaching towers are recessed above the first floor level, while the second and first floors of the south elevation of the west range are jettied over the ground floor, supported on horizontal concrete beams. At the west elevation of the administration core the ground floor has been built out with concrete columns exposed between panels of aggregate. The west range is adjoined at the centre by a first floor glazed link* to the 2007 two-storey, steel-framed extension to the south (not assessed for listing).

The single storey hexagonal assembly hall is double-ended to allow multi-functional use. A central, timber-clad lantern with a lower horizontal band of glazes elevates from the concrete external wall; there are double-door entrances to the east and south. The angled external walkway linking the hall to the administration core is of exposed shuttered concrete with large side openings.

INTERIOR: as with the exterior, internal partitions are of fair-faced concrete panels, subtly chamfered in places, and the internal finishes are of shuttered concrete and rendered blockwork. The interior fixtures and fittings of the teaching spaces are generally renewed*, but the hollow-steel staircase handrails remain and a number of original doors and some timber cladding are present. Some areas of the interior have been remodelled: these are itemised below (annotated with an *) and excluded from the listing.

The assembly hall has a timber clad ceiling punctuated with side and top lights, rising from the lower concrete pitch of the roof supported on columns. It is equipped with stages at both ends, and has a fly tower and attached drama studios. The acoustic walling between the hall space and circulation corridor has been punctuated with openings and although many of the lights have been replaced, some of the original circular lighting is present.

In the main reception space is a timber wall memorial bought from Acland School with a central coat of arms flanked by the inscribed names of members of the school community killed in the First World War.

The following areas of the recently remodelled interior are excluded from the listing: the student reception offices to the left of the entrance hall*; interiors of the west wing*, including the new building infill of the covered space for the computer suite* and the Learning Disability Department Unit*; dining room*; the Sixth Form Centre*; interior of all toilets* and cloakrooms*; renewed doors* and lighting* throughout the building.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: outside there is a small amphitheatre for outdoor performances which has a terraced surface. Some of the dressed and carved stonework from the former Board Schools has been incorporated into the structure.

* Pursuant to s.1(5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned feature are not of special architectural or historic interest.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 31/05/2016


Books and journals
Cherry, B, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: London 4, North, (1998 revised 2001), 356-7
Franklin, Geraint, Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis, (2017)
'People v. Architect' in The Architect, (January 1972), 44,45
'Eleven Hundred individuals at Acland Burghley School' in The Architect and Building News, (5th June 1968), 848-855
History of the school, accessed 10/11/15 from
Franklin, G et al. England's Schools 1962-1988. English Heritage Research report 33/12


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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