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Richmond Primary School

List Entry Summary

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

Name: Richmond Primary School

List entry Number: 1440485

Location

Towers Drive, Hinckley, Leicestershire, LE10 0ZD

The listed building is shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

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

County: Leicestershire

District: Hinckley and Bosworth

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II

Date first listed: 03-Oct-2017

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Primary school built in 1968-1970 to the designs of T Locke, E D Smith and J N Pitts of Leicestershire County Council Architect’s Department.

Reasons for Designation

Richmond Primary School, built in 1968-70 to the designs of T Locke, E D Smith and J N Pitts of Leicestershire County Council Architect’s Department, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it is the simplest and most dramatic example of a mature primary school designed according to the Leicestershire Plan, expressing new ideas of learning through discovery instead of by rote in its distinctive circular plan in which the library forms its physical and metaphorical heart; * the use of a very deep, top-lit plan instead of large areas of glazing from the sides, is a significant development in Leicestershire school planning, whilst the side-lining of the hall, another striking feature, is typical of the schools in the county; * the plan form has survived well despite some alterations, and the sympathetic replacement of the doors and windows has preserved the original architectural character of the building.

Historic interest:

* the collaboration between architects and educationalists successfully provided a planning solution to the pedagogical philosophy of the day, clearly demonstrating the aspirations of a progressive educational authority.

History

School building was both a symbolic aspiration of post-war Britain and an urgent need, driven by the ‘baby boom’, the raising of the school leaving age, planned new towns and estates and the reconstruction of bomb-damaged buildings. Programmes of new schools were coordinated and designed by local education authorities with loans and oversight from central government. Demand was led by prefabricated ‘kits of parts’, either sponsored by public authorities or developed privately. Elsewhere, where bricks and bricklayers were readily available, traditional techniques were adapted to incorporate large windows and flat roofs. Collaboration between architects and educationists could result in expressive plans which facilitated patterns of learning and movement. The requirement for abundant daylight and outdoor access led to dispersed layouts, a trend which was countered by tight cost limits and constrained sites. In the best examples child-scaled proportions, landscaping, bright colour schemes or works of art combined to create a distinctive visual aesthetic.

The 1944 Education Act divided schooling into primary and secondary stages with a break at age 11. Some authorities provided separate infant and junior schools with a break at age 7 plus; others, primary schools for the 5-11 age range. School sizes likewise varied from two-class village schools to primaries of 480 pupils. Informal, ‘child-centred’ learning through first-hand experience, advocated in the influential Plowden report of 1967, was encouraged by the provision of special areas for quiet and messy work and more open layouts. At Buckinghamshire and Hampshire a mix of enclosed class bases and shared space was provided, allowing teachers to strike their own balance between varied groups and activities and traditional whole-class teaching.

Leicestershire was a pioneer in the design of educational buildings as a result of the renowned Leicestershire Plan which was devised in 1957 by Stewart Mason, Director of Education 1947-1971. Its advanced approach to teaching, together with government cost restrictions which made corridors too expensive, had an effect on design. There was a move away from self-contained classes to mixing across groups, encouraging use of the entire school by all the children. Flexible and centralized planning was first applied to primary schools, with open teaching areas grouped round a central library, quiet study room, and assembly area, sometimes on a circular plan or in the form of pavilions around the central core. Richmond Primary School, which follows the circular plan, was completed in January 1970 at a cost of £84,984. It was designed by the Leicestershire County Architect, Thomas Richmond Locke and his staff, E D Smith, the assistant deputy architect, and J N Pitts, the project architect. Following the major County Hall project by Locke and his predecessor, T A Collins (1958-1965), the County Architect’s department was responsible for a number of schools and educational buildings of the period. Richmond Primary School replaced Middlefield Primary School which was later demolished. The new school was featured in the contemporary architectural press, notably in Building (17 July 1970). This explained that the school was designed to accommodate 320 juniors between the ages of 8 and 11 on a two-form entry plan. The circular plan form adopted gives it a high ratio of internal floor space to external walls and, with the teaching area consisting of eight bases radiating from a central core, the noisy and messy area is concentrated on the perimeter of the building, with verandahs for outdoor work beyond. The quieter zones, the library and studio above, are a focal point in the middle of the school. Sliding, folding partitions between each pair of teaching bases could be drawn back to produce a more open plan when required for group teaching.

The school has since been subject to some alterations. Within the last seven or eight years, the four folding partitions have been replaced with solid walls, and one of the original solid walls has been removed in order to create a larger classroom. A small extension was added to the north-east side of the hall around 2004-2005, and all the windows and external doors were replaced around three years ago. External steps have been replaced with ramps. In 2010 a large new extension was built to the south-west which is linked to the original school via a covered walkway (not part of the listing).

Details

Primary school built in 1968-1970 to the designs of T Locke, E D Smith and J N Pitts of Leicestershire County Council Architect’s Department.

MATERIALS: the building is of steel frame construction with flat roofs of timber joists, wood wool slabs and roofing felt. External walls are faced in local, brown bricks laid in stretcher bond and internal walls are of grey sand-lime brick.

PLAN: the building has a circular plan with a central library from which radiate wedge-shaped classrooms. Around the perimeter are four groups of WCs, storerooms and cloakrooms, and the spaces between are filled by external covered verandahs. On the north-west side, a short corridor lined with offices and storerooms leads to the hall and kitchen on the south side which are both rectangular in plan but which follow the curve of the circular building. The detached boiler house situated on the west side of the kitchen is not included in the listing.

EXTERIOR: the external form of the single-storey building is in three concentric circles. The outer circle has four brick sections, containing the WCs, storerooms and cloakrooms, which are lit along the top by ribbon windows and have a glazed door on one of the return walls. The doors and windows have been replaced with uPVC throughout the building. This outer circle is also top lit by four pairs of pyramidal rooflights. In between the brick sections there are five outdoor workspaces which are sheltered by flat timber canopies, supported by RSJs. Each verandah has double-leaf, glazed doors which are flanked by large windows without glazing bars. Behind this perimeter there is a clerestory of ribbon windows which light the classrooms. The roof over the classrooms slopes downwards towards the centre and is pierced by a continuous line of pyramidal roof lights. In the centre rises the two-storey polygonal section which contains the room above the library. This is lit by a series of vertical, three-light, top-opening windows, in between which are pairs of fluted panels.

The section linking the circular building to the hall to the north-west has a central, wide, glazed door on the principal south side. This is flanked by ribbon windows along the top, and on the right there are two large windows. In the angle between the link and circular building there is a raised, rectangular fishpond of concrete with horizontal grooves which was part of the original design.

The hall is lit by ribbon windows along the top on all four elevations. The long east side has two, three-light, full-height windows, and there is a glazed door on the north and south sides. A small brick extension has been added on the north side. Adjoining the south side of the hall is the kitchen which is lit along the east elevation by ribbon windows along the top. Below these the wall is embellished with a large, concrete panel of geometric shapes in various depths of relief. The short south end of the kitchen is lit by a two-light window, and the rear west elevation has a row of six vertical two-light windows, followed by a door. INTERIOR: the wedge-shaped-classroom plan remains, eight originally, but two internal walls have been removed to create one larger classroom, reducing the classrooms to five. Each classroom is served by a cloakroom, WC and storeroom, and an outdoor covered workspace. Most retain an original child-sized ceramic wash-hand basin. The classrooms are accessed from the central octagonal library space and also have interconnecting doors in the party walls which are pierced by a row of windows along the top (some have been boarded up). Some of the original flush doors with a wood finish remain but most have been replaced. A flight of stairs that follows the outer curve of the building rises from the library to the room above. The stair is located within a glazed partition and the outer wall has three wooden panels with horizontal grooves. The school hall has a herringbone parquet floor, and the party wall with the kitchen retains the original roller shutters to the servery counter.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (2003)
'Primary School at Hinckley, Leicestershire' in Building, (17 July 1970), 66-68
'Primary School at Hinckley for Leicestershire County Council' in Architecture East Midlands , , Vol. 46, (March/ April 1973), 29-31
Other
England’s Schools 1962–1988: A Thematic Study, Geraint Franklin, with Elain Harwood, Simon Taylor and Matthew Whitfield (Historic England Research Report Series no. 33-2012)

National Grid Reference: SP4211195164

Map

Map
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End of official listing