Warblington Secondary School


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
Southleigh Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 2RR


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Statutory Address:
Southleigh Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 2RR

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

Location Description:
Havant (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Secondary school, 1955-6 by Richard Sheppard and Geoffrey Robson with the assistance of the Hampshire County Architects Department.

Reasons for Designation

Warblington School, a secondary school of 1955-6 by Richard Sheppard and Geoffrey Robson with the assistance of the Hampshire County Architects Department (comprising the 1955-6 buildings; three-storey classroom block, two-storey science block, single-storey maths unit and single-storey reception hall) is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:   Architectural interest:   *   for its use of the innovative single-storey BAC, and multi-storey BAC II aluminium systems;   *   as a rare survivor of a BAC-type secondary school;   *   for the characteristic highly-glazed elevations that express the light-weight structure and have distinctive corrugated panels.    Historic Interest:   *   as an illustrator of the post-war drive to build new secondary schools for an uprooted and rapidly expanding population, using innovative materials and skills originally developed for military purposes.


Warblington Secondary School was built in 1955-56, and was designed by Richard Sheppard and Geoffrey Robson, who were, respectively, engineers at the Bristol Aeroplane Company (Housing) LTD (BAC) and the Northern Aluminium Company (NAC), Banbury, Oxfordshire. They were assisted by the Hampshire County Council Architects Department.   At the end of the Second World War, the British aircraft industry had to diversify into peacetime business operations. A group of companies in the South West formed the Aircraft Industries Research Organisation for Housing, however, more successful were the BAC experiments in building schools, which as larger buildings, were more suited to factory production. In 1947 BAC’s housing division retained Sheppard to design an aluminium system for school buildings, alongside Robson from the NAC. Sheppard had earlier displayed an interest in prefabrication, publishing 'Prefabrication in Building' during 1946. Together, they designed a primary school, and the prototype was constructed at Romney Avenue, Bristol (1948, demolished). Examples were shipped around the world, and a few survive in Britain, mainly in the West Country. In parallel, using its own architects, the Ministry of Education developed a BAC based, single-storey school design, of which Limbrick Wood, Coventry (1951-2, listed Grade II) is an early example.   In the 1950s the pressure to build moved to larger secondary schools. The challenge was to push the BAC system (through the introduction of a steel frame) to two, or even three storeys. To meet development plan targets and provide secondary school places, the Government signed a five-year contract with BAC in 1953. Lyng Hall Comprehensive School for Girls in Coventry (Ministry of Education Development Group, 1953-5, demolished) and Whitley Abbey (City of Coventry Architects Department, first phase 1953-5, demolished) were the prototypes for the BAC Mark II, which was a further evolution, enabling structures of up to four storeys. The structural steel frame was introduced to resolve the attendant issues of daylighting, wind-loading and fireproofing.   Warblington was one of 14 new schools, built to serve the rapidly expanding urban district of Havant and Waterlooville, Hampshire. Land was bought at Warblington for a secondary school before the war, but the required population pressure only became acute when work started on Leigh Park, a large ‘overspill’ housing development for families displaced from Portsmouth. A four-form entry, secondary modern school for 510 pupils aged between 11 and 16, was announced in March 1951 and revised to 680 places a year later.   In November 1952 the council decided that owing to a heavy school-building programme and shortages of bricklayers, it should consider introducing prefabricated construction techniques for schools in its 1953/54 programme. Along with Lyng Hall, and Whitley Abbey, Warblington was one of the first schools to be conceived using BAC II, as it was designed in early 1953. However, it was not erected until 1955-6.

By the end of the 1950s it became clear that secondary schools demanded more variation and bespoke design than primary schools. In parallel, traditional construction once again became economically viable. Furthermore, the Korean War had once again generated demand for aircraft production, prompting BAC to discontinue development of the BAC II system.

Sheppard and Robson (as Sheppard, Robson and Partners) went on to specialise in educational buildings a number of which are listed including halls of residence for Imperial College, London, 1957-68 (National Heritage List for England (NHLE) reference 1263062), and Churchill College, Cambridge, 1960-64 (NHLE reference 1227706), both listed at Grade II.

At Warblington School, the original layout comprised of a symmetrical, three-storey classroom block, joined by a single-storey reception hall to a T-shaped wing containing a dining room, sports hall and kitchens. To the south, there was a detached L-plan science block of two storeys, with an attached single-storey maths block.

In 1973 the school was extended to seven-form entry (ie. seven classes per form) with a square practical block and new sports hall added to the west of the original buildings. In the later C20 there were a number of alterations: a new science block was built, and the three-storey classroom range and original science and maths blocks were joined by a single-storey structure. The original dining and sports halls have been refurbished, removing any visibility of BAC system components.


Secondary school, 1955-6 by Richard Sheppard and Geoffrey Robson with the assistance of the Hampshire County Architects Department.   MATERIALS AND STRUCTURE: the two and three-storey blocks are steel-framed with shallow-pitched roofs, and are clad in corrugated-aluminium sheeting, with regular prefabricated aluminium-framed window units, above corrugated-aluminium spandrel panels. The single-storey sections also appear to be constructed using prefabricated aluminium-framed units with corrugated-aluminium cladding, but have flat roofs. All have a concrete plinth and internal floors. In general the spandrel panels are coloured blue.   PLAN: the buildings comprise a three-storey classroom block aligned roughly north-south, connected by an axial corridor, to a single-storey reception hall to the north. The originally separate (now connected), two-storey science block is aligned east-west, and to the eastern end and wrapping round it, there is a single-storey block, which is now the maths unit. Within the multi-storey blocks, classrooms and laboratories are stacked above each other, with the staff room currently located on the ground floor rear of the three-storey classroom block. The three-storey classroom block has two stairwells (between the fourth-fifth, and 10-11th bays), which link the playground at the rear, to an axial corridor on each floor. The science block has a roughly-central, primary stairwell, which leads to a laboratory on each floor.    EXTERIOR: the three-storey classroom block has an exposed frame of 15 by six bays with wider outer bays on the long elevations. The elevations are symmetrical, and aside from the outer bays, and wider inner bays on the east elevation, have continuous fenestration across each elevation. Predominantly the building has corrugated-aluminium cladding, used in the spandrel panels and in vertical panels in the outer half bays, contrasting with aluminium storey-bands and gable ends of a narrower corrugated gauge. The road-facing  eastern elevation has a three-bay centrepiece which remains recessed on the ground floor but is in-filled on the first floor with timber window units and spandrel panels, and probably also on the upper floor, which has flush spandrel panels. On the rear western elevation, the wider sixth and 10th bays have shallower window units. Windows are two-light, aluminium-framed units with a mix of fixed lights, side-hung and pivot-hung casements, and have corrugated-aluminium spandrel panels. The door units to the rear have been replaced in uPVC. The roof is clad in corrugated metal sheeting and has over-sailing eaves.

The single-storey reception hall which is attached to the north end of the three-storey classroom block, has walls formed of prefabricated units with integrated aluminium-framed windows, below a continuous fascia of corrugated-aluminium. The east-facing main elevation has clerestory windows off the slightly taller corridor which rises behind the front range of offices. On the rear western elevation, there is a set-back entrance at the south-west angle, supported on a slender outer shaft and lined in vertical corrugated-aluminium sheeting with a shallow corrugated-aluminium fascia, coloured blue. A number of window units have been replaced in a different pattern, and also by a uPVC door unit.   The two-storey science block is similar in form and construction, to the three-storey block. It has 12 by six bays, with a wider bay accommodating the stairwell, and wide, blind panels in each end bay. Projecting from its eastern gable and extending south, there is a single-storey maths block. The walls are prefabricated units with integrated aluminium-framed, single windows. Above, there is a continuous fascia in the narrower grade corrugated-aluminium, and below, corrugated-aluminium spandrel panels.   INTERIOR: the interiors are functional. The stairs are of masonry with plain, steel balustrades. The doors are generally flush-panelled, some with rectangular windows.


Books and journals
Saint, A, Towards a Social Architecture: The Role of School-Building in Post-War England, (1987), 135-143
Design drawings for the Warblington School 1953-1993 held in the Hampshire Records Office


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

The listed building(s) is/are 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 but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.

End of official listing

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