Former Indoor Swimming Pool to Wanstead Infant Orphan Asylum


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
75 Hollybush Hill, Snaresbrook, London, E11 1PU


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Statutory Address:
75 Hollybush Hill, Snaresbrook, London, E11 1PU

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

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


Indoor swimming pool. Built in about 1880 as part of Wanstead Infant Orphan Asylum.

Reasons for Designation

The former indoor swimming pool to Wanstead Infant Orphan Asylum, built in about 1880, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* as an indoor swimming pool to one of England’s foremost orphanages, which received the highest patronage and illustrated changing attitudes to child welfare in early Victorian England, before being transformed into the largest stand-alone crown court centre in the country in the late C20.

Architectural interest:

* as an indoor swimming pool purpose-built in about 1880 to serve a Victorian orphanage, which survives well both externally and internally.

Group value:

* with the Grade II-listed former Wanstead Infant Orphan Asylum built in 1841 to 1843 and the Grade II-listed former gatekeeper’s lodge built in about 1841.


The indoor swimming pool was built in about 1880 to serve Wanstead Infant Orphan Asylum, now Snaresbrook Crown Court (National Heritage List for England entry 1358004). The orphanage was founded by the Congregational minister and philanthropist, (Sir) Andrew Reed and designed by the architects (Sir) George Gilbert Scott and William Bonython Moffatt in Jacobean Revival style. Albert, the Prince Consort, laid the foundation stone on 24 June 1841 and the orphanage was constructed by the builder William Jay of London Wall. It was designed for 500 children. The orphanage was formerly opened on 27 June 1843 by King Leopold of the Belgians, Queen Victoria’s uncle. Queen Victoria served as the first of several monarchs to become Patron. Several further buildings were later added to the site: an infirmary in the 1850s (demolished), an assembly hall in 1862, an indoor swimming pool in about 1880, a gym in 1898 (demolished) and a dormitory block in 1934. The orphanage became the Royal Wanstead School in 1939. During the Second World War it was occupied by British troops and Italian prisoners of war, the children being evacuated. After the 1944 Education Act, the school changed from a grammar school to a secondary modern. A drop in pupil numbers and income led to the closure of the school in August 1971. The charitable role was carried on as the Royal Wanstead Foundation, now (2019) the Royal National Children’s Springboard Foundation. The school building was subsequently leased by the Department of the Environment to become Snarebrook Crown Court and £1.6m of conversion work was undertaken in 1973 to 1974, with further alterations in 1978 to 1981. During the conversion, a new entrance drive was constructed off Hollybush Hill to the south of the old school gates. The former indoor swimming pool is currently (2019) used as a store for Snarebrook Crown Court.


Indoor swimming pool. Built in about 1880 as part of Wanstead Infant Orphan Asylum.

MATERIALS: London stock brick with red brick dressings and slate roof coverings.

PLAN: a single-storey gabled building with a rectangular plan. Internally the swimming pool is open to the roof and a range of rooms run down the west side of the building, parallel to the pool.

EXTERIOR: the indoor swimming pool is situated opposite the gatekeeper’s lodge on the north side of the former entrance drive to Wanstead Infant Orphan Asylum. It is a single-storey stock brick building, eight bays long and four bays wide, orientated north to south. Facing the entrance drive is the south elevation, which has four segmental-headed timber-framed casement windows with a brick string course running between them at cill level. The west elevation comprises from left to right: a square-headed doorway, two square-headed casement windows; two further doorways; two casements and then the main entrance porch near the south-west corner, which has a segmental-headed doorway containing five-panelled double doors. The windows are metal-framed casements divided into ten subsidiary lights with concrete lintels and cills. The north elevation has three brick buttresses and a window set low down near the north-west corner lighting the basement. There are metal-framed casements to the east elevation flanked by stepped brick buttresses and steps leading down to the basement doorway near the south-east corner. The basement was not inspected but probably originally provided storage and plant for the swimming pool, such as a boiler. The roof has a gablet at the south end but a full gable at the north end. There are two long lines of rooflights near the apex and louvres at each end. A moulded brick cornice runs beneath the eaves and a tall corbelled chimney stack rises above the roof at the south-west corner.

INTERIOR: the swimming pool was originally open to the roof but is currently (2019) covered by a temporary wooden floor structure. There is a steel double-inverted trussed roof. A series of rooms run down the west side of the building. These are entered through five-panelled doors and have parquet floors. Part of the interior, including the north end, has been subdivided off to provide storage space.


DPP, Heritage Appraisal: Snaresbrook Crown Court (Reference: 787606-3) (June 2009)
Feilden and Mawson, Conservation Plan for Snaresbrook Crown Court (June 2009)
Grist, D, ‘A Victorian Charity’: The Infant Orphan Asylum at Wanstead (1974)


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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