School, 1911-1912, by Shayler and Ridge. The later C20 buildings to the east are excluded from the listing.
Reasons for Designation
The Wellington Former Girls’ School is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* an accomplished neoclassical design with a striking principal façade which survives unaltered, and incorporates sculptural embellishment;
* the centrepiece of the main elevation includes the unusual conservatory feature, purported to have been used for scientific experiments;
* the general symmetrical plan form survives well, and reflects the original function of the building in its provision of segregated accommodation for boys and girls;
* some good-quality tiling and joinery survive internally.
* by a regionally notable architect, FH Shayler, who made a significant contribution to the building stock of the area.
A girls’ high school was established in Wellington in 1908. Originally based in temporary premises on New Hall Street, the great demand for secondary education led to overcrowding, and in 1910 the King Street plot was purchased for the erection of a permanent school building. The new school was built in 1911-1912 to the designs of Shayler and Ridge. The builders were Hughes and Stirling of Bootle, and the cost was £7,741.10s.
The new school was designed to accommodate 125 girls and 125 boys. Education was undertaken separately, in the northern and southern sides of the school, while the central hall, laboratory, art room and lecture room were shared, though never at the same time. The boys moved to new premises in 1940.
The school is a symmetrical composition, with a broadly symmetrical internal plan form. A reference in the Victoria County History notes that by 1920 the school had been extended to accommodate an additional 120 pupils; it appears that this extension was to the rear of the building, possibly infilling the recessed areas to either side of the hall, however, the plans of the original building have not been found. The 1927 Ordnance Survey map shows the building with its current footprint, and an aerial photograph, also from the 1920s, shows the building in roughly its current form. There has been some internal reordering, most notably with the insertion of a first floor within the main hall; originally it had a balcony. Various partitions have been inserted elsewhere, and on the ground floor, the hallway has been dry-lined; it is possible that the original tiling, present on the first floor, survives behind the lining. The 1927 map shows that the rear courtyard was divided in two, in order to provide separate playgrounds for the girls and boys. There were a number of ancillary structures, including a long pavilion in the games field to the north; these are no longer present.
The school has been substantially enlarged with additional blocks to the east; these are linked to the original building via a bridge connecting to the first floor of the old school, south of the hall. These extensions are excluded from the listing.
The architect, Frank Hearn Shayler (1854-1954), FRIBA, was born in Banbury. He was articled to Edwin Lawrence Elgar, later Elgar and Cole of Ramsgate. He joined the practice of WH Spaull in Welshpool in 1890, later becoming a partner and then beginning his own practice. His first offices were in Welshpool; as the practice expanded he opened offices in Oswestry, and finally in Shrewsbury, where he settled and built himself a house – The Red House, The Mount (listed Grade II). He formed a number of partnerships, most notably with Thomas Ridge (d.1940). The pair were involved with the design of a good number of educational and civic buildings, along with banks and domestic buildings, exhibiting neoclassical and Arts and Crafts influences. A number of Shayler’s buildings are listed.
School, 1911-1912, by Shayler and Ridge.
MATERIALS: red brick laid in Flemish bond, with limestone dressings, slate roofs and brick chimneystacks.
PLAN: the school is orientated roughly north-south, parallel with King Street. It is has a linear main range enclosed by wings on either end. Internally, the main range has a spinal corridor with classrooms on either side. Grouped around the central front door are offices, and the hall is to the rear. Stairs rise at either end of the building. The upper floor has a similar layout, though the hall, originally a double-height space, has been subdivided laterally with the insertion of a floor. There is a large (now subdivided) classroom – originally the laboratory – to the west of the hall, providing access to the conservatory.
EXTERIOR: the main range of the building is two-storeys and 19-bays, and is enclosed by single-storey wings at either end. On the principal, west-facing façade the centrepiece is a semi-circular porch with Doric columns, upon which there is a half-glazed conservatory with a domed roof. The double front doors are half-glazed with margin glazing bars, with fielded panels below, and a fanlight. Above, a parapet covers the bay, and has a moulded shield with Shropshire’s coat of arms, scroll dressings and festoons, and on the ridge above is a tall cupola with a domed roof. There are nine window bays to either side of the porch; the central three bays on either side are set within pedimented projections, and angles have wide stone quoins. Most windows are six-over-six sashes, with three-light hoppers above. Ground floor window openings have rubbed brick arches with dressed stone keystones. On the first floor the windows meet the modillion cornice, which lines the eaves and the pediments. At either end of the building, at the junction with the wings, are small projections containing the students’ entrances. These have stone banding, decorative brickwork, and prominent keystones. They contain double doors, as found at the central entrance, without fanlights. Above, keyed oculi light the stairs within.
The matching single-storey wings at either end of the main range project forward of the building line and terminate in pedimented gable ends. Modillion courses line the eaves, and there are wide stone quoins. The pitched roofs step down towards the rear, terminating in flat-roofed sections; that to the south has a louvred ventilator with a hipped roof. Windows diminish in size towards the rear, and the east elevations have a row of narrow lights set between a stone band and the eaves, lighting what were probably, originally, the toilets. At the junction of the north wing and the main range is a double doorway with a round-arched brick head. The stone banding continues, and there is a blocked arched opening. The equivalent arrangement adjacent to the south wing was modified in the late C20.
On the rear (east) elevation of the main range there is a central projection of six window bays, indicating the position of the hall. The windows are in tall paired openings with rubbed brick arches and moulded stone sills. The windows themselves are replacements, with a break where a floor has been inserted internally. North of the hall the elevation continues with four window bays, and terminates with an angle chimneystack. The gable of this section has a large, multiple-light window, with a smaller window on either side, indicating the space inside may have had a specialist function. On the south side of the hall there are three window bays, then a late-C20 bridge at first floor level connecting the original school building with the large extensions to the east.
The roof structure above the two-storey part of the building is two parallel ranges with pitched and hipped sections.
INTERIOR: on the ground floor the spinal corridor appears to have been largely dry-lined, and has a suspended ceiling. There has been some insertion of partitions and the creation of new doorways. Original doorways are recognisable by their moulded timber architraves. Some classrooms and offices retain skirtings and window sills, and moulded plaster dado and picture rails. One of the classrooms to the north retains the internal windows into the corridor; these are multiple-light fixed casements. Other windows may survive behind the dry-lining. The stairs are cantilever dog-legs with cylindrical newels, moulded handrails, and trios of stick balusters.
On the first floor some original finishes survive: glazed brown brick with teal borders line the dado, and plasterwork curves around the angles, avoiding sharp corners. Most classrooms retain their internal lights to the corridor. Internal doors are half-glazed with six lights. The former laboratory occupies the central room on the west of the corridor. It has been subdivided, and it provides access to the conservatory, within which is a plaque inscribed: ‘THE HIGH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS / THE CLOCK WAS GIVEN IN MEMORY OF / ELLEN BROOKE ROSS / 1908 HEADMISTRESS 1938’. The hall, which has had a first floor and partitions inserted, occupies part of the roof space. It has plasterwork features on the position of the roof trusses, with floral mouldings with bead and spindle edging, and in the ceiling, ventilation panels with lattice grilles and foliate borders.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: low walls enclose the forecourt of the school, with gateways in line with the three entrances, and a fourth opening to the south. The walls are roughly-coursed rubble stone with a band of brick and coping stones at the top. The boys’ and girls’ gateways have square stone piers with brick bands and stone caps. These walls and piers have been lowered from their original height, though the general arrangement and openings survive.
Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the later C20 extensions to the east, linked to the main range by a first-floor bridge, are not of special architectural or historic interest and are excluded from the listing.