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14 September 2011

Southwark: a pictorial overview. A photoset of some interesting surviving schools in Southwark with text describing the development of school architecture in London

Southwark retains 50 schools from the 1870 to 1914 period.  There are fine examples of every phase of design and construction from this period.  The borough has a particularly strong showing of early schools from the period 1870 to 1872 when a range of architects were invited to submit plans as part of architectural competitions.  School design was most fluid during this period.  The Weston Street School (1874) by Frederick W Roper (Listed Grade II and now apartments) gives an idea of how quirky some of these designs were: few now survive and almost none as schools.

Weston Street

Weston Street School, now the Tabard Centre apartments (c) Tim Walder 2011

Perhaps the most beautiful school in Southwark is E R Robson's early Sumner Road School (1876).  A fantastically well-detailed building, it sits in the middle of Peckham like a stately home.

Sumner Road

Sumner Road School, now St James the Great Roman Catholic Primary School

(c) Tim Walder 2011

The middle Robson period is well represented too, particularly by the charming Alexis Street School (1877) in Bermondsey.

Alexis Street

Alexis Street School, now Alma Primary School (c) Tim Walder 2011

The late Robson era is typified by the complete, well maintained and completely unchanged Heber Road School (1883) in East Dulwich, with its unusual tower.

Heber Road

Heber Road School, now Heber Primary School (c) Tim Walder 2011

Southwark has the distinction of containing T J Bailey's first ever complete school, Goodrich Road (1886) which was positively reviewed in the contemporary press, with the plans exhibited at the Royal Academy.  Sadly, the roofline has been simplified, with removal of chimneys and dormer windows following an incendiary bomb attack in the Second World War, but much of interest remains.

Goodrich Road

Goodrich Road School, now Goodrich Primary School (c) Tim Walder 2011

The big, grand Bailey schools of the middle period are also well represented.  On the characteristic I plan is Sandford Row School (1891), although the incomplete wing and crow-stepped gables are more unusual.

Sandford Row

Sandford Row School, now Walworth Academy (c) Tim Walder 2011

Southwark does not feature much in the way of the later Bailey suburban schools, with single storey blocks arranged symmetrically around the site.  Nor does it have an example of the vast and palatial terracotta edifices of the turn of the century.  It does possess a charming school, presumed to be by Bailey: The Denmark Hill School (1905).  This little gem is clearly Edwardian and shows the old man up to new tricks, particularly his late penchant for central ventilation towers thinly disguised as a cupola.

Denmark Hill, The

The Denmark Hill School, now Lyndhurst Primary School (c) Tim Walder 2011

The schools following Bailey's death in 1909, up until the outbreak of war in 1914, are more transitional in character.  They tend to be plainer and feature "1920s" features such as deep eaves and roof verges pierced by fenestration.  For some reason they often do not survive.  Bizarrely, Caldecot Road School (1914 and by the LCC architects) is now part of Kings College Hospital (with the playground all too obviously a car park).

Caldecot Road

Caldecot Road School, now The Normanby Building, Kings College Hospital

(c) Tim Walder