Opinion: Why we should preserve our heritage of Victorian school buildings
BOARD schools, often mistakenly called boarding schools, were built and run by elected school boards, which were responsible for elementary education between 1870 and 1903 when their role was taken over by councils.
School boards were advanced organisations for their time.
For instance, women had equal rights to stand for election to the boards, well ahead of getting the vote in other areas of life.
Architecturally, their buildings were also innovative.
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They introduced what we would now call "passive stack ventilation" and their high windows flooded the rooms with light without giving pupils distracting views.
Sliding screens provided flexibility in classroom sizes.
Rounded bricks, tiled walls, solid doors and small window panes allowed for the inevitable hard wear inflicted by classes of 60 or more children.
Hull School Board built 37 schools, of which seven still survive in school use and a further seven in other uses.
Newington (1885), Stepney (1887) and Wheeler (1901) primaries are all listed nationally as of special architectural and historic interest, while Marfleet (1892), Clifton (1889), Mersey (1902) and Thoresby (1903) are on the local list.
All have special features and interesting histories.
William Botterill, an experienced architect of renown, was architect to the Hull School Board.
Of his designs, the only survivors are Charterhouse Lane School (1881, listed), now occupied by Northern Theatre School and Hull College, and Blundell Street (1878, listed), now sadly derelict.
Most of the surviving Hull Board school buildings were designed by his partner John Bilson.
He had worked for the London School Board and our schools have many similarities in design, providing impressive focal points to views from surrounding streets.
The flexibility of their design has meant the buildings adapt well to other uses.
The former Blenkin Street School (1889 and listed), with its distinctive stepped gables, is now a club. The Avenues Adult Education Centre (1888) was originally an "Industrial School" teaching domestic skills to girls.
Brunswick House (1891), now council offices, was built as a Higher Grade School for children staying on after the school leaving age of 13, as was Boulevard School (1895), attended by Amy Johnson, now Rosedale Mansions.
Newland Avenue School buildings (1896) currently provide accommodation for council services and a Youth Centre, while Northumberland Avenue School (1896) accommodates Humber Archaeology and business units.
St George's Primary, (1881 and listed) was built by the Newington School Board when this area was still outside the Hull boundary.
Somerset Street School (1881 and listed), now occupied by Scrapstore, is also one of their schools.
Lambert Street Nursery (1879, locally listed and the oldest Board School still in school use) was built by the Cottingham School Board, a reminder that the boundary of Cottingham Parish once came as far south as Queens Road.
Our Board Schools are among our best Victorian buildings.
Hopefully, the significance of the buildings will be borne in mind in considerations of the future of Newland Customer Service Centre and Lambert Street Nursery.