1284/1/22 MARSHALL STREET 25-MAY-88 (East side) CROFT INFANT SCHOOL
II Junior school. 1908. Designed by George Widdows, architect to Derbyshire's Education Committee from 1904 and Chief Architect to Derbyshire County Council in 1910-1936. MATERIALS. Red brick, pebble-dashed over sill height with stone, brick and tile dressings. Steeply pitched red plain tile roofs with tall brick vent stacks to rear pitch of roofs. PLAN: X - plan with four 4 bays classrooms at 45 degree angles to central 3 bay hall. EXTERIOR : The building is single storied with attics. The front elevation has a gabled central hall on a stone base to sill level and two stepped, almost full height, buttresses with stone offsets. There is tile decoration to the second stage and tiled gableted tops. These flank central double glazed doors below a segmental arch. There are similar doors to either side and above, a large segment headed 4-light mullion and transomed timber window with tile hoodmould flanked by 2-light timber mullion windows, also with tile hoodmoulds. The gable above has diamond tile decoration. Above again to the centre of the roof ridge is an octagonal cupola with leaded base, louvred arcaded sides and domed top supporting a weathervane. The flanking wings have pairs of 3-light timber mullion and transomed windows with 3-light timber mullioned gabled roof dormers over. The centre bay and the two end bays are gabled and have 3-light mullioned and double transomed timber windows below a continuous tile dripmould. There is diamond tile decoration to the gable above. The ends of the gabled bays have catslide roofs. The rear wings are similarly detailed. The entrance to the rear is via a low single storey porch with double doors set at angles to the corners. There are four 3-light windows to the porch front and large hopper heads to the gutters decorated with small hearts. INTERIOR: Not inspected. HISTORY: The Croft Infants School was designed by the architect George H. Widdows (1871-1946) and was completed in 1908 It was one of a large number of new schools built to Widdows' designs by Derbyshire County Council in the early C20. Derbyshire had the greatest percentage increase in population in the country in the 1890s, particularly due to the growth of the coal mining and textile manufacturing communities in the east of the county. Widdows had come to Derbyshire in 1897 as Chief Architectural Assistant to Derby Corporation. Following the 1902 Education Act, responsibility for schools in the county passed to Derbyshire County Council. In 1904 Widdows was appointed architect to the Council's Education Committee. In 1910 he was appointed Chief Architect to the Council, although schools remained his predominant concern. By the time he retired in 1936, he had designed some sixty elementary and seventeen secondary schools.
Widdows was at the forefront of the movement to build schools in which high standards of hygiene were as important as educational provision. The first major conference on school hygiene was held in 1904, and in 1907 the Board of Health brought in legislation which required schools to become subject to regular medical inspections. Widdows worked with his Medical Officer, Sidney Barwise, and two deputy architects, C. A. Edeson and T. Walker, to develop a series of innovative designs introducing high levels of natural daylight and effective cross ventilation in schools. His designs, in a neo-vernacular style, were characterised by open verandah-style corridors linking classrooms with generous full-height windows. His distinctive and influential plan forms were based on a linear module which could be arranged in different configurations to suit the size of school required and the shape of the available site.
The advances Widdows made in school planning were recognised by his contemporaries. In an article on provincial school building in 1913, The Builder stated that his work 'constitutes a revolution in the planning and arrangement of school buildings... a real advance which places English school architecture without a rival in any European country or the United States.'
SOURCES G. H. Widdows, 'Derbyshire Elementary Schools: Principles of Planning', paper presented to Royal Sanitary Institute on 25 February 1910, in Royal Sanitary Institute Journal (1910), 92-116. `The Derbyshire Schools', The Builder, Vol. 105 (31 October 1913), 460-461. The Builder, Vol. 107 (10 July 1914), 44-45; (17 July 1914), 74-75. G. H. Widdows, `School Design', RIBA Journal, Vol. 29, No. 2 (26 November 1921), 33-45.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Croft Infants School is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is a notable example of the work of George Widdows, who is nationally acknowledged as a leading designer of schools in the early C20 and an exponent of advanced ideas on school planning and hygiene. * This school is an early example of a Widdows' design for an Elementary School in which the original plan form remains clearly legible.
Listing NGR: SK4111155476.'