Listed Building: DARLEY DALE INFANTS SCHOOL (1393159)

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Grade II
Authority English Heritage
Date assigned Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Date last amended


Infants SchooI formerly an Elementary School. 1911, with minor late C20 alterations. Designed by George Widdows, County Architect, for the Derbyshire County Council. MATERIALS: Gritstone rubble, brought to courses with ashlar quoins and dressings. Mansard roofs, with Westmortand slates and plain clay tiles used for the upper and lower parts of the roof slopes respectively. Added timber and part-glazed screen and doors to rear (playground) elevation. PLAN: Linear plan with original open verandah corridor to rear elevation, now enclosed. EXTERIOR: The front (south-east) elevation is a symmetrical composition of 6 single storey bays and a 2-storey central bay. The two outermost bays form pavilion-like ends to the linear building and together with the central bay have half-hipped mansard roofs. The 4 intermediate bays have full height multi-paned 9-light mullioned and transomed timber window frames set beneath ‘catslide’ extensions to the slated upper roof slope, and between them are sections of the steeper tiled lower roof slope which extend to the bottom eaves level. The windows to the gabled end bays are of similar design and all have 3 shallow bottom lights of inward-opening ‘hopper’ type. The rear elevation has a long mansard roof with a series of low, tapered stone ridge chimneys, and a central bay with a pair of 2-light flat-roofed dormer windows at upper eaves level. The 4 inner flanking bays each has a wide 4-light high-level window set below a shallow projection from the upper roof slope. The pavilion end bays are slightly advanced and their gables have window frames which match those to their front walls. Between the projecting end bays is the formerly open verandah corridor, its braced arcade posts set upon tall padstones and its arcade plates are enclosed by a C20 screen wall of half glazed and solid panels incorporating pairs of doors. INTERIOR: The interior is comprised of 6 classrooms linked by the enclosed verandah corridor. The end classrooms are larger than the 4 in-line classrooms, and that to the south-west end is used as the school hall. Each of the classrooms has a chimney breast and hearth, some now infilled. The central 2 storey bay has cloakrooms and C20 toilets at ground floor level, and a staff room and head teacher’s study at first floor level, accessed by means of an enclosed stair. Original interior joinery, including built-in cupboard doors survive, together with some wooden floor coverings. HISTORY: The Darley Dale Infants School was designed by the architect George Widdows (1871- 1946) and was completed in 1911. It was one of a large number of new Elementary schools built to Widdows’ designs by the County Council to provide school facilities in a county which experienced the greatest increase in population of any part of the country in the 1890’s, and particularly in the coalmining and textile manufacturing communities in the east of the county. Widdows had come to Derbyshire in 1897 as Chief Architectural Assistant to Derby Corporation. In 1904, shortly after the responsibility for schools had passed to the County Council as a consequence of the 1902 Education Act, Widdows was appointed as architect to Derbyshire County Councils Education Committee. In 1910 he was appointed Chief Architect to the County Council though schools remained his predominant concern. He retired in 1936, having designed an estimated sixty Elementary and seventeen Secondary schools. Widdows’ work was in the forefront of the movement to provide schools in which standards of hygiene and educational provision were both considered to be of high importance. Legislation by the Board of Health in 1907 required that regular medical inspections of schools be carried out. His designs emphasised the need for high levels of natural daylight and effective cross ventilation to achieve the required improvements in the standard of hygiene within schools, and were characterised by generous, full-height and high level windows and open verandah-style corridors linking well-lit classrooms. Widdows developed a number of distinctive plan forms based on a linear module arranged in different configurations dependent upon the size of the required school and the shape of the available site. The Darley Dale School was built in the evolutionary stage of Widdows’ school designs between 1901 and 1914, and is one of an estimated thirty-seven new designs completed by 1920, the majority of which, like Darley Dale, remain in educational use. SOURCES The Builder, Vol 105, no. 3691, 31 October 1913, pp z157 The Builder, Vol.107, no. 3737, 10 July 1914, pp 43-4; no. 3728, 1 1914, pp 74-5 G.H. Widdows, ‘Derbyshire Elementary Schools: Principles of Planning’, Paper to the Royal SanitaryInstitute, read at sessional meeting, 25 February1910, in Royal Sanitary Institute Journal, 1910, pp. 92-116 REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION. The Darley Dale Infants School is of special architectural interest for the following principal reasons: * The school was designed by the architect George Widdows, the Chief Architect of Derbyshire County Council (1910-1936), renowned for his contribution to the development of early C20 schools of innovative design and distinctive plan form in which the imperatives of high levels of natural daylight and effective ventilation in pursuit of improved standards of school hygiene and pupil health were clearly expressed. * The school is considered to be one of the best surviving examples of Widdows’ earliest and most widely-used plan types; a linear arrangement of classrooms linked by an open verandah corridor. * The school retains all of the elements of the original design, and the later enclosure of the verandah corridor has been achieved without the loss, or permanent concealment, of original fabric. * The school represents an important milepost in the development of Widdows’ more complex designs for Elementary schools, and the later Secondary schools in Derbyshire.

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Grid reference SK 2812 6252 (point)
Map sheet SK26SE

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Record last edited

Dec 18 2013 12:02PM

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