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Grade II
Authority Historic England
Date assigned Monday, June 8, 2009
Date last amended


Also Known As: Shirebrook Model Village Primary School, CHURCH DRIVE Primary school, built as an Elementary school. 1908, with minor late C20 alterations. 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, laid to Flemish bond, with plain red tile roof coverings and tall side wall chimney stacks. PLAN: The school is an early example of Widdows' 'marching corridor' plan type, which comprises a central spine corridor with classroom crosswings to each end and to the centre of each of the two buildings which form the school complex, aligned north-south. EXTERIORS: The 2 parallel building ranges, each single storied, have advanced gabled wingsto each side of the set-back central corridors. The gables each have 3 high level 2-light windows,the central opening taller and set within a semi-circular arch-headed recess, above which is a trio of slit breathers within each gable apex. The lower linking corridors have flat-roofed 3-light dormers set at high level within the roof pitches which originally extended over short 3-bay open verandah corridors accessed from the classroom areas and the central corridor. The verandahs to the street frontage range have been removed, but elsewhere survive in their original form or have been enclosed within added external walls. The verandah arcade posts are set on tall padstones and have minature curved braces to their heads. Access to the verandahs from the central corridors was via three double doorways to each side, some of which retain original joinery. The end elevations have a wide central gable flanked by tall chimneys and 2 tall classroom windows. The entrance double doors are set back within the gables on brackets supporting deep flat canopies. INTERIORS: The central corridors extend through the central crosswings to double doorways leading to the original cloakrooms, now with added toilet area crosswings. The corridors have arch-braced roof trusses, between which are the reveals to high level dormer windows. Where they pass into the crosswings, there are surviving upper sections of the original glazed screens to the central classrooms, and doorways, some now partially infilled. The central classrooms have wide arch-braced trusses, 3-light windows with low-level hopper lights and fireplaces to either side of the opening to the central corridor. Each end crosswing has a first floor staff room accessed by means of a winder stair. HISTORY: Shirebrook Model Village Primary School (Eastern blocks) were designed by the architect George H. Widdows (1871-1946) and were completed in 1908. It was one of the first 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 The Royal Sanitary Institute on 25 February 1910, in the 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: Shirebrook Model Village Primary School (Eastern blocks) is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Shirebrook Model Village Primary School (Eastern blocks) are a seminal 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. * They are a notable example of the earliest of Widdow's innovative plan forms, in which classroom crosswings are linked by a central 'marching corridor'. This design contained many of the distinctive elements and details used and further refined in the later plan types * Most of the notable elements of the original design are retained and the blocks have undergone little significant alteration or extension. Although there has been some internal re-modelling, the original plan form remains clearly legible.

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Grid reference SK 52394 67263 (point)
Map sheet SK56NW

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Record last edited

Dec 9 2010 11:52AM

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