SAVE WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL – PETITION
The unique Woolmore Primary School is under threat of demolition as part of the extensive Blackwall Reach Regeneration scheme. The school must expand from one to three forms of entry. This can be done without demolition. Blackwall Reach Regeneration Area needs at least one retained heritage asset, to maintain a sense of place and community pride. The alternative ideas below show that this heritage asset can be retained and the boroughs needs met.
| TO PARENTS, TEACHERS AND GOVERNORS AT WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL, LBTH EDUCATION, SOCIAL CARE & WELLBEING, CHAIR & MEMBERS OF THE STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, SUPPORT THE REQUEST TO ADD WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL TO THE LOCAL LIST OF HERITAGE ASSETS; AND SUPPORT THE PROPOSAL TO RETAIN AND ADAPT THE HISTORIC SCHOOL BUILDING FOR THREE FORMS IN YEARS 5 AND 6 AND BUILD A NEW LINKED SCHOOL BUILDING TO THE EAST FOR NURSERY, RECEPTION AND THREE FORMS IN YEARS 1, 2, 3 & 4 (as shown on the sketch plans by Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects)
Petition is now closed
67 signatures sent to LBTH
Woolmore Primary School must expand from one to three forms of entry and LBTH (Education, Social Care and Wellbeing) has already secured outline planning permission for a four-storey replacement primary school on the extended site of the existing two-storey Woolmore Primary School (opened by the London County Council in 1916).
However, at its meeting on 6 March 2013, the LBTH Strategic Development Committee refused (by four votes to three) a reserved matters application which included a justification for the demolition of the existing two-storey school building (PA/12/03318).
Reasons for refusal and further justifications for demolition will be presented at the committee’s next meeting on 18 April 2013. The committee will therefore be obliged to reconsider demolition and may grant full planning permission for the proposed four-storey replacement primary school building (with only one internal staircase) next to the northern entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel).
So that all concerned may give proper consideration to the refurbishment and extension of this beautiful historic school building (as recommended in English Heritage’s Refurbishing Historic School Buildings (2010):
- Tom Ridge has asked for the historic school building to be added to the LBTH Local List of heritage assets
- Award-winning Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects have drawn up sketch plans (PDF Doc) which demonstrate how the existing school building can be adapted for three forms in years 5 and 6, extended north to include a new multi-purpose hall and kitchen and linked to a new two-storey school building to the east for nursery, reception and three forms in years 1, 2, 3 and 4.
- The local listing request and the architects’ sketch plans are both fully supported by the Twentieth Century Society, which has been concerned for over a year about the loss of the historic school building and its embodied energy.
To encourage all concerned to give proper consideration to the refurbishment and extension of the historic school building please sign the online petition by 4 pm 17 April 2013 (and encourage others to sign) so that it can be reported to the Strategic Development Committee at its meeting on 18 April 2013. As there are no speaking rights at this meeting, a brief letter to [email protected] would also help.
NOTES ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL
Woolmore Primary School is described in The Buildings of England London 5: East as “Neo-Georgian with a severe row of tall chimneys and elegantly bracketed eaves.” (p. 648).
The “chimneys” are in fact upper-stage vent stacks for the removal of stale air from classrooms. Even so, as the building is good enough to be positively described in “Pevsner” it is surely good enough to be cherished by the local community and added to the LBTH Local List of heritage assets.
- the school is one of the finest and most distinguished of the LCC’s Neo-Georgian elementary schools
- of the 33 surviving examples (opened between 1912 and 1918) it is the only one with a highly visible and very distinctive row of seven massive upper-stage vent stacks (on the south side of its classroom range)
- only 13 of the surviving examples have pitched and hipped roofs with curved lower slopes over white boxed eaves
- the school is one of a few with its original white boxed eaves, which are probably the only ones with particularly elegant wrought-iron eaves and gutter brackets
- the convex brackets are complemented by the semi-circular relieving arches over the ground-floor classroom windows
- the school also retains most of its original cast-iron rainwater goods
- the school is in fact the least altered of the three surviving 1912-1918 LCC Neo-Georgian elementary school buildings in LB Tower Hamlets.
Apart from the post-WW2 rebuilt north-eastern part of the building and replacement roof cladding, the exterior and interiors of Woolmore Primary School are more or less as completed in 1916 as a two-storey school for boys and girls. The plastic replacement windows detract from the appearance of the building. They could and should be replaced by appropriate wooden window frames with double glazing, fully set back within the existing reveals.
The 1913 ‘heritage’ building at the Bow School of Maths and Computing in Paton Close is a very impressive locally-listed three-storey school building for boys, girls and infants with white rendered upper walls. However, the top floor of its main central part has been completely remodelled to form a sports hall under a (concealed) new roof.
Osmani Primary School is a long three-storey school building opened in 1915 for boys, girls and infants with the same planform and (similar) roofs as Woolmore Primary School but with red-brick instead of yellow-brick walls. It is the only surviving 1912-18 school with six side-wall, upper-stage vent stacks between seven gables (in the south wall of its classroom range). However, during its post-WW2 use as a boys’ secondary scshool, it was extended at both ends to include a three-storey science wing and a very large gymnasium.
Clearly, Woolmore Primary School must be added to the LBTH Local List of heritage assets and retained as a beautiful and useful part of an enlarged Woolmore Primary School. Especially, as its two associated buildings in Bullivant Street are to be demolished:
- the derelict single-storey former LCC Woolmore Street Infants’s School of 1914
- the derelict single-storey former LCC Woolmore Street Manual Training Centre of 1910, which provided woodwork lessons for boys at the Woolmore Street Boys & Girls School and other council schools in the vicinity.
This part of the very extensive Blackwall Reach Regeneration Area needs at least one retained heritage asset, to maintain a sense of place and community pride. Especially as it is right next to the All Saints’ Conservation Area, where the setting of the church and the conservation area is to be destroyed by a massive tower block on the site of the former infants’ school between Bullivant Street and Cotton Street.
Tom Ridge (SAVE WOOLMORE PRIMARY SCHOOL)
7 Shepton Houses
London E2 0JN (0208 981 7361)