Building 2-east elevation

Project Profile

Project Title :

Friarage Community School, Scarborough

Client :

Mott MacDonald

Type of Work :

Historic Buildings Recording

Project Gallery 

Building 2-north elevation east gable   Building 1-west elevation Dutch gable  
Building 1-south elevation-east gable   Building 1-North elevation-west gable  
Babies calssroom-R28-east wall   Original school plan  


Friarage Community School

Board of Education Schools - Beacons of learning.out of which will spring the wiser, better England of the future.

NAA was commissioned to conduct a historic building survey of the Friarage Community Primary School prior to its refurbishment. This comprised photographing and recording the exterior and interior of the school, including over 40 different rooms.

The Friarage Community Primary School was opened on the 28th February 1896 by the Scarborough Board of Education, and built to a design by a local architect, J Caleb Petch. Board Schools were constructed following the 1870 Education Act, which allowed for the creation of local schools boards and required children between the ages of five and thirteen to receive an education. The opening of the school was covered at the time on the front page of the Scarborough Evening News.

The school was constructed in the Queen Anne Revival style, advocated by the chief architect of the London School Board, E R Robson. It was intended that Board Schools should be immediately recognizable, that "a school should look like a school and not like a monastery". Robson later became an influential consultant to the Education Department, and as a result the Queen Anne Revival style, with its use of red brick, triangular pediment gable-ends, tall chimneys and large white sash windows, was adopted for schools throughout the country.

The grandiose scale and size of the Board Schools, including the Friarage, reflected the civic pride of the local architects and towns in which they were built. They were also intended to tower above and inspire their surrounding towns, with Sherlock Holmes stating in 'The Naval Treaty' that they were "beacons of learning.out of which will spring the wiser, better England of the future".

Robson also published "School Architecture" in 1874, which lay down the principles he thought sound for the construction of Board Schools, with particular attention to the size of classrooms, lighting, heating, ventilation and hygiene. This included a host of minutiae, detailing the position of windows and fireplaces right down to the style of cloakroom taps. The book contains a series of regulations, which could be seen in the plan and architecture of the Friarage School. The tone of the Scarborough Evening News article covering the school opening gives the impression that everything was carefully considered before construction in order to comply with the best practice and theory of the time.

The school comprised two main buildings; originally one for the teaching of infants and the other for older students. The latter was divided into two separate areas; one for the teaching of boys and the other for girls, set around a double height central hall. Each area contained six classrooms to allow the separate teaching of the six standards of examination, with windows for each classroom into the main corridors so that the headteacher could supervise each class. A detached two-storey block of similar architectural design also held a laundry and cookery rooms for girls.

Each classroom was lit by a large Venetian window placed on the left-hand side of the room to ensure the sunlight did not dazzle the eyes of the teacher or the students. Cloakroom design was also tightly governed with the provision of separate wash basins (depicted on the original architect's plans), an entrance and exit into each cloakroom and the use of an upper storey so that the ceiling of the cloakroom was not too tall. Hygiene was an important consideration both in the cloakrooms and throughout the school. It was for this reason that hard-wearing glazed brick wall decoration was commonly used in Board Schools throughout the country. Safety was a major concern, with the use of bullnosed brick on protruding wall corners, and windows glazed with small panes, less likely to be broken and cheaper to replace. But these are only a fraction of the design points discussed by Robson and used throughout the school, the sheer amount of detail considered by him being too extensive to mention in detail.

The survival of historic features throughout the school was good, with the floor plan of the buildings very little changed. A range of original features had been retained such as doors, windows, cupboards, decorative metal grilles, roof trusses and picture rails. The only known surviving copies of the original architect's plans of the school were also "discovered" in the headmistress' office.