A Town With A Past --- And A Future
Heritage Project



Extract from planning application March 2005.

Summary of the Heritage Significance of Queen Street School and the form of the Project Proposals

1.00 Introduction

Queen Street School was built in 1844 as a combined National and Infant School. The building is in the Tudor-Revival style, in red brick with stone dressings and slate roof. The original H-plan building contains three main schoolroom ranges and a former Master's House. Attached to the rear is a later Victorian schoolroom extension and cloakrooms. Behind this is the playground area and a 1930s former Domestic Science and Craft building.

The School has been disused since 1978, and the former playground serves as an un-surfaced car park. Emergency holding repairs have been undertaken but the building is in a very poor state of repair. It is identified as a Building at Risk by North Lincolnshire Council and English Heritage.

1.01 The significance of the school

The School forms part of an impressive group of Victorian public buildings in the heart of Barton upon Humber's Conservation Area. The school, listed at Grade II*, is identified by English Heritage as `one of the most important schools surviving in England'; firstly, for its unique association with the leading educational pioneer, Samuel Wilderspin, and secondly, for its embodiment of educational innovation and its importance as a model design for other Victorian schools.

Samuel Wilderspin (1791-1866) was one of the founders of modern schooling. His work had a profound and far-reaching impact on educational practice and on the design and furnishing of school buildings and their grounds. He pioneered infant schools and invented the school playground, the teaching gallery, the classroom and new ways of teaching that still continue today. His approach - developing a child's feelings as well as their intellect, encouraging a spirit of enquiry, learning through experience, arts and nature, group activities and play - has proved to be remarkably far-sighted and long-lasting. Wilderspin's influence was international - as well as establishing infant schooling throughout the UK, the first infant schools in Europe, the Commonwealth and America were all modelled on his system, and his innovations had a transforming effect on education of children of all ages throughout the world.

The Queen Street School was built in 1844 as a combined Infant School and National School for older children, to designs by William Hey Dykes of Hull and Wakefield, assisted by Wilderspin. The original 1840s School is still remarkably complete.. It is a_ unique survival. Wilderspin had a world-wide impact, yet this is the only known survival anywhere of a Wilderspin school and playground. It is the only known example of a Model School which Wilderspin himself helped design and equip, and where he taught for several years, using it as a base for his promotion of enlightened education throughout Britain. (See Listing description and assessment, Appendix A)

Besides being the only known example of a Wilderspin Model School, this is the only surviving school in England associated with a major early 19t" century educational innovator. The School was used for an influential model design for a mixed infant and junior school published by the Government in 1845. Later 19t' and early 20'' century alterations to the building have been relatively modest, and retain the form and character of the original 1844 building to a remarkable extent. These later alterations and additions, in matching style and materials, trace the development of educational practice from the mid 19'th to the mid 20th century, a period which saw important and far reaching changes in childrens' schooling.

Together, these qualities make the Queen Street School building and its early playground area a site of considerable national and international importance. The present proposals have been guided by recognition of the School's exceptional significance, and its particular value as an embodiment of educational innovation and change during a critical historical period. The views of leading authorities on architectural history, the history of education, and school museums have been taken into account in the preparation of the project and the building scheme.

1.02 The Proposals

The aim of the project is to save this important Grade II* listed school from continuing dereliction, by restoring, refurbishing and reusing the building and playground site. In order to facilitate heritage and community use, the present scheme retains the whole of the main school building, including the later Victorian schoolroom addition, and the full area of the historic playground.

The scheme will use the restored and refurbished historic school and its grounds to celebrate the Wilderspin legacy, develop educational and heritage programmes for schools and the public, and provide facilities for community use.

The restored School will house the reconstructed Wilderspin Schoolroom, a Victorian Classroom for use by schools, and various support facilities including the Wilderspin Exhibition, multi-purpose community facilities, and visitor services. The scheme also allows for a reconstruction of the Wilderspin playground.

An adjacent building will be brought back into complementary use for meetings and community activities.

The proposals drawings, together with those showing the building as existing are included at subsequently Appendix "Jn

Through links with other facilities and attractions in the area, and with other school heritage centres in the UK and abroad, the project will draw on a wide audience and also contribute strongly to local and regional tourism.

The proposal therefore offers substantial heritage and community benefit to the town, the wider community, and tourists and visitors from the UK and abroad.

The Project

2.00 Development of the Project

2.01 Since its closure in 1978, the School and its grounds have deteriorated and it has been identified as a Building at Risk by North Lincolnshire Council's Conservation Section and by English Heritage. The Queen Street School Preservation Trust and Barton Civic Society have worked for many years to save this building because of its historical and architectural importance and its potential to enhance community life, the town's heritage, and the appearance of the Conservation Area. By the early 1990's public opinion was demanding a resolution to the problem of the school's neglect. As a result of public interest, the Queen Street
School Preservation Trust was formed in 1993 to save the School from demolition, and to restore it for community use. The Trust was incorporated on 13th August 1993 as a Charitable Trust Company (registered no. 2844791).

The Mission Statement of the Queen Street School Preservation Trust is:

"To restore the former Queen Street School and find sufficient end uses to ensure its long term viability as celebration of the life and work of Samuel Wilderspin, for the benefit of the people of Barton upon Humber and elsewhere."

In 1998 the Trust joined forces with other partners - Barton Civic Society, Barton Town Council, Barton Regeneration Partnership and North Lincolnshire Council - to make the Mission Statement a reality. The Trust is now spearheading the project.

These plans progressed to a scheme involving some demolition of the structure, and building a new library and Community Learning and Information Centre on the playground behind the School,, whilst the School itself, reduced in size, would have a heritage use, including a Victorian School Experience and historic displays. Planning consent was granted in 2003. However, lack of funding for the project has necessitated a revision of the scheme in order to secure funding for the historic building and rescue it from further costly deterioration. The result is the present heritage and community-based scheme, focusing on the historic school and playground. The Trust appointed Elden Minns & Co. Ltd. as conservation architects in March 2004.

This scheme will see the restoration and rehabilitation of the school buildings and playground area for heritage, educational and community uses that are compatible with the heritage of the School and its site. This will provide sustainable and appropriate uses for the benefit of the School building and its site, the historic town centre, the local community and wider national and international community.

Project Aims

To save and conserve the building through repair, restoration and appropriate re-use, and through promotion of its community and historic value within the town, region and country.

To establish and develop sustainable uses of the building that are flexible enough to respond to changing circumstances.

To include the local and wider community in the delivery and development of a range of public facilities and services, including display and interpretation of the history of the School and of child education.

To promote universal access to the building and its services for both visitors and staff.

To promote civic pride, sense of place and local identity through environmental, economic and cultural regeneration.

Specific Objectives

The Queen Street School Heritage Project will achieve these aims through a comprehensive scheme for restoration and sympathetic and sustainable re-use. The main objectives of the scheme are to:

Restore the School building and bring it into sustainable use for educational, heritage and community activity.

Restore and recreate the internationally unique site of the Wilderspin playground for practical educational and community use.

Provide a town centre community facility in an historic setting for training, meetings, events and the provision of community services.

Provide an authentic setting for historic and educational displays, interpretation and 'Historic School Experience' role-play activities.

Provide additional cross-curricular study opportunities for schools studying aspects of the built environment linked to the National Curriculum.

Foster interest and debate in child education and welfare as part of adult education, teacher training and informal lifelong learning activities.

Provide universal access to a high quality heritage attraction offering formal and informal learning opportunities for schools such as living history sessions, object handling,' interpretation of visual and written sources, and fieldwork investigating the built heritage. There will also be opportunities for work experience, links with Leisure and Tourism courses as well as a programme of informal and holiday activities for children, families and adults.

Universal access to all facilities on site will be achieved by careful attention to detail in the design process, for instance by ensuring level or ramped access throughout the grounds and the ground floor.

Enhance the tourism product of Barton and the Humber region by developing links with other attractions in the region, and with other school heritage centres in the UK and overseas. The broad appeal of the School will draw on a wide audience and also contribute strongly to local and regional tourism.

Improve and safeguard the unique Victorian street scene through the restoration and rehabilitation of the School building and its grounds, thereby improving the built heritage and visual amenity of this important part of the Conservation Area.

Nurture increased civic pride and act as a catalyst for further heritage improvements and community initiatives in the town.

Promote community identity through the provision of community facilities and education, and through the celebration and wider appreciation of Barton's contribution to Wilderspin's legacy and its relevance today.

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