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Summerfield Community Centre and Job Preparation Unit, Birmingham

Description: Summerfield Community Centre and Job Preparation Unit

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 8 July 1982
English Heritage Building ID: 217025

OS Grid Reference: SP0427687693
OS Grid Coordinates: 404276, 287693
Latitude/Longitude: 52.4871, -1.9384

Location: Winson Green Road, Birmingham B18 5TD

Locality: Birmingham
County: Birmingham
Country: England
Postcode: B18 5TD

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Listing Text

997/6/9 DUDLEY ROAD B18

(Formerly listed as:

A college, formerly a school, designed by John Henry Chamberlain & William Martin for the Birmingham School Board, and built in 1878. The building is of red brick with terracotta and stone dressings and a tiled roof. The northern end of the building is of two and three storeys and the southern end has a single storey, although windows set high in the wall give the impression of an extra floor. The southern section housed the infants' school, with classrooms clustered around three sides of a central hall, and the northern section had the boys' school at ground floor level and the girls' school at first floor level, again with classrooms grouped around a central hall at both levels. Architects' drawings show that all of the classrooms in the infants' school had banked seating to the rear of the room.

EXTERIOR: The east front, facing onto Winson Green Road, is taller at its north end. To the right are two wide gables which indicate the classrooms. Each gable has two three-light, mullioned and transomed windows to the ground floor with cambered heads. Buttresses are set between the windows and die back at the level of the first floor window sills. The left gable has the boiler stack at the centre, which rises to project above the gable apex. At first floor level the right gable has three sash lights with flat lintels, above which is a timber-framed gable and that to the left has four windows with arched heads. To the right of these was the boys' entrance, now masked by later-C20 additions, above which the roof of the former boys cloakroom can be seen with its apsidal end facing north. To the left of these is the tower which is slightly recessed. It has clasping buttresses and a projecting base which dies back to two sunken bays divided by an attached, projecting pier. Ground and first floor windows are sashes. Above these there are further openings which were connected to the ventilation system. These are now blocked, but are shown on the architects' drawings as louvered. They include arched openings at second floor level, above which is a rose set in an ashlar surround, with a gabled lucarne to the spire. These features, above second floor level are repeated on the other faces of the tower. To left again is the arched and recessed portal which formed the entrance for the girls and infants. To south of this is the caretaker's house, with two timber-framed gables on a smaller, domestic scale, with three-light sash windows to each floor and a prominent chimney stack set between them. To left of this the infants' school has two large, projecting classroom wings with three arched windows to each and square-headed windows to the gables. At right of these is a lower gabled wing and to left a C20 addition. Behind them all can be seen the roof of the hall with its apsidal southern end.

The south front has the apsidal classroom to the south of the hall at centre, with pairs of windows divided by pilaster buttresses which die back below eaves level. Above these are gabled dormers with timber-framed gablets. At either side of this the sides of the classrooms attached to the flanks of the hall, have gabled sashes with glazed, ogee heads.

The west side has two gabled classrooms at right, as seen on the east side, and a further apsidal end to the classroom at left of these. Recessed and at left of this are two, blank gables, added in the later-C20. The large block to the north of this, which is the flank of the school for boys and girls, has additions at right and left which were built in the period between the publication of the 1904 and 1918 editions of the Ordnance Survey maps. These are set to either side of two gabled bays with three lights to the first floor, as seen on the east front at right of the tower.

To the west side of the yard are five bays of a covered playground which appears from the evidence of early Ordnance Survey maps to have formerly run along most of the length of this side of the site. It is a lean-to with brick wall to the rear and hollow iron columns to the front with moulded bases and caps. The corrugated metal sheeting of the roof has been replaced in the C20. To the rear is a lavatory block with walls of vertical wooden boarding and ventilation grilles to the top.

INTERIOR: The central hall or schoolroom in the Infants' school has boarded
panelling below the dado. There are four trusses with cast iron blades which form pointed arches and have decorative panels to their sides. To the south end is a glazed wooden screen which extends the full height of the room and divides the hall from the apsidal classroom at its southern end. To the sides are windows with pointed arches giving views to the classrooms and there are further windows between adjoining classrooms. The two apsidal classrooms both have similar cast iron ribs to their roofs.

The boys' school at ground floor level of the northern block has a central hall running north-south. Two of the classrooms have evidence in the mounting dado line of banked seating. An open-well staircase with stone treads leads to the first floor where the girls' school also has a central hall with a boarded ceiling and heavy, cusped, wooden trusses. The lateral classrooms also have boarding below the dado and their original flooring. Doors and door furniture throughout the building are largely original.

The Birmingham School Board was brought into being by the Elementary Education Act of 1870; the Act, which empowered school boards to create new schools and pay the fees of the poorest children, was largely the result of campaigning by the Birmingham-centred National Education League. By 1902, when the Education Act abolished school boards and passed the responsibility for education to local authorities, the Birmingham School Board had built fifty-two new schools, as well as the Board's offices. All but four of these schools were designed by the architectural practice Martin and Chamberlain - from 1900 Martin and Martin - appointed Architect to the Board in 1870.

John Henry Chamberlain (1831-83) and William Martin (1828-1900) formed the practice Martin and Chamberlain in 1864. Following Chamberlain's death, Martin was joined by his son, Frederick William Martin (1859-1917), and the practice continued under the same name until the death of William Martin when it was renamed Martin and Martin. The board schools operated as focal points within each district, serving as symbols of municipal pride and civic achievement; Martin and Chamberlain created a house style for their schools, which were characterised by their red-brick construction, tall ventilation towers, proliferation of gables, and decorative use of tiles and terracotta, sometimes displaying naturalistic forms. Chamberlain believed that beautiful and well-planned school architecture might offer children some compensation for drab, cramped homes, and in 1894 the Pall Mall Gazette commented that, 'In Birmingham you may generally recognise a Board School by its being the best building in the neighbourhood... with lofty towers which serve the utilitarian purpose of giving excellent ventilation, gabled windows, warm red bricks and stained glass, the best of the Birmingham Board Schools have quite an artistic finish'.

Dudley Road School was designed by Martin and Chamberlain in 1878 for the Birmingham School Board and was intended to accommodate 1,220 children. The Ordnance Survey map for 1890 identifies the building as being for 'Boys, Girls and Infts' with two ranges, at north and south, joined by the narrower caretakers' house at the centre with a playground shelter to the west of the site. The 1904 survey map shows an addition to the north side of the southern block and the 1918 OS shows additions to the northern block, to its south-west corner and northern side, together with a detached block to the north of the playground. Further buildings were added to the site in the later-C20, principally at the north end. The building ceased to be a school in the later-C20 and was firstly made into Handsworth Technical College and then converted to a community and job-training centre.

OS maps published 1904, 1916 and 1938 (1:2500)
English Heritage, Birmingham Board Schools Report (1991)
Cooper, K, Birmingham Board Schools: A study of Martin and Chamberlains' work for the Birmingham School Board (unpublished PhD thesis, 1980)
Franklin, S, D, A History of Dennis Road/Anderton Park School, 1896-1996 (1998)
The Victorian Society, The Best Building in the Neighbourhood? Martin and Chamberlain and the Birmingham Board Schools (1968)
Ballard, P, ed., Birmingham's Victorian and Edwardian Architects (2009)
Harwood, E, England's Schools: History, architecture and adaptation (2010)
Thornton, R, Victorian Buildings of Birmingham (2006), 53-61

The Summerfield Community Centre is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural: the building was designed by Martin and Chamberlain, one of the leading architectural practices in late-Victorian Birmingham, and has an inspired architectural treatment which shows distinct quality to both exterior and interior
* Historical: one of twenty-seven surviving schools built by the Birmingham School Board, which together form one of the most important groups of board schools in the country
* Intactness: despite some later additions, the school is remarkably intact, with a high proportion of its original fittings
* Rarity of features: the survival of particular features, notably the air extraction tower and the covered playground, is rare

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.