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The Former Garrison Lane Junior and Infant Schools, Birmingham

Description: The Former Garrison Lane Junior and Infant Schools

Grade: II
Date Listed: 8 July 1982
English Heritage Building ID: 217092

OS Grid Reference: SP0867886957
OS Grid Coordinates: 408679, 286957
Latitude/Longitude: 52.4805, -1.8736

Location: 108 Garrison Lane, Birmingham B9 4QG

Locality: Birmingham
County: Birmingham
Country: England
Postcode: B9 4QG

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Listing Text


The former Garrison Lane School, consisting of junior and infant buildings, constructed in 1873 to the designs of Martin and Chamberlain.

Reason for Listing

* Architect: a handsome school by Martin and Chamberlain, one of the leading architectural practices in late-Victorian Birmingham
* Historical: as one of the earliest of twenty-six surviving schools built by the Birmingham School Board, which together form one of the most important groups of board schools in the country
* Intactness: externally, the school building remains largely as built, barring an addition to the infant school
* Design: the junior school is of an assured design showing strong Northern Gothic influence, enhanced by the sparing but effective use of stone and cut brick dressings, and by the tall pyramidal spire
* Group value: with the associated master's or caretaker's house (qv) standing directly to east


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-one new schools. 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 the death of Chamberlain, Martin was joined by his son, Frederick Martin, and the practice continued under the same name until the death of William Martin when the practice 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 terracotta displaying naturalistic forms. Chamberlain believed that school architecture might offer children some compensation for drab 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'.

J. H. Chamberlain, the leading creative force within Martin and Chamberlain, was profoundly influenced by Ruskin and his promotion of Venetian Gothic; Chamberlain had a unique impact on Birmingham's civic architecture during the 1860s and 1870s, helping shape the city's celebrated movement of social and artistic improvement. He designed a number of other important public buildings, including libraries, baths, and hospitals, but in setting the style for the board schools he made an especially significant and lasting contribution to Birmingham's built environment.

Garrison Lane School opened in 1873, providing places for 867 boys, girls, and infants, with the junior school to east and infant school to west. The infant school received an addition to the south-east corner in 1905, and other small extensions were made during the course of the C20. The buildings were in use as a school during the C20, although there were periods of closure. The site is currently occupied by an educational organisation.


School, 1873, by Martin and Chamberlain, for the Birmingham School Board. The former Garrision Lane School consists of two buildings: the junior school to the east and the infant school to the west; a detached master's or caretaker's house (qv) stands at a short distance to the east of the junior school. The buildings are of red brick with cut brick and ashlar dressings. The roofs are tiled. Rising from the north end of the western building, a ventilation tower with pyramidal slated spire with metal detailing - louvres, lucarnes and decorative banding with rosettes - surmounted by a delicate finial.

The two-storey JUNIOR SCHOOL has a roughly rectangular plan with a projecting apsidal range to the east of the south elevation. The south-facing street elevation has an inserted or altered entrance to west; coupled lancet windows to the ground floor, segmental-arched windows to the first floor, and two gabled dormers with pointed lights. The apsidal western wing has a pointed-arched entrance with 'Boys School' carved in a sexfoil within the gable above. The east elevation faces the yard between junior school and caretaker's house. Four bays are separated by brick buttresses: to the ground floor, four pairs of windows with shouldered-arched openings within pointed ashlar arches framed by gauged brick; above, lancets in triplets. Some of the ground-floor openings have been lowered to create doorways. To the north end, a projecting four-bay gable, the upper windows having trefoil heads; the attic contains a large pointed light. The west elevation contains four varied gables: the two central gables, which are separated by a buttress with stone gablet, each contain four tall windows with pointed ashlar tympana, linked by a hood mould, and above, four lancets, their heads linked by a stone band, surmounted by a foiled rose window in a pointed frame. The southern and northern gabled sections are balanced, each having five linked lancet windows with brick arches and hood moulds, but both have received alteration to the ground floor; in the southern gable, a round window, and in the northern gable, paired lancets. The north elevation has been altered to create a large flat-headed entrance.

The former infant school is connected to the junior school by iron gates with opposing C20 open lean-to roof structures. The building is of a single storey with attic; the external decorative treatment is plainer than that given to the junior school. The south-facing street elevation has a dormer to west, with two lancet windows with linking hood mould, and a tall stack rising to the east of the dormer. To east, three pairs of segmental-arched windows separated by buttresses; the westerly pair has been blocked. Further, east, the early-C20 extension provides a second dormer and stack, and an east-facing gable with a large window in a round-headed recess. The east elevation, facing the junior school, has a tall gable with lancet windows surmounted by round lights and a round ventilation opening, with a lower gable to north containing three lancets with hood moulds. The north elevation has a single gable to west, also with three lancets; in the eastern section, paired segmental-arched windows, separated by buttresses.

Internally both buildings retain historic features but both have been subject to considerable alteration, with some spaces opened up, and others partitioned; false ceilings have also been inserted. The junior school has staircases at both north and south ends of the building; some internal joinery remains, including some doors, and glazed screens connecting the classrooms with the corridor, and dado panelling is retained to the staircases and hallway. Within the infant school false ceilings conceal the timber roof trusses, but the corbels on which they rest remain visible. This building retains some glazed screens to the classrooms, with trefoil or shouldered lights above the doorways.

The eastern section of the school has a brick screen wall with decorative iron coping. To west, brick gate piers with stone caps, framing the former boys' entrance; to east, gates links the school with the associated house.

Source: English Heritage

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