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17 Handsworth New Road, Birmingham

Description: 17 Handsworth New Road

Grade: II
Date Listed: 8 July 1982
English Heritage Building ID: 217232

OS Grid Reference: SP0418688615
OS Grid Coordinates: 404187, 288614
Latitude/Longitude: 52.4954, -1.9397

Location: Handsworth New Road, Birmingham B18 4PG

Locality: Birmingham
County: Birmingham
Country: England
Postcode: B18 4PG

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Listing Text


The former master's or caretaker's house to Handsworth New Road School, a Birmingham Board School constructed to a design by Buckland and Farmer in 1901.

Reason for Listing

17 Handsworth New Road is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural: a modest but assured house in the Arts and Crafts style by the respected early-C20 Birmingham firm of Buckland and Farmer, its asymmetrical street frontage making effective use of a limited site
* Historical: the house was built for the master or caretaker of the former Handsworth New Road School, one of the latest 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
* Group value: with the former Handsworth New Road School; the buildings are not designed to match, but to complement one another in an eclectic composition


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'.

Following Chamberlain's death, much of the practice's design was taken over by Frederick Martin, who developed the established mode of the schools' design. Only four of the Birmingham Board Schools were not designed by the practice, one of these being Handsworth New Road School, which opened in 1901. A competition for the design school was won by the recently-formed Birmingham practice of Buckland and Farmer; Birmingham-born Herbert Buckland and Edward Haywood-Farmer would develop a reputation for their varied work, influenced by C17 vernacular architecture - particularly in the building of houses and educational buildings. Following the success of Handsworth New Road School, Herbert Buckland was briefly appointed Architect to the Board, before its abolition - Martin and Martin having demanded a higher percentage fee - and was then employed by the Council's Education Department from 1903 until the 1930s. Buckland and Farmer built eight new Birmingham schools in the first two decades of the century, and made numerous additions and alterations to existing schools.

Handsworth New Road School originally provided places for 1,100 mixed junior and infant pupils. In 1930 it became a senior school for boys and girls, and the building was still in use as a school until about 1990. In 1996 it was converted to flats, and the former master's or caretaker's house was adapted for use as part of the same housing scheme.


House, 1901, by Buckland and Farmer for the Birmingham School Board. Built as a master's or caretaker's house, associated with the former Handsworth New Road School, which stands immediately to the north. In an Arts and Crafts style, the house is of red brick, with brick central stack. The slate roof, with timber bracketed eaves, has an asymmetrical pitch, being lower to the rear, and there is a southern hipped section with wide flat eaves, formerly supported by iron brackets, the pitched section having timber bracketed eaves. It has timber casement windows, a number of which have been replaced. There are two storeys with attic. The east, street-facing elevation is of two bays, the windows being at different levels in each bay. The southern bay, with a canted bay window to the ground floor and horizontal windows above, is surmounted by the hipped roof. The recessed narrow northern bay contains a small low window with transomed staircase window above. In the north elevation there is scattered fenestration and an entrance, with a flat lead-covered porch canopy suspended on decorative iron brackets protecting the doorway, with attached window; the door has been replaced. To the west, two lower sections, with some alteration.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Detached shed and WCs to west, with original boarded doors.

Source: English Heritage

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