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Battle Primary School Including Caretaker's House, Former Cookery School, Manual Instruction Block and Boundary Railings and Gates

A Grade II Listed Building in Battle, Reading

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4538 / 51°27'13"N

Longitude: -0.9987 / 0°59'55"W

OS Eastings: 469670

OS Northings: 173238

OS Grid: SU696732

Mapcode National: GBR QDG.S8

Mapcode Global: VHDWS.MQWB

Entry Name: Battle Primary School Including Caretaker's House, Former Cookery School, Manual Instruction Block and Boundary Railings and Gates

Listing Date: 18 August 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393919

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507776

Location: Reading, RG30

County: Reading

Electoral Ward/Division: Battle

Built-Up Area: Reading

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: St Mark and All Saints, Reading

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Listing Text


934/0/10080 CRANBURY ROAD
18-AUG-10 Battle Primary School including careta
ker's house, former cookery school, ma
nual instruction block and boundary ra
ilings and gates

II
Board school, 1891-3 by Spencer Slingsby Stallwood; manual instruction block added c.1897

MATERIALS: Red brick with clay tile roof

PLAN: Two principal buildings - former infant school to south and larger upper school to north - originally separate but now connected by modern glazed entrance block. Infant school has main hall surrounded on three sides by classrooms which open directly into it. Upper school has 'H' plan with main hall sandwiched between two corridor-access classroom ranges to east and west, with further classrooms to north and south.

EXTERIOR: Queen Anne Revival style with much moulded brickwork, shaped gables and dormers, tall ridged and corbelled chimney stacks and multi-pane sash and casement windows of painted timber (many now replaced with modern double-glazed units). Two schools form unified east elevation to Cranbury Road, each having a pair of tall stepped and shaped gables in centre bays, flanked by recessed outer bays with lower pedimented gables and dormers, the latter having finely-moulded brick dentil courses. Northern return elevation has carved brick plaque bearing the date 1903, adjoining a raised pedimented doorway accessed via steps with ornamental railings; behind this is a half-octagonal projecting block overlooking rear playground. Upper school's west elevation to Kensington Road has three tall scrolled and shaped half dormers flanked by recessed wings with triangular gables. Tall square chimney to rear of upper school, acting as exhaust and intake for 'plenum'(forced-air) ventilation system: three pilastered stages and octagonal louvered belfry-like top with pyramidal roof.

INTERIORS: Infant school hall has open timber roof with arch-braced trusses reinforced by iron ties and resting on scrolled stone corbels; timber boarded dado below with ornamental ventilation grilles; wood-block floor. Infant school classrooms have arch-braced roofs (mostly now concealed by suspended ceilings) and many retain ventilation grilles and fireplaces with simple scrolled surrounds. Upper school hall has roof with polygonal timber trusses braced by a lattice of iron rods, and is lit by continuous dormer strip or clerestorey above eaves level. Large square apertures, now blocked, once opened into classrooms to north and south. Classrooms in east and west ranges have unusual tripartite roof structure, with three curved principals meeting above centre of room. Head teacher's office in east range attic space has fireplace with moulded timber surround.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a) at south-west corner of site, two-storey caretaker's house with gabled roof, projecting bay window and ridged and corbelled end stack; b) adjoining this, single-storey former cookery school with tall pedimented half-dormer; c) to north of upper school, manual instruction block of c.1897, much plainer in style, with half-dormers lighting first-floor classroom and iron columns forming open loggia below; d) to east and west boundaries of site, ornamental iron railings and gates on low brick plinth wall.

HISTORY: Battle belongs to the second generation of schools built by the Reading School Board. In 1889 a parcel of land was acquired amid the rapidly expanding network of terraced streets to the south of Oxford Road, and the architect Spencer Slingsby Stallwood - who earlier that year had won the limited competition to build Redlands school - was commissioned to build a pair of schools, one for 200 infants and another for 400 older children. In the event, it was decided so small a school would be uneconomic to build, and in 1891 Stallwood presented fresh plans for a much larger complex comprising an infant school for 300 and a mixed upper school for 700, with a further block incorporating a cookery school and caretaker's cottage. Construction, carried out by Higgs & Son of Reading, was completed in 1893. Around 1897, a manual instruction block was added at the northern end of the site. The school was used as a military hospital during the First World War. In the late C20 a link block was built joining the two main buildings.

The pioneering Elementary Education Act of 1870, steered through Parliament by William Forster and thus known as 'Forster's Act', was the first to establish a national, secular, non-charitable provision for the education of children aged 5-13. A driving force behind the new legislation was the need for a literate and numerate workforce to ensure that Britain remained at the forefront of manufacture and commerce. Moreover, the extension of the franchise to the urban working classes in the 1867 Reform Act also alerted politicians to the need to, in words attributed to the then Chancellor, 'educate our masters'. The Act required partially state-funded elementary schools to be established in areas where existing provision was inadequate, to be managed by elected school boards. At the beginning of 1871, Reading Borough Council petitioned the Government for the immediate establishment of a school board in the town, bypassing the usual preliminary inquiry. Elections were held in March 1871; the resulting nine-member board mainly comprised members of the town's social elite - three clergymen, two prominent industrialists, the headmaster of a local private school - but also included a local boot-maker, Jesse Herbert. The design of new schools was at first undertaken by the Berkshire county surveyor Joseph Morris, although other architects were later brought in. The Board continued to oversee the building of new schools and the extension of existing premises until 1903, when responsibility for elementary education passed to the Borough Council.

Spencer Slingsby Stallwood (1844-1922) was born in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, where he trained with the borough and county surveyor Charles Carter, later working for architects' firms in Salisbury, Scarborough and Folkestone. He set up in independent practice in the latter town, where he restored St Peter's Church and built the adjoining parish school. Having been made ARIBA in 1872 he returned to the Thames valley in 1875 and entered into partnership with the prominent Reading architect Joseph Morris. Morris and Stallwood were jointly responsible for Oxford Road School (1880-3) and for additions to a number of other Reading board schools; the partnership ended in 1885, but Stallwood went on to design three more schools for the Reading board - Redlands (1889-92), Battle (1892-3) and Wokingham Road (now Alfred Sutton, 1901-5) - as well as buildings for the University College and the double parade of shops and offices at Queen Victoria Street (1901).

SOURCES: Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Berkshire (revised ed., 2010).
Sidney M Gold, A Biographical Dictionary of Architects at Reading (1999).
Minutes of the Reading School Board (1871-1903), Berkshire Record Office R/EB1

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Battle Primary School is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural quality: a good example of a second-generation board school of the 1890s, built in a lively and well-detailed Queen Anne style.
* Completeness: a good interior and ancillary structures including boundary railings, caretaker's cottage, cookery school and manual instruction block illustrate the range of building types and functions on a typical board school site.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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