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Latitude: 53.0927 / 53°5'33"N
Longitude: -3.8188 / 3°49'7"W
OS Eastings: 278298
OS Northings: 356597
OS Grid: SH782565
Mapcode National: GBR 63.92V7
Mapcode Global: WH663.9JRF
Entry Name: Ysgol Gynradd Betws-y-Coed
Listing Date: 13 March 2009
Last Amended: 13 March 2009
Source ID: 87582
Building Class: Education
Location: On the western edge of Betws-y-coed, to the east of the small hamlet of Pentre Du, on the south side of the A5.
Traditional County: Caernarfonshire
The school was designed by the Caernarvonshire county architect, Rowland Lloyd-Jones in 1913, but not built until 1928. Caernarvonshire Education Committee had previously built (in 1911) two open-air schools (at Brynaerau and Four Crosses), and the Betws-y-coed school was designed to incorporate some of the features of the open-air school movement. The idea of the open-air school originated in Germany c1904 and was adopted by progressive education authorities a few years later, stimulated by concern for children's health, linked to the condition of school buildings. It emphasised the importance of cross-lighting and through-ventilation, and these themes were taken up in a series of schools in the UK after c1907, and widely publicised in the architectural press. One of these, Woolbrook Elementary School, Sidmouth, of 1909, has a plan very similar to that adopted here at Betws-y-coed.
The building comprises a single long range with a short advanced wing to the east. Single storeyed, with generous hipped roof (stepped down over cloak-room block to west); Flat roof advanced over bay windows and entrance in main elevation. Rough-rendered finishes to walls with smooth rendered continuous string-course and panels in gable apexes; slate roof with tiled cresting and projecting rafter-ends. Main elevation comprises 4 bays articulated by pilasters supporting flat roof advanced over recessed shallow canted bay windows with small-paned glazing between mullions. Entrance to left recessed between pilasters, with glazed panels to door, and tripartite small-pane sash window in return elevation. Advanced gabled wing to right, with two paired 12-pane sash windows, and main entrance in re-entrant wall. Rear elevation articulated by a series of gables, mainly as dormers to emphasise windows, but including a shallow advanced gable to the left (the hall). This has stepped tripartite window, comprising paired central 12-pane sashes and flanking 8-pane sashes. To the left of this gable, is a further bay with paired 8-pane sash windows. To its right, the elevation is symmetrically arranged, with paired central gables over paired 12-pane sashes (with blank upper panels suggesting the windows had once been taller), flanked by further paired sashes. At each end, a further gable breaks the eaves over paired 8-pane sashes (also with blind upper panels), with flanking single sashes. In the return elevation to the left, the hall has an advanced gable with tripartite sash window.
Plan comprises cloakrooms adjacent to each entrance, small office and hall at east end, then a range of class-rooms facing north, with a broad 'marching corridor' running the length of the building to the south. It is lit by the canted bay windows of the south elevation which form a near-continuous band of rippling fenestration. These were designed to fold back fully, enabling the corridor to be opened to the outside. The corridor is separated from the class-rooms by a series of partitions which were also designed to fold back. These have light panelling below, and small-paned windows above, and are set in moulded architraves. Similar partitions between the class-rooms, enabling the whole internal space to be opened out. Dado panelling to corridor, hall and class-rooms. Parquet floors throughout.
Listed as an exceptionally well-preserved example of a rural primary school of the early twentieth century. The building was designed to incorporate features from the influential open-air school movement, and is an excellent example of this type, with its fluid plan and fenestration. Although not built until 1928, the design - of 1913 - is also a relatively early example of this pioneering school type in Britain.
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