Wapping Road First school, Bradford was built in 1877. It's a Grade II listed building, but sadly, predictably and rather all too familiarly it is in a bad way. (Please excuse the ghastly halo-ing around the edge of the building as I vainly attempted to turn a silhoutte into a more worthy picture)
The school would have educated some of the poorest children in Bradford.
Sadly, since it's closure, it has been stripped, set on fire, sprayed, and generally trashed by visitors.
The lead on the roof has gone on one half of the building. So have the slates. Because the building is open to the elements, it is deteriorating at a rapid speed.
Generations of children would have sat in the hall during assembly. During the latter years of the eighteen century, the headmaster had to stop assemblies regularly because of children fainting due to hunger. Paying for food for hungry children out of his own pocket, he became one of the first to pioneer free school meals.
The assembly hall, through the broken corridor windows.
Nowadays, schools are built with strict access policies, ensuring wheelchair users can move around freely, and children can walk safely around. I would imagine many a child has slipped on these steep steps.
Like many older schools, the caretaker ( today called the "superintendant" in Bradford) would have lived on the school premises. His house is ruined, the victim of random destruction, organised pikieness and arson.
I retired from being a primary teacher fairly recently, and the first school I taught in, in East London was a Victorian building too. I enjoyed visiting here, but it was depressing to see this place like this. Most Victorian schools had similar wooden panelling (which meant display boards are too high for kids to be able to see). Each classroom would have had a fireplace in, with monitors to make up the fire and sweep up the ash. Traditional high ceilings and corridors in here make certain the slightest noise echoes and is amplified.
Victorian schools had access based on gender and age. These are often seen on old school buildings, with boys, girls and babies being carved into the stone.
Much of the building is on the verge of being lost forever. There are plans to demolish half of this and convert the other half to twenty flats. That was passed in 2005. Nothing has happened, and there are rumours that the Council want to buy it back. View from the playground.
Why is this place so important? Why are there people who are genuinely upset about it's state? It's because of this...
It's importance as a building lies in the fact it was the first school in England, along with neighbouring Green Lane (in Manningham) to have swimming pool.Today, the original pool tiles remainn underneath the rubbish and stagnant water.
It was only with the intervention and continuing support of Margeret and Rachel Macmillan, educational campaigners in the late 1800's that saw improvements in cleanliness, nutition and clothing. There are no real plans in place to do anything with the swimming pool. In fact, a spokesman for the developers claims they're “not exactly sure” what would happen to the historic swimming pool once building work began.
Not the most thrilling of adventures, but I've always wanted to visit a school, and glad I did, as this won't be around for much longer if things continue the way they are doing. Disappointment of the day - not taking a picture of some good grafitti.