Stepney School Board

I took a minor deviation from my normal Sunday morning route and spotted that an old Board School on the far side of Shandy Park had been converted into luxury flats.   It is described in the sales particulars as ‘dating back to the second world war’ which shows how much estate agents know of architectural history as it so obviously dates back to the Queen Anne Revival.   It is the surviving wing of the original Ben Jonson School, constructed in 1872 on the Prussian model, and contained the original Cookery and Laundry Centre added in 1895, as well as the local School Board’s Divisional Offices:-





4 thoughts on “Stepney School Board

  1. pbmum says:

    Thank you for this. The estate agents brochure for ‘So Old School’ at ‘So Stepney’ has made me laugh out loud. Good fun comparing it to the claims being made for the then under construction Ocean Estate in the Official Metropolitan Borough Guide to Stepney in, I think, 1953 (for some reason my mum has kept her copy from new). They were boasting not just of cottages and flats and maisonettes – all with ‘latter-day ancillaries’ – but 297 perambulator sheds and an estate workshop. In the 70s I was at school with people who lived ‘on the Ocean’ and by then it had something of a reputation. I guess that the perambulator sheds, like the bike sheds on the estate I lived on, had become a target for vandalism and arson.

    Finally got to the Liotard exhibition yesterday with my 14 year old daughter. We really enjoyed it and she is currently writing about it for her Silver Arts Award.


  2. Victoria says:

    I love these old board school buildings and had noticed they are all of a similar design and it makes sense, though hadn’t twigged until I looked up the Prussian model that they came in as part of the introduction of mass schooling. It was interesting to read about the competion to design and build 27 board schools in London and how so many famous London architects were invited to bid, but that few did. It seems the Stepney school was the first school in London, and possibly England to introduce classrooms, rather than just having all the pupils taught together in a large schoolroom with fixed desks.
    The demand for new schools and the challenge to build new schools seems to carry the same issues today as in the 1870s. We haven’t as far as I know run competitions to build schools at scale. But there’s an idea. I also find it interesting that America still operates the school board system as they must have used our model / Prussian model before we moved to the system of local authorities. Best wishes Victoria

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