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Campaigners seek national recognition for Stonebridge’s historic school

A Victorian school in Brent has been proposed for listing as a building of national importance by the Victorian Society, the national charity campaigning for the Victorian and Edwardian historic environment.

One of the last nineteenth century buildings still standing in its neighbourhood, Stonebridge  School on Shakespeare Avenue has served the local community for 110 years. It was built by GES Laurence, a Willesden School Board architect who was known for his exuberant and ambitious designs and who gave this area of London school buildings that were larger and more imposing than those found in many other suburbs.

‘Stonebridge  School is a rare Victorian survival in this part of Brent,’ said Heloise Brown, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. ‘What’s more, it is an exciting example of school-building in the late nineteenth century, the era which saw the birth of the education system we know today. Retaining its old ‘Manual Instruction’ workshop, school keeper’s house and other outbuildings, the school is a remarkably complete piece of working heritage which should be recognised and protected.’ 

Yet plans to redevelop the site, which is still in use as a school, could soon raze this significant part of Brent’s history to the ground. News of this has led the Victorian Society to ask English Heritage to list Stonebridge School, a step which should put its preservation beyond doubt.  ‘Stonebridge  School must be protected,’ continued Ms Brown. ‘A sound and historically important building, it contributes a lot to Brent and provides the local community with a tangible link to its past. It would be a great shame to see it go.’  She concluded: ‘Around the country, we have seen how versatile and durable historic schools like Stonebridge  School can be. With a little imagination and care, buildings like this can easily accommodate modern needs. Many of Britain’s most prestigious schools were designed in the Victorian era and staff and pupils take great pride in their historic settings. We want Stonebridge to be able to make the most of its heritage too.’

Tuesday 15 July, 2008

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