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Top of the form - new book celebrates Manchester’s historic schools

The first comprehensive study of Manchester’s Victorian and Edwardian schools is published today.

The book takes a detailed look at the forty schools built by the Manchester School Board between 1870 and 1902.

Of the forty schools only seven now survive. Five are still in use as primary schools; one is an enterprise centre and one a higher-education college. All the others have been demolished, one as recently as early this year (The Ducie Avenue Higher Grade School in Greenheys).

The Education Act of 1870 made an elementary education compulsory for all. It led to an energetic programme of school building across the country and Manchester was quick to start providing robust and imposing new schools that would shape the lives of generations of Manchester's children.

These schools were beacons of learning in local streets - well built, well planned and designed to provide the best environment for children and teachers.

'The Manchester schools require and deserve better recognition,' according to the historian and author Samantha Barnes. 'They played a key role in the city's civic achievements and form a crucial aspect of Manchester's social history.'

'The design of the schools was influenced by the very latest educational thinking and the buildings are integral to Manchester's architectural history. Those that remain still have a strong significance in the city's townscape.'

Despite their importance to the city only one such school is listed - the New Higher Grade School on Whitworth Street. The others need more protection, as shown by the recent demolition of the 1881 Ducie Avenue School. The Society believes that the 1902 Queen Street School in Hulme (in use as an enterprise centre) and the 1896 Varna Street School in Openshaw are of listing quality.

The book is being launched at an event at the Manchester College, Whitworth Street at 3.30pm on Saturday 14th November.

Manchester Board Schools 1870-1902
by Samantha F. Barnes
is published by The Victorian Society with the Alan Baxter Foundation on 11th November 2009.

It is available from the Victorian Society at £9.50

Samantha Barnes is an Art History graduate, with an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Manchester and an MSc in Historic Building Conservation from the University of Bath. She is currently working as an Trainee Historic Environment Manager for English Heritage, based in Birmingham.

Saturday 14 November, 2009

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