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Report - Belfairs School, Leigh-on-Sea, August 2011

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by layz, Sep 19, 2011.

  1. layz

    layz Conquistador d'Wolverton
    28DL Full Member

    Sep 21, 2008
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    Hey Guys,


    Visited this place with Andrew B after a tip-off from his missus. The place was littered with boxes of books, equipment and stationary ready to be moved to the new school being built on site. Initially we were shocked by the apparent wastage of the education system, leaving a computer and projector in each room in some cases still on! However within a week it seems most of this equipment had been removed and stored safely ready for the new term and leaving the old school ready for demolition.

    It was good fun poking around such a fresh site, even though it’s not normally my style. Sadly we were not able to get into the main hall, kitchens or gym all of which were sealed pretty tight. However we did manage to access some of the site and had a free run of the class rooms and drama studio.

    I don’t believe in sentimentality when it comes to old buildings which are no longer commercially viable However in the case of Belfairs School I’m surprised that more wasn’t done to update the existing rather than just scrap it all-together. I appreciate that thermally the existing would have performed very poorly and that the class rooms may have been considered far apart. But I believe the benefits of better day-lighting and more green space go some way in outweighing these issues. Having quickly looked at the new building it appeared that the brickwork was mediocre with efflorescence already occurring, and the overall increase in area minimal. In addition the new marginally smaller class-rooms have been designed with openable partitions between them, a design I thought had been proven acoustically unsuccessful and impractical back in the 70s. The new school is also arranged in a ‘deep-plan’ format, leading to a lower glazed area/floor area ratio than the existing. In addition whilst the existing was built during an austere period after the war it appears to have stood the test of time well and is a good quality example of this period.


    Work began soon after the end of the second world war, around which time the school leaving age was raised from 14 to 15, requiring more school places. The school was originally envisaged as a comprehensive school for 1,600 boys, however due to changes in the economy it was decided that two ‘Secondary Modern’ schools should be built on the site; one for boys, the other girls. They formed a symmetrical flat ‘V’ shape with boys on one side, girls on the other and with the hall, kitchen and gym in the middle (similar in ethos to asylum designs a generation earlier).

    The school opened in 1953, butwas officially opened in 1955 by Sir David McAdam Eccles, the Minister of Education at the time. In order to save on space the school buildings were three stories, and to save labour the boilers were oil fired as opposed to coal.By the late 70s the two wings of the school were finally merged into a co-educational school.

    In July 2009 the school was granted permission for a £24 million re-build under the former Labour Governments Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. Application number: 09/00841/BC3M. The newly completed school opened this month at a final cost of £31 million.

    The Original School plan - showing NW and SE wings

    The Proposal - ground floor plan (not to the same scale as the one above)











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