Wilnecote has Architectural Gem right in its midst!
News could save beloved Wilnecote School buildings
The Tamworth and District Civic Society (TDCS) has made an incredible breakthrough in its battle to save the Victorian buildings of the old Wilnecote Schools from demolition by Staffordshire County Council.
The Civic Society has been battling on behalf of residents and community group users
of the buildings since it was re-
Now, TDCS has made a vital discovery that we believe changes the whole situation, and should stop the County Council dead in its tracks. For the schools were designed in 1877 by no less a person than Basil Champneys, one of the most famous, innovative, and celebrated architects in British history! His works across the country are cherished Listed Buildings.
Basil Champneys (1842-
Wilnecote Schools provide an example of Champneys’ early work, and were noted at
the time as marking a break with the “Gothic mania” that had previously prevailed.
They comprise a west wing (the Junior School) and detached east wing (the Infants)
The buildings are externally striking and architecturally notable, featuring an attractive
We all know that Wilnecote Schools are very fine buildings, well-
We had become despondent because we have met with nothing but obfuscation, disinterest
and delays from the borough and county councils. Our requests to Tamworth Borough
Council to include the site in the Wilnecote Conservation Area (from which it was
strangely excluded) and to have it added to the Local List of interesting buildings
to afford it some status and protection, have hit brick walls. Well, now both councils
will have to sit-
The Tamworth Herald of 1878 records that the opening of the schools was celebrated with a tea and public meeting, "all the village being astir, and the residents turning out in holiday attire to render due éclat to the occasion". The chairman of the governors, George Skey, the noted brick, tile and terracotta manufacturer in the village, described the schools as "commodious, comfortable, appropriate, and nice". He stated that the schools would "stand as a monument to the character of Messrs Watton and Sons, as builders".
Amongst famous ex-
TDCS is supported in its campaign by the national body for Victorian and Edwardian buildings, The Victorian Society, which states: “our belief is that the historic school buildings are attractive, characterful and worthy of retention. Furthermore, they are – like many former school buildings – eminently capable of being repurposed."
The Victorian Society praise Wilnecote as "a well preserved and attractively detailed school designed by Basil Champneys, regarded as one of the most important and innovative architects of his generation. Wilnecote is a relatively early example of his output and contrasts notably with the various Gothic and Tudor revival designs that he generally favoured. In the striking Dutch gables to the central block it is possible to see echoes of his later work at King's Lynn Grammar School; and in the proportions, detailing and windows there is the air of the Queen Anne style of which Champneys became such a significant and exploratory proponent."
TDCS is pressing Staffordshire County Council to re-
Photo: S Biggs