Nettlefield Primary School was designed by the renowned architect Reginald Sherman Wilshere in 1935. The school was to be built on land formerly occupied by a large privately owned house, tucked away behind small, terraced housing bounded by Cherryville Street, Sherwood Street, Lawnmount Street and Radnor Street.
The large school replaced several small schools in the area, including a small building on My Lady’s Road that still stands today and is currently owned by Albertbridge Accordian Band.
Work was carried out by J & RW Taggart Ltd and completed in 1936. The school was considered ‘state-of-the-art’ for the time comprising of 16 classrooms built around an inner courtyard called the quadrangle; accommodating a staggering 800 children (a frightening thought for today’s teachers). The building cost £30 000.
The school was officially opened on September 9th 1936 by Alderman JA Duff and 750+ children moved to Nettlefield Public Elementary School.
This must’ve been a grand ceremony and a large sterling silver key (gilded) was presented to Alderman Duff. The key was recovered by police in England investigating a robbery a few years ago.
The school, noticeably, has many windows. Around 2000 we believe - we’ve never actually counted them! This was not for cosmetic reasons – but for ventilation. Tuberculosis (TB) was common around this time and many people, including children, fell victim to the deadly illness. Windows on both sides of every classroom, and corridors without windows, ensured good ventilation, thereby limiting the spread of the disease. The picture above (taken from a teaching book) shows many of the windows opened and the open 'cloister-style' corridors.
Many of the windows have now been painted shut and the corridors have been closed in as we no longer need this extra ‘ventilation’. As you can imagine – our heating bills are huge!
It is said that Wilshere took inspiration for his designs from many places overseas. Many of his design features seem to support this theory; Nettlefield being no exception.
The school has a ‘lantern’ type structure sitting on top of its water tower. This is supposed to have been inspired by a Scandinavian lighthouse. What do you think?
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