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The New Bablake Schools - 1889 article

The new Bablake Schools, Coundon-road, are now practically completed. The headmaster (Mr. J. I. Bates) has taken up his residence at the school-house, and the educational work of the institution, which, since the amalgamation scheme took effect, has been carried on at the old Bablake Schools, Hill-street, and the Technical Institute, Earl-street, will be transferred to the new buildings about October 20th. A short description of the new schools has already appeared in the Coventry Herald (May 31, 1889), and was followed a fortnight later by a perspective view of the building, which it is not unfitting should be reproduced at this juncture. The plans were prepared by Messrs. John Giles, Gough, and Trollope, of London, and the building has been erected by Messrs. Thomas Lowe and Sons, Burton-on-Trent. The amount of the contract was £11,700, but it is expected that the total cost, including fittings, will be at least £15,000. This does not include the value of the site, which already belonged to the trustees. Accommodation is provided for about 400 boys, of whom 40 will be boarders.

The new Bablake Schools 1889

Architecture

The buildings, which are in the Gothic style of architecture of red brick with stone dressings, front towards Coundon-street, and extend backwards almost to the railway. They are surrounded by spacious grounds, with a terrace rising along the front, the grounds being enclosed by a dwarf wall surmounted with ornamental iron palings. A pair of wrought iron entrance gates lead from the Coundon-road by a graceful sweeping curve to the main entrance. The main entrance is situated immediately in the centre of the frontage, and is surmounted by a square embattled tower, in which a public clock will be placed. The stonework around is panelled and carved with a floriated design, having a shield over the centre for the recaption of a coat of arms or other embellishment. Inside the door is the vestibule, with the porter's lodge to the left. Folding doors lead into a spacious entrance hall, from which corridors extend the whole length of the building. Opening into the corridors on the right and left are the class-rooms - of which there are six - and the large dining-hall. At the eastern extremity is the master's house, and at the opposite end the hostel and the matron's apartments. The entrance hall has a duplicate lantern-lighted roof, with a flat ceiling of pitch pine. From the back of the entrance hall a stone staircase on each side, with a half-space landing, lead to the dormitories. The steps, which are wide, are of York stone worked to an astical mold, the newels are of Corsham stone with molded caps, and the balusters of wrought-iron of a special design, surmounted by a walnut-wood handrail. This balustrade is continued around the landing on the first floor, and being open to the space below gives an exceedingly rich effect to the entrance hall. From the half space landing, above referred to, a door opens upon the dais of the large lecture or assembly hall (36ft. by 80ft.). This hall is paved with wooden blocks, has an open hammer-beam roof, and a large traceried window with tinted glass at the end opposite the dais. On the first floor above the classrooms are the dormitories, with bath rooms and lavatories adjoining for the use of the boarders.

Science facilities

An important feature of the institution is the chemical laboratory. This is arranged after the style of that at the Mason College, Birmingham, and has accommodation for fifty students at one time. The students will stand at benches fitted with drawers, cupboards, and shelves for containing chemicals and apparatus, so that each boy will be able individually to conduct his own experiments upon the models of those performed by the teacher. Knowledge obtained by this process cannot fail to be of a permanent character. Between each pair of students a sink is fixed into the bench ; gas and water are carried along and the necessary fittings provided, and each sink may be plugged so as to allow of its being used as a pneumatic trough for the collection of gases. There are rows of shelving round the room for Winchesters of chemicals, from which the boys may replenish their smaller bottles on the benches. Combustion hoods and fume closets are provided for the performance of operations or experiments by which noxious or offensive gases are given off. The fumes, instead of permeating the atmosphere of the room, ascend a ventilating shift, the draught up which is kept going by a gas jet, and escape into the open air. There will be two large sinks fitted with hot and cold water at which to wash bottles and apparatus and make up re-agents for use in chemical experiments. There is an elaborately-fitted up lecturer's table slightly elevated above the level of the floor, and placed so that experiments performed upon it may, be seen from every student's bench. Adjoining tha laboratory is a store-room in which a large quantity of chemicals and apparatus may be kept.

Another important feature of the establishment is the provision of workshops. One of these is for working in wood, and will be fitted with carpenter's benches, and all necessary tools and appliances. The other is for working in iron, and chief among its fittings are a forge and an anvil. Thus facilities will be given for instruction in the use of tools, and this department will doubtless be extremely popular.

Under the laboratory is a coal cellar and boiler house, in which from two large boilers water will be supplied to heat the whole of the building and for domestic purposes. The master's house communicates freely with the rest of the premises, particularly with the dormitories. The appointments at the hostel end include matron's apartments, large kitchen, aud scullery for cooking the boys' meals, a servants' hall, and other conveniences. The gas fittings are of black iron of floriated design, and the bells communicating between the various departments are worked on the pneumatic principle. The ventilation of the large hall, the class-rooms, dormitories, and other apartments is well looked after, and the sanitary arrangements are on the most modern and approved principles. There is ample room for outdoor games. At present no provision is made for a gymnasium, but it is hoped that one will be provided at no distant date. A swimming bath is also contemplated.

The school furniture is by the Midland Educational Company; the chemical laboratory fittings by Mr. C. G. Hill; the general fittings are by Messrs. Richardson, Ellson, and Co.; the house furniture by Messrs. Anslow and Roden and Messrs. Chamberlain, King, and Jones, of Birmingham.


 
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