Sneyd Green First School, Sneyd Street, Burslem

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Description:Sneyd Green First School was constructed in 1899 and opened in 1901.

Building the school

It was built by J.J. Longden to designs by Wood and Hutchings, architects to Burslem School Board.

It cost £10,000 to construct, including the price of the site at £1,100 and 9 shillings.

A growing community

The school reflects the need in the late nineteenth century to cater for the demand created by suburban growth, and was built in response to the spread of Burslem Board's area of control.

As one of the outlying schools it could afford spaciousness and accommodated 210 boys, 210 girls and 290 infants.

The architectural style is known as Art Nouveau. The popularity of this style is indicated by the very similar design of the next school to be built, Jackfields.

The careful detail in the design is in keeping with the sense of pride expressed by the Burslem Board in its schools.

What was the school like when it was first built?

On 7th January 1901, The Sentinel gave this description of the school at its opening:

'The larger block comprises a central hall 51 feet by 36 feet, lit from one side and from the roof, and six classrooms, each 25 feet square, in each of which 60 children may be seated. All the rooms are well furnished with concrete and wood block floors, glazed tile dadoes, picture rails, plastered walls and ceilings, and wrought iron gas fittings, and the classrooms are in galleries of three tiers. Warmth is supplied by means of hot water and excellent ventilation is effected through roof extractors. The windows are large and in every room additional left hand light is secured. There is no lack of cloakroom accommodation, and the appearance of the central hall is improved by framed engravings of typical English subjects, and by busts of eminent persons upon pedestals. Similar in construction is the Infants' Department. In this case, however, the central hall is smaller, being 45 feet by 38 feet, and there are four classrooms measuring 25 feet by 22 feet, giving a total accommodation for 300.'

A small but significant detail is the provision of the open fires as well as hot water system of heating, which the Board believed gave the rooms a more comfortable, homely appearance.

The shared girls' and infants' playground was separated from that of the boys by a dividing wall, the latter considerably larger in terms of space per child. Both sides had covered playsheds along the rear of the playground.

There were head teacher and staff rooms within each building, with bay windows onto the playgrounds allowing maximum supervision.

The school had no master's house on site, instead there was a caretaker's house at the rear corner of the premises which was plainer than the school buildings but in keeping with their design.

It consisted of kitchen, dining room and living room on the ground floor, with three bedrooms above, together with outside toilet enclosed in a small yard.

An unusual feature is that the only entrance to the house is into the school grounds, with no access onto the street it faces.

The school today

The school is still used, with little alteration to the original, just additions at each end abutting the cloakrooms.

Today's school is in two departments; one shared by boys and girls and the other a separate building for the infants.

The latter is a scaled-down version of the main school.

Both are of orange brick with a central bell tower and large, plain windows.

The boys and girls shared the hall but had separate classrooms, cloakrooms and entrances.

The walls have floral tiled dadoes, and the cloakroom partitions have Art Nouveau decorative ironwork.

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Source: The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

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