Grove Road Primary School is one of the largest schools in Harrogate and at the time it was built, was also one of the largest buildings in the town. Growing up not far from the school, as a child we would often look up at the towers and remark on its spooky and somewhat gothic appearance. It is such an imposing building with its dark stained sandstone, tiny windows and towers making it look like a castle. The imagination of a child is a magical thing.
Looking at other schools built during the Victorian period, it would seem that the overall design and addition of towers was a common trait, however most were built in red brick whereas Grove Road is made of sandstone, which is ubiquitous to Harrogate. The sandstone by its nature, has darkened over time from the many years of soot and traffic fumes. It is hard to imagine now, how it would of looked back in 1897 when it was first built, with fresh sandstone it may have given a different impression entirely.
The school was first opened by Mr Chippendale in 1897, and cost £22,000 to build, which in the Victorian times was a very substantial amount of money. Back then this would have been a grand project and a building of this size would be a landmark and focal point in Harrogate.
The School was built to accommodate 1350 pupils but at the time of opening only 394 pupils were enrolled and even now the school only has around 338 pupils. It is surprising that they built the original school so large, because it has never been anywhere near capacity.
A lot of people had thier own opinions of the school when it first opened, thinking such a lavish and extravagent building would somehow spoil the children. The School Board were quick to shut that notion down and gave a statement suggesting that school isn't just about learning and committing things to memory, but about shaping children into becoming 'true citizens'. I love this ethos and lets hope they still adopt the same principles today.
Here at Studio 4 Architecture we are situated directly opposite the school and can see it from our office windows, we can hear the children when it is playtime (that's how I know it is time for a cup of tea) and can marvel at the building's incredible design.