SHOWCASING THE PAST WHILE MAKING ROOM FOR THE FUTURE
Founded in 1612 and relocated to its present site in 1878, Batley Grammar School in West Yorkshire is a significant part of the towns heritage. The beauty of this structure speaks for itself however due to modern day demands on the school it was in great need of a new larger library and more classroom space. With limited space available and the need to protect its historical features Batley Grammar School turned to Martin Walsh Architectural, a local company with 40 years in the business to help their vision for refurbishment become a reality.
Martin Walsh Described his thoughts when initially viewing the project:
“When we first visited the school it was apparent that the space in the old hall and the library no longer met the needs of the school and the students. We knew we had to create a more functional space for the library and present the school with additional space for classrooms.
“We were also made aware of the importance of maintaining the historical integrity of the building and the wishes of the Batelians, (the school’s old boys and girls association), to be able to incorporate the stained glass windows into our design.”
As part of the multi-phase project, MWA created a larger library by constructing a new steel mezzanine floor in the old hall. The ground floor of the old hall which had previously homed a classroom and an assembly room, was then split into a new corridor, stairwell, and a large classroom with an acoustic moveable partition wall, which allows for the room to be split in to two if needed. Having created a completely new space for the library, the existing space was then divided in to two new classrooms.
Aside from having to phase the project over the school holidays which extended the duration of the project and required safety measures to be put in place during term time, an additional challenge was presented when MWA was asked to preserve and feature the stain glass windows from the old hall.
The two windows were given to the school in 1918, one by the Earl of Wilton, and one by the architect, Walter Hanstock to commemorate those who never made it home from battlefields of WW1, including Hanstock’s own son John, a former student of the school.
The Wilton window displays the family coat of arms, the emblems of England, Scotland and Wales, and the motto ‘Virtutis non armis fido’ (Be truthful to virtue not weapons). The Hanstock window, which features the figure of England’s patron saint, St George, is balanced by the figure of a realistic Royal Engineer, and the message, ‘For Right and Justice’.
The windows, that were originally located on the North East façade of the great hall were obstructed from view by an extension that had been built adjacent to the exterior of the building. Understanding the importance of the windows and believing that this could become a prominent
feature to be admired by students, staff and visitors, it was decided that the windows be removed from the old hall and become a focal point in the new corridor.
As part of the process the stain glass windows were removed and refurbished before being installed in their new feature location in the newly created corridor.
Karen Dack, the Operations Director for Batley Grammar School was the school’s liaison with Martin Walsh Architectural throughout the project.
Mrs Dack commented:
“While creating a larger library and more classroom space was the ultimate goal of this project, it was extremely important for the school to retain the historical features, which date back to the 1800’s. Martin Walsh Architectural was not only able to retain these features but also found a creative way to showcase them for all to see. The new Learning Support Centre on the mezzanine floor and a flexible space on the ground floor, has provided the school with a much more effective use of the existing space.”
Martin Walsh commented:
“For Martin Walsh Architectural and Batley Grammar School this project was about showcasing the past while creating room for the future, and I’m delighted to say we have achieved this.”
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