July 2009 (photos from 2007)
(Update: for later pages and more recent news see all pages tagged Shipton St School)
Shipton Street School has been empty for years. The buildings are to be converted into residential use, but work hasn’t yet begun.
A couple of summers ago I was passing one day and noticed the gates had been damaged, allowing access to the playground and rear of the buildings. These are normally not just inaccessible but unviewable, owing to the high brick walls.
I took the opportunity to take some photographs of the buildings, while this still looks like an old Victorian school. Though the buildings are to be retained in the new development, they’ll be changed, smartened up.
The school was designed by the architect Brierley, and is, according to the Pevsner guide, ‘an excellent early work’ from this architect. Brierley also designed the much-admired Scarcroft Road School, and many other school buildings of the period, including Park Grove and Fishergate.
‘The earlier board schools are no doubt inspired by the work of the London School Board, but Brierley’s are smoother, much more elegant performances. The first, Shipton Street Schools of 1890, has a long single-storey front with a series of Low Countries gables alternately crow-stepped and concave with decorative metal tie-plates (the Dutch ankers). Shaped and pedimented gables to the end elevations.’
– The Buildings of England: Yorkshire: York and the East Riding’ – Nikolaus Pevsner and David Neave (1995 edn.)
When I wandered in I took only photos and left only footprints. But it seems others that had been in before me had left some destruction behind them, and it looks like lead may have been taken off the lower roofs. I hadn’t realised this at the time, only noticed later on the photos. Stealing lead from roofs was quite the thing at one time (and, sadly, remains a problem).
This is a very handsome building, not just functional but decorated with groovy little details and fancy bits, all quite playful really, which I guess befits a primary school. Many of the other Victorian schools by Brierley are still in use as schools a hundred years or more after they were built, which suggests that they’re not only rather nice-looking buildings but presumably designed on principles that endure the test of time.
Though that wasn’t enough to keep this example in use as a school.
The old playground will of course be removed – the plans I’ve seen suggest most of the area will be grassed over. So I’m glad I got to take photos of these playground markings before they’re gone. There’s snakes and ladders, and compass points, painted and fading on the tarmac. The tarmac is breaking up, and the usual weeds are taking hold. If it had been a dull and cloudy day it might have all seemed a bit desolate and depressing here, but in fact it felt like a happy kind of place. It’s hard to be glum when there’s a pink snake with a big yellow tongue painted on the floor.
Update – November 2011
It was reported last October that work on the school building had been delayed because of the economic situation: Start delayed at Shipton Street School development in York. The building is still unoccupied and boarded up.
Update – October 2012
See this page.
More recent updates …
… can be found here: all pages tagged Shipton St School
Page compiled in July 2009. Photos taken in 2004 and 2007. Page last updated: April 2014.