The Durnford Street School

These images of Durnford Street School were taken in 2000 when the building was already abandoned and up for sale.  In the autumn of 2002 most of the building was demolished and the land used for housing. 

Whilst Durnford Street and Elm Street Schools, in Middleton, are credited to Edgar Wood, it seems that his associate, James Henry Sellers, may have taken the major role in their design and construction. However, both buildings display clear signs of Wood's involvement. 

The school opened in 1908 having been built to accommodate one thousand children. It was a remarkable structure with definite Frank Lloyd Wright features that, when it opened at the turn of the Twentieth Centrury, must have been regarded as quite revolutionary and completely different from any other school built in the area. Located at the corner of Durnford and Rectory Streets, close to the town centre, and not far from Wood's Long Street Church, the building was T-shaped. The one storey building in the foreground was the infant's block. The cross member of the T is a two storey building which accommodated junior and senior students. Playsheds were built around the perimeter of the recreation areas to provide shelter from rain and wind.

The Infant's block ran from the main building to the boundary wall and fence that runs along Rectory Street. In doing so, it splits this Rectory Street playground into two distinct areas. This also allowed for separate entrances for Boys and Girls. As you can see in the picture below, the words "SENIOR BOYS" were carved in the Portland Stone above the doorway.

Behind the main block the ground level is significantly higher and a second upper-playground existed here. The images below were generously donated by Bob Pedley.

This brick building was ornamented by portland stone panels around doors and windows and in symetrical facing panels. There were also portland stone diamonds set into the brick work.

The Durnford Street Infants School occupied the single storey building that ran perpendicularly away from the main block. (shown above) The class photograph (below was taken in the school yard in 1958 and is shown here with the permission of Philip Bowdler. In 2000 it was the only part of the school still in use, functioning as an adult education center

The buildings were constructed with flat concrete roofs sealed with asphalt. The facing bricks deteriorated very badly perhaps because of a problem in their firing, as you can see below. Even on such a utilitarian structure as a school, though, Wood added artistic touches like the drain pipes and the wrought iron fence.

The images below are shown with the permission of English Heritage and they give a glimpse of the inside of Durnford Street School.


As you can see, the Durnford Street School was in a serious state of disrepair when I visited it and the Grade II Listed Building was up for sale. However, it didn't sell and it was subsequently demolished.  Here are a number of images of the demolition sent by Bob Pedley.


The site of Durnford School in August 2018

The railings were manufaccctured by J M McFarlane.  MacFarlane, with partners Thomas Russell and James Marshall, incorporated W MacFarlane & Co. Ltd in 1850. They took over a foundry works in Saracen Lane, behind the Saracen Head Inn, in the Gallowgate.   Saracen Foundry pieces can be seen in most part of the world.