Brixton School of Building

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Contains the records of Brixton School of Building. The collection has been arranged into the following categories:

BSB/1 Works in Converting the Baths in Ferndale Road into a Technical Institute, 1902;

BSB/2 Prospectuses, 1936-1971;

BSB/3 Historical Publications, 1955-1979;

BSB/4 Magazines, 1955-1958;

BSB/5 Distribution of Prizes and Exhibition Work, 1948-1960;

BSB/6 Syllabuses, Course Notes and Examination Papers, 1953-1970;

BSB/7 Administration, 1960s;

BSB/8 Professional Publications, 1963-1977.

BSB/9 Photographs, c.1910-1930s

Administrative / Biographical History

The London County Council School of Building was opened on 26th February 1904 with Mr H. W. Richards as Principal to provide a specialist training college for the large number of building workers in Camberwell and Lambeth. The Lambeth Polytechnic building in Ferndale Road, Brixton was renovated to contain a drawing office and workshops for painting and decorating, carpentry and joinery. When it first opened 643 students enrolled on classes covering stone carving, plasters' modelling, drawing, chemistry and physics of building materials, land surveying and levelling.

The School soon gained a world-wide reputation as a centre of excellence in the fields of town planning, building technology, estate management and building architecture. In 1906 a school of architecture was added, organised by Professor Beresford Pite of the Royal Academy of Art. Demand for courses increased so rapidly that in 1908 the School added a Junior Day Technical College for Boys and then a Senior Day Technical School along with a new extension in 1909.

In 1910 five-year courses were introduced in all trade subjects, followed in 1911 by a four year course in reinforced concrete and in 1912 a course in structural engineering all examined by the City and Guilds of London Institute. In 1921 Mr A. R. Sage became Principal and in 1922, Sir Robert Blair (LCC Education Officer) wrote 'the Brixton School is easily the first and most complete school of building in the world'. In 1927 until 1943 Mr F. E. Drury was Principal. The Board of Education classified the School as a College of Further Education in 1928 and the following year a three year day course was introduced leading to the Ordinary and Higher National Diploma in Building or the Intermediate Examination of the Royal Institute of British Architects or the Chartered Surveyors Institute.

In 1943 it was renamed the Brixton School of Building. In March 1945 Mr D. A. G. Reid CBE became Principal and after the Second World War the School rapidly expanded so that by 1949 the number of full time students exceeded 400. In 1956 Brixton was designated a regional college and the governors decided not to concentrate on work at higher levels, but to retain its craft work and lower level teaching.

Under the government's policy for higher education, given in the White Paper 'A Plan for Polytechnics and Other Colleges', published in 1966, the higher level studies at Brixton would have to be continued within a new institution based on the polytechnic model. Brixton School of Building became part of the Polytechnic of the South Bank in 1970, along with the Borough Polytechnic, City of Westminster College and the National College for Heating, Ventilating, Refrigeration and Fan Engineering. Five of the six departments from Brixton became the new Polytechnic's Faculty of Construction, Technology and Design. The sixth department, along with some work from other departments formed the Vauxhall College of Further Education. The Faculty moved into the new purpose-designed Wandsworth Road building during the summer of 1973 and the building was officially opened on 17 April 1975 by Anthony Crosland MP. The Faculty became the largest and most comprehensive Built Environment faculty in Europe covering subjects such as Property Development, Waste Management and Architecture. In the summer of 2003 the Wandsworth Road building was sold by London South Bank University and students and staff transferred back to the University's main Southwark campus to form the Faculty of Engineering, Science and the Built Environment.

Conditions Governing Access

Open except for records restricted under the Data Protection Act. Please contact the University Archives Centre for details. 24 hours notice is required for research visits.

Acquisition Information

Acquired on the amalgamation of the Brixton School of Building into the Polytechnic of the South Bank in 1970. Some material donated by former students.

Related Material

The London Metropolitan Archives holds:

Plans of Brixton School of Building, Ferndale Road (Catalogue Reference: GLC/AR/BR/19/1559);

Photos of Brixton School of Building, 1911-1976 (Catalogue Reference: SC/PHL/02);

Reports of the Education Officers Department of the London County Council, 1914-1954 (Catalogue Reference: LCC/EO/HCC).

The National Archives holds records on Brixton School of Building, created by the Department of Education and Science, 1945-1967 (Catalogue Reference: ED 114/1265).