A significant collection of mid and late twentieth century photographs. The collection mainly covers the period 1940s-1980s, and includes black and white and colour photographic prints, contact strips, negatives, glass plates, and slides. These document the exteriors and interiors of school and college buildings, both during construction and after completion, and include images of furniture, equipment and of activities in schools; microfilms of plans and drawings; some related papers such as plans, schedules, notes, correspondence and press cuttings. Some audio visual material also forms part of the collection.
Photographic Archive of the Architects and Building Branch, Ministry of Education and its successors
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- ReferenceGB 366 ABB
- Dates of Creation1940s-1990s
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish
- Physical Description90 boxes
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
In the post -war era rationing and limited materials available for building meant that a programme for rebuilding schools, and building new schools for the expanding population, had to be phased and carefully managed. The result of this decision was the Architects and Building Branch. Formed in 1949 by the merger of the Architects Branch and the Buildings and Priority Branch of the then Ministry of Education, the department brought together both administrative personnel and professional architects into one multi-disciplinary team.
The Branch was made up from two sections, and headed by Stirrat Johnson Marshall, and Anthony Part. A group of 'territorial architects' within the Branch imposed and monitored check and controls on LEAs in the form of cost limits, building regulations and annual programming. The Development Group were involved in raising standards in school building, mainly by developing methods of prefabricated building that authorities could employ; by tackling educational issues by building a small number of development projects in partnership with certain Authorities, that would represent exemplars; and by issuing publications on these and other subjects. Their work was used for reference by the Branch and round. the world. Areas they investigated and developed included buildings, furniture and components, and publications. Investigations were not limited to the UK, visits were made to other countries including the United States,France, the Netherlands, and Germany.
The Branch were revolutionary in their consideration of the child as the most important client, they commissioned some of the first measurements of school children in order to create spaces, and furniture designs that would aid children's learning. The work of the Branch expanded over the years and their work came to include student accommodation, and projects such as Learning Through Landscapes, a DES project, part developed by the A&B Branch research team, which explored the use of outdoor spaces in teaching and learning.
While the Branch survived a number of organisational changes, and still exists in a form, the original format of the A&B Branch dissolved in 1993 when the branch was passed to the Schools Organisation Branch. A&B Branch was renamed the Schools Building and Design Unit c2001. Many articles on the work of the Branch can be found under the reference number ABB/E/4-5
The Building Bulletin was produced by the Branch, starting in 1949. It had become apparent to the Branch that there was a need for a less formal channel than regulations, circulars and administrative memoranda to provide guidance on educational building issues, as well as one that would reach a wider audience. Its purpose was to take account of changing ideas and techniques, rather than to replace official documentation. The publication covered a wide variety of subjects, first focussing on school buildings, but expanding to cover school furniture for specific age groups, acoustics in teaching spaces, and also served as a place to showcase the work of the Branch, with certain issues as case studies on specific projects. It had become apparent to the Branch that there was a need for a less formal channel than regulations, circulars and administrative memoranda to provide guidance on educational building issues, as well as one that would reach a wider audience. Its purpose was to take account of changing ideas and techniques, rather than to replace official documentation. The publication covered a wide variety of subjects, first focussing on school buildings, but expanding to cover school furniture for specific age groups, acoustics in teaching spaces, and also served as a place to showcase the work of the Branch, with certain issues as case studies on specific projects.
The publication was aimed not only at architects, but also their clients given the observation that close collaboration was essential to ensure affordable and workable [?] buildings were constructed. Comments and discussion on the issues raised was encouraged, issues were often revisited and reissued at a later date in order to update information. The Branch also produced discussion papers and internal circulars where team members could catch up on work in progress (ABB/E/21).
On the initiative of one former member of staff, David Medd, the collection was brought together at some stage in the 1990s. During its influential work overseeing central government policy relating to school architecture and specific building programmes, the A&B Branch staff accumulated large collections of photographs, slides and associated materials.
Whilst the photographic prints seem to have already formed a core collection for the use of all staff, the slide collection (DC/ABB/B) was assembled by David Medd from numerous individual sources in the Architects and Building Branch such as abandoned boxes, drawers and cupboards. The transparencies were not taken by professional photographers, but by architects and others when visiting sites to supplement investigation work or to record progress or building projects undertaken by the Branch and did not form a single collection, but were kept by these individuals as an adjunct to their work. In contrast, the photograph collection is a mixture of press photographs, images taken for publications, and as the slide collection, research photographs.
Projects by the A&B Branch include ;
1950 Tile Hill Primary School, Coventry: an exercise in reduction of circulation and increase in teaching area. Prefabricated aluminium system.
1950 Wokingham Secondary Modern, Berkshire: established new norms for secondary school buildings: development of multistory pre-fabricated frame, concrete clad system of construction. (Hills 3'4''). Documented in Building Bulletin 8
1952 Worthing Secondary Technical, West Sussex: development of precast post-tensioned multi-story frame, concrete clad system (Gilbert-Ash Intergrid 3'4'').
1952 Belper Secondary Modern, Derbyshire: development of multi-storey prefabricated rolled steel frame, concrete clad system (Brockhouse 3'4'').
1953 St Crispins' Secondary Modern School, Wokingham
1954Woodlands Comprehensive School
1955 Lyng Hall comprehensive, Coventry: examination of the problems of a large comprehensive school and the development of aluminium secondary components.
1957 Woodside Junior School, Amersham
Broad Lane 1 and 2 Comprehensive, Coventry: further examination of a large comprehensive ( Hills 3'4'').
1959 Finmere Village School, Oxfordshire
Amersham Junior, Buckinghamshire: a detailed exploration of educational need and coordination of furniture, lighting and colour. Rationalised traditional construction. Building Bulletin 16
1966 Eveline Lowe Nursery & Primary School
1969 Delf Hill Middle School, Bradford
1972 Cobblers Lane Infants School, Pontefract
1973 Abraham Moss Centre, Manchester
This administrative history was produced using documents from the ABB collection, and Papers of David and Mary Medd, and the following titles:
Maclure, Stuart. Educational development and school building: aspects of public policy 1945-73 (London, c1984)
Saint, Andrew. Towards a Social Architecture; the role of school-building in post-war England. (New Haven, 1987)
Building Bulletin, published from 1949 by the Architects and building Branch of the Ministry of Education and its successors
The slides are arranged by school or building type (for example, primary school, temporary buildings) then geographically according to Local Education Authority and within that by individual school, using the Government's 'List 29' - 'List of Local Education Authorities'. The photographs have also been arranged geographically, however some order has been lost in the transition of the collection.
Open, subject to signature of Reader Application Form.
These photographic prints were collected from Bishop Grossteste Training College in June 1998 and the slide collection from the DfEE offices in February 2000.
Conditions Governing Use
A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.
Where material in the collection is Crown Copyright, it is available for reproduction under the Open Government licence: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/
Some material in the collection will still be subject to third-party copyright.
Duplicates have been removed.
The photographic prints were removed from the DfEE offices by David Medd and then transferred by him to the National Primary Education Archive at Bishop Grosseteste College, Lincoln in 1996 (NPEA Accession No. 96/7). The slide collection was transferred directly from the DfEE to the Institute in 2000.