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Tyne and Wear HER(7447): Dunston, Dunston Bank, Dunston Hill Primary School - Details

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Dunston, Dunston Bank, Dunston Hill Primary School





Elementary School



Extant Building

These council schools followed on from educational provision begun with the Parish school and continued with the board schools (towards the river). Both were planned in 1909, but the junior department was built straightaway (opening in 1910) whilst the Infant department was delayed until 1914. They are of exceptional quality and architectural vitality – equally, imaginatively unusual but completely different in detailing. The scale and materials are nonetheless very similar – again utilising the low profile and animated roofscape familiar from many other historic schools, which were proportioned to suit their occupants. The architecture of the junior school is finely detailed. Rusticated stone banding and plinth enhance the stretcher bond brickwork, with carved stone detailing to the gable apexes, (mostly) flat arched brick window heads and decorative eaves details. The predominantly blue Welsh slate roofscape is remarkable in its use of green Westmorland slate banding and stepped kneelers halfway down, as well as to the base of the water tabling. It is further embellished by terracotta ridge tiles and ball finials to the hips. Carved, Incised plaques elaborately denote the boys and girls’ entrances and the cookery area (which originally had an Aga, although this has now been removed). All the exterior detailing remains, including an attractively detailed rainwater hopper and downpipe brackets, and all the original timber windows (part sash, part casement) remain save 2 to the rear. The interior is also remarkably intact. Of particular interest is the vast central hall space, which is very light and airy and runs longitudinally with the building. Designed in 2 parts with lantern lights to each, there are classrooms flanking the main space, divided from it by extensively glazed partitions panelled with timber below. The space is distinctive and very successful, and contributes greatly to the overall character of the building. The roof structure can be seen in the cookery area, where delicate curved braces spring from moulded corbels to support the tie beam. The Infant school building boasts simpler and more robust geometric detailing. Flemish bond brickwork gives it a distinctive patterned appearance, with the structure consisting of a gabled, clerestoried central portion, with low flanking wings. The slate roof features unusual geometric water tabling to gables which descends to square kneelers, and on one side the tilting fillets to the eaves push through, with their extending rafters, the round headed half-dormers ascending from below. In this building the large, airy hall is transverse, with an open roof structure incorporating square columnar queen posts and straight braces on chunky corbels. Again the interior remains largely intact, with the same parquet floors visible in the older building, and the geometric detail continues with diamond glazing bars to the half-glazed timber doors. Unfortunately, however, al the original timber windows have been replaced with plastic and there is a small but poor quality flat-roofed extension to the side. MATERIALS Red brick, sandstone, Welsh & Westmorland slate, timber. ARCHITECT Joseph Potts & Son (57 John St, Sunderland). DATES 1910 (Junior) and 1914 (Infant). ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Brian Johnson, Lead singer of rock band AC/DC, attended the school. During World War II the entrances were reinforced with blast walls and sand bags, and an air raid shelter was built in the grounds. LOCAL LIST




Gateshead Council Local List; Local List Factsheet X20/LL/067; Building Control Plans T292/plan 771, T292/plan 902

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