Saturday, 29 January 2022

The Pye Bank Board School

The Sheffield School Board crest depicting Minerva

My brief exploration of Burngreave had, to date, provided several points of interest – including the architecture, monuments and a potential educational resource at Burngreave Cemetery – and the use of coarse, gritty sandstone for the headstops at Christ Church.
A panoramic view towards Walkley and Wadsley

The next stop on my walk was the Grade 2 Listed former Pye Bank Board School, set on an escarpment of Silkstone Rock that overlooks the Upper Don Valley, with panoramic views that extend from Netherthorpe to Walkley, Malin Bridge and Wadsley in the north-west of Sheffield.
The original school on Andover Street

Built in 1875 to a design by Innocent & Brown, the year after Grimesthorpe Board School, it was the 13th Sheffield Board School by the architectural practice and there is no sign of the extravagant designs being kept in check by the Sheffield School Board.
The Andover Street elevation
As with very many of their other schools, its design has been tailored to fit its hill top location and would have been clearly visible from some distance away, with the original Andover Street elevation looking more like a church than a school in scale.
Trademark Innocent and Brown details on the Andover Street elevation
The projecting central part of this elevation contains all of the trademark features of CJ Innocent's work, which include herringbone masonry set into recessed arches, the Sheffield School Board name and date in raised lettering on a band course and the board crest, with the head of Minerva and symbols of the city set into a quatrefoil.
The caretaker's house

A caretaker’s house was added in 1877, with an extension added in 1884 by CJ Innocent, when he was working as a sole practitioner after the death of his partner, Thomas Brown. The later buildings are very simple in style and without ornament, which perhaps reflects the fact that the design contracts were now won by open competition.
A general view

I didn’t look at the stonework in any detail on this occasion and only took a few general record photos for the British Listed Buildings website photo challenge; however, looking at these photos, my first impression is that Crawshaw Sandstone has not been used for the walling here.
A general view of an 1884 extension

Except for the Newman Road school in Wincobank and the Central Schools on Leopold Street in Sheffield city centre, all of the board schools that I had seen to date are built in a medium grained, uniformly buff coloured sandstone with well defined planar bedding; however, at Pye Bank Board School, the rock-faced sandstone is quite massive and light brown with intermittent iron staining. 
A general view of the 1884 extensions

Without documentary evidence, reference buildings and extensive rock exposures to examine, this just highlights the difficulties of correctly identifying and matching stones in Sheffield’s historic buildings that may need to be restored – especially when certain architectural elements, such as the columns on the Andover Street frontage, are made of the now unavailable Red Mansfield stone.
Red Mansfield stone columns on the Andover Street elevation

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