St George’s Old National School, Llandudno 

Conwy County Borough Council

Joint Project of the Year Winner 2004

Client Conwy County Borough Council (Education Dept)
(Joint venture) Seaside Buildings Preservation Trust
Contract Value £680,202.84
Date of Practical Completion 9th June 2003
Architect Practice Pritchard Bond Architects
Project Architect Steve Bond RIBA
Structural Engineers Shepherd Gilmour Consulting Engineers
Contact Geraint Owen
Main / Principal Contractor Messrs Peter T. Griffiths

St. George’s old National school has been identified as one of the earliest buildings in Llandudno, having occupied the prominent Church Walks site since the Schoolmasters house and original School building were completed in 1846.

Subsequent investigation established that extensions to the original building were constructed around 1853, again prior to 1889, with one further extension during the early 20th century.

The building comprises primarily simple single storey accommodation although the majority of the spaces are two-storey in form. Only the original masters house incorporates first floor accommodation, accessed via a centrally located pitch pine staircase. The building is of traditional masonry construction with traditional timber purlin/rafter slated roofs.

The project comprised the restoration of the Grade II Listed Old St. George’s National School, and its conversion for use as an Early Years Learning Centre.
The latter part of the 20th Century saw the school increasingly fall into disrepair, and following the construction of a new purpose-built New St. Georges School during the 1990’s the Old National school finally became derelict.

Despite proposals being drawn up for the possible demolition of the derelict school, it’s future has been secured following the refurbishment and conversion project undertaken by Llandudno Seaside Buildings Preservation Trust and Conwy County Borough Council.

The project sought to transform the vacant derelict school building into a new Early Years Learning Centre housing a nursery, toy library, and resources facility, whilst addressing the need for modern ancillary facilities.

The refurbishment and conversion of the St. Georges old National school involved the systematic restoration of the buildings original features, including sandstone window surrounds, copings and kneelers; the re-introduction of the Leaded windows and the reconstruction of the two chimneys that had served the original schoolroom, and which had been removed at some time during the middle of the 20th Century.

In addition, the work also sought to address defects and inappropriate works which had been undertaken during the life of the building, including the application of inappropriate cement based renders to stonework and the intrusion of 1960’s steel windows to the original stone facades.

Additional works were also undertaken to replace decayed floors, localised timber windows, and decayed roof timbers. Previous inappropriate alterations and extensions, including a 1960’’s flat roof toilet block and metal clad lean-to extension were demolished. The former allowing the recreation of the original courtyard and the formation of a safe enclosed play area serving the nursery.

The existing entrance porch to the schoolmaster’s house has also been restored with the existing profiled metal roof removed and a new lead sheet roof constructed. The original timber panelling to the porch has been replaced with new timber panelling reconstructed from dimensions obtained from the sections that remained on site, to accurately reflect the original panelling.

The works also saw the removal of suspended ceilings thus allowing the original timber roofs to be restored and exposed, especially within the main Schoolroom.
It has also involved the complete restoration of the original part-glazed timber screen that had originally divided the schoolroom, segregating the male and female pupils. The original timber panelling to the walls have all been removed, stripped of modern paint finishes and re-fixed.

The boxed-out ventilators have been reinstated and now incorporate modern electrical and computer outlet points.

The external chimneys to this area have been reconstructed in reconstituted stone based on information gained from the Archives and from drawings prepared by the Architect indicating the size and shape of each section of the chimney.

The introduction of a new modern heating system and complete new electrical installation ensures that the building provides a very good level of heating as well as the facilities expected in a building intended for modern day use.

The introduction of underfloor heating to the main areas ensures that the heating system is as unobtrusive as possible and avoids it detracting from the restored original character of the internal spaces.

The need to provide adequate modern facilities coupled with the need to provide localised and dedicated facilities for the separate uses within the building resulted in the construction of a new extension housing male, female and disabled WC facilities.

This new extension has been designed to be sympathetic with the existing original building and constructed utilising stone salvaged from the formation of the new car park entrance in the original schoolyard wall.

Reconstructed stonecopings have been produced based on existing coping profiles evident on the existing main entrance lobby to the schoolmasters house.

The later 20th century extension has been transformed into a kitchen and refreshment area serving the Nursery and the ancillary support facilities in the building.
The kitchen itself has been designed to be as sympathetic as possible to the original building with the layout screening modern appliances where possible.
The decoration in the kitchen and throughout the building has been undertaken in Victorian colours, which in turn have complimented the exposed timberworks, sandstone surrounds and leaded windows.
The original toilet blocks serving the main school rooms have been retained, albeit with new facilities, with a further dedicated infants wc inc shower and disabled facilities being created in the original area to servethe new nursery facility.

The original stair and balustrading to the first floor have been retained and restored and the first floor rooms now provide office facilities for the management staff running the centre.

Externally all the existing exposed stonework has been re-pointed with lime mortar, whilst the inappropriate and potentially damaging cement render to the remaining areas has been hacked-off and replaced with a more appropriate Lime render.

The existing plaster throughout and the localised areas of Asbestos have been completely removed and the walls re-plastered with new lime plaster, paint finished.

A number of existing internal doors believed to be original have been retained and refurbished.

New doors have been provided where required and which have been purpose-made in sympathy with the appearance of the existing ones being retained. External spaces have also been carefully considered, with the external hard and soft landscaping being designed to compliment the building, whilst again providing external spaces suitable for use by children. This provision includes external seating areas and enclosed play areas with safe-play surfacing.

A car park has also been formed on part of the original schoolyard to the rear of the building with a new disabled ramp providing access to the building from the car park. Disabled access has also been provided via a new ramp off Church Walks.

The project is regarded as a very good example of what can be achieved when there is a desire to retain existing buildings whilst still accommodating the needs of a modern day building. In addition its new role as an Early Years Learning Centre has ensured that the original educational use is maintained for the foreseeable future.