Architecture: Great] Now can we fix the windows?: A Hertfordshire headmaster was stunned when his school was listed. He hopes there may be benefits

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The Independent Culture
TEMPLEWOOD Primary School, Welwyn Garden City, is a handsome building - Bauhaus in English brick and tile - designed by the idealistic young architects of Hertfordshire County Council and built in 1950. One of a new breed of light and airy local authority schools that brought educationalists and architects in droves to Hertfordshire in the Fifties, it was listed Grade II last week.

'It was the first time I had heard anything from English Heritage,' says Brian Martin, the headmaster. 'I know that we'd had an increasing number of architectural buffs coming to visit Templewood, but my first contact with English Heritage was when a great pile of information came last week saying that this was now a listed building. I haven't had time to digest all the paperwork, so I'm not too sure quite how the listing will affect us. Will we get grants to fix the windows? ('Very likely,' says Martin Cherry, of English Heritage); will we be allowed to make changes to the interior when we need to? ('Yes; but with help on hand from our architectural experts,' says Mr Cherry).

'It is a good building,' says Mr Martin, 'although it's hardly famous. It was designed rather like a prefab for a short life; the fact that it has lasted 40 years and is still going strong says a lot about the skill and concern of the young architects who designed it. Our best known ex-pupil is Virginia Bottomley, who was here for a few terms; I wonder if she remembers Templewood . . . I don't expect so; it's just the sort of school that represents the idealistic days of the welfare state that Mrs Bottomley and her colleagues so despise.

'We've got a number of problems that I hope our listed status will help us to put right. The school was built in a grove of mature trees. During the recent dry summers, the trees have been pushing out roots in search of water; they've broken into the drains and caused brick tiles to crack. The flat roof needs a bit of remedial work and insulation is a bit of a problem. In the winter the heat loss through the big windows - delightful in spring and autumn - is a problem; the old boiler pounds away non-stop to cope with the demands the building places on it. But what a lovely school, really: it is light and airy, planned very logically on a generous scale and has what feels like a lovely rural setting, even though it's in the centre of town.

'Our real problem though has nothing to do with architecture and listing. We simply haven't got very much money to spend and we might have to consider looking at grant-aided status, which would apparently increase our income by pounds 100,000 in the first year. I suppose that would be a move against the spirit of those who commissioned and designed Templewood school - that was a more innocent and caring age - but I'm sure it would make Mrs Bottomley as well as the Department of National Heritage take a sudden interest in us.'

(Photograph omitted)

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