Some buildings have passion… this is one. You can feel the Gothic Revival spirit of Burnley Grammar School. It was the first design of a former pupil, William Angelo Waddington, who went onto great things in architecture. It is listed grade II but could easily be II*.
I was privileged at the end of last year to spend considerable time studying the school. I was assisting Burnley industrialist and another former pupil, Mark Crabtree OBE, creator of digital sound engineering company, AMS Neve, and Clitheroe architect, Ivan Wilson on a visionary project to convert it to The Landmark, a high-tech/digital collaborative working hub. As a lover of steampunk, just the idea of a High Gothic building becoming a place of digital networking is pretty beguiling!
The Landmark will provide lettable offices, meeting and function spaces aimed specifically at technology micro-businesses. The Landmark Mission Statement is:
“To create a workspace and community that inspires, supports and
encourages start-ups, micro businesses, growth businesses and next
generation entrepreneurs to work, play and build their businesses
in Burnley. In doing so, to attract, train and keep the best business
talent the north has to offer.”
My role was the research and analysis of the building and its surroundings, to assess strands of significance, guide necessary change to areas with the most wriggle room, and, suggest how the heritage could engender complementary ideas. It was one of those rare instances where a developer had the wisdom to start the heritage analysis before designing the scheme. It is so often the other way around!
As a consequence, there was some excitement as the wonderful heritage gradually became evident and, as is often the case, a better scheme was arrived at. New ideas included recreating the original upstairs open hall, which had been subdivided, and adding a community atrium at the rear.
Planning permission, listed building consent and discharge of conditions are now well passed and the scheme has received the full support of Burnley Civic Trust. I wish Mark Crabtree every success with his venture and place on record my appreciation of his great sensitivity to the heritage of this building and that of Burnley.
If you would like to know more about Burnley Grammar School, download the Heritage Statement here.