Victorian Society’s Birmingham & West Midlands Group commend restoration of Victorian school saved from demolition

The Victorian Society’s Birmingham and West Midland’s group announce their annual Conservation Award...

The Victorian Society’s Birmingham and West Midland’s group have announced their annual Conservation Award to Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd for the exemplary sympathetic restoration of their head office, formerly known as the Little London School in Willenhall. The restoration, carried out by Tweedale Architects, transformed the building from a derelict and rotting structure on the brink of total demolition to a versatile and imaginative space.

Opened in 1883, the building was originally known as Central Schools, and latterly Little London JMI School – which closed in 2007. The building features a locally iconic clock and tower that was fully refurbished during the project. The project gained the widespread support of the local community.

The historic building is situated within the Willenhall Conservation Area and is locally listed. The former school is adjacent to the site on which Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd was founded in 1869, with the first plant opening in 1876 (opposite the former Little London School). The restoration included partial demolition, with intensive structural and internal refurbishments, including significant ecological and conservation requirements.

Stephen Hartland, Chairman of the Birmingham & West Midlands Group of the Victorian Society said:

“As usual with the award, we had very many high-quality submissions, all of which are of merit, but there can be only one winner and this year I am really pleased it has gone to the former Little London School, now re-purposed as the Head Office of Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd. This underlines the fact that Victorian and Edwardian buildings don’t need to be demolished, but can be adapted for today’s uses.

“This is a delightful restoration, conserving so much of the historical fabric and serving as an architectural gem for the local community. It is understandable and commendable that the local community was so much behind the plans.”

Chris Woolridge, Managing Director of Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd, said:

“We are delighted to have won this award and be recognised for our work on the historic Little London School,” He went on to say: “Taking on the school as our new headquarters meant we could continue to grow whilst staying in Willenhall, where we’ve been for over 150 years, as well as give something back to our local community by protecting one of the most loved and sentimental buildings in our hometown.

“The design was complex and challenging as we had to make sure that the building’s historic features were respected, being in a conservation area, whilst also providing a first-class working environment to our team for years to come. We’re very humbled to win this award and our thanks must also be shared with local Wolverhampton-based architect Mike Bates, Walsall Council, Arthur M. Griffiths & Son Ltd (AMG), Tony Millard of Allan Reynolds Partnership QS and our own Engineering Team, each of which helped to bring our vision to life.”

The Award is sponsored by Hortons’ Estate Ltd.
Hortons' Estate is an independent, Birmingham based, property company with a substantial investment and development portfolio. The portfolio contains office, industrial, retail and leisure properties located throughout the Midlands.

The Award is in its 7thyear.

Rules of the Award may be found here:

© 2017 The Victorian Society

1 Priory Gardens, London W4 1TT. T 020 8994 1019. E [email protected]

Charity No. 1081435. Company No. 3940996. Registered in England. Office as above.

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