1964 and a New School at Last
By 1964 Tudor School had been created and renamed but it was still spread over several scattered sites, waiting for its new buildings to be ready. When the new Tudor Secondary School, later to be called Islington Green, was announced in 1964, everyone was impatient to move.
There had many changes in the use of the school buildings between 1910 and 1945. The old Infants School Building, enlarged in 1910, become part of the post-war Tudor Secondary School. During the Second World War some properties had been damaged and some patched up. We do not know how badly the Graded School building, at the other end of the playground, had fared. It is not marked as badly damaged on the Bombing Map but it was decided to demolish it. Streets nearby had been very badly damaged so there was room for the school site to expand.
The local newspaper announced the new school as follows:
The New School Site
The Inner London Education Committee took advantage of the enormous local bomb damage to extend the school site. Queen's Head Street, which had been close -packed with houses, now runs down the centre if the school site. Large new blocks were added, low level gymnasiums built, and a future swimming pool was penciled in by some optimistic architect. New school plans were full of swimming baths in that heady, post-war period, before reality struck. Not one, so far as I know, was built.
The whole site sloped downwards towards the houses in Prebend Street. These had basements, so when they were demolished they left a deep trough at the bottom of the new site. Today one enters the school on a bridge over a chasm. The ground has been formed into a long retaining bank, or berm, to support the huge weight of the new school block towering above. This is interesting engineering. Without the supporting berm the tower block would slip into the old basements.
The Historical Geography of the Site
The first small site of Queen's Head Street School in 1884 has expanded, taking over houses and gardens, a builder's yard, a road and a complete square of early houses, in its search for space.
How the School Site Expanded
Islington Green School Site in 19991
The site slopes down towards the South East. So that Section AA is horizontal and Section BB (which is along Queen's Head Street) slopes down sharply.
As a result of the natural slope and work which has been done over the years, the site is at a mass of different levels which seem to make no sense. In fact they fossilize what was there years ago. First here are the sloping remains of Queen's Head Street, which used to be at one edge of the school site. In the centre are the garden levels of the old houses. These had once been the levels of the old hay fields of the 1840s. Last are the trenches left by the rows of old house basements which used to line the fringes of the original school.
The two sketched sections of the 1991 Site Plan, AA and BB, are designed to give some idea of the different levels to be found, but they are not measured. Perhaps some day pupils will survey the site accurately and reveal the real history of each piece. Then put the 1870 Ordnance Survey map on this and the site will come to life.
These uneven levels tell us something too about the surface geology. If the underlying soil had been clay, the basement trenches would be ponds full of water. They are dry so it must be a gravel area, self draining, and favoured by the early builders. No London builder ventured onto the clay until 1870, when all available gravel sites were used up. Then house design had to change. Houses were lifted up above the wet clay and cellars were restricted to damp coal holes. The whole school area has archaeological, geological, and building interest. This is discussed in more detail later when bore holes were made during later building.
In the centre are the garden levels of the old houses. These had once been the levels of the old hay fields of the 1840s. Last are the trenches left by the rows of old house basements which used to line the fringes.
The Construction of the New School Building
The new building was to be in reinforced concrete. This involved hundreds of drawings showing every detail of the construction - where to put the steel reinforcement bars, their sizes, the concrete thicknesses and mixtures, etc. All this is far too complicated to go into here. A few details have been printed as examples of the care needed if reinforced concrete is to be strong, as light as possible and yet not crack and allow water to penetrate. If tiny cracks appear in the surface concrete, water can penetrate and will rust the steel bars. When steel rusts it expands with great force, splitting the outer concrete apart. Then more water penetrates and the rusting gets worse. Keeping the outside concrete cover thick enough to prevent water penetration, without making the whole structure too heavy, is a skilled process.
Exploring the Strength of the Site