The Preservation of
Buildings in Tickhill
Sometimes historic buildings
in the community are no longer needed for the purpose for
which they were originally built. Sometimes these buildings
can be adapted for newer purposes and saved, as happened with
Tickhill’s Parish Room, built as a hospital or almshouse in
1478. In contrast, another old building, the National School
on St Mary’s Road, later Tickhill’s Church of England Junior
School, has been demolished. Here is an account of how
attempts were made in 1975 to save the building to use it as a
Further Education Centre.
Towards the end of the report
written by Philip Mottram, reference is made to Drawings A to
D. These plans of the building, drawn by surveyor Robert
Fieldhouse, are now in Tickhill & District Local History
HISTORY OF A LOST OPPORTUNITY
By Philip Mottram
As the population of Tickhill
began to grow in the 1970s it became clear that there would
need to be an increase in schooling capacity to serve the
growing number of children in the town.
It was in January 1975 when I
received a letter from Mr J H Higgins, Area Head of the
Vermuyden Institute of Further Education based in Rossington.
He wrote to inform me that the new DMBC Local Education
Authority was planning to pull down the old Tickhill C of E
Junior School after the last children had been rehoused in the
new addition then being built to the new Junior
School. He believed that the building should be retained as a Further Education
Centre with full community use. He felt that Tickhill
residents should fight for its retention. The small
Environmental Group of which I was then a member agreed, and
we resolved to try to do something about it.
The case put forward by Mr
Higgins was convincing:
• Demolition would cost money
that would be better spent refurbishing the old building.
• Tickhill had no secondary
school which could house F E classes
• Using a junior school would
mean adults using small chairs and tables
• There is a lack of a
community building and accommodation for holding daytime
classes for Senior Citizens or for Play Groups
• He already had spare
equipment that could be transferred to Tickhill
We were urged to lobby local
councillors and the Director of Education.
On behalf of the Tickhill
Conservation Group, I wrote to Mr Crompton, the Deputy
Director of Education on 18 January 1975 expressing grave
concern. In particular, I asked for an assurance that no
demolition would take place without ample notice being given
to Tickhill Organisations, that there would be a full
explanation for the decision and I formally registered the
view that the building should be used for combined Further
Education and Community purposes. I reported that many
Tickhill residents had commented that the building was
originally paid for by public subscriptions and they feel that
this gives them rights to object to premature demolition.
The Tickhill Town Council’s
Environmental Advisory Committee met on 4 March 1975. The
Minutes of that meeting record a report on behalf of a
sub-committee, given by a Mrs Haslam. They had visited the
school on 13 February and emphasised that this was the report
of a visual inspection by lay people without any specialised
knowledge. They were considering whether the building could be
used as a Community Centre.
The Report made the following
• The outside of the building
would need some pointing and small repairs
• There were 5 classrooms, two
small cloakrooms but no internal toilet facilities
• A kitchen and toilets would
be needed for a Community Centre
• The heating system was old
fashioned and inadequate
• Whilst the building could be
useful it could not take the place of a purpose-built
• The proposed £7.000 cost of
demolition might well go towards the cost of alterations.
• A technical expert should be
asked for an opinion
• The building should not be
The Clerk to the Council
commented that a request for an independent report would
surely be resisted.
The Town Council had urged the
Education Authority to retain the building, it has not asked
for sole use as a Community Centre because in that case the
first offer would have to be made to the former owner, Lord
Scarbrough. A compromise would be to keep the building as a
Further Education Centre.
It was recommended that:
1. The old school should be
refurbished and used as much as possible for Further Education
and Community Centre use.
2. A detailed collation of
information from all organisations in Tickhill was required.
The sub-committee was authorised to send out questionnaires.
Twenty-six questionnaires were
sent out and sixteen replies were received.
8 Groups would require regular
8 Groups would require casual
6 Groups stated their support
for the provision of such a facility
10 Groups did not reply
2 Groups expressed no interest
in the project.
On 25 September 1975 a letter
from the Director of Education (M J Pass) enclosed copies of
two sets of Minutes. The first referred to a meeting on 11
June when Mr S Beresford had attended in my place. The main
points recorded were:
• The former architect to the
West Riding had concluded that the building had reached the
end of its life and that two years ago repair costs had been
£35,000 and future maintenance costs would be substantial.
• The DMBC Chief Architect
said the useful life might be up to 10 to 15 years and costs
for minimum repairs would be £20,000 excluding a new heating
• The provision of the new
school had been on the understanding that the former premises
would be dismantled.
• The joint site for the two
new schools will be deficient in playground area by 1.6 acres
and beneath minimum statutory requirements and parking would
reduce the area further.
• At the proposed new Middle
school on Common Lane there would be room for extension to
provide community provision.
Local representatives made
clear the need for community facilities.
It was suggested that a local
committee be set up to liaise with the Education Department.
On 24 July I sent the
following comments to Mr Pass:
• The 11 June meeting was held
at an inconvenient time for working people and so proper
consultation had not taken place
• Members of Tickhill Town
Council were not invited.
(On 22 July the Yorkshire
Evening Post newspaper printed a letter of apology from Mr
Pass admitting that relevant correspondence from Tickhill Town
Council had been overlooked)
• Mr Hare of the Ratepayers
Association had not been in the chair, as stated.
• Many present felt that the
tone of the meeting was not sufficiently concerned with an
open investigation but rather that demolition was a foregone
conclusion. The main theme seemed to be to persuade Tickhill
to drop their concern for the old school and divert attention
to provision of a new community centre in the distant future.
It was concluded that proper
public consultation had not taken place. The following course
of action was proposed:
• The authority to guarantee
no precipitate action
• Tickhill Town Council be
empowered to carry out its own investigation
• The Authority to cooperate
fully by providing access, information and professional
• The premises to be
maintained for a reasonable period while investigations took
The second set of Minutes
concerned a meeting on 3 September 1975. It was reported that
an additional meeting had been called because of a request
from Tickhill Town Council who had not been represented at the
After full discussion of the
background, local representatives put forward reasons for
asking for the premises to be kept for Further Education and
reported 16 organisations already requiring use of the
It was clearly stated that the
requirement was for Further Education and not community use.
It was confirmed that the Common Lane School would be started
early in in the financial year starting in April 1976 and that
the plan provided for the possibility of further education
provisions although no finance was available.
There were no financial
resources within existing budgets.
A Town Council sub-committee
should look into the possible development of the premises and
produce a report.
The Town Council nominated
Cllr. D. C. Miller to lead a small Working Party. Other
Mr R Fieldhouse (Surveyor),
Mrs J Wilcox and Mr P. Mottram. The Working Party examined the
premises and concluded that:
• Deterioration of the fabric
was not serious and could readily be made good.
• The accommodation was
basically suitable for Further Education use.
• Suitable improvements could
probably be made at moderate cost. Accordingly an outline
specification was prepared based on probable needs of an F.E.
The existing premises were
measured and, with the assistance of an old plan of the school
a drawing was prepared showing Plan, Elevations and Sections
of the existing building (See Drawing A.) Using the outline
specification, two possible layouts were produced and one was
selected as the preferred scheme ( See Drawing B.)
The Working party felt that
this scheme fully exploited the potential of the premises.
However, recognising that there are currently financial
constraints on Local Authority expenditure, it was decided to
critically examine the scheme and to eliminate those elements
which could be dispensed with initially. The resulting
modified scheme is shown on Drawing C.
A further Drawing D was
prepared showing car parking spaces for 25 vehicles.
Both schemes B and C were then
costed using a combination of actual estimates from local
contractors and realistic budget estimates.
The cost of modified scheme C
was estimated to be £9,000 to include:
• External repairs to the
fabric, including roof repairs, guttering and window frames.
• Internal alterations
including toilets partitions, plastering, plumbing etc
• Formation of a small kitchen
including cooker and fittings.
• Gas fired central heating
• Electrical work
• Damp proofing by silicone
• External drainage from
• Internal decorations
• Opening in N. boundary wall
for access to carpark and tarmac repairs.
As soon as conditions would
allow the modified scheme should be uprated to the preferred
scheme B to include:
• Extensions for toilets,
dressing rooms etc
• Partitions and suspended
ceilings for classrooms.
• Formation of corridors etc.
The cost of these improvements
was estimated to be a further £10,000.
The Report recommended that to
arrest deterioration and to provide an urgently needed Further
Education facility for Tickhill that the above schemes should
Doncaster MBC did not adopt
Truly a lost opportunity
Thirty two years later the
area is still not being used as playground for the school and
proposals to use the space as an extra public car park have
not been accepted on the grounds that the Education Department
had plans for its use.
Nor has Estfeld School on
Common Lane been given any extensions for use as a Community
Centre as hinted at the time.
Tickhill Town Council’s
proposals in 1986 for a Community Centre on what is now the St
Mary‘s Road Car Park were rejected by a ballot of townspeople.