The School was purpose built for Kent Education Committee between 1935 and 1938 for Sidcup County School for Boys
(re-named Chislehurst and Sidcup County School in 1938). It was officially opened on 9th February 1939 by Charles Robertson, Chairman of the Education Committee, London County Council. The opening ceremony and dedication service took place in the Assembly Hall with the Rev. Canon C E Webb, Vicar of Sidcup and the Rev. T W Bond, Congregational Church, St Mary Cray, conducting the service.
The following is an extract from the opening ceremony programme:
The site at Crittall’s Corner, Footscray, upon which the School stands, is situated to serve an area which includes the residential districts of Chislehurst, Orpington and Sidcup, together with St Mary Cray, St Paul’s Cray, North Cray, Mottingham, Swanley and Crockenhill. The School, in conjunction with the other schools in the district, serves the housing estates erected by the London County Council in Mottingham.
The site is a corner site bounded by the Sidcup by-pass and the Orpington by-pass. For this reason the building has been sited well back from the road in order that noise from traffic might be reduced to a minimum. It has also enabled very careful consideration to be given to the aspect of the classrooms.
It was originally intended that the building should occupy the south-west corner of the site, but subsequent building development of surrounding land made it possible to obtain additional land for playing fields and also enabled another entry to be made from an estate to the north-west.
The accommodation in the new buildings, including the block erected in 1935, consists of 17 classrooms, eight special teaching rooms, an assembly hall, stage and division room, a library, a gymnasium, a dining hall, a kitchen, administrative rooms, cloakrooms, offices and ante-rooms. This has been arranged in quadrangular form, having a three-storey classroom wing with a south eastern aspect on one side, a two-storey special subjects room wing with a north-eastern aspect on one side, and single-storey blocks to complete the rectangle. A steady fall across the site necessitated variations being made in the level of the ground floor of the various blocks. Closed corridors have been used for the two- and three-storey portions, with open corridors to the single storey block, and large borrowed lights have been provided to the corridor side of the classrooms in order to give even natural lighting over the whole areas of the rooms.
Administrative rooms have been grouped around the main entrance, which gives easy access to the
assembly hall and all parts of the School. The main entrance is approached from the Orpington
by-pass road by a double-track entrance drive.
The general lay-out of special subject rooms follows current practice. The gymnasium has changing rooms and showers, in duplicate, arranged so that they are easily accessible from the playing fields. Provision has also been made to deal with the large number of towels used for physical training purposes by the inclusion of a towel laundry capable of handling 250 towels per day.
The construction has many interesting features and embodies the most advanced theories of reinforced concrete design. The buildings are constructed of reinforced concrete, framed throughout, with solid floors and roofs, which means that the walls have no structural importance but act as panels extending between the reinforced concrete columns. This allows easy remodelling within the limits of the structure. In this type of construction, foundations for walls are unnecessary, support being obtained on a horizontal beam extending between supports at ground level.
Attention has been given to natural lighting and ventilation, the metal windows having been fixed direct to the reinforced columns to provide the maximum glass area. Flat roofs have been used throughout the building, and they are covered, with 1-inch cork slabs to provide the necessary insulation and guard against heat loss, whilst the bituminous roofing is covered with asbestos cement tiles as a precaution against solar radiation.
For the assembly hall, a portal frame construction has been adopted in which the horizontal beams have been carried above the ceilings and the supporting columns taper from floor level to a maximum at full height; thus a purely constructional element becomes an impressive architectural feature in the internal treatment of the hall.
Externally, an orderly elevational treatment has been obtained. A predominant feature of the design is the glass tower surrounding the main staircase. This was adopted to give light to a short length of enclosed entrance hall and the corridors above. The staircase is cantilevered from a semi-circular concrete core which acts as a vertical duct masking the boiler flue.
The materials used were red facing bricks with horizontal raked joints, coloured concrete to exposed columns between windows, and smooth finish concrete to sills, copings and canopies, etc.
Internally, special attention has been given to the general finish and the arrangement of colour schemes, which, combined with the natural lighting, gives a cheerful atmosphere to the School.
The cost per place of this building is less than that of any other secondary school erected in the
The architect, John Willey Poltock (1903 to 1989) was educated at Harrow County School and qualified as
an architect and Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects in 1933. In the mid 1930’s he set up his own
practice. Poltock designed many public buildings, in particular schools, in Kent and elsewhere, including
Victoria College in Cairo, Cornwallis School in Linton, and St Anselm’s Roman Catholic School in Canterbury.
The building was designed and erected under the supervision of Wilfred H Robinson, Kent County
The general contractor for building works was H Friday & Sons and the contractor for the reinforced concrete work was Christiani & Neilson. Christiani & Nielsen was established by Rudolf Christiani, a Danish civil engineer and, Aage Nielsen, a captain in the Royal Danish Navy, in Copenhagen in 1904 to build bridges, marine works, and other reinforced concrete structures. It soon established a branch in Hamburg and after World War I extended its operations to the United Kingdom, South America, Australia and Africa. Christiani & Neilson (UK) was sold off in 2001 but Christiani & Neilson (Thailand) is a major construction company operating in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
According to Charles Wells, author of ‘Past Purple: A History of Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School’
published in 2002, a number of the school’s teachers were called up to fight in the British Army in 1939. He says that:
“At the school, the students set about digging out trenches to use as bomb shelters and assemblies were cancelled. During The Blitz the school was hit by a dropping landmine on 17th September 1940, heavily damaging it. On 16th June 1944, the school was once more struck, this time by a V-1 flying bomb which destroyed one end of the Assembly Hall.”
The Bomb Sight Project, which in 2012 mapped the London WW2 Census between 7th October 1940 and
6th June 1941, shows that during the period of the Census a high explosive bomb fell at a location given as A20 Westbound, Footscray (within the School grounds).
Local education reforms led to the Chislehurst and Sidcup County School being moved to a new location in
Hurst Road in 1954 when the school buildings were taken over by the new Cray Valley Technical School
Within four years the new Craft Wing was opened along with extensions to the kitchen and dining hall.
The Programme for the official opening of the New Craft Wing on 5th December 1958 by Sir George Edwards CBE stated:
Cray Valley Technical School was founded in 1954, to provide a liberal education with a technical bias for boys from 11 to 18. The characteristic feature of its policy is that it introduces selected engineering techniques and principles and uses them for education purposes. Engineering, it has been said, benefits the world by things made and done. Since most boys enjoy making and doing, engineering as a focus of interest in school curriculum has much to commend it. Successful making requires not only skill of hand and eye, but clear thinking, careful planning, and a sound knowledge of tools and materials. In their more ambitious forms, design and production rest upon a firm foundation of applied mathematics, science and technology. When Cray Valley Technical School opened it had adequate classrooms and laboratories, but it lacked the practical rooms needed to develop its policy. Implementing detailed proposals put forward by Mr I Davies, the Head of the Craft Department, the architects, Messrs. John W. Poltock and Associates, in consultation with the County Architect and the contractors, Messrs. G Wallis & Sons, Limited, have produced the wing which is to be opened today.
The new Craft Wing includes a drawing office, two engineering shops, two woodwork shops, and an engineering laboratory with facilities for casting and heat treatment, elementary metallurgy and materials-testing, electro-plating and spray finishing and a practical study of the internal combustion engine. The accommodation is unique in that it provides a complete industrial unit, which makes possible the application of science and mathematics to the study and solution of practical engineering problems. Any boy working in this department should find scope for the development of his potentialities as designer, student, technician or craftsman. Here he will meet the challenge of problems, the solution of which will call for imagination, purposeful thinking, and the planned application of knowledge and skill. Whatever career a boy may eventually follow, experience in this department should play a valuable part in his education. If, as many boys will, he decides upon one of the various careers which industry offers, he should find himself, both at
work and in his further education, in surroundings with features already familiar to him.
Additional classrooms were added in the main quadrangle in the 1960’s and in 1964/65 two additional
laboratories were added.
In late 1975 the School buildings were taken over by Kenmal Manor School, now Kenmal Technology
On 9th March 1982 the buildings were given Grade II Listed Building status (Kenmal Manor Upper School
Listing Number NGR: TQ4683670223) The listing text states:
Modern style. Reinforced concrete framed throughout but exterior faced with brick, courtyard plan.
The SE front is of three storeys separated by continuous metal framed casements, and flanked by
bowed glazed staircase towers. Ground floor entrance with fanlight above and similar rounded bays.
The NE front is asymmetrical and its most prominent feature is the full height glazed hall block. vv
Part of the courtyard has a modern 3 storey extension.