Although I’d felt safe in the knowledge ‘The Old Girl’ was in good hands for a long time now, I was still curious as to the ‘state-of-play’ inside those dark green doors. This curiosity also extended to the length of time the said doors could possibly still remain dark green. We were, after all, two full calendar years into the merger by now. Things like that never ceased to make me smile, recalling all the sad backward looks as we left the building for the very last time in 2014.
To discover how the plaster-splashes in the shot above got there, one didn’t have to go very far into the building at the end of June.
Up until recently, the west wall of the south stairs was still pale blue in colour, although channels had been cut into the plaster to allow the addition of electrical cabling needed to install new wall-lights. Strange with such a huge window already there. But I recall Central and GDST folk continually ‘worrying’ about the building being dark.
This fixation with making things ‘light’ ultimately ran through the entire refurbishment process, which was hard to take for someone who loves natural wood as much as I do. Those big, rustic bell tower support timbers exposed during the strip-out never stood a chance.
I’ve never felt at ease in rooms painted white. When on a family holiday in Dorset once, the single bedroom allocated to me in an (otherwise lovely) cottage was thick-walled and white. I found it impossible to sleep in. It seemed to suck my breath away. As a child, I recall a school-girl game: think of an animal; now think of an expanse of water; how would you feel waking up in a white room? Apparently the last question was meant to indicate how one felt about death. Enough said, I guess. Well, at least it was still our building.
A rare reversal of this trend was evident on the first floor landing of the newly-created north staircase in the infill extension, however. This time I did approve of the new design features. Very, very much. I thought it a lovely touch on the architect’s part that the one exterior window which remained unblocked off had been allowed to retain its red brick edging. A nod to the fact that this was once outside.
I know that not everyone will have followed all my posts nor be as familiar with the building as I am. Because of this, I’m including two images below from a lot earlier in the refurbishment process which should hopefully remind everyone of where this window used to be.
It’s also nice to know that, way up high, on the west facing apex of the north gable, two of Newcastle High School’s original windows are still there even now. True, they’re not the most typical-looking windows and the area into which they were intended to allow light is no longer there, but I love the fact they’re still up there. Survivors.
In this shot of the back of the original Newcastle High School building, you can just make out two small windows high in the gable apex.
And this is what the same back-of-the-building view looks like today.
Also at the back of the building around this time, a piece of old Church High history was being removed. In recent times, most will have been unaware of the presence of an old wooden gate within the back perimeter wall. Others may remember that it once allowed access to five tennis courts on the other side of the wall which Church High used to use. Before this, the courts in the Fleming Children’s Hospital grounds belonged to the Brandling Tennis Club. There is now a new development on this land: a care home. Because of this, no doubt with security uppermost in mind, GDST clearly thought it best to reinstate the stone wall in its entirety once again.
As with all work undertaken on the building’s refurbishment, the architects took pains to ensure that the finish was high standard.
I’m sure you will have worked out by now that wherever Giuseppe’s camera pointed on site indicated where work was being undertaken that day or still needed to be done. From the shot I’ve chosen to end this post with, I wonder if you can guess what he wanted done next?