The Diocesan Training College, Uttoxeter New Road, Derby, is a 19th Century, Grade II listed, three-storey Victorian building. It was designed by renowned local architect, Henry Issac Stevens as a training college for School Mistresses, on behalf of the Church of England, and was completed between 1850 – 1857. The building was subsequently extended to include a small chapel (c1900) at the rear of the building and a significant extended wing was added to the east facing gable. Similar to other buildings designed by Henry Stevens, around this time, the college is of a Picturesque asymmetrical composition with hybrid stylistic cues from both the Gothick and early Arts & Crafts periods.
The college is a brick-walled building, constructed from red clay facing bricks with additional stone detailing and ornaments. The south facing elevation consists of a multi-gabled stone capped façade with a two-storey projecting porch and parapet, which is topped with stone, ball-shaped finials. Whilst not evidenced, the roof of the porch is most likely to be finished with lead sheeting. The gables on all elevations are finished with stone roll-top coping, stone kneelers and finials. There are seven suites of chimney stacks with a varying number of circular and square decorative flues, which are all finished with moulded stone bases and caps. The stacks protrude through the roof at the ridge and utilise stepped corbelled brickwork (at the base) with a bed of lime mortar flashing.
There is a stone tower rising from near the centre of the building, which takes the form of a bell-cot and is finished with a rolled and stepped leaded roof spire. The cross gabled cut roof falls at around 60 degrees and is finished with double lapped clay tiles, leading to moulded stone rainwater gutters in most places. The gutters are likely to have bedded lead channels and tongues. The rainwater hoppers and down-pipes are mostly fabricated from cast iron, with some uPVC additions, which look to have been recent replacements for defective ironwork. There is also a small timber, above eaves, dormer window on the south facing elevation, which is also finished with double lapped clay tiles and timber barge boards. The window is a timber casement with two leaded lights, which may indicate it being a later addition to the building.
The main window lights are all framed with stone headers, mullions, transoms, jambs and cills and the lights are all arched with cast-iron casements, aside from the later extension wing to the east facing gable, where timber casements have been used. There are also two stone projecting bay window surrounds on the south (ground floor) and west (first floor) elevations. The doorway is arched with a glazed fanlight and the entrance hallway is vaulted on columns.
The external walls of the building are constructed from red clay bricks and appear to be of solid construction (indicated by the width of door and window openings). Each storey is demarcated with a stone string course and decorative tiles. The gauged Flemish bond brickwork is jointed with lime mortar, which is common for buildings of this age. External walls of this type serve two main functions; to transfer loads from the roof structure and each storey down to the foundations, and to provide adequate environmental protection from elements such as weather.
Solid brick walls were historically constructed using two skins of bricks (approximately 9 inches in width) that were bonded together to avoid shearing or buckling. Bonding techniques were primarily used to give this element its integral strength. Bricks were bonded together using bedded mortar joints (lime based, typically 5 – 10mm), but their overall strength was manifested through how they were laid. Flemish bond has been employed in the construction of this building, and whilst not as strong as English bond, which was often used for structures such as railway bridges and chimney stacks during the same period, Flemish bond did prove to be more dominant throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, primarily based on its aesthetic qualities ♣.
In a Victorian building of two or three storeys, such as this one, the walls would often be more than one brick thick at lower levels (between one and half to two bricks) to improve stability, as the relationship between the height and width of an external wall (its slenderness ratio) is an integral one. However, the foundations or footings of a building of this type and age would not withstand the scrutiny of modern building regulations. Relatively low buildings (single or two-storey) of this age would have very shallow footings, with no special preparation other than the removal of top soil ♦. Where taller, more structurally efficient walls were required, for example in multi-storey buildings such as factories, schools and prisons, the walls would be gradually thickened or stepped out, course by course (to a minimum of 4-5 courses) and perhaps in some instances bedded on concrete. In some circumstances, where a soil or ground type with low load bearing capacity was prevalent, elm timber piling may have also been used to provide structural foundations ♣.
Following the 1875 Public Health Act, where the first national legislation of building control was introduced, all buildings were required to conform to a set of nationwide regulations that ensured a minimum of building standards for elements such as structural stability, drainage, sanitation and fire resistance. Despite this building being constructed over two decades before the introduction of the act, there is some evidence that its foundations are stepped, and that they make use of a different grade of building material, the ‘Staffordshire blue’ engineering brick, as an integral component to its foundations. These bricks, whilst being the same size as the red clay bricks they support, were manufactured to a denser specification and were therefore designed to be used at the extremities of a building, where greater strength and lower porosity are required, such as at foundation level. These bricks would become the standard material for damp proof courses towards the end of the Victorian and early Edwardian periods.
The windows and doors of a building of this age and size would also play an integral role in its structural strength and stability. Traditionally, most windows in a Victorian building would have been designed with load bearing responsibilities; a design element that was phased out following the introduction of the 1965 Building Regulations. The large stone window surround components utilised by this building include headers, mullions, transoms, jambs and canted cills. In this instance, stone would have been specified for its high compressive strength, as the spans of some of the larger south facing window openings are significant in length. The windows in this particular building also tell the story of the changing use of building materials employed over the centuries. The ‘original’ building (circa 1851) makes use of arched cast-iron light casements of varying sizes. However, the later extensions, which are believed to date from the early twentieth century, mimic the aforementioned stone window surround components, but make use of rectangular timber casements with varying light arrangements .
Given its date and the size of its construction, this building would have stood as an early example of what would have soon become a standard affair, both structurally and aesthetically. It still stands as a significant example of the work of Henry Issac Stevens and the innovative technology and stylistic influences he employed in the buildings he created across the East Midlands.
♦ Brunskill R. W. and Clifton-Taylor A. (1977) English Brickwork. London: Cox & Wyman Ltd.
♣ Brunskill R. W. (1990). Brick Building in Britain. London: Victoria Gollancz Ltd.