Building Rutherford School

(Built as 'County Complement' to the Philological School)

In 1960, Leonard Manasseh, architect of the London Film Institute, on the South Bank, and many other fine buildings, designed Rutherford School, which was called Marylebone Lower House and is now called Westminster Academy. The new school was to be called The County Complement to Marylebone Grammar School. It was to take those boys who had not passed the 11-Plus examination, so it was built with large workshops and science laboratories. Marylebone Girls Grammar School would take those girls who passed the 11-Plus, while the others would go to a new Sarah Siddons School in North Wharf Road. This last building became the Upper House of North Westminster Community School. In about 2010 the building was sold off and the site is awaiting redevelopment as flats.

Rutherford School was built in an L shape, to wrap round the old Bell Street School. Several streets of small 19th century houses were demolished and the new L-shaped building was erected from pre-cast mullions and beams made in reinforced concrete, while the old building was still occupied.

The site was very congested, so these concrete parts (and the mullions of this building are 40 feet long) were cast out in Wheathampstead and brought in by lorry, wrapped in double layers of brown paper to make sure they were riot damaged in transit. They were then erected to a tolerance of 3 mm. Because the floor width was over 40 feet and so too wide to be transported by lorry, the building was erected as two buildings side by side and joined by the central corridor. This also meant that the floor beams could be of a lighter section and so reduced costs. The photograph shows the construction clearly.

Constructing the Teaching Block.

A capping beam being placed in position, above the future central corridor.

The two buildings can be seen, with gaps between the ends of the floor beans and the central columns reducing in size towards the top, as the weight becomes less.


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Updated July 5, 2011