Main building


25 Kent Road


The original Portmouth High School building was built in 1885, on a plot purchased in 1883 as a result of the bankruptcy of the owner of Trapezium Cottage, which stood where the main building does now.
In the picture, the garden of Swiss Cottage, behind the familiar school wall, and part of the house can be seen. Swiss Cottage was then privately owned and was not part of the school. The plot which the GPDSC, as it was then, purchased included the land adjoining Castle Road, from the alleyway up to the Wheelbarrow pub site, then a brewery. They sold this part of the plot. The building was in the Dutch style, with curving gables, then much in fashion, and the architects were Osborne Smith of London.

The estimated cost of the new building was £6800 - £7000

Architect's drawings (click to enlarge)



In spite of the ecstatic description of the heating and ventilation systems in the local paper's report of the building, its first years were full of teething troubles.
"The studio and one classroom are insufficiently warmed….Miss Russell’s…hands become so numbed that she can scarcely hold a pencil. The four classrooms on the west side smoke so terribly in certain winds – the prevailing ones here – that the girls have sometimes to change rooms for alternate lessons that the windows may be opened and the smoke to some degree cleared off. The destruction to books and clothes is great."
from the headmistress's report 1888

The smoke, of course, comes from the classroom fires. Additional hot water pipes were soon added, and eventually the chimneys were raised, which cured the problem..


Postcard showing rear of building and tennis court, 1906


The first building, showing Swiss Cottage garden (click to enlarge)


Purchase of the site
Description of the new building in the local paper
Reports of the opening of the building
Plan of the site before the school building was erected


The assembly hall


By 1902 the building, which had seemed so complete in 1886, was too small. Miss Adamson met with the architects to discuss how to enlarge it. In the 1906 inspection, it was the laboratory (now room 13) which came in for criticism. "The laboratory is inconveniently small, and the arrangement of furniture on one side of the room destroys a good deal of the light. Even small classes have to be divided for laboratory purposes."
The remedy was the 1908 upwards extension which added a new laboratory to the top of the building (now M11).


Again, by 1926, numbers had grown to such an extent that more accommodation was needed. The library block extension gave not only a library, but also another laboratory and two classrooms.

In 1935, the familiar complaint was raised again.
"Every available room is now a form room, including both laboratories, and one form last year had thirty-four girls in a room capable of holding thirty at most….. The pressure is also being felt in the studio and the dining room… "
from the 1935 headmistress's report

But the War intervened, and we had to wait until the 1950s before there was any possibility of further development. In 1951 Miss Thorn made plans...
"She thought the school would need an extension behind the old boarding house which would allow for an enlarged library, a studio, a geography room, another laboratory, an additional form room and a larger staff room. "
and finally in 1955 the dining room extension arrived.

The 1960 inspection report pointed out deficiencies of space yet again, and the purchase of a piece of building ground in Ashburton Road was briefly considered. Instead, the large site in Cecil Place was bought in 1972, and the main building acquired a fine new assembly hall/gym in 1976.
The space under this was filled in with new office and sixth form accommodation only after the garage site had given the school much needed playground space.