Main Building 1885

A newspaper report describing the new PHS building
The emphasis on ventilation and hygiene is very typical of the times

On Tuesday the scholars of the Portsmouth High School for Girls will re-assemble, taking up their quarters in the new school buildings in Kent-road, which have been erected from the designs of Mr. J. Osborne Smith, of Southampton-street, Strand, London, by Messrs. S. Stevens and Son, contractors, of Millbrook, near Southampton.
A fine position in Kent-road had been secured for the school by the Girls’ Public Day School Company for £4,100, but a portion of the site facing Castle-road was disposed of, a passage of ten feet only being reserved to this thoroughfare for the purpose of forming a convenient entrance for scholars from Portsmouth.
Numbers of public schools have been provided under the direction of the company, and their experience thus gained has led them to erect a school in Southsea, which for completeness leaves nothing to be desired, while the knowledge of local requirements possessed by the head mistress (Miss Ledger) has enabled her to suggest many details which will add to the comfort of the pupils.
The school will accommodate 250 or 300 girls, and is built on four floors in front, and two at the back. A low wall surmounted by iron railings will enclose a garden to be laid out with shrubs and flowers, and the main entrance will be approached by a carriage drive, while on the same side of the building is the principal entrance for scholars, and a tradesmen’s entrance.
In the hall there is a reception room immediately on the right, while opposite is a nice apartment which will be used by the head mistress, and which is in communication by means of a speaking tube with the teachers’ room and the kitchen. The corridors are wide and lofty, and the stair cases leading from floor to floor proportionately fine, all being thoroughly ventilated and warmed with hot water pipes which run through each of the larger rooms in the school.
On the second floor are three classrooms, each about 20ft square, well lighted and capitally ventilated, both from the corridor and by means of the windows, which are elaborately fitted and arranged with a view to prevent draughts. The sashes, opening in the usual way, have double grooves, and the top lights have side fittings that render it most unlikely the apartments will be draughty, and, besides this, the stoves invented by Captain Ealton, a member of the Council of the Girls’ Public School Society, are so designed with double flues that the chimney ventilators shall emit heated air, during the season when fires are necessary, while in hot weather a cool current of air is obtained.
The fittings for hanging maps are excellent, and capital desks, with chairs affixed, are supplied for the use of each student, at the end of the corridor is a music room, and on the next floor precisely similar classrooms and music rooms are found. The door fastenings are rather novel, but seem well adapted to the class of room, and each floor is in communication with the lower part of the premises. Altogether there are nine of these classrooms, three others being in the back portion of the establishment.

Returning to the hall on the first floor there is a small library, fitted with bookcases and shelves immediately outside the entrance to the assembly room, which is a fine hall of sixty feet by twenty- eight feet, to be used for public ceremonies in connection with the school, as well as for a place of assembly in the morning, for class singing, dancing, pupils’ concerts, and similar gatherings.
At the further end is a platform with moveable handrail, and opposite is a capacious gallery, that will accommodate a number of children on any public occasion. It is lighted by fine large windows. The ventilation is very complete, both by the windows and roof fittings of the hall. Improved circular light gas fittings will be employed, and it is heated throughout with two services of hot water pipes, both of which can be used on exceptionally cold days. In wet weather when the girls cannot be sent to the playground it is intended that the hall shall serve as a place of recreation.
Leading from this at the back of the platform is a study for drawing, a lofty well-lighted apartment, 18 feet by 28 feet, with every requirement for the purpose; and from its situation it will be very useful as a committee room on prize days and similar festivals.
A corridor runs on one side of the hall and study, and on the opposite side is the seventh classroom, adjoining which is the well-fitted laboratory for the scholars. Water is laid on with taps over every bench, and suitable appliances have been provided. On this floor a lavatory has been placed, and it has been so arranged that the hot water pipes running close to the cold water service will remove the chill, and do away with the necessity of supplying hot water separately. On the ground floor are similar lavatories and two classrooms.
Throughout this part of the building a flooring of wooden blocks is laid, on a foundation of concrete, and a preparation specially used for the prevention of damp, while the corridor is reached at either end from the Castle-road and Kent-road pupils’ entrances.
Opposite the classrooms is a large cloakroom, in which a place is allotted for the use of each scholar, a novel arrangement being a rack which runs along over the hot water pipes, and upon which the girls’ outdoor boots may be placed on damp days to dry. In many other ways the comfort of scholars is studied.
Next to this is the teachers' room , with all the sanitary fittings which render the other rooms so complete, and this overlooks the large pleasure ground, which is to be asphalted and laid out with tennis courts. The Assembly-room, cloak-room, and pupils’ entrances are all fitted with swing doors, on which Smith’s patent fixtures are placed. On this floor is a dining and luncheon room, next to which is a serving room for the use of the housekeeper in carving for the girls, and the kitchen and scullery, each having the most convenient domestic arrangements, adjoin. All these rooms are close to the tradesmen’s entrance, and in the vicinity is a coal and wood store, in which is the hot water furnace, and from this a lift is arranged, by means of which coals can be conveyed to the upper storeys of the house. The housekeeper has very nice private rooms; and altogether the premises are wonderfully complete.”

From the Portsmouth Times, 12th September 1885