Where Sneinton's thriving Iona School started life...

Another nice story has emerged about the use of the Old School Hall for education in Sneinton.

Above: The first class of Iona School in 1985/6 with the windmill undergoing its restoration in the background.

The Iona School, which is now based on Sneinton Dale behind the BANCA Community Centre, started life with a few pupils back in 1985- based at the Old School Hall. It was only in the building for a year or so before moving to its present home, but the original teachers who founded the school have fond memories and a proud association with the building.

Above: The first class of Iona School in 1985 at their 'Lantern Festival' in the main Old School Hall classroom

From a single class at the Old School Hall, Iona has grown to cover education for all years from nursery to eleven years old.

Above: Just one of the classes today at Iona School, on their Sneinton Dale site.
Below: The Lantern Festival has become a symbol of Iona School this image is from their website:

Do you have photos of the Old School Hall in use for gigs, events, parties, groups etc? If so we'd love to see them- please contact us or post over on our Facebook page.

The Old School Hall- a history of serving the community

The Old School Hall is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the Windmill Lane area of Sneinton. Originally part of the Sneinton Trust School, built in 1837, the Hall survived the widespread demolition of school buildings around Nottingham carried out during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Above: View of the school looking up Windmill Lane, 1907*

Above: Pupils of the Sneitnon Trust School, circa 1926-7. Class 2, teacher Miss Fawcett. Frank Woodhouse and Jimmy Hancock are two of the pupils in the photo.*

Above: Pupils of the school photographed in the 1950s**

Above: The Trust School from Windmill Lane, photographed in the 1960s*

Once the main school buildings had been demolished in 1973, the Hall building was used for community meetings, the hardy folk of the area climbing over rubble on the demolition site and then enduring a damp building with no heating, for 12 long years.

Above: In 1973 following demolition of the main school buildings. The rubble strewn area is now a car park, the Old School Hall and a pre-restoration Green's Windmill can be seen in the background.

Above: "Pass the balloon" game in the restored Old School Hall, around 1987.

The renamed Old School Hall was finally converted in 1985 to a Community Centre under the Manpower Services Commission Community Programme - a Government initiative that ran from 1982-88 and provided jobs for the long term unemployed, for community benefit. Following the conversion it was described by Hazel Wilson of the Scout Association in 1987 as:

"...a lovely modern building, with large and small halls, kitchens, small stage and all the modern conveniences".

Joyce Hather of The Sneinton Environmental Society which ran the building was able to rejoice that:

"No longer do we gaze with despair at the water running down the walls or observe with horror the evil looking fungus protruding from the holes in the rotting floor".

Above: "New Life for the Old School Hall"- 1987 version***

Thirty years on from that restoration, the Hall is once again under threat- this time a sustainable plan must be put in place to secure the upkeep of the building for future generations in Sneinton. dOSH is committed to ensuring this happens!

If you have any photos or memories of the Hall in use as a school or Community Centre, please do get in touch via email, or our Facebook page - or leave a comment below. Thank you!


References:

* Photos Courtesy of Picture The Past

** Nottingham Evening Post, 2nd June 2007

*** "70 years of Scouting: 79th Nottingham Sneinton Church Cub Scout Pack", Pamphlet published by Hazel Wilson, 1987

Old School Hall: Up for sale! (But not just yet, to just anyone...)

Nottingham City Council took the decision to sell the Old School Hall on 12th November 2017, confirming that the building was excess to their requirements. This has been expected, following the closure of the Hall as a Community Centre and boarding up back in the autumn of 2016. However not all has been plain sailing: there was some confusion about how the decision was communicated to community stakeholder groups; and the complex process of selling a registered Community Asset has only recently begun.

A Nottingham Post article came out on 17th November, quoting the chair of STARA (Sneinton Tenants and Residents Association) as saying the building is derelict and unsafe, future community use is not viable and the sale must be made to a commercial company who could make money out of it. Reassuringly, Councillor Toby Neal is quoted as acknowledging that the building is an Asset of Community Value and any new owner must have a strong element of community value as part of their plans. Strong support is also quoted from people living and working near to the Old School Hall:

"Not an eye-sore at all... It is definitely run down, but it’s been around since the 1840s. It is one of the oldest buildings in the area and is an important part of the community."

"I hope they don’t demolish it and are able to find some kind of sustainable use to it."

"It’s a green, calm place, with a lot of love attached to it. It’d really be a shame if it were demolished."

So the Council must try to find a purchaser with the resources to repair and maintain the building, who can demonstrate "a strong element of community value as part of their plans". As with any Asset of Community Value, there is a 6 month period during which there is a moratorium on selling the building to anyone except a community interest group. Only after this period, if no sale has been agreed to a community interest group, can the building can be sold on the open market.

The 6 month moratorium period will end in early July 2018- and the search is on for a suitable purchaser: So spread the word, dOSH would be happy to work with any party who can demonstrate a strong commitment to community value and to bringing new life to this well-loved historic building.