SAVE Backs Campaign to Save Wales' First Girls' School
15th March 2020
SAVE Britain’s Heritage has backed a campaign to save the Victorian girls’ school in Cowbridge, south Wales from demolition. Despite urgent calls from SAVE, local campaign group Save Cowbridge Girls School, The Victorian Society and local politicians, the housing association who own the 1896 school buildings still seeks to demolish them to construct four houses and a block of 30 flats.
A petition launched by local campaigners and backed by SAVE has now gained over 5,200 signatures calling onthe Welsh Government to step in to protect the building through listing and conversion. SAVE has also objected strongly to Vale of Glamorgan Council and called on the owner of the site, local housing association Hafod, to retain and convert the striking existing buildings as part of their redevelopment of the site.
Our photos show the building’s original historic features remain ostensibly intact, both internally and externally, including the original hall and staircase. Only five schools surviving from the period are listed across Wales, yet Cowbridge was turned down for listing by CADW in 2019, who claimed more intact examples existed which were already listed.
Tudur Davies, of Save Cowbridge Girls' School says: “The former Cowbridge Girls’ School survives as a prominent and attractive testimony to a pivotal moment in Welsh history and the equal opportunities afforded to underprivileged girls of the time. We are disappointed that despite our efforts, the developer still seeks to demolish the buildings in their entirety so that nothing will remain of this nationally important building.”
Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage says: "SAVE's report Too Good to Lose illustrates numerous examples of handsome girls' and boys’ schools rescued from decay and given a new lease of life through residential use. We strongly support local efforts to save and revive this notable local landmark.”
Opened in 1896, Cowbridge was the first girls’ intermediate school to be built in Wales (and England) as a result of the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889. The school closed as the local girls’ comprehensive school in 2011 and is now in need of restoration and re-use.
Full details of the local campaign can be found at https://oldgirlsschool.wales.