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3,000 signatures on petitions to save facade of Carr Gymnasium in Leek

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: April 10, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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More than 3,000 people have now signed petitions in an effort to save the historical features of a college building in their present location.

Last September Staffordshire Moorlands District Council gave approval to Leek College to redevelop its site.

This included the demolition of the Carr Gymnasium building, which has a historical ceiling and a facade designed by architect William Sugden.

Every Friday for the last few weeks petitions have been presented to Staffordshire Moorlands MP Karen Bradley to pass on to Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in an eleventh hour bid to preserve the features.

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These have included a 1,000 signature petition and four 500-name ones.

The petitions have been presented to Mrs Bradley by Roger Warrillow, a member of Leek and District Civic Society.

He has also presented the Moorlands MP with two plates to forward to Mr Pickles, one with a picture of the Sugden buildings in Leek and one with a picture of Parliament.

Mr Warrillow said: "In approximately 1898 William Larner Sugden entered for the chance of designing the Technical Schools next to what is considered by many, to be one of his greatest achievements, the Grade II*-listed Nicolson Institute. He won and another great work was to ensue.

"At the same time, it was decided that a gymnasium should be incorporated, not just a gymnasium but also a large assembly room.

"The entrance to the gymnasium Sugden Tower is set at a 45 angle to take the eye on entering the Nicholson Institute. The entrance to the Technical School had also to be incorporated, so Sugden moved the tower 10 feet so that once again the eye was taken to the 45 degree entrance. This ensemble has enhanced and served for the last 113 years. Unfortunately at the planning stage this ensemble was not recognised and not stated by the architects in their historical appraisal of the site.

"The plates are a message that people care as much about our heritage in the north as people in the south do about the Parliament building."

Earlier this year members of Leek Civic Society met with Mrs Bradley to raise their concerns over the facade, which they felt should be incorporated into the new scheme at its present location.

Leek College principal Len Tildsley has confirmed that the facade and historical ceiling of the Carr Gymnasium will be retained in the proposed development – but not at the same location.

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