Former school and hospital which treated parents during WWI in need of urgent resoration

Campaigners are calling on a council to undertake urgent repairs on a historic building, which was previously home to a school and hospital, before it falls into decay.

The structure in Cormont Road, opposite Myatt’s Fields Park, in Brixton, has been added to The Victorian Society’s top 10 endangered buildings list 2024. 

The society – a charity dedicated to fighting for Victorian and Edwardian heritage – is calling on Lambeth council to undertake immediate restoration works to preserve the historic structure.

Griff Rhys Jones, Victorian Society president, said: “This is one of those dilemmas that just seems confusing. How come this building can’t be reused? Recycled? Why can’t it be sold? 

“Loads of distinguished old places have been successfully repurposed for homes or commercial use. To allow this noble structure to simply decay by neglect is surely wasteful bad policy.”

The former board school, originally known as St Gabriel’s College, is a Grade II listed symmetrical building of seven sections built in 1912 by TJ Bailey.

The building has been on the  Historic England at Risk Register since 2016 (Picture: Connor McNeill))

Requisitioned as part of the first London general hospital in 1914, the building housed the first posting of writer and campaigner, Vera Brittain, when she served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse.

The building became a hub for the medical treatment and rehabilitation of wounded men during the First World War, including the Testament of Youth author’s own brother, who was injured in the Battle of the Somme.

After the war, the building returned to the schooling of thousands of South Londoners, before being renamed as the Kennington Boys’ School following the Second World War and later, the Charles Edward Brooke Girls’ School.

In 2012, the building became vacant after the girls school was relocated to a nearby premises and has been on the  Historic England at Risk Register since 2016, when its condition was recorded as poor. 

By the time of the 2023 Historic England Heritage at Risk Register, its condition had deteriorated to “Very Bad”.

A survey commissioned by Lambeth council, in March 2016, identified that water ingress had caused significant internal damage. 

The roof of the empty building has been sprayed with graffiti which reads “free Gaza” (Picture: Connor McNeill)

Works to make the building wind and watertight have been identified as urgently required since 2016. Remedial work was set to take place in 2023 but no action has been taken.

James Hughes, director of the Victorian Society, said: “London has a rich heritage of Victorian and Edwardian schools, and this example by the prolific T J Bailey is especially splendid. 

“Aptly described as a building of “romance and fantasy”, its sweeping spirelets, towers, dormers and Dutch gables combine to entertaining, kaleidoscopic effect. 

“This is a building of enormous historic and architectural significance, and is a landmark in the Minet Conservation Area in a pleasant and desirable part of London, within striking distance of the centre of town. 

“It is one, too, of enormous potential for reuse, which the Local Authority must make an absolute priority.”

A lambeth council spokesperson said: ”

A Lambeth Council spokesman said: “The building was handed to the council three years ago in a very poor condition, and in need of very extensive restoration work.

“The council initially looked at a temporary fix, including mending the roof, but even just this would have cost £1.5million.

“Considering the cost of this work and pressures on our budget we are now looking at the feasibility of securing funding for the much needed renovation, and will consult with the local community before any decisions about its future use are taken.”

A petition has been launched appealing to the council to repair the building and put it to new use:

Pictured top: The former school and hospital in Cormont Road, covered in green protective netting (Picture: Connor McNeill)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.