International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) T&T, in collaboration with Citizens for Conservation, is celebrating International Day for Monuments and Sites with a series of articles featuring heritage buildings in the T&T Guardian. Today is the fourth instalment in the series and features Queen’s Royal College, St Clair. The theme for the International Day for Monuments and Sites is the Heritage of Education.
Throughout history and in different geo-cultural contexts, education was practised in a wide range of places or buildings. Open spaces, or the protective shadow of a tree, could be useful for the transmission of knowledge, but so too were specific institutional buildings, such as schools, universities, churches, academies, libraries, monasteries, etc.
Many of those buildings, groups of buildings or sites are recognised as bearing not only social or institutional values, but also historic or artistic ones and have therefore become a significant part of our cultural heritage. ICOMOS T&T seeks to raise public awareness of the full diversity of cultural heritage places and landscapes of national or local significance.
For further information on the day, previous themes, support material and the calendar of activities around the world, go to the International Day for Monuments and Sites page of the ICOMOS International Web site.
Queen’s Royal College
Still regarded as one of the leading schools for secondary education, Queen’s Royal College is situated at the corner of St Clair Avenue and Maraval Road. The Main Block, so called because it was the first structure on the site, stands majestic, complete with a lighted clock-tower and chiming clock. Queen’s Royal College is considered to be the most striking of the buildings of the Magnificent Seven.
The foundation stone for the building was laid on November 11, 1902, by Sir Courtenay Knollys, who was the acting governor of the day. Daniel M Hahn designed the structure. Hahn was chief draughtsman of the Public Works Department and an old boy of Queen’s Royal College, during the period when the school was housed at the Princes Building.
The architecture of the Main Block is German Renaissance in style, evident by its solid appearance. Constructed at a cost of £15,000, the original building accommodated six classrooms for 30 boys each. The lecture hall could hold over five hundred people at a time when the student population was less than two hundred. Main Block 75, a magazine produced by the College to mark the 75th Anniversary of the main building, gives the architectural description of Queen’s Royal College.
Notwithstanding the German origin of the plan, a legacy perhaps of Mr Hahn’s student days in Berlin, the design of the interior is very definitely tropical with a delightfully aristocratic touch from the days when European school architecture was austere. The grandeur of the Main Block made a great deal of sense, and even if today old traditions are no longer, there is no escaping the eloquence of any public edifice which outspans living memory as the Main Block soon will.
Restoration is in progress on Queen’s Royal College with the original colours being retained. During the restoration, process paint was carefully stripped from the walls to be able to identify the original colours. Decorative panels to the classrooms were revealed and are being restored in certain selected areas.