A school is preparing to make an emotional farewell to the building that has been its home for over a century, despite a petition set up fighting plans to demolish the Victorian building.
Marlborough School, which was built in 1878 in Chelsea, will move to a nearby temporary site when term finishes in July, allowing for the building to be demolished and rebuilt. It hopes to move into the new building in two years time.
Headteacher Jessica Finer said there was a sense of sadness at leaving the building accompanying the excitement at the prospect of a fit-for-purpose school.
The petition has been set up by Jane Solomon, who lives near Marlborough. Within a week it had around 160 signatures.
She said buildings like Marlborough School should be preserved: “It’s a really beautiful building and a fine example of architecture of the period.
“It’s got beautiful tiling and brickwork and it’s just a very nice building.”
The school will move to the John Lewis Clearings site on Draycott Avenue. The land was recently purchased by Sports Direct and Newcastle FC owner Mike Ashley, and as part of the deal money was made available for the new and temporary schools, which is reported to cost around £40m.
Ms Finer said: “There will be a sense of sadness along with excitement, as the day nears it does feel exciting and very real - in a few weeks time that will be it, we’re packing up and not coming back.
“As we get nearer and nearer to actually leaving it will be very sad but hopefully what we have is something fit for the future and really works for the children.”
The re-built school will have a base for autistic pupils, multi-use play area on the roof and the terraced playgrounds will mean even more space for recreation than is currently available.
Ms Finer said: “At the moment we have to squeeze into the building and make it work for us and that can be quite tricky at time, this is a real opportunity for the school.
“Everyone has mixed feelings but there is a sense of excitement.”
Ms Solomon, a mother-of-three, said alternative plans could be made to save the school building, adding: “I really don’t want to lose any more of our heritage.
“We’re losing something that is precious. The new school could be permanently based at the Clearings site.
“There must be some way rather than bulldozing it. There must be a compromise.”
The Victorian Society, which campaigns for Victorian and Edwardian architecture, has already called it myoptic. Hugh James said, in 2011: “The decision is short-sighted and one that in time will be regretted.
“It is a building which should be used and cherished and this part of London will be architecturally poorer and less interesting for its loss.”
And renowned musician Julian Lloyd Webber, brother of Andrew, said it would be a “crying shame if this beautiful and historic building is demolished”.
As part of the proposals, parts of the original building, such as the '1878' fascia will be embedded into the new building, to connect the old with the new.
Pupils are looking at the school through the decades as part of a project called Marlborough: Past Present and Future.
The school is also inviting former pupils and members of the community to an open day to have one last wander around the school. It takes place on June 4 between 4.30pm-6.30pm.
The Marlborough scheme will include commercial office buildings, private apartments, town houses and affordable housing.
A Kensington & Chelsea Council spokesman said the new school was good news for kids and their parents, and added: "The vast majority of residents, staff and parents have been supportive of the proposals and we are sure that everyone will be impressed when they see the results."
To see the petition go to https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/Marlborough.