You may have spotted that we recently acquired this amazing Victorian industrial building on Oldham Terrace in Acton. It's such a unique building, we thought it must have a special history, so we set Sophie on the case to find out more. And here's what she discovered...
In 1815, a special vestry meeting of St Mary’s Church, Acton considered building a National school for 50 boys and 50 girls. The school was set up and housed in a newly-built schoolroom next to the church. By 1819 it had 110 pupils taught by a salaried mistress and supported by subscriptions. The school remained on the site of St Mary’s Church until Mrs Mary White of Acton Hill House donated land for a new school building on Oldham Terrace.
Alexandra House was built on Oldham’s Terrace in 1853 as St Mary’s National School for boys and girls (also known as St Mary’s Church of England School). Financed by The National Society (Church of England) and parliamentary building grants, the school building was accompanied by a master’s house. In 1854, St Mary’s had 119 pupils: 78 boys and 41 girls. The girls moved into a new extension in 1862, and by 1919 the school had a total of 439 pupils.
In 1926, the main school building was sold to the Urban District Council and St Mary’s National School went on to close in 1932. The school building was subsequently demolished and a labour exchange was built on the site. Introduced in 1909, labour exchanges were set up to provide an easy way for employers to advertise their jobs and for unemployed people to find work. They proved popular, and still exist today in the form of job centres.
In the mid-twentieth century, Alexandra House was taken over by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), an organisation established by Prunella Briance and Grantly Dick-Read in 1956 as ‘The Natural Childbirth Association’ to promote and better understand natural childbirth. The organisation taught the first antenatal class in 1959. In 1968 the organisation gained charitable status and was renamed the National Childbirth Trust. It has gone on to pioneer thought leadership in research and information on pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.
When Uplift acquired the building in 2015, it was in need of a lot of love. Work is currently underway to carefully bring the building back to life as a range of contemporary warehouse apartments, with echoes of it's industrial past.
If all this history has got you intrigued about the buildings future, drop our sales team a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.