City of London School for girls

“Its distinguishing feature is a series of exterior concrete girders resting on broad red brick piers.”

“The Buildings of England”, Nikolaus Pevsner and Simon Bradley

You always know when it’s the new school year in the Barbican, because there are frantic and hysterical parents running around asking anyone they meet how to get to the Girls School from Aldersgate Street. If you tell them, “Go up those stairs, which actually are in the opposite direction, and then just go round in a huge loop”, they look at you as if you are insane and rush off to ask someone else. I find this annoying, so I have taken to giving directions to Moorgate tube station instead.

In fact, one of the two most annoying things about living in the Barbican is that people are forever asking you directions, and then completely ignoring what you tell them.

The second most annoying thing is to constantly discover you have absolutely no idea how to get to the church, the school, the concert hall etc. from wherever you happen to be when you are waylaid. “You do live here, don’t you?” in a withering tone of voice is usually the reward for my efforts. I often see the warning signs and claim to be a visitor myself.

The City of London School for Girls is situated in the Barbican estate, but it has its own exclusive premises, separate means of access, and the pupils don’t particularly come from the Barbican.

The school occupies the building between St Giles’ Church and Seddon House on the south bank of the lake. It was built between 1962 and 1969 before most of the rest of the Barbican estate. To me the building looks rather incongruous, but according to a 1971 booklet by the Cement and Concrete Association celebrating the estate: “The scale and choice of external materials in the design of the City of London School for Girls is influenced by the style of St Giles“.

In 1990-1 a single storey extension was built at the rear to designs by Trevor Dannatt & Partners.

Pevsner’s Buildings of England mistakenly says that the south west wing, containing a gym, a sports ground and a prep-school passes under a residential block. But in fact, the ground floor building in question (on the east side of Thomas More Garden) is part of the school complex and not a residential block.