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St Martin's School of Art

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2753 St Martin's School of Art
Held at: University of the Arts London: Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
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Full title: St Martin's School of Art
Date(s): 1884-[1987]
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: approximately 1/2 linear metre
Name of creator(s): St Martin's School of Art


Administrative/Biographical history:

St Martin's School of Art was established in 1854 and was founded by the parochial authorities of St Martin-in-the-Fields. The vicar, Reverend M McKenzie, and others were concerned that industrial education should be developed and allied to the religious and general education already provided by Church schools. Art education was intended to form part of this industrial instruction for apprentices. The new school was situated on the top floor of St Martin's Northern School in Castle Street (now Shelton Street), north of Long Acre. It is likely that boys from the ages of thirteen onwards were taken, and most classes involved the teaching of design skills. The school became independent of the parish in 1859. By 1884 the number of male and female students was about 100, with courses including drawing, painting and sculpture.

The school was recognised by the Technical Education Board of London County Council in 1894, received a grant of 100 a year and became part of the development of technical education taking place in London and Britain. With the grants St Martin's increased in size from 68 students and 6 teachers in 1891 to 154 students and 21 teachers in 1901. By 1901 the curriculum had been extended by the introduction of technical subjects, and the proportion of artisan to art students was equal. Fine art students had probably been part of the school for some time. In 1902-1903 most students were part-time, and a course in carriage building and decoration was introduced. By 1913 the number of students had risen to over 300 a year. Evening classes were largely attended by apprentices of trades allied to art, whilst during the day 'many leisured young ladies' attended classes. New premises were needed as student numbers rose, and in 1913-14 buildings on the site of St Mary's Church and schools, Charing Cross Road, were leased from London County Council for St Martin's. St Martin's shared its premises with the Technical Institute for the Distributive Trades which also needed new buildings. St Martin's at first occupied buildings to the right of the site, but by the end of the 1920s it became necessary to extend the school further, and the former Domestic Economy school was taken over. Numbers of students continued to increase, until by the 1937-38 session over 700 students were enrolled for courses which ranged from advanced fine art courses to specialised Junior technical courses for boys and girls from 13-16. A new building was built on the site and opened in 1939 and the church and associated buildings demolished.

Younger students were evacuated during the Second World War. The school became firmly established as one of the major fine art and commercial art schools, producing many well-known artists. By 1961 there were over 500 full-time students, studying for either a National Diploma or a Diploma in Art and Design. As student numbers rose, other premises were leased for the school at Archer Street, Greek Street and 145 Charing Cross Road. Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA) courses were introduced in the 1975-1976 session. Lack of space continued to be a problem for St Martins, and in 1979 a building at Long Acre was leased and converted by the school and housed the Graphics Department, Film and Video Unit and some of the Painting Department. The building was closed in 1998 when a site at Red Lion Square, Holborn was acquired.

In January 1986 the school became a constituent college of the London Institute, formed by the Inner London Education Authority associating its art schools and specialist colleges of printing, fashion and distributive trades into a collegiate structure. The Central School of Art and Design, another constituent college of the London Institute, merged with St Martin's School of Art in 1989 to form Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of St Martin's School of Art, 1884-[1987], comprising press cuttings and articles, 1884-1970s; licence to use school premises, 1914; valuation papers, 1913-1927; notes and regulations, 1908; papers relating to the opening of the 107 Charing Cross Road building, 1939; papers relating to painting and sculpture exhibitions, 1954-1955; architects' plans of the conversion of the Charing Cross Road site, 1914; photographs of the school, 1950s; meeting notes relating to the history of art and complementary studies, 1978; review of St Martin's School of Art, 1961; programme of the opening of St Martin's and the Technical Institute, 1939; notes relating to timetables, 1960-1961; decorative window design plan for St Martin's, [1950s]; guide to complimentary studies, 1970s; papers and correspondence concerning the new school and library extension, 1963-1971; photographs of the Long Acre site, 1960s; photographs of students at work, 1930s-1980s; index of St Martin's staff and students, [1935-1980]; prospectuses, 1938-1987; newsletters, 1981.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The records are arranged as outlined in the scope and content.

Conditions governing access:

Researchers wishing to consult the archives should make written application to the Administrator, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design Museum and Study Collection, Southampton Row, London WC1B 4AP.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is permitted at the discretion of the Administrator.

Finding aids:

The records are unlisted.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Some records were destroyed because of their poor condition on the merger of St Martin's with the Central School.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired on the merger of St Martin's School of Art into Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in 1989.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Westminster Council Archives holds elevation plan of the first building. St Martin-in-the-Fields vestry minutes, 1846-1859, are held by London Metropolitan Archives.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
August 2002

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