About this image
The new County Secondary School with a capacity of 250 pupils was opened by King George V during his visit to Ilkeston on 25 June 1914. The opening ceremony was, in fact, conducted from the Market Place, half a mile distant, where the King pressed a button that caused the school gates to open remotely. The assembled throng then witnessed the sound of an explosive detonation, so confirming the success of the operation. Later, on his way out of the town by car, the King did pause at the school and spoke to the headmaster, Mr F. P. C. Walker MA. Architecturally, the school is unusual and comprises a quadrangle of classrooms surrounding a central domed hall. Its designer was the Derbyshire County Architect, G. H. Widdows and the layout is similar to that employed in the north of the county for the near-contemporary secondary school at New Mills (see, for example, DCHQ001365). His inspiration is said to have been "an eastern fortress" and the general feel is Moorish in style both in terms of arrangement and in the detailing. Access was originally solely from King George Avenue, but this view is looking north from West End Drive, a vantage point that is no longer possible due to tree growth and later additions, although the wall and railings remain unchanged. From 1944 until 1977 the school was known as Ilkeston Grammar School, then Ilkeston School (comprehensive), and more recently as the Ormiston Ilkeston Academy. It is worth mentioning that there is something of a schoolboy howler contained in the original caption written onto this photo in that the monarch is given as "King George IV"!