Originally established in 1967, Spanish Town High School is located on Ellis Street in the inner city area of Spanish Town, St Catherine. It stands on the old parade ground of the Military Barracks. The barracks building itself was built in 1791 in a combination of brick and stone. In the twentieth century, until the 1970s, the building was used as a Government Elementary School and festivals and sports and other community events took place there. It is now roofless and in an advanced state of disrepair.
As the roof has gone, so have all the floors. Some walls have collapsed including all of the south arcade that originally shaded the accommodation. Those walls that remain are in poor condition with all structural restraint lost. Large areas of masonry have been removed. In a strong hurricane, the building could easily be lost.
The school roll is now so large that pupils attend in two shifts each day. Driven by the Chair of Governors and the Principal, the School is very keen to restore and adapt the Barracks in order to dramatically increase their teaching space and enable them to end the two-shift system. They also want to include studios for art and technology, music rooms, a library and a performing space.
FGSJ’s view: This is a very ambitious and expensive project. Hopefully the combination of the conservation and adaptation of a historic structure and the creation of a valuable educational (and possibly community) use should tick a lot of boxes and become a model of what can be done. The FGSJ have put forward initial proposals for the stabilisation of the building and its adaptation to educational use. A sub-committee has also been put together to help drive it forward and fund raise in the UK.