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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
House, steps and walling

Date of Construction:
1840 - 1859

Address :
33 Great James Street Londonderry County Londonderry BT48 7DF


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
09/12/1977 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
C4329 1710

Owner Category

Exterior Description And Setting

Three bay, three-storey over-basement, substantial detached Georgian-style, classical house, built c.1850. Currently vacant. Rectangular on plan. Principal elevation faces north onto Great James Street set behind boundary wall with steps up to central entrance doorway. North elevation; Barony Glen sandstone with rustication to ground floor; ashlar from first floor sill-course level with quoin stones to all four corners. Entrance to north facade; four-panelled painted timber door with elliptical fanlight above, with dentilled cornice and frieze supported by double console brackets. 2/2 timber sliding sash windows with margin panes to ground floor. 6/6 timber sash windows to first floor level with classical moulding window surround; stone pediment above window supported by consoles brackets on either side. 6/3 timber sash windows to second floor with stone surround. East elevation; rendered facade to first floor level with red-brick above; dormer window to hipped roof. Windows/doors; Recessed doorway to ground floor with single 6/6 timber sash window above to first and second floors, centrally positioned on elevation. South elevation; Four-bay smooth rendered facade with 6/6 timber sliding sash windows to ground and first floors and 6/3 to second floor level. West elevation; Three-bay smooth rendered facade overlooking churchyard. Classical moulding window surround with sill-course to first floor level. Pie-end platform on a hipped slate roof with chimneystack centred to north end with 6 clay pots. Projecting stone cornice to eaves. Cast-iron rainwater goods. Setting: One of two houses flanking Great James Street Presbyterian (HB01/21/009), set back from pavement behind dwarf wall, and broad steps, facing North on the lower (eastmost) portion of Great James Street, and wrapped to the south and east by postal delivery office. Materials: Roof: Natural Slate Rainwater goods: Cast Iron Walling; Sandstone / Render Windows: Timber Sliding Sash


Historical Information

No. 33 Great James Street, a three-storey-over-basement sandstone building, was constructed in c. 1850. The building was not depicted on O’Hagan’s 1847 plan of Londonderry but had been built by 1853; in that year the second edition Ordnance Survey map depicted No. 33 Great James Street as a free-standing square-shaped building. The contemporary Griffith’s Valuation (1856) recorded that the building was owned by a Ms. Amelia Patterson and was originally valued at £75; in 1856 Patterson leased the house to Robert Allen, a local insurance agent for Life Association Scotland (Ulster Street Directories). The house was constructed as part of the early-Victorian development of the area which also saw the laying out of Queen Street (c. 1847) and Clarendon Street (c. 1856). The laying out of Great James Street from c.1833, was neccesitated by a period of growth in the economy and population of Londonderry that occurred in the mid-nineteenth century. John Hume notes that during the period 1825-1850 ‘reconstruction of the city’s buildings [within the city walls] took place alongside the development for the first time of housing outside the walls at Bogside and Edenballymore’ (Hume, p. 147). At the time of its completion in c.1850, No. 33 was one of the grandest and most imposing residences to have been erected along Great James Street (with the exception of the manse at No. 35 – HB01/21/021). Originally constructed as a private dwelling, No. 33 Great James Street was converted into a schoolhouse, known as the Strand House School, in 1860. The school was established as an intermediate school for young ladies; Rafferty and Parkes state that ‘the demand for state support for secondary education [in Ireland] had been growing since the middle of the nineteenth century,’ however, in the first half of the century ‘the provision of secondary education was undertaken by Protestant voluntary and endowed schools. From the 1850s, protestant high schools for girls emerged in response to the growing desire of girls to access second-level education’ (Rafferty & Parkes, p. 69). Strand House School was founded in 1860 to satisfy this desire and continued to operate from No. 33 Great James Street for over half a century. Despite operating as a ladies schoolhouse for over five decades, the valuation sources continued to record No. 33 Great James Street as a private dwelling until the 1920s. The ownership of the building altered in 1875 when a Ms. Margaret Allen took over the property; in that year the value of the Strand House School was increased to £84 with the addition of a new outbuilding to the rear (now demolished). Unlike the valuation sources, the Census of Ireland recorded that No. 33 Great James Street was utilised as a schoolhouse in 1901; the census building return described the structure as a large 1st class building that consisted of 21 main rooms. Rafferty and Parkes noted that the Strand House School was a protestant voluntary school; the 1901 census confirms that the school included pupils from the Church of Ireland as well as the Presbyterian, Methodist, Quaker and Episcopalian faiths, however no Roman Catholic scholars attended the school in that year. An advertisement for the school (dated 1912) stated that ‘special terms are made for sisters, the daughters of clergymen of all denominations, and for girls intending to teach.’ The Strand House School continued to educate young ladies in the city until the First World War; as late as 1912 the school received a large number of applications with advertisements for the school boasting that ‘this school has always been recognised as one of the leading schools for girls offering, as it does, an education not inferior to any in the United Kingdom. Owing to the increase of numbers during the past few years it has been found necessary to greatly extend the accommodation. New buildings have been specially erected, which include a fully equipped gymnasium, large recreation hall, chemical and physical laboratory, bicycle storage room, etc.’ The Strand House School did not extend the current schoolhouse but moved to new premises on Asylum Road in 1905 (now demolished); No. 33 Great James Street fell vacate from 1905 and was not reoccupied until the 1920s. Despite moving to new premises in 1905, Strand House School was forced to close in 1916 due to the effects of the First World War. In 1922 No. 33 Great James Street was acquired by Thomas May who converted the ground floor into offices and storage space for his electrical engineering business; the upper two stories of the building were subsequently converted into a small shirt factory. The total value of No. 33 Great James Street stood at £79 by 1931 but was increased to £114 by the First Revaluation of 1935. The building continued to be utilised as a shirt factory by the end of the Second Revaluation (1956-72) at which time the value of the building had been raised to £264. No. 33 Great James Street was listed in 1977; in the following year the former dwelling, schoolhouse and shirt factory was included in the Clarendon Street Conservation Area, ‘an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’ (Londonderry Clarendon Street Conservation Area Booklet). The NIEA HB Records note that the building was utilised as a gymnasium and beauty salon in 1985. External repairs and redecoration of the building were carried out in 1992 (NIEA HB Records). Calley described No. 33 Great James Street as one of the most imposing buildings in the city whilst the UAHS recorded the building as a ‘three-storey square-planned Georgian house of good but austere design [forming] a pleasing combination with the adjacent freestanding Presbyterian Church (HB01/21/009). The first floor windows have flat cornice hoods with scrolls while the centre window has a pediment. The ground floor masonry is rusticated [and] the façade to Great James Street is dilapidated and the sandstone facing is spalling’ (Calley, p. 214; UAHS, p. 51). The Natural Stone Database notes that the stonework continues to be in poor condition but records that the building was constructed of Barony Glen Sandstone (quarried locally near Dungiven and utilised in many of Derry’s buildings including the Guildhall) and Derry Schist (Stone Database). References Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/5/20/1 – First Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1830) 2. PRONI OS/6/5/20/2 – Second Edition Ordnance Survey Map (1853) 3. PRONI VAL/2/B/5/16G – Griffith’s Valuation (1856) 4. PRONI VAL/12/B/32/11B-ZA – Annual Revisions (1862-1897) 5. PRONI VAL/12/B/33/2C-2F – Annual Revisions (1898-1931) 6. PRONI VAL/3/B/6/4 – First General Revaluation of Property in Northern Ireland (1935) 7. PRONI VAL/4/B/5/16 – Second General Revaluation of Property in Northern Ireland (1956-72) 8. O’Hagan’s plan of Londonderry (1847) 9. Ulster Town Directories (1852-1918) 10. Census of Ireland (1901; 1911) 11. Strand House School Advertisement (1912) 12. NIEA HB Records – HB01/21/010 Secondary Sources 1. Calley, D., ‘City of Derry: An historical gazetteer to the buildings of Londonderry’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2013. 2. Ferguson, W. S; Rowan, A. J; Tracey, J. J., ‘List of historic buildings, groups of buildings, areas of architectural importance in and near the city of Derry’ Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1970. 3. Hume, J., ‘Derry beyond the walls: Social and economic aspects of the growth of Derry 1825-1850’ Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2002. 4. Rafferty, D; Parkes, S. M., ‘Female education in Ireland 1700-1900: Minerva or Madonna?’ Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2007. 5. ‘Londonderry Clarendon Street Conservation Area Booklet’ Department of the Environment, 1978. 6. ‘Design Guide for Clarendon Street Conservation Area’ Department of the Environment, 2012. Online Resources 1. Natural Stone Database website -

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation H-. Alterations detracting from building I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting

Historic Interest

X. Local Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance R. Age S. Authenticity T. Historic Importance


A very fine three-storey three-bay early-Victorian classical house, built c.1850 with Barony Glen sandstone, primarily, and Derry Schist, with brick and render to flanks and rear. A robust example of a substantial house, which functioned as a girls schoolhouse from 1860-1916, the exterior has retained much of its character, style and proportions, although survival of internal layout and detailing is partial only. Set within the precinct of the earlier neo-classical Church and manse, two of the earliest buildings to be constructed as part of the early-Victorian development of the area before the laying out of Queen Street and Clarendon Street.

General Comments

Date of Survey

03 February 2014