Portico History

The Portico Site

The Clapton Portico occupies a site with a rich history stretching back to the 16th Century. A girls' boarding school, built in the 1630s and run by Mrs Elizabeth Salmon was the first building to occupy the site. The building then became a famous boys' private school known as Dr Newcome's Academy or Hackney School. The school was established by Benjamin Morland in 1685 and passed to his son-in-law Henry Newcome, in 1721. It closed in 1815 and was demolished in the early 1820s.

The London Orphan Asylum

The London Orphan Asylum bought the site in 1821 and held an architectural competition for a new building to house and school orphans. Mr Inman of Lincoln's Inn Fields won the commission and the foundation stone was laid in 1823 by the Duke of York. The buildings were completed in 1825. The orphanage was relocated to the country air of Watford in 1867 after a typhoid epidemic in Hackney, caused by the state of the drainage systems.

The London Orphanage Asylum still exists today with orphanages throughout the country.

"In the year 1823 a noble structure, called the London Orphan Asylum, was erected by subscription at an expense of £30,000 for maintaining and educating the orphan children of respectable parents. There are at this time 250 boys and 100 girls partaking its benefits." (Starling 1831)

The Salvation Army

The portico building was sold in 1882 to The Salvation Army who called it their ‘National Barracks'. After purchase the chapel was demolished and the quadrangle excavated, roofing it over to create a massive hall capable of seating more than 4,500 people. The wings of the building were used as training barracks for 300 male and female cadets with classrooms on the ground floor, workrooms below and bedrooms above.

Photo Right - Cadets marching down Linscott Road with the Clapton Congress Hall behind, c.1910

Consequently Linscott Road was constructed with Mayola Road connecting to the north round to Almack Road.

The Clapton Congress Hall was used by the Salvation Army for 87 years until 1970 when a new citadel was built on Lower Clapton Road.

The London Borough of Hackney

The building was subsequently bought by the London Borough of Hackney. In 1975 the majority of the building was demolished leaving only the Portico and the colonnade wings, giving way to the expansion of the school and the construction of Rosa Parks Block (the sports halls), Curie Block (science facilities) and Nightingale Block (languages). During the demolition of houses on Mayola Road, a culverted stream was discovered. The newest building in the school complex is a three storey technology building, the Tereshkova Block completed in the mid 1990's.

Linscott Road still exits today, although the connection between Mayola Road and Almack Road to the East has been cut of by the school grounds. The remains of Mayola Road are still visible on the school ground and are now serving emergency access only.

What remained of the Portico was added to the national ‘Buildings at Risk Register' and the structure sat unused for more than 25 years. In 1999 a temporary installation by Turner Prize winning artist Martin Creed stimulated public interest in the building. Work No.203, a large neon text installed on the front of the Portico read "Everything is Going to be Alright".

The Portico City Learning Centre

In 2003 the Learning Trust was awarded funding from the Department for Education and Skills and secured additional funding, mainly from Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the Portico and build the Portico City Learning Centre as a place where students and teachers can access the most up to date computer technology. The new building, designed by Brady and Mallalieu Architects, was opened by the Rt Hon. Estelle Morris, Baroness of Yardley in April 2006.



The Portico image appears on uniform, signage and publications in the form of the Academy logo.