The Old Grammar School
This fine eighteenth century house, owned originally by Henry James Nichols and later by George Duppa Collins, was acquired by the Grammar School in 1898 when it moved from its premises in Hill Street.
The house itself was to be the Headmaster's residence and it was also to provide accommodation for a few boarders. Classrooms were built to the west and as the years went by several additional buildings in different styles, as in the illustration, formed a terrace. The yellow brick Headmaster's House, with its pediment, is followed by a building in red brick with a stepped gable. The central block, which is taller than the rest, was the library, a fine dark-panelled room. The old house has on its roof an interesting cupola surrounded by a railed-in space known as a 'widows walk'. From here the wives of sea-faring men watched for the safe return of their husbands' ships.
Mr Giles Woodgate, solicitor and local historian, believed that the original house 'with granaries adjoining' dated from no later than the early eighteenth century. The granaries were demolished when the School took over. After the boys crossed the river to join the girls in 1970, the South Brink buildings were used for some years by the Queen's Girls School, until they moved eventually to the Weasenham Lane site. Now 15 South Brink is occupied by Bowsers, solicitors, and the Main School has been re-named South Brink Hall by its new owners.
It is still possible to have some conception of the beauty of that house and grounds when it was a private residence. The garden extended on one side to the high wall that backs onto Edes' Terrace, the south-facing front of which supported peaches and nectarines. The whole of the land on which Somers Court, a residential home for the elderly, has been built would have been included in the garden, and there are many mature trees, particularly on the Coalwarf Road side, which have been preserved. No doubt this garden, in its hey-day, rivalled that of Peckover House across the river!