The History of the Old Cathedral School

Once holding responsibility for educating the Cathedral’s choirsters, the very purpose that gave the building its name, the Old Cathedral School was constructed on Cathedral Green in 1908, shortly after the completion of Truro Cathedral. The school was closed in 1982, after which point the Grade II listed building provided office space for Cornwall Council for several years before falling into significant disrepair.

Thankfully, following successful fundraising efforts by Truro Cathedral, full restoration works were able to be carried out, sensitively transforming the building into the iconic, creative hub that it is today. The restoration sought to seamlessly retain the original character features of the building, conceived and executed by father and son duo, John Loughborough and Frank Pearson, whilst incorporating contemporary design features – an intention that has been achieved to fantastic effect. Today’s creative hub provides truly stunning spaces for Truro and Cornwall’s educational, musical and art groups to make use of – and is now home to ISO Spaces HQ, providing our team and clients an inspiring, central location in the heart of the city.

Restoration of Old Cathedral School. home to ISO Spaces HQ

© Steve Sykes Photography

Our friends at Truro Cathedral trawled though the archives and found these original photographs of the school in all its former glory. The before and after images below showcase the £1.5m sympathetic restoration of many of the building’s beautiful and unique spaces and aspects.

The Hawkins Laboratory opened within the school walls in 1909 and is today the space in which our office team reside. We hope to build upon the decades of learning, innovation and creativity that this room once fostered by pioneering bespoke and modular container design solutions for generations to come.

The former school assembly hall and original mullioned leaded glass windows have been painstakingly refurbished, whilst the original fireplaces have all been returned to their former glory. The refurbishments include a WW1 commemorative window and stunning Victorian stained glass panels created by the Cornish glass craftsmen, Reverend William Willimott, both now on display in the assembly hall. The hall now offers an incredible spaces for performances, exhibitions, talks and dinners.

The School Hall in the original Old Cathedral School in Truro, Cornwall

© Steve Sykes Photography

In addition to a number of dedicated learning spaces, the entrance area to the building has been totally transformed, now double in height with a full height window sitting in the south-west archway below the existing stone hood-moulds. The fully accessible, light-flooded space will soon house a coffee bar, serving refreshments to both users of the building and passers by.

To commemorate the completion of the restoration works, Truro Cathedral and ISO Spaces were delighted to welcome HRH Duke of Cornwall to officially open the building on 26 March 2018. Click here to watch the video of the Duke of Cornwall meeting the team.

Watercolour sketch of the Old Cathedral School in Truro, Cornwall

With a planned programme of community events, lectures, concerts, performances and exhibitions, the once derelict Old Cathedral School will once again be a thriving hub for music, art and learning for all. We for one are proud to call this our new home – here’s to the future of the Old Cathedral School!

Our address for correspondence is:

ISO Spaces Ltd, The Hawkins Laboratory, Old Cathedral School, Cathedral Close, Truro TR1 2FQ

If you’d like to arrange a visit to discuss your next container conversion, please do not hesitate to call on 01872 276774 or complete our contact form.

Restoration of Old Cathedral School, home to ISO Spaces HQ

© Steve Sykes Photography