J.B.Balley, ship builder and creator of Swiss Gardens built a grand house for himself in Longcroft field on the corner of Hebe and Southdown roads then later sold both to Edward Goodchild (previously landlord of Brunswick Arms) in the early 1860’s. As the main photo shows it became Queens School for girls and appears as such in the directories between 1920 and the start of WW2. The centre bay window column was added after 1898 – the rest of the houses up Southdown Road are out of shot to the right. You can just make out the top of the greenhouse shown on the 1912 map.
The photo has some architectural importance as it shows a previously unknown basement or cellar arrangement and comparison with Michael Norman Collection 1970’s photo shows that the recessed ‘grooves’ between the stones in the wall of the house were later filled in for some reason. The latter helps to substantiate the photo of the Goodchild family having been taken at Longcroft although the windows in it are smaller than the ones in the school photo – perhaps the other side of the house?
An interesting set of internal views helps to complete the picture of the building during its time as a school. The building was demolished during the 1970’s and replaced with today’s flats.
The two images below are taken from a postcard which has been dated 21st December 1916.
Interestingly, some of the rooms within the building have been numbered 1 to 8 on the front of the card, and their respective uses are listed on the reverse. This was presumably carried out by the original owner of the card, who was possibly French.
You can find some really unusual old postcards on E-Bay and here’s one. Bearing in mind Longcroft’s history it may seem surprising that it was also a nursery at one time. A look at the 1912 map though shows just how much greenhouse space there was on the property (Longcroft was on the corner of Southdown and Hebe roads and later replaced by flats).