Opened 150 years ago, Cotton was named after Master, George Cotton, who rescued the College after the chaos caused by the infamous 1851 rebellion. Its design was the brainchild of George Edmund Street, one of the greatest Victorian architects and is a great example of Victorian ingenuity.
In the 1860s, Marlborough was growing quickly on the back of great academic success and there was a clear need for new boarding accommodation. Two new boarding houses were proposed and Street suggested they should be built using a concrete compound made with stones from the excavated sites. Cotton and Littlefield were constructed at three fifths of the cost of structures built in a conventional way, and their walls are virtually impenetrable. They are amongst the first residential buildings to be constructed using a form of concrete.
The construction method of the building, alongside the constraints of a listed building, have thrown up challenges in the current refurbishment of Cotton. Simple tasks, such as fixings to walls, have tested the skills and abilities of our contractors as standard building methods have not been possible given the concrete’s thickness. The opening up of the basement floor to become the new dining room facility was especially challenging and required significant steel works. However, the results have created a truly remarkable space with access to the garden, which will allow for alfresco dining in the summer months.
We are very grateful for the understanding of the Cotton pupils, staff and families during the process and are delighted to say that the works are nearing completion. We look forward to sharing pictures at the end of the Lent Term.