The Conservatoire

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Coordinates: 51°27′52.7″N 0°0′33.6″E / 51.464639°N 0.009333°E / 51.464639; 0.009333

The Blackheath Conservatoire of Music and the Arts
The Conservatoire logo
Founded 1881[1]
Founder William Webster
Type Educational charity
Focus Music, Art and Drama
Coordinates 51°27′52.7″N 0°0′33.6″E / 51.464639°N 0.009333°E / 51.464639; 0.009333
Origins Blackheath School of Music and Blackheath School of Art
Area served
1,300 students
Key people
Chair: Michael O'Byrne
Managing Director: John Keeley

The Conservatoire (formally The Blackheath Conservatoire of Music and the Arts) is an educational charity in Blackheath, on the border of the London boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham. The Conservatoire of Music and the Arts took on its current structure in 1991 with the merger of the Blackheath Conservatoire of Music and the Blackheath School of Art, which until that point had operated separately on the adjoining sites, but under the same board.

The Conservatoire is so called as it was a generic term for a music school at the time of its establishment, but it is not one in the present sense of a higher education establishment dedicated to music, and does not award its own qualifications. It does, however, offer GCSEs and A-levels, along with graded music exams.

The Conservatoire offers classes in art, music and drama for adults and children.


Blackheath Conservatoire of Music (1881–1991)[edit]

The Conservatoire of Music was founded by a local group led by William Webster (son of wealthy building contractor William Webster) in 1881,[2] and operated out of temporary premises on nearby Bennett Park until the completion of its building in 1896. Unlike the School of Art, it has taught continuously since its founding.

Blackheath School of Art (1896–1991)[edit]

The School of Art was taken over by the Army during World War II, and remained in government hands as office accommodation. In 1985, it was reopened as an art school, but proved financially unsustainable and was absorbed into the Conservatoire of Music.[citation needed]

Post-merger: The Conservatoire (1991–present)[edit]

The combined organisation expanded beyond music and art to include drama and cultural courses. It also expanded beyond the site to engage in partnerships with other bodies,[clarification needed] such as the University of Greenwich, Christ the King Sixth Form College and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.

Closure threat[edit]

In January 2013 the Conservatoire was threatened with closure because of funding difficulties.[3]


Conservatoire building frontage
Conservatoire building frontage

Both the Conservatoire of Music building and School of Art building were completed in 1896.[4] The architects were James Edmeston & Edward Gabriel. Both buildings are now Grade II-listed. Adjoining these buildings is Blackheath Halls.

It is believed to be the oldest purpose built multi-arts building in London and one of the few to have a fully operational Victorian life drawing studio.[3]

Notable students and teachers[edit]


  1. ^ Blackheath Guide
  2. ^ "Open House 2017". The Conservatoire. Retrieved 14 May 2018. 
  3. ^ a b Mark Chandler (17 January 2013) "Blackheath Conservatoire needs £75,000 to avoid closure", News Shopper (Greenwich). Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  4. ^ Site plan
  5. ^ Brown, Helen, "Eska: the finest female vocalist in the UK", The Telegraph, 15 April 2015.

External links[edit]