THE future of Sanford House may be unclear, but its past is still very much in the heart of one resident.

The 130-year-old former school building, which is now the headquarters for staff from Swindon Council’s education department, was the creation of Brightwen Binyon who designed, among other things, the town hall in Regent Circus, and the 1892 additions to the Mechanics’ Institute in the Railway Village.

There have been fears that when the council moves out of the building, it may be bulldozed.

A plea was made to safeguard the building by several of the town’s historians, and it seems it also has a special place in the heart of John Webb, of Clifton Street.

The 67-year-old’s grandfather, Ernest Wyatt, was the head of department for maths and geography in 1900 and it is thought this is one of the earliest pictures taken at Sanford Street School.

It shows Ernest, along with the other department headteachers at the school, and it is one of John’s most treasured photographs.

He said: “My grandfather lived in Goddard Avenue where he brought his four children up and he had a big allotment at the back of his house. I remember going to visit him as a young boy and he would tell me stories about Sanford Street.

“I think it was a boys’ school at the time. I think my grandfather was only used to teaching in a boys’ school – he found it difficult in a mixed school and he took early retirement when he was about 57.

“He taught in east London when he was younger and the children back then didn’t even have shoes on their feet. There was such awful poverty in the area in the 1900s.

“He moved to Swindon when he met my grandmother, Emma. I keep the photograph at home.

“It is probably one of the earliest ones taken.”

One of the proposals for the building is for it to be used as a home for the town’s museum, now based in Bath Road, Old Town.

Dan Rose, of the Mechanics’ Institution Trust, who campaigns on a range of heritage issues, said: “It doesn’t necessarily have to be listed.

“But certainly it should be recognised that any historic building can form a really important part of regeneration, and we should consider how we can reuse them rather than just knocking them down and replacing them with buildings that have no story or meaning.

“We don’t want to become a clone town.”

Sanford House even has an imitator halfway across the world, as Mr Rose says he knows of a building in Victoria, Australia, which was modelled on Binyon’s design.

But it stands in the middle of an important area for the council, because Sanford Street links the main retail street with what will become the Union Square office project.

Coun Garry Perkins (Con, Shaw and Nine Elms), cabinet member for regeneration, said it was not fit for purpose as council offices, and options included selling it outright to a developer, or holding on to it until a development plan for the wider area is drawn up.