A birdseye view of the planned centre

THE 464-year-old Tonbridge School is about to get a very modern upgrade with construction soon to start on a multi-million-pound science centre.

A three-storey glass structure is to be built towards the east of the school’s estate and will be visible from the High Street. The open plan building will feature state-of-the art laboratory facilities with increased space for practical work.

As well as a lecture theatre, the centre will feature a rooftop garden, enabling pupils to experiment in botany.

In total, the project is set to cost £20million; £17million of which has been funded by the school, with the help of its backer the Judd Foundation. The other £3million has come from philanthropy.

Work will begin in mid-July, after construction firm Baxall announced they had secured a £9.8million contract in May.

It will add to the company’s 20-plus strong portfolio of projects for the school.

In parallel with the new centre, refurbishment and alteration works will be carried out to the existing scientific facilities.

“The current science building at Tonbridge was revolutionary for its time when it was built in 1887, and heralded a new approach to science teaching,” according to a school brochure. “The next science building will be equally innovative and long-lasting. It will create a bold statement to stimulate aspiration and ambition.”

Approval for the design has been offered by the town’s Civic Society, whose Chair, Diane Huntingford, said: “We are pleased with the final details which, although modern, replicate the design lines of the original buildings.”

Tonbridge School was founded in 1553 by Sir Andrew Judde. There are currently 800 boys at the £36,288-a-year institution, which is recognised as one of the leading schools in the country.