Cathedral Primary School, in the heart of Bristol, opened in September 2013 and quickly became the most oversubscribed school in the city. Initially housed in the Bristol Cathedral Choir School building, the 420 pupils now have their own dedicated learning spaces in a unique £4m relocation to the two lower floors at the Bristol Central Library.

“We’re proud of our innovative and creative curriculum which takes full advantage of the wonderful resources surrounding the school to enrich children’s learning opportunities. It was incredibly important that the interior of our new school reflected our approach and provided the pupils with a stimulating environment to learn in” said Sara Yarnold, Head Teacher.

The library, designed by architect Charles Holden dates from 1906 and is a Grade I listed building. Fitting fourteen classrooms, a multi-purpose hall and offices into the space was not a simple job.

Claire Haley, the architect from Coda the architectural studio responsible for the interior design, said:

“The library is a historic building. We had to protect it and work with it, never against it – unusual and restricted spaces needed to be opened up as well as preserved. It was an incredibly challenging and unique design project, many of the items designed were specific for the space they were to inhabit. Bisley has the experience and skills to being ideas to life – from tailoring functional storage furniture to fit curious spaces to applying our energising colour palette.”

Bisley manufactured and installed brightly coloured bespoke fitted furniture for every room in the new school.

Each of the classrooms we created colourful storage walls, designed to maximize the teaching space and provide excellent storage flexibility within each unit for teachers. Built into alcoves, consideration was given to the air circulation in the old building. Each classroom was also supplied with two matching mobile cloak rooms for the children’s coats, bags and lunch boxes.

Storage in the staff room provided one of the biggest challenges. One of the items that the heritage authorities asked Cathedral Primary School to retain and preserve were the 1930s steel framed newspaper storage bins. Using the frames as a starting point Bisley created a laminated ply box for each bin, some fitted with pigeon holes, some with push-catch doors and some left as open spaces to create a multi-use, practical storage feature.

To utilise every bit of space and to give pupils and staff a quiet space, a private reading booth was created to fit neatly beneath the stairs. With lighting incorporated and storage built in, this nook is the perfect area for individual working or peaceful contemplation.


Dave Wilkinson from NCS Bisley, part of the Bisley group, said

“I’ve worked on many projects where the words ‘create an inspiring environment’ have formed part of the project brief, but it’s a very rare pleasure to be part of a project that actually delivers on that ambition. We worked very closely with the contractor and architect to design and manufacture workable, great looking and long-lasting products that fitted seamlessly into the environment.”



About Bisley 

Bisley designs and provides high-quality, reliable furniture for every working environment.


We like to think of ourselves as a British success story. From the humble beginnings of car body repairs in 1931, we began meeting the needs of workplaces in the 1940s. We’re now producing over 15,000 items per week from our factory in Wales, our products can be bought in over 50 countries and organisations such as Direct Line, the BBC and PwC trust us to meet their office storage and furniture needs.


Our success is based on enduring relationships, the latest manufacturing technology and the best people. Our 700 employees are always pushing the boundaries of manufacturing excellence and, as a private company we’re able to devote all our profits to our business. Since 1989 we’ve invested more than £80million – helping us to become Europe’s leading manufacturer of steel storage. In fact, one third of all UK steel storage originates from Bisley.


From the iconic MultiDrawer to Be by Bisley (modular, interchangeable storage and desking for flexible office working) to Stage (an adaptable and contemporary home-working space) to hi-spec industrial storage, our extensive range of furniture is helping people across the world be comfortable and effective, wherever they are working.