From College Garden to Bee Meadow: History Repeating itself

Walking along the West Cloister at London Road, you will notice signs stating that grass has been left to grow between Buildings L24 (The Learning Hub) and L27 (Global Recruitment), as well as between L27 and L29 (Music).

Sign
London Road, November 2022.
Pollinator lawn
Garden area between L27 & L29, November 2022.

Further along the cloister, towards the north, between L29 and L33 (ICT & Modern Languages), is the Bee Meadow. This was officially opened on World Bee Day, 20th May 2022, together with the unveiling of a Bee Hotel whose construction had been assisted by local primary school children in a design competition on the theme of ‘Save Britain’s Pollinators’.

Alice & Robin
May 2022. The official opening of the Bee Meadow:  Robin Dean (Bee Expert) with the Bee Hotel; Alice Williams (Institute of Education) provides shelter.

The Bee Meadow Project is directed by Dr Jo Anna Reed Johnson, Director of Climate and Sustainability Education at the Institute of Education. It is funded by the Friends of the University of Reading. The project engages trainee teachers who will encourage young people to consider climate change through the perspective of bees.

With the help of the University’s Teaching and Learning Fund, the project is beginning to co-create teaching and learning activities and resources through a collaborative process, which reflects the pedagogical approach for education for sustainable development.

The History of this Part of the Campus

That the area along the West Cloister should become the focus of bees and pollination seems particularly appropriate given its history.

As I showed in my post about the missing South Cloister, it wasn’t until 1927-8 that plans for the West Cloister and its buildings were finally approved by Council.  Before that, early maps in College publications label the land as:

    • ‘The College Garden (for horticultural teaching and practice)’ (1902);
    • ‘Horticultural Ground’ (1903);
    • ‘Horticultural Department University College’ (1904);
    • ‘Horticultural Gardens’ (1906);
    • ‘Part of Horticultural Garden and Glasshouses’ (1907);
    • ‘Reserved for building’ (1926).
Extract
Detail from a ‘Sketch Plan of Reading Shewing University College’, published in the College Calendar, 1906-7.

By the time the College moved from Valpy Street to London Road in 1905, the land on the west side of the campus was already being leased from the Palmer family as a practical area for students in the Department of Horticulture.

potting shed
Undated image of horticultural students at London Road (University of Reading Special Collections).

The glasshouses mentioned above must have been heated through the winter as the Garden’s expenditure accounts (see below) include fairly large sums for coal and coke.

The glasshouses with the Great Hall in the background, can be seen in these two images:

Nursery
Undated photograph:  notes on the back suggest it was taken at some time between 1909 and 1913 (University of Reading Special Collections).
greenhouses
Undated photograph (University of Reading Special Collections). The glasshouses were demolished in 1917.

These plots were much more than a location for staff to demonstrate and for students to practise; it was a commercial enterprise. Some of the College’s earliest financial reports contain separate details of income and expenditure for the College Garden.

In this statement for the academic year 1903-4, the income from selling produce amounted to more than two-thirds of the net value of fees from Horticulture students.

Income
College Garden Income, 1903-4.

The next photograph has the following inscription on the back:

‘Crop of Tomatoes in newly-planted Vinery – variety : Winter Beauty Horticultural Gardens at the College, London Road (c.1907)’.

tomatoes indoors
Winter Beauties c.1907 (University of Reading Special Collections).

I believe the greenhouse below to be the Vinery – you can just make out the tomatoes, but I am not sure where it was located. The foreground looks like the original rose garden, in which case this might be near where the Peace Garden is now. There is no date or description on the back.

vinery exterior
The Vinery (University of Reading Special Collections).

In 1917 Horticulture left the Campus and moved to Shinfield. As the next photographs show, the gardens were grassed over before construction started on the West Cloister. These images were taken after the New Library was completed in 1923. It can be seen on the right and now houses Architecture:

1923-9

2nd view
Undated images, taken at some time between 1923 and 1929 (University of Reading Special Collections). The Great Hall is in the background on the left.
But What about the Bees?

Before I discovered the financial accounts referred to above, I had wondered whether beekeeping had been part of the Horticulture Department’s activities.

I’d noticed from lists of examination results that insects were on the syllabus:  annual reports from Reading College between 1899 and 1901 include Entomology in the Certificate in Horticulture; there were also Certificate Examinations in Entomology and Associate Examinations in Agricultural Entomology.

The first mention of bees was for the academic year 1903-4:   the University College Gardens Accounts record that £4 16s 1d was spent on bees (nearly as much was spent on insecticides!):

expenditure
College Garden Expenditure, 1903-4.

There are further references in the accounts for 1905-6 and 1906-7, now under the general heading of ‘apiculture’ rather than just ‘bees’. By 1907 the amount spent on apiculture had increased to £7 5s 5d.

There are no further mentions of bees or apiculture in these records. That doesn’t necessarily mean that apiculture had ceased, simply that the accounts were presented differently and in less detail in the Annual Reports. In addition, the accounts for 1906-7 are joint accounts for London Rd and the Fruit Station at Shinfield. So it is possible that some of this activity had moved there.

Nevertheless, there is clear evidence that apiculture did take place on the London Road Campus at the beginning of the 20th Century; in 2023 when the flowers bloom, the bees will have turned full circle!

Thanks

To Dr Jo Anna Reed Johnson for help with details of the Bee Meadow Project.

Sources

Giles, A. K. (2000). From ‘Cow College’ to Life Sciences: a chronicle in celebration of seventy-five years and a new name for The University of Reading’s Agricultural Faculty. The Faculty of Agriculture and Food (Life Sciences), University of Reading.

Reading College. Annual Reports and Accounts from 1899-1900 to 1901-2.

Reading College. Calendar from 1899-1900 to 1901-2.

University College, Reading. Annual Reports and Accounts  from 1903-04 to 1907-08.

University College, Reading. Calendars from 1902-3 to 1925-26.

University College, Reading (1907). Students’ handbook. First issue: 1907-8.

University of Reading Special Collections. Report on New Buildings submitted to Council of the University by the Vice-Chancellor, February 1928 (UHC CM GOV 8).

University of Reading Special Collections. University History MS 5305 Photographs – Groups, Whiteknights Aerial, Halls, Agri – land – aerial – horticulture/farming.

University of Reading Special Collections. University History MS 5305 Photographs – London Road.

Stoking the Boilers

The clocks have gone back; December will soon be here; the nights are getting chilly; at London Road the heating has been on for a while now.

Spare a thought for those who once stoked the campus boilers!

engineers
University of Reading Special Collections.

This image, dated c.1915, was taken in one of the Boiler Rooms at London Road. A note on the back describes these two men as the ‘Engineers’:  they are Edward J. Godden and Frederick T. Millard and, apparently, the photo was taken shortly before the latter’s call-up to serve in the armed forces during WW1.

Edward Godden had started as a porter in 1907 before becoming Engineer in 1910, a post he retained until 1926. Frederick Millard returned as his assistant at the end of the war and also remained until 1926.

I don’t know the location of this particular Boiler Room but architects’ notes of 1907 state that:

‘Messrs. Perkins, Warner, and Pfeiderer, of London, installed the heating apparatus in the Old Red Building’ (p. 2).

There were also three independent boilers ‘in a basement’ to heat the buildings along the East Cloister (see map of 1907). Ventilation was improved by electric exhaust fans to remove foul air. Coal for the boilers was delivered via the south entrance in Acacias (now Acacia) Road between the dairy and the present-day L16.

map
Site plan published in the Students’ Handbook of 1907-8.

I am not sure whether there was a boiler under the Great Hall which is described as being heated and ventilated by hot water and air:

‘A creeping way beneath the floor gives access to every part of the heating arrangements, and a large fan in the basement, worked by an electric motor, drives fresh air into the Hall over the radiators, the air being first washed by a water screen.’ (1907, p. 4).

The tone of these notes shows how proud the architects were of the facilities across the campus. No doubt ventilation was particularly important in buildings such as Fine Arts {now L4: Art Education) which were still lit by incandescent gas burners.

Those with electric light could suffer power cuts, however. The Great Hall had electric lighting but always kept a single gas jet burning during events in case a power outage should result in panic.

Sources
University College, Reading. Calendars 1907-8 to 1925-6.
University College, Reading (1907). Notes by the Architects (W. Ravenscroft and C. S. Smith) on the New Hall and Buildings.
University College Reading. Students’ handbook. First issue:  1907-8.
University of Reading Special Collections. University History MS5305 Photographs – Portraits Box 1.

On Armistice Day

Memorial
The War Memorial, November 2022
George and Walter Lucking

A year ago I published a post about George Lucking and the University of Reading War Memorial.

Mr Lucking had been a porter on the College’s Valpy Street premises from 1904, just before the move to London Road, and became Head Porter on the new campus in 1907. He remained in post until 1924.

His son Walter is recorded on the roll of honour beneath the clock tower and in the Book of Remembrance of members of the College who fell in the War of 1914-18.

Walter
University of Reading, Special Collections

I recently discovered another image of George Lucking in the form of the sketch below. It is undated, but he looks of a similar age to his portrait with the clock tower bell in my earlier post so it is likely that it was completed in the early to mid-1920s.

Sketch
University of Reading, Special Collections:  Undated sketch of George Lucking, Head Porter at London Rd.
W. M. Childs

As Principal of University College Reading it was W. M. Childs who suggested a memorial to the members of the College who had fallen in the 1914-18 War.

It would, he proposed, consist of a tower with a clock and a great bell. And the tower, should ‘make its appeal simply through its visible strength, its austerity, and its proportions.’ (1933, p.255).

He records that,

‘More than 500 of our members, past and present, served in our fleets or armies and upon our war memorial are the names of 144 who lost their lives.’ (W. M. Childs, 1933, p. 218)

In his memoir, Childs focuses on the effect of the war on the college and on those who died, but it is left to his son, Hubert, to record the emotional effect the horrors of war had on him:

‘A fortnight’s lecturing to troops in forward areas in France, which he undertook under the Y.M.C.A. auspices early in 1918, served to increase his abhorrence of the terrible destruction, waste and squalor that the conflict was causing, and added to his eagerness for a return to normal life. ‘ (H. Childs, 1976, p. 120).

Horse
The Peace Garden at London Rd. 11/11/2022:  Memorial Sculpture designed and constructed by Secondary PGCE students using recyclable materials.
Sources

Childs, H. (1976). W. M. Childs: an account of his life and work. Published by the author.

Childs, W. M. (1933). Making a university: an account of the university movement at Reading. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

University College, Reading. Calendars from 1904-5 to 1923-4.

University of Reading Special Collections. University History MS 5305 Photographs – Portraits Box 1.
University of Reading Special Collections. MS 5339 Book of Photographs of Members of University College, Reading who fell in the 1914-18 War.

Grammar for Pupil Teachers

The education and training of Pupil Teachers formed a significant  proportion of the work of the University Extension College (1892-8) and Reading College (1898-1902). In a post about Reading’s ‘Normal Department’ I included information about Pupil Teachers and their attendance. On his appointment to the College in 1893, it was the job of W. M. Childs to teach them English history, something that all but defeated him:

‘…. at first it was uphill work, and sometimes I returned to London more that half inclined to throw up my job.’ (Childs, 1933, p. 4).

Below is the timetable for the third-years during 1899-1900. Four of the staff (de Burgh, Rey, Childs and Seaby) are in the photo of the Education Department at the end of the post, Teacher Education, Albert Wolters and the ‘Criticism Lesson’ :

timetable
Pupil Teachers attended every weekday after a full day at school (Reading College Calendar, 1899-1900, p. 85)

Textbooks are specified in the College Calendar for History, Geography, English Language and Literature, Music, Algebra, Euclid and Mensuration.

The courses were intense and sometimes highly academic. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the choice of textbooks for English Grammar. Until 1898 two books were listed:

    • Outline of English Grammar, by C. P. Mason (Bell and Sons), 2s.
    • For Fourth Year. Historical English Grammar, by C. P. Mason (Bell and Sons), 3s 6d.

I have never seen copies of either of these, but in 1899 they were replaced by a single volume:

    • English Grammar, past and present, J. C. Nesfield (Macmillan), 4s. 6d.

No doubt the students were thrilled to be saving a whole shilling on the deal; whether they were thrilled by the grammar is another matter!

Nesfield’s grammar was first published in 1898 and my own copy, bought in a second-hand bookshop 40 years ago, is the reprint of 1900:

Nesfield

The work is divided into three main sections followed by appendices:

    • Modern English Grammar
    • Idiom and Construction
    • Historical English: Word-Building and Derivation
    • Appendices on Prosody, Synonyms, and other Outlying Subjects.

The 470 pages of small print must have been a formidable challenge for the Pupil Teachers.

Some of the terminology in the volume would be a mystery to many English teachers today. And contemporary linguists might be unhappy with the syntactic analysis, not to mention the division of the language into ‘parts of speech’.

Some expositions rely on diagrammatic paradigms; personal pronouns are shown in three separate tables (1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person) that cross-tabulate Case (Nominative, Possessive and Objective) with Number (Singular or Plural), sometimes with separate columns for Gender (Masculine, Feminine, Neuter). Included in the tables are ‘thou’, ‘thy’, ‘thine’, ‘thee’, ‘ye’, ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘yours’ (p. 35), a total of eight forms compared with only three in modern English. Thus, ‘If thou shouldst love’ (p. 63) is an example of the 2nd person singular ‘Future tense’ of the ‘Subjunctive mood’ .

The chapter on Syntax contains Parsing Charts like the ones below for ten word classes:

Parsing example
Parsing charts for Nouns, Pronouns and Adjectives (Nesfield, 1898, p. 122)
Each of the main sections contains sample questions from London Matriculation Papers set between 1879 and 1897. These examples are typical:
    • Modern English Grammar:
      • ‘State clearly the rules of English Accidence with regard to the use of shall and will in Assertive sentences.’ (p. 139).
      • ‘Prove that vowel-change is not the decisive mark of the Strong conjugation.’ (p. 142).
    • Idiom and Construction:
      • ‘Explain and parse the following phrases:- methinks; woe is me; I had as lief.’ (p. 218).
      • ‘Point out any grammatical errors that are common in ordinary colloquial speech. Say exactly what you understand by “good English”.’ (p. 219).
    • Historical English: Word Building and Derivation:
      • ‘What is a vowel? What vocalic sounds exist in modern English? Show particularly how they are all expressed by means of the six Roman vowels.’ (p. 423).
      • ‘What traces of reduplication can you adduce in the tense formation of verbs in English (Old and Modern).’ (p. 428).
I don’t know much of Nesfield’s grammar had to be digested by pupil teachers, but if Childs’s account is anything to go by, there was a great deal of rote-learning across the whole curriculum, and relatively little understanding — ‘a hot-bed of cram’, he called it (1933, p. 3). All that mattered was getting enough marks in the Queen’s Scholarship Examination to qualify for the training college of one’s choice.
Sources

Childs, W. M. (1933). Making a university: an account of the university movement at Reading. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Nesfield, J. C. (1898). English grammar past and present. London: Macmillan.

Reading College. Calendar, 1898-99 & 1899-1900.

The Missing Knighthood

The appendix to J. C. Holt’s history of Reading University helpfully names all its officers, professors and librarians who were in post between 1926 and 1976 (pp. 331 ff.).

The first four Vice-Chancellors are listed like this:

    • 1926-9     W. M. Childs
    • 1929-46  Sir Franklin Sibly
    • 1946-50  Sir Frank Stenton
    • 1950-63  Sir John Wolfenden
4 VCs
Top row:  Childs & Sibly; bottom row:  Stenton (c.1908) & Wolfenden (Images of Childs, Sibly & Wolfenden:  University of Reading Special Collections; Wolfenden:  University of Reading Imagebank)

Ever since I first came across Holt’s book almost a decade ago, I wondered why William Macbride Childs, Reading’s first Vice-Chancellor, was never knighted.

Out of Reading’s ten Vice-Chancellors, five have received knighthoods, though not always solely for their academic leadership, and David Bell was already ‘Sir David’ on his appointment.

Nevertheless, Childs would seem to have been a prime candidate. After all, it was largely thanks to him that a relatively obscure College developed sufficiently to receive the Royal Charter (even Edith Morley had never heard of the College before she was invited for interview in 1901).

Childs’s relatively short tenure as V-C was the culmination of a much longer association with the College. It began inauspiciously in 1893 with a part-time position teaching history to pupil teachers, some coaching and giving University Extension lectures. In a parallel with Morley’s experience 8 years later he explains that;

‘I knew nothing about this new College, nothing about Reading ….’ (W. M. Childs, 1933, p. 1).

early Childs
University of Reading Special Collections

By 1903, however, Childs had become the Principal of what had recently become University College, Reading, and he soon developed a vision for achieving full university status. Here’s how Professor Holt recounts his achievement:

‘From the moment in 1906 when he first announced it, he pursued the objective of university status with a methodical and relentless intent. He was personally responsible for some of the most characteristic features of the University College: the emphasis on residence and the importance of agriculture. He was the inspiration behind the movement for the Charter.’ (Holt, 1977, p. 28).

Not that Holt was blind to Childs’s faults and errors; he documents these in some detail and concludes:

‘He was a man to found a university. He was not equally a man to develop one once founded’ (Holt, 1977, p. 28).

Following Childs’s retirement in 1929, the issue of a knighthood was a matter of concern for family, friends and fellow academics. Writing of the accolades his father had received, Hubert Childs wondered:

‘…. why was it that in all the eagerness to pay my father honour and to mark his achievement by words and action worthy of it, there was, seemingly, no recognition by the State of what he had done and stood for? The omission caused him little personal concern, for he attached no great importance to such things; but it perplexed his friends who expected a knighthood to be conferred upon him, both in honour of himself and the new University.’ (H. Childs, 1976, pp. 145-6).

One possibility was that the political instability following the General Election of 1929 and a change of Government were the explanation, but this idea was rejected by Hubert Childs.

More likely, in his opinion, was that, on separate occasions, his father refused to accept both the Freedom of the Borough of Reading and a knighthood unless Alfred Palmer, his friend and benefactor received the same honour.

Childs & Palmer
W. M. Childs with Alfred Palmer, c.1925 (University of Reading Special Collections)

As Hubert Childs concluded:

‘Those who attempt to apply conditions to the acceptance of honours inevitably run the risk of falling foul of unrelated and unthought-of considerations, and this may be what happened in this case.’ (H. Childs, 1976, p. 147).

Holt
J. C. Holt, Professor of History 1966-78, and author of ‘The University of Reading: the first fifty years’  (University of Reading Special Collections).
Sources

Childs, H. (1976). W. M. Childs: an account of his life and work. Published by the author.

Childs, W. M. (1933). Making a university: an account of the university movement at Reading. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Holt, J. C. (1977). The University of Reading: the first fifty years. Reading: University of Reading Press.

Morley, E. J. (2016). Before and after: reminiscences of a working life (original text of 1944 edited by Barbara Morris). Reading: Two Rivers Press.

The Magazine of University College Reading, 1904, Autumn Term, Vol IV, No. 1.

University of Reading Special Collections: University History MS 5305 Photographs – Portraits Boxes 1 & 2.

Whatever happened to the South Cloister? Part 2: 1926-1947

On becoming a university (1926)

With buildings in place to the north, south and east of the central quadrangle, and cloisters joining them on the east and north sides, the development of the west side of the campus had become a priority. Childs reported to Council on the inadequacy of teaching areas, and in 1928 submitted a paper that stressed the need for a permanent, wide-ranging solution that had no place for short-term ‘tinkering’ (Holt, 1977, p. 34). Council’s immediate response was to set up a New Buildings Committee and an appeal for funds –  £200,000 would be needed (including £55,000 for maintenance of the new buildings).

The Proceedings of 1927-28 refer to a ‘block plan’ prepared by the architects Messrs. Chas. Smith and Son that had been approved by Council. Proposals included:

‘… the whole of the University buildings, from entrance to entrance, to be linked together by permanent cloisters …. a cloistered quadrangle enclosing the major part of the open space to the south of the library’. (p. 47)

The block plan was published in the University Gazette in 1929:

Whole plan

The proposed route for the South Cloister shows an interesting deviation from the development plan of 1911; it now passes through the spur of today’s L19 before turning towards a proposed new south entrance with its own porters’ lodge:

close-up

Between 1929 and 1932, and with the help of donations, buildings for Geology (now L27), Geography and Agricultural Chemistry (L24) were completed along the West Cloister.

The undated plan below shows the campus at some time between 1932 and 1934. The names of some of the departments allocated to buildings are different from the earlier block plan. For example, today’s L29 is labelled ‘Geography and Letters Lecture Theatre’ instead of ‘Education’.

Smith & Bott
Undated plan published in Smith & Bott, 1992, p. 60.

In 1934 the Friends of the University provided £750 for an extension to the cloister on the west side of the Library Quadrangle.

Friends cloister
September 2022: ‘The Friends’ Cloister’, looking towards L33. A Plaque (see below) is on the second pillar on the left.

Friends plaque

In spite of progress along the West Cloister, space was still in short supply. In the Proceedings of 1936-7 the Vice-Chancellor (Franklin Sibly) notes:

‘Owing to the growth of classes in the School of Art and the Department of Zoology, the need of new buildings is extremely urgent; and there is also a pressing need of suitable accommodation, in a new building, for the Department of Psychology.’ (p. 31).

Further developments were reported in the University Proceedings.

    • 1938-9:  a two-storey building (now L33) was approved for Zoology and Psychology. Accommodation for Art would extend into the old Zoology Building on the East Cloister.
    • Work started in July, but stopped in October 1939 because of the outbreak of war. The Vice-Chancellor noted that the need for space was ‘acute’.
    • The University spent £3,250 on air-raid precautions and fire-fighting equipment.
    • 1939-40:  work on the new buildings resumed and ‘a basement air-raid shelter’ was added to the plans.
1939
1939: preparing the ground for the New Zoology Building (now L33) (University of Reading, Special Collections).
    • 1940-41:  the buildings were completed.
    • 1941-42:  the accommodation became available for use during the Lent Term of 1942.
1941
May 2019:  L33 (formerly ‘The New Zoology Building’)
But Still no South Cloister

Despite the West Cloister being in place, the proposed South Cloister appears to have been relegated to a short ‘covered way’. This is shown in a Development Plan of 1944 published in Holt’s (1977) history of the University.

1944 whole campus
1944 Development Plan (Holt, 1977, plate no. 25)
enlargement
Enlarged section showing the Covered Way near the proposed South Entrance on Acacia Road

Following the end of the Second World War in 1945, space became even more of an issue:  large numbers of ex-servicemen and women who had postponed entry wanted to take up their places. Many were refused admission because of lack of hall places, classrooms and laboratory space. At the same time, the Government was expanding university provision and Reading would be expected to double the number of students from pre-war levels.

There was no more room for expansion at London Road and attention became focused on acquiring the freehold of Whiteknights Park. Thanks to a Treasury loan this was completed in February 1947. Presumably there was little appetite now for completing the cloisters on the original campus!

The Institute of Education moved back to the London Road Campus from Bulmershe in January 2012 following a multi-million pound refurbishment and was soon accompanied by Architecture.

Students and staff moving from L14, L16 or the Dairy to L22 and L24 are still at the mercy of the elements.

W
September 2022:  the West Cloister from outside the Learning Hub (L24)
Sources

Brown, C. C. (2006). Four score and more: a chronological celebration of the University of Reading on the occasion of its eightieth birthday. Reading: University of Reading.

Childs, W. M. (1933). Making a university: an account of the university movement at Reading. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Holt, J. C. (1977). The University of Reading: the first fifty years. Reading: University of Reading Press.

Reading University Gazette. Vol. II.  No. 2. March 21, 1929.

Smith, S. & Bott, M. (1992). One hundred years of university education in Reading: a pictorial history. Reading: University of Reading.

University of Reading. Proceedings of the University, 1925-26 to 1946-7.

Whatever happened to the South Cloister? Part 1: 1905-1926

Anyone based at London Road who has had to walk from the Dairy to L22 in the pouring rain must have wondered why no-one had ever thought of building cloisters on all four sides of the Campus.

Not HDR
A dry day in August, 2022:  the path from the Dairy, passing between L16 and L19, and leading to L22

In fact, a complete set of cloisters surrounding the central quadrangle had been planned ever since the occupation of the London Road Campus in 1905. According to W. M. Childs’s memoir it had been part of his vision right from the start. Referring back to ‘Our New Home’ he writes :

‘The time might come when cloister and pavilions would form one side of a quadrangle extending over ground not yet ours, and cloistered the whole way round’ (Childs, 1933, p. 55)

The first cloister to be built was the East Cloister, shown in the image below and on a campus map published in the Students’ Handbook in 1907:

Early image E. Cloister
Early image of the East Cloister showing the sign for the Physics Building, (now L11). The camera must have been situated just beyond L14 and L19 (University of Reading Special Collections)
map
Campus Plan of 1907

As far as I can see, the first indication of a South Cloister in a development plan was in 1911. In it the East Cloister extends as far as the present L16, turns right and forms a straight corridor to the spur of L19. It then continues to the centre of what today would be L22 where it was to join the projected West Cloister.

development plan
Development Plan, 1911 (University of Reading Special Collections)

By about 1917, a cloister leading from the Porters’ Lodge was in place between the Great Hall and what, at that time, was the Rose Garden:

Rose Garden
The Rose Garden, circa 1917 (University of Reading Special Collections)

Note the original curved, corrugated roof compared with the pointed roof in this recent image taken from the same spot:

pointed roof
January 2019: the Cloister and Great Hall looking across the site of the former Rose Garden

The change to the structure of the roof can also be seen in these two images that show the underside of the same section.

sepia
Looking southwards from the Porters’ Lodge (Early Campus postcard: University of Reading Special Collections)
modern
January 2019: looking towards L46 (now the Architecture Building)

The original roof looks suspiciously like corrugated iron, and this is confirmed, somewhat disparagingly, by Elspeth Huxley’s fictionalised autobiography of her time at Reading in the 1920s. She refers to:

‘… lecture rooms and laboratories linked by what were known as cloisters but were merely brick-floored pathways roofed by corrugated iron.’ (p. 47)

Today’s West Cloister leads northwards from L22 to L33. In the  1907 map shown above, the area is described as ‘Horticultural Garden and Glass Houses’.  This is how it looked until 1917 when the Horticulture Department moved to Shinfield and the Glass Houses were demolished (Giles, 2000):

greenhouses
The site of today’s West Cloister. In the background is the Great Hall (University of Reading Special Collections)

Development of this part of the Campus had to wait until University status had been achieved, after which the need for more and improved accommodation became acute.

This will be detailed in the next post.

Sources

Childs, W. M. (1933). Making a university: an account of the university movement at Reading. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Giles, A. K. (2000). From ‘Cow College’ to Life Sciences: a chronicle in celebration of seventy-five years and a new name for The University of Reading’s Agricultural Faculty. The Faculty of Agriculture and Food (Life Sciences), University of Reading.

Huxley, E. (1968). Love among the daughters. London: Chatto & Windus.

Tranter, H. (2010). The architectural development of University College, Reading, 1902-1926. Unpublished Dissertation for the Postgraduate Certificate in Architectural History, University of Oxford.

University College Reading (1907). Students’ handbook. First issue: 1907-8.

Early Days of Educational Research at Reading

In the 1880s, before the University Extension College became Reading College and before the latter became a University College, research was taking place in the Departments of Science and Agriculture; regular supplements to the College Journal reported the results of agricultural field experiments.

Educational Research

The first records of school-based research did not appear until 1910-11:

‘Mr. Wolters has conducted some interesting experiments at the Demonstration School with regard to Child Study; and Mr. A. W. Seaby tried some experiments with the older boys in drawing and design work. A short experimental study of fatigue in school was made by students preparing for the London University Examinations in Education.’ (Report of the Academic Board, 1910-11, p. 41)

The names Wolters and Seaby will be familiar to readers of this blog. Albert Wolters went on to found the Psychology Department and was Deputy Vice-Chancellor between 1946 and 1950; Allen Seaby became Professor of Fine Arts in 1920, and was Departmental Director from 1911. Both contributed to Teacher Education programmes and had experience teaching children (Wolters had qualified as an Elementary School teacher at Reading).

The ‘Demonstration School’ was Redlands School, and its three headteachers, including Eliza Chattaway, Head of Infants (see earlier post about the Farm School), were members of the College’s Teacher Education section. Redlands became a convenient focus for research activity, as shown by a report in the College Review under the heading of ‘Educational Experiments’.

Three such experiments were conducted in the Demonstration School ‘and other selected schools’:

    1. Spelling:  the relative success of class teaching versus private study in learning spelling (instruction was twice as effective at all ages).
    2. Imagination:  children were given the beginning of a story that they were asked to complete. It was found that girls tended to describe scenery, whereas the boys focused on actions. We are told that, ‘The London boys occasionally referred to common incidents of life in town, while the provincial children kept exclusively to Fairyland.’ (p. 22).
    3. Memory:  ‘A hundred boys were made to learn a series of twelve numbers, the number of readings required to obtain a correct repetition being noted. It was found that there was great improvement between the ages of seven and ten and practically no improvement later.’ (College Review, 1910, p.22)

The Logbooks of Redlands School show that, following the creation of a Senior Mixed Department in 1929, University Education staff immediately requested further collaboration and, within weeks, a certain Miss Campbell (Lecturer in Education – see below) arranged for her students to administer intelligence tests in the lower part of the school.

Redlands composite
Redlands Primary School, August 2022

Further information about educational research is hard to find. Projects probably took place that never found their way into College documents. I can find no evidence of any ‘experiments’ being published. Nevertheless, according to H. Armstrong’s overview of the history of the Education Department:

‘Investigations in teaching methods by members of the Education Staff were an important feature from the earliest days. It is interesting to record here an example of experimental work done by students themselves. Early in 1923, at St. John’s Schools, students tried out the Dalton Plan.’ (Armstrong, 1949, p. 15)

The Dalton Plan was a progressive scheme of learning designed by Helen Pankhurst in the USA. There was no formal class teaching; pupils worked at their own pace and designed their own timetables. The students at Reading concluded that:

‘…. class teaching must retain its decisive place in school administration, and could not be put aside.’

This and other ‘experiments’ raise questions about the extent to which the students were given free rein, how it was negotiated with the school, what preparation they received, and how parents, children and regular class teachers felt about it! Did anyone think about ethics?

Publications

The first list of staff publications appeared once the original College had acquired the status of University College, Reading. The list was published in the Official Gazette in 1903, and contains just 9 academic publications by 5 staff in the Letters and Science Departments, followed by a set of Technical Reports, mainly from Agriculture (e.g. ‘Practical Buttermaking’ by Mr Edward Brown). But it does also include an item titled ‘Blackboard Drawing’ by Allen Seaby (see above). This is the first record of a published contribution to the field of Education.

Subsequently, lists of publications appear only intermittently with Agriculture figuring prominently (‘The Value of Poultry Manure’ by Edward Brown & W. Brown, 1907).

In 1906, however, Education was represented again: W. G. de Burgh, Lecturer in Philosophy and Classics, published ‘The Development of Individuality in the Young:  an Address to Students of Education’ in the ‘The Parents’ Review’.  (Burgh became Dean of the Faculty of Letters in 1907 and was Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University from 1926 to 1934).

De Burgh wasn’t the only member of the College to publish in The Parents’ Review. In the Annual Report for 1909-10, H.S. Cooke, Lecturer in Education (later Master of Method and Head of Department), was author of ‘The Real Meaning of Children’s Play’.

‘The Parents’ Review’ described itself as ‘A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture’ and, between about 1890 and 1920, was distributed to parents and teachers engaged in homeschooling .

The following is an illustrative sample of  publications relating to Education, set out as they appear in the Annual Reports:

    • 1909-10:  ‘Mr. Cooke:- “School Practice Guide and Instructions” (C. Elsbury, Reading).
    • 1911-12:  The Principal [W. M. Childs] .. .. “The Essentials of University Education.” (Hibbert Journal April, 1912).
    • 1911-12:  Professor de Burgh .. .. “The Use and Abuse of Educational Theory.” (Parents’ Review), March and April, 1912).
    • 1912-13:  Miss Chattaway .. .. “School Nature Rambles.” (Oxford Elementary Schoolbooks, 1912, pp. 221).
    • 1913-14:  Professor Edith Morley  “Teaching as a Profession for Women.” (Educational Times, June, 1914).
    • 1918-19:  Professor Edith Morley … The Teaching of English. A Series of Papers read at a Conference at University College Reading, July, 1918. (Pamphlet 43 of the English Association).

Between 1903 and 1926, the year of the Royal Charter, just six members of staff produced literature on the theme of Education – a total of 17 publications. These were mainly practical guides or opinion pieces. None involved involving data collection and analysis, although Eliza Chattaway’s book is a (probably idealised) record of a year’s nature study with the children at Redlands Infants’ School.

Chattaway book
Frontispiece and title page of Eliza Chattaway’s book

Three of the contributors were based outside the Education Department. Of these, Edith Morley, as the most prolific, deserves a special mention. Over the course of this period, in addition to her research on English Language and Literature, she developed a reputation as an expert on the Teaching of English and organised a conference on the subject that took place in the Great Hall in July 1918. It was attended by over 300 people and was reported in the Journal of Education and The Times Educational Supplement. She edited the Volume of Proceedings that can be seen in the illustrative sample above.

Such was Morley’s interest in English teaching that two years later the Report of the Academic Board reported that:

‘Professor Morley gave evidence before the Government Commission appointed to report upon the study and teaching of English Language and Literature.’ (p. 14).

The outcome of this was the Newbolt Report of 1921 (see note below) in which Morley is mentioned as an Individual Witness.

Reports
The Reading Room at MERL:  Complete sets of Annual Reports and Accounts, 1892 to 1924, from the University Extension College, Reading College and University College, Reading.
On Becoming a University

The University took a more rigorous approach to recording publications. From 1925-6 onwards, the annual Proceedings combined the list of publications across departments and it contained only items that had been approved by the Research Board. The list is in three sections: I. Books; II. Articles embodying Results of Original Work; III. Other Publications. The list is longer than ever before, raising questions about how complete the earlier College lists had been.

We also find the first indication of a research grant for education from University funds:  E. Smith received £20 ‘for travelling expenses incurred in connexion with researches on the history of English education between 1660 and 1714’ (Proceedings, 1925-6).

The following year, Isabella Campbell (see above) was awarded £15 ‘for travelling expenses incurred in consulting literature bearing upon her research on temperament tests’. In 1943 Campbell became the first lecturer in the Education Department to obtain a PhD on  ‘A study of abstract thinking and linguistic development with reference to the education of the child of ‘average’ intelligence.’ In the same year, Charles Rawson became the first Education student to be awarded a doctorate for his work on the WWII evacuation.

Such events had been predicted by an article by Childs in Tamesis in 1926 which considered the implications of becoming a University:

‘Some of [Reading’s degree students] will, I hope, proceed to our higher degrees, Ph.D. and M.A., and the doctorates. Here comes in research, and all I need to say on this topic is that we intend to do our utmost to make our University famous for research and scholarship.’ (p. 86).
Educational Research Today

These humble beginnings may seem a far cry from the achievements of the present Institute of Education.    Nevertheless, thanks to the work of early pioneers, particularly those like Isabella Campbell and Albert Wolters who crossed disciplinary and departmental boundaries, a tradition was established that led to today’s internationally recognised research programme, with its valued contribution to theory and practice across the education, language and learning spectrum.

Toby
Using eye-tracking technology in the Institute of Education, August 2018
Note

The Newbolt Committee and its Report were named after its chair, Sir Henry Newbolt – a historian, novelist, poet and adviser to the Government of the day.

The Newbolt Report was often quoted by educationalists and linguists when Michal Gove, Secretary of State for Education (2010-2014), reformed the English curriculum for Primary Schools and Introduced tests of Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation (SPAG). A particular favourite of those opposed to the reforms was Newbolt’s reference to the unpopularity of grammar as the most hated part of the curriculum – an inspector’s report of 1894 is quoted, stating that, ‘English Grammar has disappeared in all but a few schools, to the joy of children and teacher.’ (Para. 51)

For the benefit of cricket lovers:  in his role as poet, it was Sir Henry Newbolt who penned the famous line, ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’

Sources

Armstrong, H. (1949). A brief outline of the growth of the Department. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 9-17). University of Reading.

Board of Education (1921). The teaching of English in England [The Newbolt Report]. London: HMSO.

Childs, W. M. (1926). Our University. Tamesis, Vol. XXV. No. 7. Summer Term, pp. 83-6.

Holt, J. C. (1977). The University of Reading: the first fifty years. Reading: University of Reading Press.

Rooke, P. (1991). Redlands: a hundred years at school, 1891-1991. Reading: Redlands School Parents’ Teacher Association.

The Journal of the University Extension College, Reading, Vols 2 & 3, 1895-96 & 1896-97.

The Reading University College Review, Vol. III, 1910, pp. 21-22.

University College, Reading.  Accounts and Annual Reports, 1906 to 1925.

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No. 31. Vol. II. 10th December, 1903.

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No. 51. Vol. V. July 3, 1907.

University of Reading. Proceedings of the University, 1925-26 & 1926-27.

A bit of a Miss-tery

In a discussion of changing social customs and forms of address, Edith Morley recalls that:

‘In my undergraduate days, women – even students and colleagues – carefully ‘miss-ed’ each other in public unless they resorted to nicknames. Christian names were used only in private and then only between close friends. Men called each other by their surnames, and little boys at prep schools forbade their parents to address envelopes with their Christian names ….’ (Morley, 1944/2016, p. 94)

I had never encountered the verb ‘miss’ in this sense. I imagined that Morley had coined it herself. After all, who better than the Professor of English Language to do this? A check in the Oxford English Dictionary, however, turned up citations from 1824 and 1863 with the meaning ‘To address as ‘Miss”. The usage is described as ‘obsolete‘.

On the award of her professorship in 1908, her correct title became one of many sources of friction:

‘…. for months after its conferment some of the College clerks, probably with the connivance of their superior officer, persistently refused to use the title on official communications sent to me, until I was forced most reluctantly to take note of the omission.’ (p. 118).

Like all women on the staff, she appeared in the College Calendar as ‘Miss’. This continued even after she became Professor Morley, using ‘Professor’ more as a job description for a Head of Department than a title:

Miss & Prof
University College, Reading Calendar 1910-11

The ‘Miss’ was dropped from the Calendar from 1914-15 onwards, but, unlike male colleagues, her initial was replaced by her first name:

No miss
University College, Reading Calendar 1914-15

In spite of the change of policy for the Calendar, however, the use of ‘Miss’ continued erratically elsewhere in official documents. For example, in 1940 the University Gazette announced her impending retirement, describing her as ‘Miss Edith J. Morley, M.A., Oxford; F.R.S.L.; Professor of English Language.’ (p.11).

It was Edith Morley’s retirement and inconsistencies in the report in the Proceedings of the University, however, that provoked this post in the first place. Note the differences between these two ‘tributes’, both of which are contained in the same volume for 1939-40.

Pres
From the Report of the President of the Council (Proceedings of the University, 1939-40, p.2)
VC
From the Annual Statement by the Vice-Chancellor (Proceedings of the University, 1939-40, p.34)

The first, by George Mowbray, President of Council, uses her professorial title and is a brief, but glowing tribute to Morley’s contribution to the growth of the College and University, her teaching and her ‘researches’ (see note below).

The second, by Franklin Sibly, Vice-Chancellor, is even briefer; her title is ‘Miss’ and it focuses on her length of service with no mention of her academic achievements. It has a distinct air of ‘faint praise’.

I know of no acrimony between Sibly and Morley. In fact, Morley is warm in her praise of him; of Sibly’s retirement in 1946 she wrote, ‘His wise council and genial personality will be sorely missed.’ (p.124).

Nevertheless, retirement was an uncomfortable prospect for Morley and probably caused some friction, particularly as she was aware that her Chair of English Language was to be abolished, and both Language and Literature placed in a unified English Department under Professor Dewar. The extent of her distress at this prospect is expressed in her ‘Reminiscences’:

‘It was a galling and unhappy result of my insistence on my position and one which I could never forget.’ (p. 117).

Postscript

Following her retirement, the University’s Proceedings of 1940-41 recorded that Morley had been awarded the title of ‘Professor Emeritus … in virtue of the conspicuous services rendered by her to the College and University as Professor of English Language.’ (p. 1).

Emeritus
Calendar 1941-42, p. 29.
A Note on ‘Researches’

The plural ‘researches’ in the first tribute caught my attention. Its occurrence as a count noun in formal written contexts is rare nowadays; its use by our international students is often corrected and, together with words like ‘informations’, is a common feature of English in multilingual contexts (English as a Lingua Franca) and of second-language learners of English.

Nevertheless, it is nothing new; the Oxford English Dictionary has citations of the plural from 1748 onwards, two of which are from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Sources

Morley, E. J. (2016). Before and after: reminiscences of a working life (original text of 1944 edited by Barbara Morris). Reading: Two Rivers Press.

Oxford English Dictionary

Reading University Gazette, Vol. XIII. No1. July 31, 1940.

University of Reading, Calendar, 1941-42.

University of Reading. Proceedings of the University, 1939-40 & 1940-41.

The Young Nellie Eales and her Postcard Home

Of the many postcards produced by University College, Reading, the image below is not the most inspiring view of the London Road campus.

cloister
Used postcard, probably sent in 1907 (University of Reading, Special Collections)

It shows the east cloister looking north towards Acacias and the porters’ lodge. In the distance, behind the Botany Department, is the sign for Zoology and Machine Drawing and, behind that, the sign for Building Construction. This matches a site plan published in the Students’ Handbook in 1907; the original Physics building would have been just behind the photographer.

map
London Road Campus (Students’ Handbook 1907-08). From bottom left to right, are: Agriculture (now L14), Physics (L11), Botany (L10), Zoology & Fine Art (now combined as L4 – Art Education).

There are much better images of the cloisters from this period, but what makes this postcard particularly interesting is that the student who sent it to her mother in Gosport was the young Nellie Eales who went on to work for the College and University for 42 years (retired in 1954), and lived to reach her hundredth birthday in 1989.

pc
University of Reading, Special Collections

The message reads as follows:

‘Thanks for the chemistry apron. It will do very nicely. We shall have to get a new Strasburger [see note below] as it must be up to date. It will come to about 13/6 I expect.’

She continues:

‘Imagine having to run along 3 cloisters the length of this one when you are late. The Chemistry, Physics and Geography Halls are beyond this. The view looks towards the older part of the college. Where the posts occur on the R. hand side are gardens. There are beautiful flowers about still. We had a splendid time on Sat at the at Home. Please keep this p.c. as I want to get a collection of Reading College views.’

Written upside down in the space at the top it says: ‘Love from Nellie.’; and in very faint writing: ‘What about galoshes? It is wet here.’

Nellie Eales combined her studies in Science with Teacher Training. She passed the two-year course for Primary Education students (Class I) in July 1909 and was awarded her BSc (Hons, Pass Division II) in 1910.

Following graduation, she worked briefly for the Marine Biological Association before being appointed Curator of the Zoological Museum at University College, Reading In 1912. The museum had been founded by Professor Francis Cole in 1906. Today the Cole Museum is located in the new Health and Life Sciences Building on the Whiteknights Campus and still contains the skeleton of the circus elephant that figures prominently in the image below.

Cole
London Road Campus: the Zoological Museum (University of Reading, Special Collections, undated).

By the beginning of the academic year 1912-13, the museum’s collection had already been completely catalogued and labelled, and Eales’s duties are described in the College Review of December 1912:

‘The Curator will be employed in the first instance principally in making anatomical preparations to assist students in their routine work, and when this is accomplished she will enter upon the much larger task of making preparations illustrative of the general principles of comparative anatomy.’ (p.21)

During Professor Cole’s frequent absences on military duty between 1914 and 1919, Eales took over the Zoology Department laboratory and covered his teaching. She became Lecturer in Zoology officially in 1919, and in 1921 was the first woman at Reading to be awarded a PhD. This was followed by a DSc in 1926.

Eales
Dr Nellie Eales, left, with H. S. Cooke (Education):  Degree Congregation, October 1928 (University of Reading, Special Collections)

Dr Eales had a highly successful academic career, details of which can be found in Claire Clough’s post on the Special Collections Blog: “Guardian Angel” of the Cole Library: Dr Nellie B. Eales. The post also recounts how, following the death of Professor Cole, she arranged the transfer of his vast collection of rare volumes (The Cole Library) to the University and compiled the printed catalogue. She is also celebrated for donating a valuable Book of Hours from the early 1400s.

One thing that surprises me, given her academic standing within and beyond the University, not to mention her indispensable contribution to running the Zoology Department, is that it took until 1951, only three years before her retirement, for her to be promoted to senior lecturer.

Nellie Eales died in 1989 shortly after her 100th birthday. Her obituary was published in the Journal of Molluscan Studies.

Zoology
London Road:  The Zoology Department in 1945. Front centre is Professor O’Donoghue with Dr Eales to the left. Professor Cole had retired in 1939 (University of Reading, Special Collections)

enlarged

An online exhibition about the Cole Collections, curated by Claire Clough, can be found here.

Note

‘Strasburger’ refers to the Botany textbook by Professor Eduard Adolf Strasburger, originally published as ‘Lehrbuch der Botanik für Hochschulen’ in 1894. An English translation of 1898 was purchased by the University College library under the title ‘Text Book of Botany’ in 1903.

The wording of the postcard is ‘a new Strasburger’, which sounds as though the students had been urged to buy an updated edition. The German original had reached its 8th edition by the time Eales had sent her card, so it is likely that the English translation followed suit.

Sources

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No. 30. Vol. II, 3rd December, 1903.

The Reading University College Review, Vol. V, No. 13, December 1912, pp. 21-2.

University College, Reading, Annual Report and Accounts, 1908-09, 1909-10.

University College, Reading. Calendar, 1910-11.

University College, Reading (1907). Students’ handbook. First issue: 1907-8. Reading: UCR.

University of Reading. Proceedings of the University, 1953-4.