The Great Hall: The Opening Ceremony

Lord Haldane, Secretary of State for War, performed the official opening of the Great Hall on the 27th October 1906. Most women were banned from attending for fear of disruption by suffragettes.

In an account  of women’s suffrage, The Fabian Society and her own feminism, Edith Morley explains her position on acts of violence and illegality. While she disliked these on principle, she concedes that, without them, the struggle would have taken much longer. She points out that the violence was not one-sided and that  women ‘suffered much worse than they inflicted or could inflict‘ (‘Reminiscences, p. 142).

Having dealt with serious matters of such significance, it seems strange that the following paragraph labels her exclusion from the opening ceremony of the Great Hall as one of ‘Several lighter incidents‘ instead of railing against the injustice of it. This is all she has to say on the topic:

In the thirty-nine years of my active connection  with Reading College and University, once – and only once – was I absent on an important ceremonial occasion. This was when Lord Haldane, the Secretary for War, came to open the Hall in October 1906. He consented to officiate on condition that no woman, whether staff or student, was present at the ceremony; for no Minister at that time felt safe from suffragette interruptions.‘ (p. 142).

In fact, not all women were excluded, but those who did attend belonged to a certain level in society or were connected by marriage to the college – among others:  Lady Wantage, Lady Saye,  Lady Elliott, Mrs G. W. Palmer and Mrs Childs. A lowly English lecturer, or run-of-the mill members of staff or the student body were clearly too much of a threat!

Extract
Extract from a  map published in the Students’ Handbook (1907-8) showing the location of the Hall

The occasion was reported at length in The Times in an article that runs to well over 2,000 words. Haldane’s speech praised the College, the Hall and the new London Road site. Much of it was reproduced verbatim. Major themes were the inter-relationships between science and industry, wealth and the humanities. Speaking as a Minister of the State, he was concerned with the ‘Educational Needs of the Army‘.

Following his speech Haldane was presented with an inscribed silver inkstand by the architects, Messrs Ravenscroft and C. S, Smith. This was followed by a vote of thanks from the Principal, W. M. Childs, during which he announced to cheers that Lady Wantage had agreed to supply a Hall of Residence for male students.

This is how the article refers to the Great Hall:

The scheme of the new college embraces buildings both old and new. The principal feature of the new buildings is the great hall, the foundation-stone of which was laid by Lord Goschen last year. It was in this hall that the ceremony took place on Saturday. It is a handsome building, and will hold 1,000 people. A range of seven cloister buildings, which will later on be connected with the hall by other buildings, has also been erected.’

South side
The south side of the Great Hall (University of Reading Imagebank)

Two things are missing from The Times report – any mention of the exclusion of women, and Haldane’s predication that in fourteen years time the College would become the University of Reading.

Notes

1.  Wantage Hall was opened in 1908 and provided accommodation for 76 male students. In their book ‘Reading’s Influential Women‘ Terry Dixon and Linda Saul inform us that Lady Harriet Wantage was ‘a prominent anti-suffragist, active as president of the North Berks Anti-Suffrage League.‘ Of Lady Wantage and Edith Morley they note that, ‘We assume they weren’t friends.‘ (p. 16).

2.  This wasn’t Haldane’s only visit to the campus. He returned on 30 April 1909 in his official capacity as Secretary of State for War in order to address the male students about forming a College branch of the Officer Training Corps (more about this in a future post).

Sources

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

Dixon, T. & Saul, L. (2020). Reading’s influential women. Reading: Two Rivers 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 Reading University College Review, Vol. I, 1908-9, pp. 154-7.

University College Reading,  Annual Report and Accounts, 1905-6.

University College, Reading. Calendar, 1910-11.

University College, Reading. Speech by Mr Haldane. (1906, October 29). The Times, p. 3.

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

Building the Great Hall

In November 1905, just over five months after the foundation stone had been ‘well and truly laid‘, the College Gazette reported:

The work of erecting the Hall is proceeding satisfactorily.‘ (p. 129).

The previous May, the New Buildings Committee had reported that the cost of the Hall would be £8,143 with an additional £550 for heat and light. This did not include the cost of the ‘heating chamber’. By November, however, the estimated total total had risen to £10,000.

What I find extraordinary is the speed with which the project progressed from the laying of the foundation stone on June 7th 1905 to the grand opening on October 27th 1906. – and all, apparently, without JCBs, sophisticated cranes or much in the way of mechanical assistance.

In a photograph that probably dates from early 1906, the construction team can be seen below.

Builders
University of Reading, Special Collections

I suspect that the figure at the front on the right, wearing what looks like a bowler hat, is the foreman. He also appears in a lesser known image from the same period:

Full frame
University of Reading, Special Collections

He is easy to miss, but in close-up you can make him out perched precariously on a narrow plank.

Close-up
University of Reading, Special Collections (edited extract)

The perilous nature of the construction of the roof becomes clear from the next image of tiny figures silhouetted against the sky.

Shows skeleton of roof
University of Reading, Special Collections

Ropes and pulleys, rickety scaffolding and stepladders, and a head for heights were the order of the day. As far as safety is concerned, there is no evidence of hard hats or safety railings, let alone hi-vis vests or jackets. One hopes that there was no human cost to the Hall’s completion.

Sources

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No. 42. Vol. IV. 27th May, 1905.

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No. 44. Vol. IV. 14th November, 1905.

University of Reading, Special Collections. Photographs relating to the History of the University, Box MS5305 (Halls, Great Hall).

The Great Hall: Laying the Foundation Stone

On the 7th June 1905 Viscount Goschen, Chancellor of Oxford University, laid the foundation stone of the Great Hall. The event was attended by the dignitaries of the town as well as the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire and the High Sheriff. It is no exaggeration to describe the ceremony as an extravaganza.

It is also possibly the first event of the College or University that involved the use of electric vehicles!

Why start the new campus with the hall?

Resources had been limited when the move from Valpy Street to London Road began. There were ambitious plans for the site (see Architects’ sketch below), but the Principal gave priority to building a ‘hearth and home‘ in the form of the Great Hall. His reasoning was as follows:

Should it [the hall] be built now or later? The answer depended upon our conception of our undertaking. If the College was to be no more than a mechanism to produce teaching and research, it could do without a hall. If it meant to be a real society, an association of comrades, a hall was a necessity.‘ (Childs, 1933, p. 56)

The decision was not universally popular, as shown by Edith Morley’s account:

Money was, as always, very short, and it was necessary to balance conflicting claims. To many it was an unexpected decision to begin with a Great Hall which could become a central meeting place for the whole college. There were many criticisms from disgruntled teachers in cramped and unsuitable quarters, but there can be little doubt that the plan of campaign adopted showed strategic wisdom.‘ (Morley, 2016, p. 109)

Shows ambitious plan for campus
The architects’ ambitious concept of the future campus including a driveway for carriages opening onto London Rd
The Order of Proceedings

The booklet containing the programme for the ceremony was in keeping with the extravagance of the occasion itself.

Front cover

Among its contents were:

    • The architects’ drawing shown above.
    • A map of the best route from Valpy Street to the new site.
    • A detailed plan of the seating arrangements.
    • The programme of events.
    • A note on the buildings, the Palmer family and the design of the Hall.
    • Train timetables to and from Reading.
The Sequence of Events

In total, activities lasted for over four hours. They were planned with military precision, beginning with the arrival of Viscount Goschen:

    • 1.08:  Official reception at the railway station.
    • 1.00-1.30:  Reception in the town hall.
    • 1.30:  Luncheon at the invitation of the Mayor and Mayoress accompanied by a programme of musical items performed by the Scarlet Viennese Band (Conductor R. S. Coates). Toasts and speeches follow.
    • Following luncheon, guests progress to Broad Street where ‘special Electric Cars‘ are waiting to take them to London Road.
    • 3.30-3.55:  THE ASSEMBLY – Guests take their places according to the colour of their tickets.
        • 3.55:  Procession of the dignitaries from the Main Entrance to the Academic Platform.
        • Trumpets.
    • 4.00:  THE CEREMONY
        • Speeches.
        • The architects (Messrs.Ravenscroft & Smith) hand the Chancellor the Trowel and Mallet.
        • The Registrar reads out the inscription on the stone.
        • The College Treasurer deposits a vessel containing Records.
        • As the stone is lowered, the Students’ Choir sings ‘O God, our help in ages past‘ (conducted by J. C. B. Tirbutt).
        • The cement is borne by the builders (Messrs. T. H. Kingerlee & Sons).
        • The Chancellor sets the stone, ‘testing it with the Level and Plumb Rule‘.
        • The Chancellor declares ‘the Stone to be well and truly laid.’
        • Prayers, speeches, signing of the Record of Proceedings.
        • The Chancellor and his Procession leave.
        • Trumpets.
    • 4.45-5.15:  THE GARDEN PARTY
        • Reception on the lawn of the College Garden.
        • The Reading Temperance Prize Band performs a selection of music.
        • GOD SAVE THE KING
        • Guests are invited to view the Horticultural Gardens, the College Library in the Acacias Building, and the Old Red Building.
Show the Assembly
The Ceremony (University of Reading, Special Collections)

Did all this go according to plan? I was only able to find one eye-witness account of the ceremony – an anonymous article in the College Magazine.  In spite of bad weather, the ceremony was clearly a success and a milestone for the College:

When Viscount Goschen laid the foundation stone of our new buildings he did not merely inaugurate a new home for the College, but also wrote the opening words of a new chapter in its history.’ (p. 4)

And:

The heavy stone was raised to allow of the mortar being spread beneath it, then re-lowered to the place it is to occupy for so long, covering and guarding the vessel containing the records of the ceremony. Lord Goschen tested it and declared it to be “well and truly laid.”‘ (p. 6)

Shows stone today
The foundation stone on the north wall in 2022

While preparing this post I couldn’t help reflecting on the contrast between the magnificence of this event – the obvious importance of the College to the town of Reading – and Edith Morley’s comment about the College on arriving for her interview at Valpy Street:

When I arrived at the station no-one was able to direct me to the College, so insignificant and unknown it still was to the man in the street.‘ (p. 97)

So either the College had come a long way in the four years since Morley’s arrival, or her account was tainted by the embarrassment of arriving late for her interview. Maybe a little of both. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that when the extension to the buildings in Valpy Street were completed in 1898, they had been opened by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) to the accompaniment of much street decoration and flag waving.

Post Script

The booklet of the Order of Proceedings is held by the University Library. It is available on request from the off-site store (R.U. RESERVE–378.4229-UNI).

Sources
Childs, W. M. (1933). Making a university: an account of the university movement at Reading. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
Morley, E. J. (2016). Before and after: reminiscences of a working life (original text of 1944 edited by Barbara Morris). Reading: Two Rivers Press.

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

University College, Reading. The Magazine. 1905, Vol IV, Spring Term. no. 3.

University College, Reading (1905). Order of the proceedings at the laying of the foundation stone of the new buildings of University College, Reading, by the Right Hon. Viscount Goschen, D.C.L., F.R.S., Chancellor of the University of Oxford, 7 June, 1905. Reading: Holybrook Press.

From Valpy Street to London Road

Following Reading College’s recognition as a Day Training College in 1899, it became increasingly evident that, despite construction work, the premises on Valpy Street were inadequate for an institution that had aspirations to become a University College or University. As W. M. Childs put it in ‘Making a University’:

The new buildings of 1898 gave relief, but we had hardly become used to them before we began to outgrow them. The prospect was serious. The site would take no more buildings; it could not be enlarged and to put part of the College elsewhere would destroy unity, and was otherwise impracticable. We began to talk of migration and rebuilding, not too hopefully.‘ (p. 38)

Shows the original college
South front of the College in Valpy Street, showing the South-East Wing under construction (Calendar 1897-8)

It is well known that the original College was relocated to the present London Road Campus in 1905. I was surprised to discover, therefore, that a sketch plan of Reading dated 1902 showed the present location of Kendrick School as the new site.

Shows 1902
Edited Map from the Calendar of 1902 showing University College Reading on the site of today’s Kendrick School

The locations marked on the plan are:

    • A:  College Buildings and British Dairy Institute in Valpy Street;
    • B:  College School of Music;
    • C:  ‘Site of new College buildings’ (now Kendrick School);
    • D:  College Garden (rented for Horticultural Teaching and Practice –  now part of the University’s London Road Campus);
    • E:  St Andrew’s Women’s Hostel;
    • F:  St George’s Women’s Hostel.

The explanation for this anomaly is that in 1901, Reading’s Town Council came up with a proposal that would have solved the College’s problems of space:  the College’s premises in Valpy Street would be exchanged for the section of municipal estate shown on the map. The parties came to an agreement the following year and all seemed well until 1903 when lawyers uncovered insurmountable problems relating to the proposal’s legal validity, leasehold rights and possible restrictions on building.

In the College map of 1903, therefore, reference to the ‘Site of new College buildings’ had been removed.

Corrected map
Sketch Plan from 1903 published in W, M. Childs’s memoir (1933)

In 1903, W. M. Childs took over from H. J. Mackinder as Principal of what was now University College, Reading. It was Childs who sought a solution by approaching Alfred Palmer, a member of the College Council, about the possibility of taking over land and buildings on London Road that had been the Palmer family home.

Palmer had recently agreed to donate £6,000 to the College building fund, and an agreement was reached by which this donation was sacrificed in exchange for the transfer of the property to the college. The following is an extract from Palmer’s letter of agreement, written to the Principal from his home in Wokefield Park, Mortimer on January 13th 1904:

I am willing to give the College the grounds and buildings known as “The Acacias” and “Greenbank” including the stabling,  cottage, paddock, and the strip of ground adjoining the paddock …. There is a frontage on to the London Road of about 270 feet, a depth of about 700 feet along the Redlands Road, and a width of about 340 feet along the Acacias Road. In making the offer of this site I withdraw my promise of contributing Six Thousand Pounds to the building fund of the college.

Palmer also declared that he was prepared to sell the houses and gardens of Nos. 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40 London Road for £4,000, thus providing an extra 240 feet of frontage.

Shows the gift
Plan of the land and buildings donated by Alfred Palmer (the College’s Official Gazette, Feb 1904, p. 6)

On 19 January 1904, the College Council accepted the offer unanimously and the first removals from Valpy Street to what was to become today’s London Road Campus began in 1905. The annual calendar used the map below to illustrate the most convenient route between Reading’s two stations and the two sites.

Best route
The best route from the stations and Valpy Street to the new campus (edited from the University College Calendar, 1905-6)
Sources

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, 1902-3, 1903-4, 1905-6.

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No 33. Vol. III. 21st January, 1904.

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No 34. Vol. IIi. 22nd February, 1904.

University Extension College, Reading. Calendar, 1897-8.

The Discipline Book

The Discipline Book is a bit of a mystery. It can be found at the bottom of a box of papers about women students:  documents about the requirement to wear hats, their volunteering for social work, rules in women’s halls, boat racing for women and regulations about contact between the sexes.

Shows front cover

The book is an impressive and expensive-looking volume with its embossed crest, gold lettering, and an elegant lock. It bears the name of The University Extension College Reading, and looks as though no expense was spared to record the misdemeanours of its students.

Shows side view

Nevertheless, the contents are a disappointment. Only the first page contains any entries, all dated June 1900. By this time the Extension College no longer existed, having become Reading College in 1898. On this single page are the names of a mere seven students. Five of them had committed the sin of breaking the ‘10.30 Rule’, arriving late at their accommodation; one had failed to sign a register; and a certain Miss Sheppard, the only female, had been reported by Miss Sealey for ‘irregularity and idleness’ (see below for further details).

Shows first page
The first page of the Discipline Book

The only other information is on a loose sheet dated May 1902. It refers to two male students, Messrs Evans and Thomas. The writing is hard to decipher, but lateness was again an issue as well as ‘going out in the evening with girls’. It was feared that this might ‘lead to trouble’.

Shows the loose sheet
A loose sheet inserted into the Discipline Book

I don’t know who filled in these entries. Was it the Principal? The Censor? The Vice-Principal? The Master of Method? They do, however, reflect issues of student discipline that remained a concern for staff and students for many years to come.

J. C. Holt’s official history of the University of Reading records the changing nature of the general regulations for students and the specific rules and customs for halls of residence between 1921 and 1973. They deal with matters such as compulsory attendance at Sunday worship, wearing academic dress, smoking, ‘lights out’ and curfews. The 10.30 rule (10.00 on Sundays) was still in force in Wessex Hall in the 1920s. In women’s halls in the 1930s no student was allowed to leave the premises after hall dinner without the warden’s permission, though there were some privileges for ‘senior students’. All visitors had to leave by 6.00 pm and men could not enter student rooms without the warden’s permission. At Wantage Hall in 1930:

Guests (men) may be entertained at meals in the Hall or at tea in rooms, if due notice has been given…. Ladies are not admitted to the precincts of the Hall unless the permission of the Warden has been obtained. When such permission has been granted, the visit must terminate before 7.0 pm.

Institutions varied considerably and the conflicts in universities and colleges during their early days are documented from a women’s perspective by Carol Dyhouse: confrontations between students and wardens over regulations that sometimes seemed more suited to a boarding school than higher education. In some places, the need for chaperones could hinder women’s access to the library, college societies and even tutorials, and the penalties for contravening rules about contact between the sexes could be severe.

Who were Miss sealy and the delinquent students?

The College Calendar of 1899-1900 lists Miss Sealey as Teacher of Needlework (Diploma, Gold Seal, London Institute, Registered Teacher of Needlework, City and Guilds Institute). Miss Sealey ran an ‘evening’ class that took place on Thursdays and Saturday mornings and was typical of the many technical, commercial and craft courses run by the College at the time. The syllabus consisted of:

Cutting out from diagrams and making simple garments. Drawing diagrams on sectional paper. Repairing underclothing and household linen.

I assume that Miss Sealey also had other responsibilities which is how she came into contact with Miss Sheppard. The only person with that name in the examination lists is a Daisy Sheppard who studied English Literature while training to be an elementary school teacher between 1899 and 1901. I assume this was in the Day Training section. If this is her true identity, she passed her first year (Division 2) and her second and final year (Division 3) despite her ‘irregularity and idleness’.

As for the male students:

    • Mr Judd (10.30 Rule: ‘Excuse: midnight train to Town. twice. no leave‘). Edward Thomas Judd was awarded the Associateship in Agriculture in May 1902.
    • Mr Mansfield (?) (10.30 Rule: ‘This the 2nd time. I have sent for him.‘). I can find no record of this student despite trying different spellings.
    • Mr John (10.30 Rule: ‘Went for a walk after 10.30.‘). David W. John passed the Board of Education Certificate Course (Primary Division)  in 1901. He was successful in College Associate examinations in Fine Art (‘Drawing freehand’ and ‘Drawing with chalk upon the blackboard’),   English and History,
    • Mr K. C. Johnson (10.30 Rule: ‘Very late: theatrical rehearsals.’). Kenneth C. Johnson passed in ‘Geology and Physical Geography and in Agriculture (Soils and Crops)’ in 1900.
    • Mr E. C. Childs (Not signing a register: ‘Forgot.‘). Edward C. Childs was another Primary Education student who qualified in 1901. He passed a wide range of College Associate examinations: English, Mathematics, Fine Art, Greek, Latin, Philosophy, French and Geography. He continued his studies at Reading and obtained an external BA from the University of London in 1902.
    • Evans (‘going out in the evening with girls’, etc.). Walter O. Evans went on to complete the Associateship in Letters in (English Literature, History, Geography, Maths, Education) with a Class II, Division ii pass.
    • P. Thomas (‘going out in the evening with girls’, etc.). Three Thomases are mentioned during this period, but this is Powell Thomas who passed the Associateship Examinations in 1903 (English & History – both with Distinction, and Education).
Post Script

I wondered whether Edward Childs was related to William MacBride Childs (then Vice-Principal; later Reading’s first Vice-Chancellor) but I can find no reference to him in Hubert Childs’s biography of his father.

Sources

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

Dyhouse, C. (1995). No distinction of sex? Women in British universities, 1870-1939. London: UCL Press.

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

Reading College. Official Gazette. No 2. Vol. I. January 3rd 1902.

Reading College. Official Gazette. No 12. Vol. I. August 20th 1902.

Reading College. Reports to the Academic Board, 1899-1900 and 1900-01.

Reading College. Calendar, 1899-1900.

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No 18. Vol. I. December 24th 1902.

University College, Reading. Official Gazette. No 28. Vol. II. August 26th 1903.

University of Reading Special Collections. Uncatalogued papers relating to women students. Reference UHC AA-SA 8.

The Day Training College and the Master of Method

In my post about the Normal Department I noted that the origins of Teacher Education at Reading University could be traced to the founding of the University Extension College in 1892. In 1898 this became Reading College, soon followed by recognition as a Day Training College. This extended its field of operations and laid the foundations for what would eventually become today’s Institute of Education.

According to Carol Dyhouse’s ‘Students: a gendered history‘, day training departments in colleges and universities were introduced by the government in 1890 and were responsible for a significant increase in student numbers, particularly of women. Reading and Southampton followed in the steps of 13 other institutions in gaining recognition in 1899.

 

Shows college recognition
Reading College Calendar 1899-1900: Childs was still Lecturer in History & English Literature; he became Vice-Principal in 1900, Principal in 1903 and Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1926

By the time of Edith Morley’s appointment in November 1901, the Day Training College was preparing 80 full-time students for the Elementary Teachers’ Certificate on a course lasting two years. These students formed the bulk of full-timers in the arts and sciences.

The provision was innovative in at least two ways. First, from the outset most students were accommodated in halls of residence (rendering the phrase ‘day training’ inappropriate). And second, thanks to the cooperation of heads of the other departments, they were admitted to degree courses. The latter initiative raised some eyebrows in Whitehall but it seems to have been a success in as far as the trainees became fully integrated members of the student body and helped to secure the future of a group of subjects that became the nucleus of the Faculty of Letters. In other words, Education was at the very centre of academic activity.

A half century later, in 1949, Sir Frank Stenton, the University’s third Vice-Chancellor, paid tribute to the role of this early Education department in helping to overcome fears that the College was doomed to provide little more than technical instruction:

For this, all who are interested in the University of 1949 owe gratitude to the little group of teachers and students who formed the miserably housed and infelicitously named Day Training College of fifty years ago.‘ (p. 4)

Admission to the Day Training Department

Those eligible for admission were:

    1. Candidates who had obtained a first or second class pass in the Queen’s Scholarship Examination;
    2. Certified teachers who hadn’t received 2 years training;
    3. Graduates;
    4. Candidates over the age of 18 who had passed an examination approved by the Government Education Department.

Candidates in categories 2 and 3 only had to complete one year of the course.

Acceptance was subject to a health check conducted by the Medical Officer, Dr J. B. Hurry, and a declaration that it was the candidate’s bona fide intention to teach in a state school.

The College received £20 per student in fees (£10 from the student and £10 from the Government Education Department). Grants for maintenance for Queen’s Scholars consisted of £20 for women and £25 for men. Students not living at home paid a maintenance fee of £15 (women) or £12 (men).

The Course

As the first-year timetable below suggests, students were kept busy six days a week with a combination of subject knowledge and lectures on teaching method. These were interspersed with just four short slots for private study or tuition.

Illustrates timetable
The first published timetable for the Day Training Department (Reading College Calendar 1900-01, p. 119)
The Master of Method

The creation of the Day Training Department also marked the appointment of the first official Lecturer in Education. As can be seen from the first Calendar extract above, this was J. H. Gettins who served as ‘Master of Method‘ until 1907 when he was succeeded by H. S. Cooke.

Professor Albert Wolters, the subject of a previous post on this blog, had been a student in the Day Training Department in 1902. Nearly half a century later, he still had fond memories of Gettins:

The staff consisted of Mr. J. H. Gettins, who, harassed but cheerful, worked from morn to night, giving lectures and supervising school practice, knowing all the time that by reason of the training being concurrent with academic studies his Department was a nuisance.‘ (p. 18)

During Wolters’s time as a student, teaching practice was a mere three weeks per session and took place at the Swansea Road Board School. Further schools became involved later, including Redlands.

The Next 50 Years

In the half century following its establishment as a Day Training College in Valpy Street, the Education Department went from strength to strength and was responsible for a number of key innovations. A previous post has already mentioned the Department’s early contribution to educational research and to the schooling of evacuees during World War II, following which it was fully engaged in the government’s Emergency Training Scheme.

One particular initiative excited wide interest.  This was the University College’s ‘Farm School‘ at Shinfield, an experiment that took place between 1912 and 1926. It was attended by as many as 120 children annually from the borough including pupils from Redlands School (by then the Department’s ‘demonstration school’). Sadly, the scheme was abandoned as priorities changed when the University College became the University of Reading, but the tradition of Outdoor Education is still maintained today through the work of Dr Helen Bilton, Professor of Outdoor Learning at Reading’s Institute of Education.

Post Script

There were Mistresses of Method as well as Masters, though none of the lecturers in education at Reading ever had the title.

In Edith Morley’s chapter on women at universities, she includes training teachers as one of four kinds of opening available to women:

These posts, which are remunerated on about the same scale as other University lectureships are well suited to those whose interest lies mainly in purely educational matters. Girls who have obtained good degrees, but do not wish to devote themselves entirely to scholarship, will find here an attractive and ever-extending sphere of influence.’ (p. 19)

And:

Mistresses of Method are well aware that the ideal type of training has not yet been evolved: they are seeking new ways of carrying on their work and experimenting with new methods at the same time as they are guiding others along paths already familiar to themselves.‘ (p. 19)

During the 50 years between 1899 and 1949 there were 32 full-time Education staff at Reading. Seventeen were women (these figures omit academics such as Edith Morley who were in other departments but contributed subject-specialist expertise to Education courses).
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.

Barnard, H. C. (1949). A note on the term “Day Training College. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (p. 8). University of Reading.

Campbell, I. E. (1949). The farm school, 1912-1926, and the development of courses in rural science for intending teachers. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 33-6). University of Reading.

Dyhouse, C. (2006). Students: a gendered history. Abingdon: Routledge.

Morley, E. J. (2014). Women at the universities and university teaching as a profession. In E. J. Morley (Ed.), Women workers in seven professions: a survey of their economic conditions and prospects (pp. 11-24). London: Routledge. [Edited for the Studies Committee of the Fabian Women’s Group].

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

Reading College. Calendar, 1899-1900 & 1900-01.

Reading College. Report of the Academic Board, 1898-9 & 1899-1900.

Stenton, F. (1949). Vice-Chancellor’s foreword. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 4-6). University of Reading.

Wolters, A. W. (1949). Early days. In H. C. Barnard (Ed.), The Education Department through fifty years (pp. 18-20). Reading: University of Reading.

Reading’s ‘Normal Department’

Reading has a long and proud history of teacher education and its roots can be traced to the creation of the University Extension College in 1892. At first, courses took place in the ‘Pupil Teachers’ Department‘, but in 1893 it became known as ‘The Normal Department‘ and the name remained until 1897.

The map below, published in the Calendar of 1893-4, shows the location of the Normal Department on the site of the Extension College in Valpy Street. Only a year previously the  department’s premises had been the vicarage of St Lawrence’s Church.

Edited Map of the Site of the University Extension College showing the Normal Department in blue (Calendar 1893-4)
The same issue of the Calendar contains an impression of the view from Valpy Street of the north entrance to the Normal and Science Departments.

 

Until 1899 when it became a Day Training College, the work of the Department was fairly limited in scope and focused on subject knowledge rather than pedagogy. In the first year of the Normal Department it covered three main areas:

    1. Pupil Teachers attended classes on Saturday mornings and on weekday evenings after school. They were entitled to an allowance of 3 hours per week private study at school. Fees of £2 per annum were paid by their schools.
    2. Uncertificated Assistant Teachers attended courses of instruction that included Algebra, Geometry, Arithmetic, English, Music, Geography and History. There were separate timetables for men and women: men were not offered Music and women were offered fewer subjects because they had no access to Algebra or Geometry. The timetables make no mention of science. Participants paid somewhere between 4 shillings and 6 pence and 10 shillings and 6 pence per term, depending on its length and whether or not students attended small-class tutorials.
    3. The College collaborated with Berkshire County Council to provide classes for teachers in rural Elementary Schools. Courses gave technical instruction in areas such as Agriculture and Hygiene over a period of three years. They were held at Didcot, Newbury and Reading.

The duties of the Normal Department were carried out by a staff of six, led by a Superintendant and assisted by a Senior Tutor. They are named in the extract from the Calendar of 1893-4 shown below and include W. M. Childs who was later to become the University of Reading’s first Vice-Chancellor.

Staff of the Normal Department – the Principal was H. J. Mackinder (Calendar 1893-4)

In his memoir ‘Making a University‘, Childs gives an interesting insight into the business of educating pupil teachers:

‘As for the pupil teachers, they almost defeated me … I had been told that until lately all these pupil teachers had been taught on traditional lines by their own head teachers in their own schools, and that herding them into central classes was not popular.’ (p. 3)

The students were prepared for the Queen’s Scholarship Examination by which the thousands of entrants were rank-ordered in order to determine admission to training colleges.

Childs was not impressed, expressing sentiments that would strike a chord in some quarters today:

‘Under this forced draught, competition became nerve-racking, and mental preparation a hot-bed of cram. All teaching was ‘suspect’ unless it ‘paid’ ; and no device of memorizing was deemed too sordid if only it would win marks.’ (pp. 3-4)

Nevertheless, Childs overcame his difficulties with the  ‘genial disorder of the handful of boys‘ and the whispers of the girls. And he claimed that all his teaching skill derived from these early years of struggling to manage pupil teachers’ attention and goodwill.

What was ‘Normal’ about the department?

I had never encountered the use of ‘normal’ in the context of UK teacher education before. I was, however, acquainted with the ‘écoles normales‘ in the French system. Professor Cathy Tissot, then Head of the Institute of Education, told me that both ‘Normal Department’ and ‘Normal School’ had been standard terminology, historically used, in the United States.

A survey of Google Books showed that during the 19th Century and the early decades of the 20th, collocations of both normal+department and normal+school were many times more frequent in US publications than in the UK and that  US usage fell towards UK levels after 1940. Later usages tend to be historical accounts of educational settings.

The Oxford English Dictionary records eight citations of this sense of ‘normal’ but they didn’t explain what was ‘normal’ about a Normal Department. So I sent a query to ‘Grammarphobia’, a blog based in the USA about usage, word origins and grammar run by Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman. They pointed out that the term originally had to do with norms and standards and that the schools, departments, colleges and universities were normal in the sense of providing a model. Their carefully researched reply that encompasses usage in France, Britain and the US can be read in full here.

A future post will look at the next significant stage in the development of Teacher Education at Reading that laid the foundations for what was eventually to become today’s Institute of Education. This was the creation of the Day Training College in 1899.

Thanks

To Prof Cathy Tissot for originally raising this topic.

To Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman for their excellent blog and their speedy response to my queries.

Sources

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

Reading College. Calendar, 1898-99.

University Extension College. Calendar and general directory of the University Extension College, 1892-3.

University Extension College. Reading. Calendar, 1893-4 to 1897-98.

 

A Postcard Home

During the early days of the London Road Campus, a wide range of picture postcards was produced showing scenes of the College grounds and buildings. Many of these have been preserved in the University’s Special Collections and they include views of the cloisters, the front entrance, porters’ lodge and Green Bank. There are also interior shots of student hostels and halls.

Very occasionally a card turns up that has been written on, sent home and, at some stage in its long history, has been returned to the University and retained in its archives.

One such example is this card posted in 1907 that shows the sender’s room in St Andrew’s Hostel.

St Andrew’s Hostel (University of Reading, Special Collections)

The reverse of the card reveals that it was sent by someone called Alice to a Mrs Knapp in Penarth near Cardiff. 

The written message reads as follows:

Many thanks for letter & “Enclosure”. You will like to have this card of our room. I wish you could see a little more of it, it is rather like the photo on the wall! Did you like the hockey group? You did not mention it in the letter. Thank you for sending the Recorder. The concert went off well last night. I got an encore!!! Your photo is very prominent in the picture is’nt [sic] it!  The Principal has got “influ” – also Miss Morley & M. Salmon. My cold is much better. Much love Alice.’

Alice’s Postcard. The stamp shows Eward VII who ascended the throne on the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. (University of Reading, Special Collections)

The three members of academic staff with ‘influ’ were:

  • The Principal:  W. M. Childs who became Reading’s first Vice-Chancellor in 1926;
  • Miss Morley:  Edith Morley who became Professor of English Language in 1908, the first woman to hold an equivalent position in the UK;
  • M. Salmon:  Professor Amédée V. Salmon, Professor of French.

So who was Alice? It seemed logical to assume that she was writing to her mother or close family member and I was convinced that I had seen the name Alice Knapp somewhere in the College records. 

Lists of graduates were published in the college calendars so it was a simple matter to discover that  Alice graduated in 1907 with a second class honours BA in English and French (hence the references to Edith Morley and Amédée Salmon).

The following year she was made an Associate of  University College Reading (with Distinction) by virtue of her honours degree.

Lists of committee members of College societies in the Calendars show that Alice was a student who enjoyed extra-curricular life to the full.

  • In 1906-7 she was:
    • Deputy-Captain of Women’s Sculling,
    • Lady Lay Member of the Hockey Club,
    • Lady Captain of Tennis,
    • Member of the Debating Society Executive Committe Calendar.
  • In 1907-8:
    • Vice-President of The Women Students’ Union (founded in 1906),
    • President of the Women’s Branch of the Students’ Christian Union.
  • And in 1908-9:
    • Secretary of the Debating Society.

I wondered why she was still on committees after the award in her degree. The answer is in the lists of Education students – she was training to be a teacher, and in 1908 she passed the one-year postgraduate ‘Certificate (Theoretical and Practical) of the Teachers Training Syndicate, Cambridge‘.

ST ANDREWS HOSTEL

With regard to Alice’s accommodation, note that the words ‘My room in Old St Andrews London Rd. 1907‘ above the addressee indicate that Alice was lodging in the original hostel in London Rd rather than St Andrew’s Hall on Redlands Rd (see map below). The site for the latter was offered to the College by Alfred Palmer in 1909 and formally opened in 1911 (see Childs’s memoir, p. 176). Originally called ‘East Thorpe‘, it is now occupied by the Museum of English Rural Life and the University’s Special Collections.

Detail from a Map of 1906 showing St Andrew’s Hostel in London Rd, and East Thorpe on Redlands Rd next to the College campus.

The hostel in London Road was run by Mary Bolam, Censor of Women Students, as shown by the Student Handbook of 1908-9. 

Extract from the Student Handbook of 1908-9 (p. 37)
POST SCRIPT

I don’t know what happened to Alice Knapp when she left Reading. All I can find is the announcement of her BA in The Englishwoman’s Review (see below) under the heading of University and Educational Intelligence. It seems that the Review recorded the academic qualification of every woman graduate.

THANKS

To Professor Viv Edwards for locating the census records of the Knapp family in Penarth.

SOURCES

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

The Englishwoman’s Review of Social and Industrial Questions, Vol. XXXIX, No. 1, January 1908.

University College Reading. Students’ handbook. Second issue: 1908-9.

University of Reading. Calendar,  Issues from 1906-7 to 1910-11.

University of Reading Special Collections, Photos in MS5305: University History, Halls, Great Hall.

The Censor of Discipline

My previous post about the Censor of Women Students noted that Mary Bolam took up the position in 1901. It was not until 1906, however, that a male ‘Censor of Discipline’ was mentioned in the University College Calendar, although W. M Childs appears to have taken on the role in the Extension College and Reading College. I assume that he was responsible for the enforcement of the college’s rules and regulations.

It may be no coincidence that the creation of the post, possibly in imitation of Oxford University, took place in the same year that W. M. Childs and a small group of senior academics began plotting the long journey towards university status.

The position was occupied by Herbert Knapman who had been appointed to the Mathematics Department as Assistant Lecturer in 1903 and promoted to Lecturer in Geometry the following year. Despite being acknowledged as a brilliant academic, Knapman devoted himself to administrative duties rather than research and publication. As this profile from the Student Handbook shows, he combined the roles of Tutorial Secretary and Censor of Discipline: 

Profile of Herbert Knapman, Censor of Discipline, in the Student Handbook of 1908-09

From 1927 he supplemented these responsibilities with the position of University Registrar until his death in 1932.

Knapman was a close ally of the Principal, W. M. Childs, and one of the original band of six academics who from 1906 helped to develop his vision of ‘making a university’, In doing so he served as secretary to committees that investigated the feasibility of becoming a university institution (the Policy Committee of 1909-11) and the committee that prepared the College for university status.

From the start, Childs was impressed by Knapman’s efficiency:

The appointment of Herbert Knapman as Tutorial Secretary in 1906 meant that henceforth a mass of academic detail would be handled with a precision and promptitude never more valuable than in a period of growth and inquiry.‘ (W. M. Childs, 1933, p. 124)

A glowing tribute can also be found in Hubert Childs’s biography of his father, referring to Knapman’s ‘remarkable ability as an organiser’, his reticence, tirelessness, loyalty, humour and public spirit.

Herbert Knapman at the Degree Ceremony, July 1929 (University of Reading, Special Collections). See below for the full image.

Like Lucy Ashcroft, Knapman is mentioned by name in Reading’s Charter of Incorporation of 1926. On his death in 1932 his obituary was published in the journal Nature.

POST SCRIPT

Knapman must have been something of an amateur ornithologist. He was the one who compiled the list of 30 bird species spotted on the London Road Campus that appears in W. M. Childs’s memoir (p. 52).

THE GRADUATION PROCESSION, 6 JULY 1929
University of Reading, Special Collections

From left to right: Prof H. A. D. Neville (Agricultural Chemistry), Herbert Knapman (Registrar), Leonard G. Sutton (Vice-President of Council), W. G. de Burgh (Deputy Vice-Chancellor), Alfred Palmer (President of Council), the Mace-Bearer, William Macbride Childs (Vice-Chancellor).

According to Holt, This was Childs’s last degree ceremony.

SOURCES

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

N., E. H. (1932). Mr. Herbert Knapman. Nature 130, 426–427.

University College Reading, Student Handbook, 1908-09.

University of Reading. Charter of Incorporation, 17 March 1926. 

University of Reading, Special Collections.  Academic Processions, MS 5305.

The Censor of Women Students

Lucy Ashcroft, Censor of Women Students at Reading, was mentioned in previous posts about Women’s Sculling and women and boat racing. These references prompted an enquiry about the role of the Censor.

My source of information about colleges and universities outside Reading is Carol Dyhouse’s ‘No distinction of sex‘, a history of women in British universities. Dyhouse points out that:

University authorities were in loco parentis, and felt that women needed special protection and chaperonage that could only be discharged by a woman. The 1880s and 1890s were, after all, decades in which controversy still raged over the potentially deleterious effects of intellectual exertion on women’s minds and physiology.’ (p. 59)

Essentially, the Censor was responsible for the welfare of women students, but the title varied between institutions:

  • Tutor (or Senior Tutor) to Women Students
  • Lady Superintendent
  • Lady Tutor
  • Dean of Women Students
  • Advisor (or General Advisor) to Women Students

Details of the role varied too. There were issues about whether the person appointed should be an academic and the extent to which they should be involved in academic matters. Sometimes the duties led to conflict – responsibilities such as the acceptance or rejection of applicants could have unpleasant consequences.

There was scepticism about the usefulness of the position in some quarters, but it was robustly championed by the Headmistresses’ Association, at least partly to appease parents who were anxious about their daughters going on to higher education.

Edith Morley mentions the role as a career opportunity for women in her edited volume of 1914, ‘Women workers in seven professions.’ In one of the chapters she authored herself, ‘Women at the universities and university teaching as a profession,‘ she classifies it as an administrative post but insists strongly that it should be filled by an academic:

This post [Dean or Tutor of Women Students] is usually  and should always be held by a woman of senior academic standing, whose position in the class-room or laboratory commands as much respect as her authority outside. The Dean or Tutor is responsible for the welfare and discipline of all women students, and is nowadays usually a member of the Senate or academic governing body.’ (p. 17)

CENSORS AT READING: MARY BOLAM

Reading had both a Censor of Discipline (male) and a Censor of Women Students (female). As far as I have been able to discover, the first mention of the latter is in a late notice inserted into the Reading College Calendar for 1901-2 after it had been printed:

Late insert in the Calendar of 1901-2 announcing the appointment of Mary Bolam.

Mary Bolam was Censor from 1901 to 1911. From the outset, her address is given as St Andrew’s Hostel and it seems that her position of Censor was inextricably linked with that of Warden. She remained Warden of St Andrew’s until she retired in 1927. In his memoir, Childs recalls that:

Beginning in 1890 with two or three students in private rooms, she [Mary Bolam] lived to preside for many years over one of the largest and best appointed women’s halls to be found in any English university, old or new.‘ (p. 182).

She was clearly a dynamic force, described by Childs as ‘the merciless enemy of the slovenly‘. And Childs devotes a glowing testimonial of nearly a page and a half to Mary Bolam’s personality, skill and effectiveness: 

She had organising genius, strong will, clear purpose, north-country toughness under trial and benevolence of heart.‘ (p. 182).

The image below showing Bolam and Childs in 1901 is an enlarged section of the photo of the Education Department from Professor Barnard’s book of 1949 that was shown in full in my earlier post about the ‘Criticism Lesson’.

Mary Bolam (left) in 1901 seated with W. M. Childs, Vice-Principal of Reading College and the University’s first Vice-Chancellor.

Mary Bolam is also praised in Holt’s history of the University of Reading, though not quite as effusively. He reports that she had been ‘the doyenne of the women wardens‘ (p. 64), that ‘her own students adored her‘ and that ‘She was indefatigable and she was a Tartar’ (p. 65).

Her status was undoubtedly enhanced by being a graduate and having teaching responsibilities. Successive editions of the Calendar record teaching duties in Geography, ‘Preliminary Studies’ and in Primary Education (she had previously been an assistant at Cheltenham Ladies College under Dorothea Beale). Holt notes her membership of Senate as the first ‘statutory woman’ (p. 275). 

LUCY ASHCROFT

I am not sure exactly when Lucy Ashcroft succeeded Mary Bolam as Censor. She is not described as such in the Calendar until 1913-14, several years after Bolam had relinquished the role. 

Like Bolam, Ashcroft was a graduate with teaching experience in schools. She first appears in the College Calendar of 1907-08 as Assistant Lecturer in Mathematics. A brief profile (including her address) can be found in the Student Handbook of 1908-09:

Lucy Ashcroft’s qualifications and experience published in the Student Handbook of 1908-9, p. 70

Given her experience of teaching mathematics in schools, it is not surprising that the Calendar of 1913-14 lists her not only as Censor of Women Students but also Lecturer in Secondary Education, following in the steps of Caroline Herford, the first holder of that position. Between 1921 and 1922 Ashcroft was also acting Warden of Wessex Hall. 

Lucy Ashcroft is mentioned by name in Reading’s Charter of Incorporation (1926). The position of Censor entailed membership of the University Court. She remained in post until she retired in 1942.

The above has focused on women censors at Reading. My next contribution will be about the male Censor of Discipline, Herbert Knapman.

POST SCRIPT

According to the Ashcroft family,  Lucy was the aunt of the actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft (1907-1991) – my thanks to Sharon Maxwell for this information.

SOURCES

Barnard, H. C. (Ed.). (1949). The Education Department through fifty years. University of Reading.

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

Dyhouse, C. (1995). No distinction of sex? Women in British universities, 1870-1939. London: UCL Press.

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

Morley, E. J. (2014). Women at the universities and university teaching as a profession. In E. J. Morley (Ed.), Women workers in seven professions: a survey of their economic conditions and prospects (pp. 11-24). London: Routledge. [Edited for the Studies Committee of the Fabian Women’s Group].

Reading College. Calendar, 1901-02.

University College Reading, Calendars, 1902-3 to 1913-14, and 1921-22.

University College Reading, Student Handbook, 1908-09.

University of Reading. Charter of Incorporation, 17 March 1926.