Tag Archives: Highfield Campus 100

Highfield Campus 100: 1920s

As we move into the 1920s, we find the University College settling into its new Highfield site.  By 1922, we were home to a grand total of 350 students!  In 1925, 32 of these students secured honours degrees, with 9 placed in the first class. While there were 14 departments in total, the bulk of the student body was made up of trainee teachers, engineers and a large contingent of ex-service men financed by Ministry of Labour; those reading for a degree were in a small minority.  In terms of staff, the University College had 10 professors, 4 readers, 20 lecturers and 4 demonstrators. The administrative staff consisted of the Registrar, David Kiddle, plus two male clerks.  Principal Vickers recounted “what they lacked in numbers […] they made up for by devotion to the interests of their students and their loyalty to the college.”

MS1_Phot_39_ph3112_r

Exterior view of the University College, south wing, with staff and students, c. 1920-5 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3112]

Developing the student accommodation was a key priority for the decade. The first official men’s hall of residence, Stoneham House, was open for the start of the 1921 session and could accommodate 100 residents; it was billed as having “electric light and central heating throughout” – so all the mod-cons! This sixteenth-century mansion house had been the seat of the Barons Swaythling before they moved to Townhill Park House.

MS1-2-5-17-246-e1545054957357.jpg

Staff common room at South Stoneham House [MS1/2/5/17/246]

South Hill House for women “an enlarged private house in beautiful gardens” opened at the same time; this joined Highfield Hall, meaning that there were two residences for female students.  Now part of Glen Eyre in Bassett, South Hill was on loan to the College from the President, Claude Montefiore, and received 30 female “freshers”.

ms 244-12-a919-5southhillhouse 1928-9

Betty Wicks and other residents pictured outside South Hill Hall of Residence, c. 1928-9 [MS224/12 A919]

In 1927, the College bought the freehold of Highfield Hall, with a view to erecting a more modern building. The South wing of the new Highfield Hall was available for occupation by the end of the decade, 1929, although not formally opened by the Duke of York until 1 July 1930.

MS1_Phot_39_ph3133_r

Group photograph outside the winter garden of Highfield Hall, c. 1928, with some of the women in fancy dress. [MS1/Phot/39 ph3133]

There were several key individuals who were instrumental in the development of the institution. At the top, throughout the decade, Claude Montefiore gave continuity as President (akin to Chancellor), with his long tenure from 1913-1943.  At the start of the decade, Dr Thomas Loveday replaced Dr Alex Hill as Principal (i.e. Vice Chancellor); his term was fairly short-lived and he was replaced by Kenneth Hotham Vickers in October 1922 who worked to achieve full university status for the institution.

MS1_Photo_39_ph3415_r_0001

Kenneth Hotham Vickers, Principal of the University College 1922-46, seated at his writing table [MS1/Phot/39 ph3415]

Principal Vickers recounts:

The best and most fruitful stage of my education began when I took up residence in Southampton in September 1922 with very little conception of what lay before me […] On my first day in College I was waylaid by the Professor of Physics who was alarmed at the dangerous condition of his first floor lecture room, which was showing signs of subsiding […] On the whole, the accommodation was sufficient for the work then being done, but the huts were an eyesore, and their upkeep and heating a constant worry. [MS113 LF780UNI 2/7/85/101]

Professor John Eustice was Vice Principal throughout the decade.

At the start of the decade, Albert Cock was appointed as Professor of Education and Philosophy.  That same year, the University gained a Chair of Modern Languages with the promotion of Patchett from German lecturer and H.M. Margoliouth as Professor of English Language and Literature.

MS 1 A4108.3 English graduates including Prof Margoliouth

English graduates including Professor Margoliouth [MS1 A4108/3]

In 1921 the University College gained its first Music Professor, George Leake;  he was also organist and choirmaster of St. Marks Church.

MS 101/6 George Leake "Sleep my little one!"

Sheet music for Sleep my little one, set to music by George Leake

The Department of Law was created in 1923. In 1926, Dr W.Rae Sherriffs was appointed first chair of Zoology.  That same year, the University College was joined by Percy Ford who worked towards building a faculty not just of economics but social sciences.

The Engineering Faculty also saw great expansion with a scheme of part time and day and evening training for apprentices of local engineering and shipbuilding firms. The project was supported by Messrs. Thornycrofts and Co. of the Supermarine Aviation Works at Woolston and of the Avro Works at Hamble.

Principal Vickers gives an honest account of the physical condition of the Highfield campus:

Standing in acres of ground lying either side of a public road, it consisted of two wings of the original design joined together by a covered way. As an after thought, three small laboratories and a building for the Engineering Department, all “semi-permanent” structures, had been erected behind these two wings. The Hospital authorities had added a large number of wooden huts of “temporary structure”, which were sold to the College.

MS1_Phot_39_ph3211_r

Aerial view of the University College looking east, showing part of University Road and Hartley Avenue, c. 1928-9 [MS1/Phot 39 ph3211]

And Vickers elaborates further on the College accommodation:

The main structure was not very prepossessing and suffered from the addition of certain stone adornments; it was built of unattractive brick. Already it was showing signs of unsteadiness. In front of the College there was an unmown hay field, at the back all the unoccupied space was a wilderness. Across the road, in front of the College were more huts.

MS1_Phot_39_ph3099b_r

Exterior view of the University College, north wing, c. 1925 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3099b]

The opening of the George Moore Botanical Building by Duke of Connaught in June 1928 was a key achievement. It housed laboratories for the Botany Department and its construction was made possible through a legacy left by George Moore, a former member of the College Council. The driving force behind this project was Professor of Botany, S.Mangham. At the same time, plans were laid for a botanical garden; this now has a second life as Valley Gardens.

ms1_2_5_17 department of botany, the main laboratory showing prof mangham with students

Department of Botany: the main laboratory showing Professor Mangham with students [MS1/2/5/17]

Various new committees established during this decade including for general purposes, grounds, works and halls and refectory.  Alongside this the work of Senate was developed and this also generated several new committees, including Research Committee and Development Committee.

A good social life was as important for students then as it is now.  This dance card from 1921 shows that nights out were somewhat more formal 100 years ago.

ms224 a909.1.3 soiree

Dance card for a soiree at the Royal Pier Pavilion, 24 February 1921 [MS224 A908/1/3]

This decade saw the acquisition of an assembly hall and the Montefiore sports field which greatly aided the student social scene. Football, hockey and netball were some of the sports in which the students could partake and these activities are well reflected in our photographic collections.

MS1_Phot_39_ph3164_r

Tennis team, 1921 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3164]

In 1926 Gilbert and Sullivan concerts were held in the Old Assembly Hall, conducted by D.Cecil Williams, Master of Music at University College, Southampton.  The “RAG” (student-run fundraising) events also featured heavily.

ms224_12_a919_5_rag_0002.jpg

Photo the RAG concert, 1928-9 session, taken from the papers of Betty Wicks [MS224/12 A919/5/2]

Towards the end of the decade, in 1928, the Wessex publication was founded as “a record of the movement for a University of Wessex”. That same year the Extra-Mural Department formed with Kenneth Lindsay as secretary; classes of various types opened in close co-operation with the Workers’ Educational Association, Women’s Institutes and other bodies in local area. A four year course in education was also instituted.

By the end of the decade the University College had faced its fair share of challenges, many financial, but was well established at its Highfield home.  We will close with Principal Vickers reflections on the University College, Southampton spirit:

Not many days had gone by before I realized that there was that corporate spirit and devotion to all that the College stood for, which can only be learnt fully by those who have together passed through days of danger and tribulation […] There was in the College something which was intangible, but very real, compounded of a belief in University education, a devotion to the place and their job and their readiness to give the raw young Principal all the backing that he needed. [MS 113 LF 780 UNI 2/7/85/101]

Advertisements

Highfield Campus 100: 1919

Welcome to the first in the series of Special Collections blogs that chart the development of university life at the Highfield campus from 1919 onwards.

University College at Highfield, from the south wing, c.1919 [MS1 Phot/39/ph3100]

University College at Highfield, from the south wing, c.1919 [MS1/Phot/39 ph3100]

The development at Highfield was part of an ambitious expansion plan by the University College of Southampton to create new and enhanced facilities to attract more students and to compete with other educational institutions.

The first part of this plan was the acquisition of the lease of Highfield Hall by the College’s Principal Dr Alexander Hill. This was opened in early 1914, partly as a home for Dr Hill and his family, and partly as a hall of residence for a number of staff and students.

Highfield Hall showing winter garden, c.1914 [MS 1/Phot/39 ph 3128a]

Highfield Hall showing winter garden, c.1914 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3128a]

The progress and plans for the buildings at the Highfield site were to be subject to various modifications as compromises had to be made to keep the project within budget.

Details of plans from 1912

Detail from proposed plans, 1912

Firstly, due to increasing building costs, the construction of the proposed administration building was postponed. It then became clear that only two wings of the Arts building, without its centre, could be constructed with the money available. This “Arts block” consisted of 28 large and various small lecture rooms as well as private rooms for professors and laboratories for biology, chemistry, physics and engineering connected to the Arts block and each other by covered ways.

South wing and front of building under construction, c.1913 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3089]

South wing and front of building under construction, c.1913 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3089]

Front of building under construction, c.1913 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3095]

Part of front of building under construction, c.1913 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3095]

Despite the compromises that had to be made with the construction, a sense of optimism prevailed and in a letter to the Court of Governors in early 1914 the President of University College, Claude Montefiore, wrote: “There is a need for a strong university college in the southern counties, which shall ultimately develop into a local university…. A natural seat of such a university or university college is Southampton.”

The first instalment of buildings was officially opened by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Haldane, on 20 June 1914.

The architect presenting the keys to Lord Haldane at the official opening of the Highfield buildings, 1914 [MS1/2/5/17]

The architect presenting the keys to Lord Haldane at the official opening of the Highfield buildings, 1914 [MS1/2/5/17]

Eight days later Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and war was declared on 4 August. The College made the decision not to move its operations from the High Street and a special meeting of the Council on 7 September was called to consider offering the War Office the new buildings at Highfield as a temporary hospital.

University War Hospital, 1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3106]

University War Hospital, 1915 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3106]

The Highfield buildings continued to be used as a war hospital into 1919. The War Office gave up the tenancy in May, although discussions had begun early in that year for the return of the buildings to the University College. The College took the view that as the buildings had been new when they were taken over by the War Office, there would be damage that could not be made good. Instead, as noted in the Council minutes of 24 February 1919, it would prefer “that they should remain as ‘honourable scars’ testifying to the service which the College was able to render to the state during its time of trial”.

Notice of thanks from the Army Council to University College for the use of the Highfield buildings as a military hospital 1914-May 1919 [MS 1/2/5/20]

Notice of thanks from the Army Council to University College for the use of the Highfield buildings as a military hospital 1914-May 1919 [MS1/2/5/20]

On assessing the extent of the damage, however, the Principal Dr Hill reported to the Council on 23 June that “the architect … was astonished at the amount. … The fitting up and furnishing of the new buildings would be extremely costly, even though the utmost use should be made of all materials which could be removed from the old buildings. The absolutely indispensable equipment would cost several thousands of pounds”. Renewed negotiations with the War Office led to the agreement for “all the huts, fittings, furniture and other equipment provided for the war hospital” to be retained by the College to enable it to accommodate the influx of students and wounded military personnel wishing to return to study.

University College buildings, showing huts, 1925 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3076]

University College buildings showing huts retained from War Hospital, 1925 [MS1/Phot/39 ph 3076]

When the move was finally made from the “Old Hartley” to Highfield campus for the start of the academic year 1919 “upward of 300 full time day students had been admitted and more were coming in every day….” marking a new beginning for both the University and for college community life.

What awaited the new students who joined the College in the autumn of 1919?

In terms of the facilities, the new buildings at Highfield were praised as an improvement on those at the city centre, although accommodation was restricted. Lecture rooms could be small and some facilities had to serve multiple purposes.

Department of Modern Languages [MS1/2/5/17/49]

Department of Modern Languages [MS1/2/5/17/49]

Omnibus room which served as a staff common room, committee room and overflow library [MS1/2/5/17/90]

Omnibus room which served as a staff common room, committee room and overflow library [MS1/2/5/17/90]

Whilst the wooden huts left by the military provided much needed additional accommodation, they still had in some cases traces of their hospital origins. The staff refectory bore the inscription “dysentery” on its door for some time. And although they provided more spacious accommodation than the rooms in the main buildings, the huts were fairly spartan environments.

Hut used as a chemistry laboratory [MS1/2/5/17/30]

Hut used as a chemistry laboratory [MS1/2/5/17/30]

There was also no room specifically designed as a library since this has been part of the central block which had not been constructed. Stock had to be distributed across the College in the various departments.

Department of Chemistry Library [MS1/2/5/17/209]

Department of Chemistry Library [MS1/2/5/17/209]

Maintenance grants were available to support students wishing to study at the College. The rates set by the College’s grants committee in 1919 ranged from £90 pa for single men who were residing with their parents and did not contribute to household costs, to £150 pa for single men and £200 pa for married men who resided independently. No mention is made of grants for women students.

Seniors, 1919, with Dr Hill in the centre [MS1/7/291/22/1 p. 43]

Seniors, 1919, with Dr Hill in the centre [MS1/7/291/22/1 p. 43]

Whilst student numbers had been maintained during the war years by an increase in women students, there was an influx of male students returning to study in 1919. Men and women staff and students might teach and study together, but otherwise existed quite separately. There were designated common rooms for female staff and students, away from those for the male staff and students, and halls of residence were equally separate.

Women staff common room [MS1/2/5/17/92]

Women staff common room [MS1/2/5/17/92]

In keeping with a new beginning at a new location, new staff joined the University for the 1919 academic year although the overall staff complement remained quite modest: G.F.Forsey was appointed lecturer in Classics, finally marking a separation of this subject from English; E.E.Mann became a lecturer in civil and mechanical engineering; A.E.Clarence Smith was appointed a lecturer in physical chemistry; W.H.Barker became lecturer in geography; and the first lecturer in Economics joined the staff. By 1919 the starting salary for the lecturers was £350 pa, whilst that of a professor was £500. This was apparently quite low in comparison with other higher education institutions of the time.

Fancy dress event, 1919 [MS1/7/291/22/1 p.45]

Fancy dress event, 1919 [MS1/7/291/22/1 p.45]

Student activities and student societies had continued throughout the war period, although on a more modest scale. The academic year of 1919 was as much one of transition and adjustment for student social and sporting activities as for academic matters. The student magazine returned to a termly publication rather than the annual one it had been during the war and student societies began developing their future plans. Yet while student events were organised, the lack of space at Highfield campus meant that certain groups such as the Physical Culture Society and the Scientific Society were unable to initiate meetings again at the start of the 1919/20 academic year. Moreover the annual soirée for new students was held at the old Hartley Institution building as there was no room large enough at Highfield.

As we move into the 1920s, the University College entered a new phase: to find out more about this look out for the next blog in February.