Tag Archives: staff

Highfield Campus 100: 1930s

Despite the 1930s being coloured with the economic depression, the College managed to achieve stability and progress. Treasury grants were raised again by the Grants Committee, and student numbers reached a peak at 474 in the academic year 1931-2, and were to reach 500 in the session 1932-3. The opening of New Hall was approaching, and a sense of self-assurance and shared determination infused on campus amongst staff and students.

Pages on New Hall from Booklet for University College, Southampton halls of residence, c.1930 [MS 224 A908/5, pp. 12-13]

New Hall, University College, Southampton Halls of Residence, c.1930 [MS224 A908/5, pp. 12-13]

As a result of generous benefactions, the College was able to construct and develop better facilities for its growing disciplines. At first housed in one small room in the main building and afterwards in two huts, Zoology was moved to the “Science Block” after a gift of £8000 was made by an anonymous donor. Completed in 1931, the building provided facilities for work that was impossible to conduct in the huts. The building also enabled the College to accept treasured zoological and geological collections, such as the Cotton Collection of British Birds, which was formerly housed by the Corporation of Winchester and transferred in 1936.

Corridor in the zoological laboratory from the University College Southampton Prospectus, 1934 [MS 224/22]

Corridor in the zoological laboratory, University College Southampton Prospectus, 1934 [MS224/22]

The College was also involved in city projects, which in turn led to the development of its courses. An example was the Dock Extension Scheme project. This involved construction on land regained from the higher part of Southampton Water of those docks which now expand along to Millbrook Point. The extension was completed in 1934 by many engineers who were former students of the College. It was expected that this docks extension would lead to more shipping companies using the port, and therefore more projects for the College to supply young engineers. Professor Eustice’s retirement as Chair of Engineering in 1930 was taken by the College as an opportunity to think about the future of its Engineering faculty, and to create a clear strategy, in time for Professor Eustice’s successor.

Southern Railway – Southampton Docks. Proposed Dock Extensions – Western Shore, Wessex, Volume 2, 1931-33 [LD 789.9 Univ Coll.]

Southern Railway – Southampton Docks. Proposed Dock Extensions – Western Shore, Wessex, Volume 2, 1931-33 [LF789.9 Univ. Coll.]

Southampton’s location near large engineering works made it a suitable place as a hub for engineering studies in the south of England. In the interests of engineering education, it would be beneficial for the training department to be part of a Higher Education institution, where it could be in close proximity to pure sciences with which engineering had numerous connections. Moreover, the College possessed the only engineering department of Higher Education standard on the south coast. This led to the Chair of Engineering’s salary being substantially increased, and an agreement that £5000 would be spent on equipment during the next two or three years, with a similar amount being saved for further accommodation.

The next Chair of Engineering appointed in 1931 was Wing-Commander T.R. Cave-Browne Cave. His career experience included serving in the Navy as an engineer-officer, and transferring to the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Air Force. He also had been responsible for the design, construction, and trial of non-rigid airships, and had conducted research at the Admiralty, and the Air Ministry, as well as serving on the Aeronautical Research Committee. Alongside his Chair of Engineering duties, Cave-Brown-Cave gave informal talks on aeronautical engineering at the halls of residence. Here is an account of a talk he gave at Stoneham House, featured in an issue of the West Saxon.

“We were fortunate last term in hearing Commander Cave-Brown-Cave give us what amounted to a racy and entertaining history of airships in England… I remember most vividly the thrilling account of the destruction of the R 33 over the Humber, the enthusiastic description of speed trials over the Channel in the R 100, and the wonderful impression of speed to be gained when racing only eighty feet above the clouds.” [The West Saxon, Summer Term 1931, p.91]

Letter written by Commander Cave-Brown-Cave, 19 May 1936 [MS 1 4/126]

Letter written by Commander Cave-Brown-Cave, 19 May 1936 [MS1/4/126]

The effects of the 1930s economic crisis led to the College experiencing a temporary drop in the grants received from the local authorities and the Board of Education, causing a small reduction in income. Cuts were also made to staff salaries. The biggest blow to the College, however, was the sudden dip in the number of students due to the changed policy of the Board of Education, and the damage this incurred on the College revenue. In 1929 a 5-year agreement was made between the Board of Education and the College over the supplementary two-year students. Before the crisis, the total numbers accepted to the Education Department was 375 (200 four-year, 150 two-year and 25 one-year postgraduate students), and this number had been almost fully reached. As a result of the economic crisis however, the Board first reduced the permitted total by 12.5%. They then announced in 1932 that under the current situation, the agreement on the College admitting two-year certificate students until 1934 would have to be terminated, except on conditions that hindered rather than benefitted the College.

Faculty of Education course of study slip, 1933-1934 [MS 104 LF780 UNI 5/374/122]

Faculty of Education course of study slip, 1933-1934 [MS104 LF780 UNI 5/374/122]

To meet this situation several staff appointments were terminated. Full-time members of staff were asked to take evening classes for which part-time teachers had been previously employed, cuts were made on funds for apparatus and equipment, and the administrative personnel was condensed. In spite of all these measures, deficits of £1873, £2882, and £6050 arose in 1933-4 and the two subsequent sessions; and in order to meet bank charges, some of the College’s investments had to be sold.

Advertisement for University College, Southampton, Wessex, Volume 3, 1933-36 [LD 789.9 Univ Coll.]

Advertisement for University College, Southampton, Wessex, Volume 3, 1933-36 [LF789.9 Univ. Coll.]

These deficits were the result of the necessary building programme required to provide the Engineering Department with new facilities, which included lecture rooms, drawing-offices, and workshops. In 1931-2, a new engineering block housing all of these and a new boiler house was constructed. Under a new regulation of London University’s External Council, no candidates for engineering degrees could be admitted to the examination unless they had studied in an approved institution. This meant that the new block required an inspection by London University, to which it passed with flying colours.

Bay of the engineering laboratories from the University College Southampton Prospectus, 1934 [MS 224/22]

Bay of the engineering laboratories, University College Southampton Prospectus, 1934  [MS224/22]

The development of the Engineering Faculty included the introduction of the Aeronautical Studies at the College. This was made possible by the development of a wind tunnel in 1934. To begin with, the tunnel was of a temporary nature and housed in an old hut. In 1941, it was rebuilt in more substantial form and filled with modern machinery. Initially, instruction in aeronautical work was provided to students in addition to their normal degree course. As a result of aircraft being increasingly demanded at a fast pace, and the resulting huge development of the mechanical staff of manufacturing companies, there was now an upward need for instruction of a standard, which would qualify students to take the aeronautical papers of the London degree examination. This led to University College Southampton appointing Mr T. Tanner as Lecturer in Aeronautical Engineering in 1936.

Students studying a model in the 7 x 5 wind tunnel from the University of Southampton 1862-1962 Centenary Appeal booklet [MS224/22 A952/6]

Students studying a model in the 7 x 5 wind tunnel, University of Southampton 1862-1962 Centenary Appeal [MS224/22 A952/6]

By 1931 the insufficiency of the library facilities was deemed so great that a special committee of Senate believed it was halting the effectiveness of the College. The state of finances could offer no solution, until a Mr Edward Turner Sims, a member of the Council who died in 1928, left a generous legacy. In his will he expressed his wish that some sort of memorial to him would be placed in the College. Mr Edward Turner Sims’ daughters, Mary and Margaret, made this wish come true by presenting to the College £24,250 for the construction of a library. In October 1935 H.R.H. the Duke of York (later King George VI) opened the Turner Sims Library. Holding a commodious reading room, a stack room for 12,000 volumes, and six seminar rooms for classics, modern languages, English, philosophy, history and economics, the library was an attractive space for students. So distinguished, the library was provided a prized location in the centre part of the main block on Highfield Campus. Soon after, donations were presented to the library, including in 1938 the collection of Claude Montefiore. The donation consisted of 4500 volumes, of which most focused on theology, Judaica, classical texts, and ancient history. This donation would later become part of the Parkes Library within the Library, which is now one of the largest Jewish documentation centres in Europe.

Official Wessex Edward Turner Sims Library

Interior of the main reading room at Edward Turner Sims Library, c.1938, Wessex, Vol 4, 1937-1938 [LF789.9 Univ. Coll.]

The formation of a School of Navigation had been one of Lyon Playfair’s ideas for the work of the Hartley Institution, and it was finally put into action in 1932, through the Council taking over Gilchrist Navigation School. The Council decided to operate it for an initial 2 years in South Hill. In 1935, the School was made permanent with the support of the local, educational, municipal, and shipping authorities. The appointed Director of the same year was Captain G.W. Wakeford. Restructured and expanded, the School received the recognition of the Board of Trade and the Board of Education. Extending over one year, a residential cadet course was opened in 1937.

Department of Navigation, Wessex Volume 3, 1933-36 [LD 789.9 Univ Coll.]

Department of Navigation, Wessex, Volume 3, 1933-36 [LF789.9 Univ. Coll.]

Despite the development of new facilities, student numbers were falling in the middle and later thirties, and there was a drop in the standard of examination results. Occurring predominantly in the Education Department, where the number of staff members almost matched the number of full-time students, the number of full-time students went from 375 in the session 1934-5 down to 269 in the session 1938-9. Student numbers dipped so low, that the College decided during the session of 1939-40 to have only two halls of residence open – Highfield and Connaught.

Female residents and sub-warden sat in front of Highfield Hall, 1930-31 [MS 224 A919/1]

Female residents and sub-warden sat in front of Highfield Hall, 1930-31 [MS224 A919/1]

It should be noted that this fall in students was not specific to the College, but in fact a countrywide problem. Some institutions however, suffered more than others. One general cause of the fall in students that was known to all higher education institutions was that in times of high employment parents preferred their children to grasp employment opportunities when they existed, rather than to spend time on Higher Education.

Graduates of University College, Southampton, May 1930 [MS224/12 A919/7]

Graduates of University College, Southampton, May 1930 [MS224/12 A919/7]

A Committee was eventually set up to discuss the how the numbers and quality of students could be improved again. They reported in 1939 measures to be taken, which focused on methods of motivating the less reactive students and steps to make the College’s work and resources more widely recognised. The outbreak of World War Two gave little time for these to be put into action however, and the war’s aftermath created a very different situation. Look out for our next Highfield 100 Campus blog post, which will take you through the forties at the University!

“Southampton War Cry” from the Wessex Student Song Book [MS 224 A917/10]

“Southampton War Cry”, Wessex Student Song Book [MS224 A917/10]

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.