On 14 July 1933, 29 members of staff of Bradford Technical College had a grand day out in the Peak District! They travelled to Castleton, Dovedale and Buxton in a “chara” (charabanc) provided by Bullock & Sons of Wakefield.
The morning featured a trip to the Great Peak Cavern, followed by a roast lunch at the Castleton Restaurant. The coach then took the staff via Hathersage and Chatsworth, dropping them at Dovedale for a three mile walk, and tea at the Peveril of the Peak hotel: bread and butter, paste and cucumber sandwiches, jam, lettuce, and “plain and fancy cakes”.
We discovered the Castleton day out while enhancing the old catalogue of the Bradford Technical College Archive. Among our finds was a delightful set of papers about the Staff Outings of the 1930s and 1940s, full of details about routes, menus, attendance etc. The trips were organised for the Staff Association of the College, by its Hon. Secretary. In 1933 this was Mr R.G. Oversby, who observed in his report to the General Meeting, that “all taking part had a most enjoyable time”. 29 was a good turnout: previous trips had fewer numbers or even had to be abandoned through lack of interest, which rather irked Mr Oversby.
The trips were part of a long tradition within the Technical College, taking advantage of the many beauty spots and heritage sites within easy reach of Bradford, such as the Lake District, Whitby and Malham.
The College had a small, close-knit (and overwhelmingly male) teaching staff. The activities of the Staff Association helped build this sense of community. As well as organising Outings and other social activities, they supported members (and their widows and orphans) and negotiated with management.
The material concerning the Staff Association is a wonderful and little-tapped source, not just about the College, but about education, leisure, and above all Bradford itself. The College had come into being to meet the training needs of local textile industries and its staff and students were part of the rich social, cultural and industrial life memorably portrayed in J.B. Priestley’s Bradford writings.
The Outings illustrate this well: local connections and family members often came along (witness the children in the above photograph, probably sons of the staff). Typically, the Secretary of the Bradford Teachers’ Association, Mr Foster Sutherland, was part of the 1933 trip. He seems to have been an influential local official and Mr Oversby observes that “many were able to profit by private conversations” with him during the day …
Look out for a new edition of the Bradford Technical College Archive catalogue later this year, which will make it much easier for researchers to discover this important historical resource.