Tag Archives: Bradford Technical College

100. Brains for Industry: Dr Richardson’s Campaign for Technological Universities

In 1943, Dr Harry Richardson, Principal of the Bradford Technical College, sensed an opportunity.  Since his appointment as Principal in 1920, Dr Richardson had persisted with the ongoing quest for university status for the College (see Object 49).  However, by 1930, complete discouragement meant he had put the matter aside to await fresh developments.

Dr Harry Richardson with students at Bradford Technical College, from Frank Hill's Lecture on “Careers in the Wool Industry” 1955 (Univ/HIL)

Dr Harry Richardson with students at Bradford Technical College, from Frank Hill’s Lecture on “Careers in the Wool Industry” 1955 (Univ/HIL)

In 1943, the British government was thinking about plans for improving society once the Second World War was over.  Education was key.  The progress of the War had highlighted the need for “brains for industry”: a skilled and well educated workforce who could create and manage new technologies.  This could not be supplied by the existing ramshackle educational system, which was radically overhauled in the resulting legislation, the Education Act of 1944.

Technical education was of particular concern.  Colleges (like Bradford’s) had grown up to train workers in local industries but there was no central planning to enable the country to develop university level technological “brains”.  In April 1944, the Education Minister (R.A. Butler) appointed a Special Committee, chaired by Lord Eustace Percy, “to consider the needs of higher technological education in England and Wales”.

Bradford Technical College Engineer Cadet Course, 10 months, RAF, first group, c1942 (BTC 8/3)

Bradford Technical College Engineer Cadet Course, 10 months, RAF, first group, c1942 (BTC 8/3)  This illustrates how the College was supporting the war effort by providing training.

Harry Richardson was not just concerned with enhancing Bradford’s status.  He understood the growing gap between the needs of industry and what technical colleges could offer while in local authority control.  He argued the best way to improve technical education was for some such colleges to become university colleges, allowing them to specialise, develop their own curricula and form better links with industry.

Cover of correspondence file of Dr Richardson, Bradford Technical College (BTC 1/107).

Cover of correspondence file of Dr Richardson, Bradford Technical College (BTC 1/107).

Special Collections holds Dr Richardson’s files of correspondence and press cuttings documenting his campaigning activity from 1943: writing memoranda and letters to newspapers and contacting key people (the Privy Council, the Ministry, the University Grants Committee, Percy Committee members, such as Dr Lowery of the South-West Essex Technical College).  Crucially, he also nurtured support for his ideas among Bradford businessmen, councillors and the local newspapers.

Letter from Hopkinson of the Bradford Dyers' Association, 1 October 1943, praising Richardson's recent letter to The Times newspaper and agreeing with the need for the country to invest in technological education (BTC 1/107)

Letter from Hopkinson of the Bradford Dyers’ Association, 1 October 1943, praising Richardson’s recent letter to The Times newspaper and agreeing with the need for the country to invest in technological education (BTC 1/107)

The Percy Committee published its report, addressed to the new Minister of Education (Ellen Wilkinson), in 1945.  Among its recommendations, the report called for the setting up of a limited number of technical colleges “in which there should be developed technological courses of a standard comparable with that of University degree courses”.

Ten years later, this proposal became reality: in 1956 following the publication of the White Paper on technical education, a small number of technical colleges which would “concentrate entirely on advanced studies” were designated.  Bradford was one of these eight Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs).

Percy had argued that advanced colleges would be more adaptable to industry needs if they were not set up as universities.  In practice this caused problems for the CATs: they were universities in all other ways but lacked the power, autonomy and funding that the new “plateglass” universities had from the outset.  The Robbins Committee addressed this concern, reporting in 1963 that the CATs should become “technological universities”; Bradford received its Charter in 1966.

Retirement presentation to Principal Richardson, 1957, of a solid silver reproduction George I coffee service and salver.  Principal Richardson is the central figure (BTC 8/3)

Retirement presentation to Principal Richardson, 1957, of a solid silver reproduction George I coffee service and salver. Richardson is the central figure (BTC 8/3),

Richardson retired shortly after the CATs were announced and died four months before the University came into being.  He had played a vital role in these developments.  He and his colleagues had maintained the high academic standards that were needed for the institution to be recognised as a CAT and his indefatigable lobbying maintained local support and ensured the city’s claim to a University could not be forgotten by those in power.

Sources: “Brains for industry” is a quotation from a Times Higher Education leading article of 10 November 1945 which endorsed Richardson’s call for technical colleges to become university colleges.  McKinlay covers in detail the long and complicated story of Richardson’s campaigns and the development of technological universities.

97. To the Caverns of Castleton: the Bradford Technical College Staff Outings

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.

Charabancs available from S. Thompson of Sutton-in-Craven (BTC 3/12/2)

Charabancs – we don’t have an image of J. Bullock’s coaches; these similar ones were advertised by S. Thompson of Sutton-in-Craven (BTC 3/12/2)

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”.

Menu for the Castleton Restaurant, where the 1933 Bradford Technical College Staff Outing had luncheon (BTC 3/12/2).

Menu for the Castleton Restaurant, where the 1933 Bradford Technical College Staff Outing had luncheon (BTC 3/12/2). We don’t alas know which menu they chose!

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.

Flyer advertising The Great Peak Cavern in Castleton, visited by the 1933 Bradford Technical College Staff Outing (BTC 3/12/2)

Flyer advertising The Great Peak Cavern in Castleton, visited by the 1933 Bradford Technical College Staff Outing (BTC 3/12/2)

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.

Group photograph Bradford Technical College.  We think this was taken on a Staff Outing, probably circa 1908 or 1909  (BTC 2/35)

Group photograph Bradford Technical College. We think this was taken on a Staff Outing, probably circa 1908 or 1909 (BTC 2/35)

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.

Menu for afternoon tea at the Peveril of the Peak hotel in Thorpe, Derbyshire, visited by Bradford Technical College staff.  "Trust House" menu suggests that the hotel was part of a larger group of country inns.  (BTC 3/12/2)

Menu for afternoon tea at the Peveril of the Peak hotel in Thorpe, Derbyshire, visited by Bradford Technical College staff.  (BTC 3/12/2)  Presumably one of the “Trust Houses”, country inns managed as a group to ensure their survival, with emphasis on food rather than alcohol.

49. A University for Bradford? Robert McKinlay’s Histories of the University

This week, two vital books for anyone interested in the University of Bradford’s story: The University of Bradford: origins and development and The University of Bradford: the early years.  Both were written by Robert McKinlay, Vice-Principal of the Bradford Institute of Technology and later Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University.  The books are incredibly useful and authoritative sources, as McKinlay combined huge experience and knowledge and scrupulous archival research.

The University of Bradford: origins and development, by Robert McKinlay, front cover

The University of Bradford: origins and development, by Robert McKinlay, front cover

Origins covers the period up to 1966, when the University received its Charter; Early years takes us through the 1970s, with an epilogue on the 1980s and early 1990s.  I draw extensively on both in writing about the Objects.  The former is particularly useful on this week’s theme: how Bradford came to have a University (and why it took so long).

Bradford’s University grew out of the 19th century demand for technical education and moral improvement that led to the development of Mechanics’ Institutes and colleges.  However, although we can trace the University’s history back to 1882 (founding of the Technical School) and even 1832 (the Bradford Mechanics’ Institute), it did not become a Chartered University until 1966.  This contrasts with the experiences of other cities such as Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool where the so-called “red-brick” universities were created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Why did it take over 100 years for the city to acquire its own University?

The full story is told in over 100 pages in Origins, which is recommended if you wish to know the twists and turns of the whole tale.  Here’s a summary!

Many influential people were committed to the idea of a Bradford University.  Harry Richardson, Principal of the College from 1920 to 1956, put huge effort into this cause, supported by Alderman Revis Barber and the local press.   Alderman Conway, Lord Mayor of Bradford, argued that University status for the College would offer huge benefits to the region, as he explained in this collection of his articles in the Yorkshire Observer.  There were occasional surges of enthusiasm and suggested initiatives involving other universities.

University status for Bradford Technical College by Michael Conway, title page

University status for Bradford Technical College by Michael Conway, title page

However these did not prosper.   The College’s narrow subject base and location in a textile city did not help.  We might point to a lack of local civic support (textile owners perhaps tend to trust instinct and to be hostile to sharing specialist knowledge), a mistrust of technological subjects as the proper study of a university, and the perhaps unfortunate narrowing of the College’s curriculum at exactly the time two Yorkshire universities were founded (Leeds and Sheffield).   Once other universities were established nearby, it would be harder for Bradford to make its case.  McKinlay also suggests that the strategies employed by those in favour were too vague.  Were they calling for an institute of technology or a university?  Was the debate about the naming of the institution or how it was governed?   Different arguments were made by different advocates.  All of which gave opponents “room to manoevre”.

Vice-Chancellor, Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor : E.G. Edwards, Harold Wilson, Charles Morris and R.A. McKinlay. Late 1960s.

Vice-Chancellor, Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor : E.G. Edwards, Harold Wilson, Charles Morris and R.A. McKinlay. Late 1960s.

The breakthrough came in 1956 with the White Paper on Technical Education, which aimed to increase graduate numbers in technological subjects by founding Colleges of Advanced Technology.  Bradford was to be one of these, a fitting retirement gift for Harry Richardson who had worked so hard for a university.  This began the process of taking the organisation out of local government control and paved the way for the transformation into a University which would run its own affairs.   Between the two books, we have the whole story in digested form: we are very grateful to Robert McKinlay for putting them together.

45. In t’Back Streets, Behind Tech: the Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology

These images show the construction of the Main Building, part of Bradford Institute of Technology (BIT), which later became the University of Bradford.

Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology under construction, February 1962

Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology under construction, February 1962 (archive ref UNI B01)

BIT was created in 1956 as a College of Advanced Technology, hiving off higher education from the College; in 1966 the Royal Charter made it a University. BIT’s short life was dominated by the need to find space for expansion: growing numbers of staff and students and better facilities for research and teaching at this higher level.  The Main Building was part of the solution.  Eventually the Institute and the local council decided to expand the campus into the surrounding back streets, rather than move to a greenfield site as had been suggested.

Empty houses awaiting demolition, Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology in background, February 1963

Empty houses awaiting demolition, Main Building of Bradford Institute of Technology in background, February 1963 (archive ref UNI B02)

As we see here, this required the demolition of many houses, with painful impact on the many people who had to move.

Main Building completed, September 1964

Main Building completed, September 1964 (archive ref UNI B10)

Main Building took four years to complete, beginning in May 1960, and was formally opened by Prime Minister and first Chancellor of the University Harold Wilson on 11 June 1965.  Now known as Richmond Building, it has housed University administration, many academic departments and student facilities, and is probably the most visible and recognisable University building even today.

Chancellor Harold Wilson at the microphone during opening of Main Building, June 1965

Chancellor Harold Wilson at the microphone during opening of Main Building, June 1965 (archive ref UNI PHW4)

(The title is taken from a quotation in Robert McKinlay’s The University of Bradford: origins and development).

41. Two 22nd Decembers: Merry Christmasses at Bradford Technical College

Two seasonal favourites, among the rare surviving materials about student life in the Bradford Technical College Archive: programmes for events organised by the Students’ Union, thirteen years apart, both on the 22nd December.

The first happened in 1903: an annual social evening, featuring musical selections, dancing and sleight of hand tricks plus, tantalisingly, “&c &c”.  This single sheet has survived because it was bound with the student magazine The Collegian.

The other is  an Entertainment of Convalescent Soldiers in 1916.  We have the complete programme, so we can reconstruct the day: see the middle pages and the back cover on our flickr stream.

The Entertainment combined promotion of the cutting edge technological facilities at the College and jolly treats.  There were visits to the newish departments we saw earlier on and demonstrations of the production and properties of “liquid air” i.e. air which has been cooled until it is liquid.  The demos showed the “effect of great cold on common objects: flowers, beefsteak, rubber, whisky, grapes, egg, mercury and metals”.  There was also a humourist, a ventriloquist, a cinematograph, and plenty of music.

We’ll be looking at more recent student activities in several of next year’s Objects, so please do come back and see us then.  We would like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic 2012!

37. Labor Omnia Vincit: the 1882 Opening of Bradford Technical School, in silk

This week’s Object is a silk panel produced to commemorate the opening on 23 June 1882 of the Bradford Technical School.  The Technical School later became the Technical College, eventually morphing into Bradford University and Bradford College.

Woven silk panel of the 1882 Opening of Bradford Technical School

Woven silk panel of the 1882 Opening of Bradford Technical School (BTC 2/2). Note the city’s Latin motto at the foot: Hard work conquers all.

The School was set up to improve technical education in Bradford so that the city’s wool and textile industries could continue to thrive in the face of growing competition from Europe.  As the Trust Deed put it: to impart “to youths, artisans and others, technical, scientific, artistic and general instruction in the various processes involved in the production of Worsted, Woollen, Silk and Cotton Fabrics and other manufactured articles …”.

Detail from programme of 1882 Opening of Bradford Technical School

Detail from programme of 1882 Opening of Bradford Technical School (BTC 2/1).

On the day, the Prince and Princess of Wales formally opened the new building for the School (which remains part of Bradford College and is now known as the Old Building).  There was also a bumper Victorian lunch featuring salmon, pigeons and, naturally, Yorkshire hams.  The Bradford Technical College Archive is rich in memorabilia from the event, such as the programme (detail above).  The panel itself is too fragile to put on show, so this exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to highlight its story.

13: “From the Raw Material to the Finished Cloth”: Photographs of the new Textile Department, 1911

The Wool Scouring and Drying Room in the new Textile Block

The Wool Scouring and Drying Room in the new Textile Block

These fascinating images are taken from an album of photographs, part of the Bradford Technical College Archive.  The album was put together for the 1911 opening of a new textile department at Bradford Technical College, and was presented to Alderman William Warburton, Chairman of the City’s Education Committee: the College was at that stage in its history run by the City Council.  The photographs show the facilities of the new department, which was equipped with machinery similar to that students would encounter in textile mills, to carry out all operations from “the raw material to the finished cloth”.   The album also showed external views of the College buildings and equipment in the other departments, such as the Motor Car Engineering Laboratory (below).

Motor Car Engineering Laboratory

Motor Car Engineering Laboratory

The BTC had been founded in 1882, growing out of classes held by the Mechanics’ Institute.  Its teaching centred on the advanced skills required by Bradford’s industries.  The original departments were Textile Industries, Chemistry and Dyeing, Engineering and Art, plus a day science school, though by 1911, the Art department had become a separate School of Art, and the science school was closed.

Bradford Technical College is part of the heritage of both the University of Bradford and Bradford College.  In 1959, the BTC’s higher education strand became one of the Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATS), renamed the Bradford Institute of Technology, which later became the University of Bradford.  Find out more about the BTC and its successors on the Archive webpage.  The full story of the various institutions which are now Bradford College can be found on their 175 heroes exhibition web pages.

The new Textile Department, Bradford Technical College, 1911

The new Textile Department. The building survives as part of Bradford College, is now known as the Lister Building, and when we last heard was home to departments for law, arts and media.