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Anne McDowell – Bath Spa University

Anne was a student at Newton Park College from 1962 to 1963. She spent her year at Hockley House, at the top of an unmade road known locally as “The Rut”. Here are some of her many happy memories.

"'Alight at the Globe Inn' – these words remain etched in my memory as the most significant instruction when travelling to Newton Park by bus from Bath."

Anne McDowell, June 2022

It was assumed that most of us would arrive by public transport in the early days of our time at college. Students rarely owned cars, and not all parents did, so lifts to Newton Park were rare. The Globe maintained its significance to students as a coaching stop and private watering hole. A long walk down the drive in the evenings was rewarded with half of cider. Students could not afford sophisticated drinking habits!

First-year students were mostly accommodated in one of three large communal houses in Weston, Bath. I was at Hockley. The house was at the top of an unmade road known locally as “The Rut”. It was often hazardous negotiating the potholes, particularly for cars. All that now remains are the gateway pillars, with Hockley still visibly etched into the stonework.

Hockley holds many happy memories. Rooms were shared usually between three or four students. Lifelong friendships were forged; habits both good and bad were acquired. Talking into the early hours with roommates, thus getting little sleep, led to many of us nodding off in lectures.

One of my roommates arrived at Hockley with a double-sized cabin trunk. It was at the front door of Hockley when we arrived, leading many to comment on the difficulties there would be trying to get it up the stairs of the house. My brother drew the short straw and was asked to help. By some good fortune, it came to rest in my shared room. When all the parents had left, we took great delight in watching its contents disgorged. Gill’s mum had been saving up and buying supplies to send her daughter off to college with, fearing we might not have enough to eat. I went home that Christmas a stone heavier!

We returned to Newton Park in the severe winter of 1963 after an extended Christmas break. The white landscape remained as a backdrop to our term’s activities, not revealing its Spring greenery until March.

The grounds of Newton Park were a stunningly beautiful winter wonderland. The lakes were frozen, and we could walk across the ice with no hint of cracks and no sense of danger. The slopes in front of the main house served as a ski run, and Miss Parker regularly skied down them, impressing us with her prowess. We could not have imagined it possible to share such moments.

Our student days were lived against the backdrop of Beatles Music, the assassination of President Kennedy, Harold Wilson’s government and the emergence of the iconic fashions of the day. However, student fashion was characterised by thick knit sweaters, duffle coats and college scarves.

We did tend to dress up a bit on occasions. I usually tried to look smart for lectures. I would teeter up to Main House in high heels, probably the cause of the bunions and stiff joints I enjoy today!

Wednesday afternoons were for sports and games. I took my exercise shopping in Bath, rounded off by tea at The Red House, a splendid tearoom with waitress service. The waitresses all wore traditional outfits and served us cakes from a tea trolley. Two of them were raven-haired twins. It was a diversion trying to tell them apart.

From this sedate activity, it was back to college to drink out of mugs. We did not have them at home, so it was a novelty to visit the Silver Gift Shop in Bath and choose handmade pottery mugs, which we often gave to one another as birthday gifts. I still have the one I was given for my twenty-first Birthday.

We were fortunate at Newton Park to not only live in the most beautiful surroundings of a once stately home but to receive the best possible teacher training and to be taught by such able tutors.

The Music department was very special. I was privileged to be able to study Music as a subsidiary subject and to have access to instrumental tuition on two chosen instruments as well as voice training. Singing in the college choir is perhaps my most special memory. We sang for two years running at Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod.

I was often accosted by friends in Bath who were resentful at the cost of Newton Park’s new pianos for the practice rooms. Bath citizens felt it was a costly extravagance to the ratepayers. I like to think we paid them back many times over by sending out well-qualified musicians to teach in their schools.

Newton Park was a very special place to be in the 1960s, and it is more than special that it continues to be so in the 2022s. I enjoy reading about student successes in the Alumni News Bulletins. Long may its traditions continue to flourish.

The Alumni Oral Histories project aimed to gather individual voices and views from the University's teaching alumni community and publish these stories in people's own words. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.

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