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Mary Porter – Bath Spa University

Mary Porter was a student during 1954-1956. "Between homesickness and excitement" – that's how she remembers those years living in Hockley and, afterwards, Newton Park.

"I remember the Christmas Party at The Elms when we invited young men from the nearby RAF camp, and I was invited out on my first date."

Mary Porter, June 2022

90 of us girls arrived at Newton Park in October 1954 for our two-year course, most of us having just left school, going away from home for the first time; daunting, exciting – freedom at last! Possibly homesick, so within a few days, we were put out on 'Village Survey' for six weeks. We were dropped off in pairs by bus in villages around Bath and Bristol with a project to do on the school and local life and activities.

We did not live on campus for our first year but were billeted in large houses/hostels around Bath. I was at The Elms in Weston Park. We were looked after by a housekeeper and a college lecturer who lived in. We all had to sign in by 10pm tp midnight.

I remember the Christmas Party at The Elms when we invited young men from the nearby RAF camp, and I was invited out on my first date.

We were only 180 students in all, enjoying the beautiful grounds around the lake; sometimes taking the small boat out on it. The music room overlooked it. My what a room! Chippendale chairs, a candelabra, and decorated in style.

I took Art and Craft as my main subject and remember as part of the course having to arrange flowers in the alcove on the landing next to the Principal's study. I recall the Stable block, so creatively converted into lecture rooms.

Education lectures were divided into three age groups: Infant, Junior or Secondary Modern. I trained for infants.

Then what of the College Ball? Held in the Guildhall, where we had to present our partners to the Principal.

Exams only played a small part in our final grades as we were continually assessed on our coursework.

My close friend Gloria and I ran the Christian Union together, and I should like to think that my Christian faith grew from that time. 

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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