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Vivianne Jackson – Bath Spa University

Vivienne was a student at Newton Park Teacher Training College between 1558-1960. She shares memories of Christmas parties at The Elms and sunny days at the boathouse in Newton Park Campus.

"Newton Park Teacher Training College was then a female-only establishment, apart from a few male Rural Studies postgraduates, and it was run like a girls’ boarding school. College staff held the responsibility of being in loco parentis for all students under 21 years of age."

Vivienne Iris Jackson, June 2022

New students were allocated a second-year ‘College Mother’ who helped the settling in and college procedure guidance during our first months. Visits home in the first half term at Newton were not permitted.

We were placed in hostels outside the college grounds, three in Bath – Parkfield, Hockley and The Elms, and one, The Rectory, in Newton St Loe. My hostel was The Elms. All were very elegant large houses and had female college lecturers as wardens. We shared two, three or four a room with bathrooms, one on each floor. These study bedrooms had no locks and were out of bounds to visitors. Each hostel had one coin-operated telephone and a Common Room for shared leisure time, visitors or social occasions. Social life outside college was limited by the house rule that we had to be back in hostels by 10pm. Reasons for time extensions had to be approved by the very strict wardens.

On weekdays, after breakfast, buses took us to campus for lectures and lunch.

Evening meals were provided back at hostels, and also an allocation of one-third of a pint of milk for a bedtime drink. No alcohol was permitted on the premises, but at our hostel, The Elms, I remember the Christmas party where a very mild punch was concocted under the watchful eye of the warden. Invited personnel from a nearby RAF station helped to provide some male company at such events, as well as the few boyfriends our restrictions enabled.

In year two, we lived on campus, mainly in the large three-floored Hall of Residence, known to us as ‘The Block’. We had single study bedrooms and were permitted visitors in our rooms from 2-5pm on weekends, during which time our lock-free doors had to be left open!

Apart from bicycles, no students had cars, so visits to outside venues were timed very carefully. Boyfriends with cars were an asset! A college minibus waited at the main gate each evening at 9.45pm to ferry us up the long drive by 10pm. Weekend nights away from campus were now allowed but needed a detailed explanation and a letter of approval from parents.

During the day, we took breaks on the grounds, a favourite place being the top lake where there was a small boathouse complete with a rowing boat and oars. We sometimes took the boat to the lake.

Each year a Commemoration Day was held for students and parents. There was a service at the church in Newton St Loe and a strict dress code for students – smart formal dresses and shoes plus white gloves! We held an annual ‘Ball’, wore evening dresses long or short, and invited more boyfriends or imported male dance partners.

Short dresses were usually puffed out by multiple stiffened petticoats, which, in the era of nylon stockings and suspenders, necessitated skilful movement to avoid embarrassment.

After my two happy years at Newton Park, I spent a year at Cardiff College of Art and apart from six years off in order to produce my family of three children, I spent my life up to the age of 58 teaching in various schools in the Bath and Bristol areas.

Happy days full of happy memories.

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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