Anniversary Celebrations Weekend

Today the Ormskirk campus hosts members of Edge Hill’s alumni community to celebrate the 125th anniversary. And tomorrow, staff will join for an Anniversary Celebration day.

I’ll be trying to pop down over the weekend to take photos and report what’s going on.

Calm before the storm

Hale Hall

Edge Hll Alumni


John Cater

Update: a few more pictures from Saturday.

The Quad



“Welcome, please don’t spit.”

Ursula Curwen, Programme Leader for MA Youth and Community Work from the Department for Social and Psychological Sciences guest blogs about last week’s lecture.


This is how Camila Batmanghelidjh, Tehran meets East London, greeted young people into her first youth project or so she told us at her lecture on the 14th June. Everything about her is larger than life from her colourful handmade clothing to her attitude to those who make policy. Her view is, quite simply, that if you offer a damaged child love (unconditional but challenging) you stand a very good chance of enabling them to heal or cope with his world. She delivered a calm but impassioned presentation and, as a trained psychologist, backed her thinking with all the research data you could want about brain function and emotional well being.

Somehow you can’t help but admire a woman who would put on the line her own money to care for the hardest to help children but, as she asked, when an abused child is supposed to be taken to a meeting with the welfare services by the very person who is their abuser then how can the system work? The workers, she believes, need to be where the children are and in fact it is support services that are ‘hard to reach’ not young people.

The audience were on their feet as she concluded and reaching for their wallets to contribute to the 12 million she has to fundraise each year. Several had even volunteered to help her during the question and answer session. Children are fortunate indeed to have such an advocate.

125 banners

125 Years

I’ve not walked in the front entrance of Edge Hill for a week or two so didn’t notice when these two huge banners with “1885-2010” and “125 Years” went up but I took a photo earlier. I really like it!

Helena Normanton

Helena Normanton

She was a passionate believer in social reform, a pioneer in the legal profession and a champion of women’s rights to rival Emmeline Pankhurst. But for Edge Hill graduate Helena Normanton, there is no statue in London or picture in the National Portrait Gallery to celebrate her achievements.

So, why is this remarkable woman so overlooked in women’s history? Alumni Magazine spoke to Judith Bourne, who is writing her PhD on Normanton, to find out.

“The sad truth is that very little is known about her,” says Judith, barrister and Senior Lecturer in Law at London Metropolitan University. “I teach a course on women and law and even I only came across her by accident.

“The fact that her achievements have been so neglected in the past is a real tragedy as, for me, she is up there with the Pankhursts and Rose Heilbron in terms of her contribution to women’s history.”

Helena Normanton was the first woman to practise at the English Bar in 1922, the first female barrister to lead the prosecution in a murder trial, to conduct a trial in America, and to represent cases in both the High Court and the Old Bailey. She was also one of the first two women, along with Rose Heilbron, to become Kings Council, the highest qualification awarded to a barrister.

She scandalised the legal profession, first by wanting to be part of it, then by insisting on practising in her maiden name. A prolific campaigner for equality within marriage, Normanton was the first married woman in the UK to be issued a passport in her maiden name. Speaking about Anne Boleyn, she once quipped, “she may have lost her head, but at least she was allowed to keep her name!”

“It was very difficult for her because a lot of people wanted her to fail,” says Judith. “She faced discrimination from within the legal profession; many male solicitors refused to brief a female barrister, and she was the subject of vitriolic hate mail, some, seemingly, from other women in the profession.

“Helena was also accused of advertising her services, which was illegal and could have seen her debarred. She demanded a full enquiry and, although she was completely exonerated, she never became as successful a lawyer as she should have been and had to supplement her income by writing and renting out rooms in her house.”

Very little is known about Normanton’s life before her legal career. She is known to have been a trainee teacher at Edge Hill, graduating in 1905, but how or why she came to be studying so far from her home town of Brighton is a mystery.

“I’m really looking forward to exploring the Edge Hill connection,” says Judith. “Edge Hill was known to be a hotbed of early feminist thinking and had connections to the Suffragette movement. We don’t know whether she was radical before she went to college or was radicalised by her experiences and the people she met there. It will be interesting to try and find out.”

Helena Normanton epitomises the spirit and ethos of Edge Hill that still exists to this day. The child of a working class single parent, with no family history of participation in higher education, Helena still managed to rise above her circumstances and succeed, thanks, in part, to her education at Edge Hill.

The causes that she fought for – social justice, equal pay, women’s rights – are still important to Edge Hill and form the basis of some of the cutting edge research undertaken by staff at the institution today.

Still Nobody Cares, And Nobody Learns

125 by 125 is back after the mid-season hiatus with more miscellany from the history of Edge Hill.  Today’s post came in just too late to be included in the main 125 and is from Liverpool-tech-geek-entrepreneur Adrian McEwen.  Last week Adrian blogged about the changes happening right now in the Edge Hill district of Liverpool. I recommend reading the post in full:

Since before I moved to Liverpool, huge areas have been boarded up or ‘tinned’ – part of the New Heartlands initiative to regenerate the areas. I’m not sure how long that’s been the case but even so, that’s almost two years and it’s only in the past couple of months that the bulldozers have moved in and flattened the houses. I don’t know how much longer it will take them to build the new estates, but there are houses nearing completion on another building site in Edge Hill and they must’ve been at least a year in the building.

Fascinating watching and listening to the videos from 1971 and comparing that to the idealised images from the Hovis advert filmed nearby.

While he was down there researching the post, Adrian took some photos of the former Edge Hill College site:

Former Edge Hill College site

Thanks again to Adrian for sending me the link.

That’s all folks?

Well this is the end. 125 days ago I started posting possibly-interesting things from the Edge Hill archives and about events happening to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the college.

Today I’d like to look back at some of the things I’ve posted. First up a visualisation of what I’ve written. I’ve used Wordle to take the contents of the blog and turn it into a pretty word cloud:

Word Cloud for 125 by 125

When I started our I had no idea if anyone would be interested. I’ve been consistently amazed by people telling me things they’ve seen on the blog. In the last four months there have been over 10,000 visitors and some 23,213 page views!

Visitor Number

Let’s see what the top ten blog posts are:

  1. Tribute to Miss Jenkins
  2. Edge Hill… isn’t that in Birmingham?
  3. No Swimming
  4. Sculpture Found!
  5. Edge Hill Secondary Modern School for Boys
  6. A personal message from the Director #1
  7. Edge Hill, Groove Armada
  8. Edge Hill College Television
  9. How to beat the problem of traffic
  10. Frequent electric train MERSEYRAIL

But more importantly which are those poor neglected posts at the bottom of the table?

  1. Short Story Shortlist
  2. Manifesto for Change and Race Online 2012
  3. To Ireland; To Scotland; To London!
  4. The Centenary Celebrations
  5. Brush Script

I’ve been using Flickr to store most of the photographs published on the blog so feel free to flick them through – there’s quite a few that I’ve not made use of.

There are many people I should thank for their assistance in sourcing materials, sending in photos and even writing posts but I know I’ll forget people so thanks to you all!

It’s been really good fun writing for the last 125 days but far harder work then I imagined. I’ll be glad to be able to go away for the weekend without panicking on Friday afternoon that I’ve not scheduled posts; it will be nice not to have to carry my laptop around to write posts from coffee shops and I’ll be very happy not to suddenly realise at 10 minutes to midnight that I’ve not posted that day!

Having said all that it’s been great to find out about the history of Edge Hill College, digging around in the archives for interesting documents and photos. The anniversary year has a full programme of events and this blog has given me an excuse to go to them.

So this isn’t going to be the end but I will be slowing down. I plan to continue posting on an ad-hoc basis as and when I can. If you have anything that might be of interest please do send it in and I’m going to keep blagging invites to all the great events over the next seven months!